Ninja Pagan marriage ceremony

December 19, 2015

This is the script of the first Pagan handfasting/marriage I priestessed back in the ’90s. The bride and groom were Pagan but were not out to their families. They wrote the ceremony to meet their spiritual needs without giving anything away and they told everyone I was a minister rather than a priestess. I like to think this kind of subterfuge is no longer necessary but I’m not that naive. Anyway, I think they did an absolutely lovely job. It’s actually one of the proudest moments of my life, standing at the altar in Beck Chapel, in a role that I would’ve gotten burned at the stake for in years past.

15 minutes of seating music. (Organist plays Bach Preludes and Trio Sonatas)

Cairril Adaire (CA) and D (groom) enter from behind the altar. D puts rings on the altar.

Attendants enter in pairs. (Organist plays overture to Handel’s Water Music Suite.)

C (bride) enters. C walks down the aisle with father, hugging him at the pew before walking on to the altar in the front. (Water Music Overture should still be playing.)

CA: Friends and family, we have come here this evening to witness a new beginning to C and D’s life together. This wedding should  remind us that, like the seasons, life moves in cycles.

While the first flowers of spring are gorgeous to behold, compellingly sweet to the senses, we know that it takes several seasons, much tender care, and the weathering of many storms for the fruit of those flowers to grow and ripen. Similarly, it takes time for love to mature and reach completion.

To be in a loving relationship does not guarantee an eternal summer. To make a sincere and honest commitment does not promise an end to all struggle. What a good relationship does is offer the never ending opportunity for renewal. It recognizes the abiding, shared hope that after every winter, spring will come again.

In marriage, we make a commitment to weather patiently the cold and bitter times, to protect and tend the original seed until it bursts into bloom again.

We are here to celebrate beginnings, and to acknowledge that love, as anything else that we wish to grow and prosper, requires care and nurture.

D, if you would ask C to be your wife, speak to her and those assembled of your love, that she, and they, may know what is in your heart.

D: C, the love I feel for you shows itself in all I do. In perfect love and perfect trust, I open myself to you. No longer just the product of my own experiences, I now allow the image of who I am to shape who I become. From this day, what one of us does will affect both of us. We are still two independent beings, with our own wills, our own dreams, our own interests, but in the larger scheme of things, I bind my destiny to yours with three promises: I love you, I trust you, and I honor your freedom. Everything else may change, but love, trust, and freedom will remain.

CA: C, if you would ask D to be your husband, speak to him and those assembled of your love, that he, and they, may know what is in your heart.

C: D, I promise to be your wife, which is many things, like friend and companion, but is certainly not all things. I promise to remember that while marriage is perfect, the people in it are not and to be as patient with you as you are patient with me. And I promise that I will abide with you and be your love to the end of our days together, whatever life may bring us until then.

Unity candle: C gets a taper from the altar and lights it on the candelabra. D follows suit. When both have lit tapers, they light the unity candle together. Both place their lit tapers back on the altar. (Organist plays Corelli)

D (pick up ring): With this ring, I offer myself to you as husband, with all my faults, and all my strengths. Will you accept me as your partner in all the future may bring?

C: I will. (D places ring on C’s finger.)

C (pick up ring): With this ring, I offer myself to you as wife, with all my faults, and all my strengths. Will you accept me as your partner in all the future may bring?

D: I will. (C places ring on D’s finger.)

CA: Before all who are assembled here, C and D have freely pledged themselves to one another. May the powers of creation grant their minds the clarity of wisdom, their souls the strength of will, their hearts the depth of feeling, and the bodies the wellspring of health to walk life’s path together as husband and wife.

The veil: D lifts C’s veil and gives her a big sloppy-wet moose kiss.

CA: Go forth in peace, carrying the joy of this day in your hearts.

Recessional. (Organist plays selection from Handel’s Water Music Suite.)

Ferrying the dead on September 11th

September 11, 2011

I woke up when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Even in my sleep there were voices urging me to be alert, to wake up in every sense of the words.

My living room window was open and I heard panicked journalists talking faster and higher that usual. All I could catch was that a tower was falling.

I turned on the radio and tried to make sense of what I was hearing. I went to the TV (I only receive PBS) and there was a children’s show on. It was one of the more jarring, surreal experiences on that most jarring and surreal of days, to hear the horror pouring out of my radio pitched against the saccharine-sweet music and primary colors on my TV screen.

Got ready and then fled to a friend’s house where CNN played the plane crash over and over. Interview with a congressman calling for nuclear strikes. People jumping. People falling. Jerry Falwell blaming Pagans for the attacks.

I felt Called. Upstairs my friend had a room dedicated as ritual space. I spread out my things on his altars and opened fully to the Spirit realms. And what I found there was completely overwhelming.

Chaos. Complete and utter chaos. Thousands of souls, panicked and shrieking. Terror in its purest form, without bodies to mediate it. I was aware of intense motion but also a stopping: They did not know what had happened to them, and they could not get past the Veil.

I went where I was Called to go. I cleared my back and made it a bridge. I calmed my spirit and stepped into the maelstrom. I cast a Circle and breathed soothing peace. I sang every lullabye I was given, and ended with a heart-rending, aching version of Blackbird by The Beatles. And I acted as wayfinder and guide, showing them the way through the Worlds.

I have never known such suffering as we experienced on September 11th, 2001. I pray I never do again. The suffering in the Spirit realm was beyond anything I was prepared for. Later, as we got the lines of communication flowing, a Witch set up a psychic pentagram in New York City where we could direct our energies. Her coven then redirected that energy to people and places that needed it. It felt good to have a community that came together in a crisis to offer our unique gifts and skills for the greater good.

I can only wonder about similar psychic shocks, especially the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Who ferried the dead then? What psychic scars still remain?

I have always walked between the Worlds. It is a lonely place to be. But on September 11th, I knew my place and I knew my path. I couldn’t help everyone. I couldn’t do it all alone. But I know the realms settled into balance over time. On the tenth anniversary of that terrible day, may we breathe peace for the living and the dead, for all that went before and for all that came after. Blessed Be.