Ideas for handfasting vows

Written by stephanie mitchell
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Ideas for handfasting vows
Handfastings vary from tradition to tradition. (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Neopagan weddings are called handfastings. In some traditions, they are permanent, like Judeo-Christian or secular weddings; in other traditions, they bind a couple for a year and a day and may be dissolved or renewed at the end of that time. Handfasting ceremonies come in as wide a variety as neopagans do, and each couple composes their vows to reflect their own spiritual values and principles.

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Balance

One of the central beliefs of most Neopagan religions is that the masculine and feminine energies of the world keep life in balance. Handfasting vows inspired by this idea can affirm the equality of both partners in the marriage and acknowledge the God and Goddess in the participants. The participants can pledge to uphold each other's honour, believe in each other's personal power and recognise that, though they are complete in themselves, their union creates a new whole with a far greater strength than either of them possesses individually.

Patron Deities

If both participants are practicing Neopagans, they probably each have a patron God and Goddess whom they worship. They can tailor their vows to call upon and to honour these patrons. For example, if the bride worships the Welsh goddess Rhiannon, she may say something like "In the name of Rhiannon, who chose Pwyll and would have no other, I choose you and will have no other. By Rhiannon, who loved Pwyll through her years of trial, I swear to love you through good times and bad."

Elements

Some Neopagans work with elemental forces in their rituals and honour the four elements in their ceremonies. Handfasting vows can also call upon these energies. For example, the groom may say something like "By the Spirits of Air, I vow to keep our relationship new and fresh through the years. By the Spirits of Fire, I vow to love you with passion and creativity. By the spirits of Water, I vow to heal you and to find my own healing in you. By the spirits of Earth, I vow to make our home a strong foundation for us to build our lives."

Freedom

Most Neopagans believe in the personal freedom of individuals to worship in their own way, do the things that bring them joy and be true to themselves. Handfasting vows can be pledges to honour these freedoms. Participants may say something like "I choose to walk the path with you and I bind myself to walk with you. I vow to honour you without binding you to my own ways or expecting you to change for me. I give myself to you as I am and I accept you as you are."

Ideas for handfasting vows
Couples may pledge to walk together but not control each other. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

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