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Handfasting; Handpar ting

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Wiccan rituals of marriage and divorce. At a Witchcraft wedding, known as a Handfasting, the couple are joined together for "so long as love shall last." When there is no longer love between them, they are free to go their separate ways, after the ceremony of Handparting. This does not encourage promiscuity, however, since Wiccans cherish their love for one another and seldom seem to part. In fact, most believe strongly in the concept of having found a "soul mate."

Handfasting takes place within a consecrated circle, usually in the waxing cycle of the Moon, and is usually witnessed by coven members and by any cowans (nonWiccans) that were invited. The ceremony is conducted by a Priest and/or Priestess. Often the couple exchanges rings, which may be inscribed with runic or other lettering. The marriage may or may not be legal in the "outside world," depending upon the standing of the Wiccan Priest in the local legal system. If he or she is legally ordained, then the marriage is recognized by the courts. The wedding's legality usually has little significance to the couple, who are more attuned to the spiritual bonding.

Ceremonies are very individual, with some couples incorporating the old custom of leaping over a broomstick and others including a binding of the hands. Some people even make small cuts in their wrists to mingle their blood with that of their partner. The couple—and the whole coven—may be skyclad (naked), robed, or in everyday clothes. Some couples include the Great Rite in their Handfasting ceremony. Although there are Handfasting and Handparting rituals included in most Books of Shadows, couples are encouraged to write their own ritual and include/exclude what they wish.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
We had a bit of rain but thankfully it stopped for the majority of the handfasting ceremony and Gill, our celebrant, was fantastic."
1189-94) This gesture, absent in Ovid, makes Ceres' appearance in The Tempest a direct continuation of the narrative in Venus and Adonis: the handfasting scene in The Tempest is the immediate 'sequel' (in a narrative sense) to Venus, and was perhaps intended as an affectionate nod to the author's first published success.
HERE WE GO The happy couple during the 'handfasting' ceremony
It was at one wedding I witnessed all three of handfasting, sand and candle, in a church, with a minister, rings and a block of Corinthians.
Leading away from the norm, they are having a handfasting ceremony with a white witch doing the vows.
The ballad describes informal commitments to marry - handfasting - which are then broken, leading to tragedy.
In the UK's first naked pagan wedding, naturists Jon Donson, 61, and his bride Helen, 48, stripped off with all their friends in the Forest of Dean and tied the knot in a Handfasting Ceremony.
I don't often visualize jumping the broom or handfasting, although those traditions appeal to me.
Examples include love letters, handfasting, in-laws, monogamy and more.
Rituals may also be held to celebrate the transitions of life, for example, a baby blessing, a youth's coming of age ceremony, or a "handfasting" (marriage).