Imbolc, Maiden Goddess and Handfasting

Moonpath CUUPS

Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale

January 25, 2004

We gather in darkness:

Spel: We gather together in this time of darkness. We look to the return of the light.

We look back to the time when the Sun was female because she brought warmth and life.

We look back to the time when the Earth was male, because it was hard and cold.

We look to the first light of Spring.

(Light tea candle in front of goddess statue.)

I tell you now of the Goddess Brigid. Her title means, The Sublime One, the Grand One.

She was originally addressed by title alone. No one would dare to call the Goddess by name.

In keeping with the Ancient Tradition, Our lady has three aspects: healing, poetry, and smithcraft.

 

(Light two more tea candles.)

Goddess Midwife: Healer, Nurturer, and Herbalist.

Goddess Poetess: Bringer of Wisdom, Guidance and Prophesy.

Goddess Smithcraft: Keeper of Fire, Craftswomen, and Transformation.

Maiden, Mother, and Crone – A Triple Goddess.

 

(Light more tea candles around statue while talking.)

Her symbols are Brigid’s cross, the flaming arrow, Brigid’s bed.

It was customary to write wishes upon scraps of cloth

and tie them to the bushes near her sacred wells.

This is Her Time of Year, a very special moment.

Her day is the Second of February,

A day upon which to seek wisdom from inside the Earth.

In the time before Patrick, serpents were sent

because they dwell in both worlds, above ground and below.

In Christian Times, the serpent became a Groundhog.

Our lady is a goddess of many aspects: Crone, Matron,

but she is pictured most often as the maiden.

Now our helpers will light the rest of our candles,

And we will invoke the Maiden Goddess.

Keepers begin lighting candles on the floor deosil to the next altar)

Chant:  Welcome Brigid, Welcome Brigid  (the burning arrow of the power – Bridgette)

(Candles are lit. Maiden Goddess appears.)

 

Brigid: Blessings of the season upon you, my People.

I am She, that is the natural mother of all things,

mistress and governess of all the elements,

the initial progeny of worlds,

chief of the powers divine,

Queen of all that are in the otherworld,

the principal of them that dwell above,

manifested alone and under one form

of all the Gods and Goddesses.     

 

Spel:  And now Goddess Brigid will anoint each of you.  If you do not wish to be anointed, please cross your arms over your chest like this.

 

(Starting with Spel and Val, dabbing baby oil on the foreheads of all who wish.)

 

I anoint you with the power of new beginnings.

 

(Should someone decline the oil, stand in front of them and recite the blessing, “ I anoint you with the power of new beginnings.”)

 

Spel:

And now we have a special celebration to perform, a handfasting, a joining together of a woman and a man, Beth and Neel. For an occasion such as this, we need a woman to join us.  Come forward Lady Valen the Druid and let us call forth the Keepers!

Val casts the circle

Calling the Quarters:

GONG

East Keeper: lighting and placing smudge stick in the shell, raising it for all to see

Powers of East, Powers of Air, I call thee forth.

Hail, Guardians of the East!

Come forth and bear witness to Beth and Neel, who have come to know great love for one another, and for their children.

Hail and welcome!

Turns and bows towards East, turns again and replaces shell on altar.

GONG

South Keeper: lighting the candle, raising it for all to see

Powers of South, Powers of Fire, I call thee forth.

Hail, guardians of the South!

Come forth and bear witness to Neel and Beth, who will make a daring leap together into partnership.

Hail and welcome!     

Turns and bows to the South, turns again and replaces candle on altar.

West Keeper: pouring water into the bowl, raising it for all to see:

Powers of West, Powers of Water, I call thee forth.

 

Hail, guardians of the West!

Come forth and bear witness to Beth and Neel, whose mutual intention is to marry one another, in this place and at this time.

Hail and welcome!

Turns and bows to the West, turns again and replaces bowl on altar.

GONG

North Keeper (Stephanie): pouring salt into bowl, raising it for all to see:

Powers of North, Powers of Earth, I call thee forth

Hail, guardians of the North!

Come forth and bear witness to Neel and Beth, who wait upon this time of great joy, with steadfastness and quiet assurance.

Hail and welcome!

She turns and bows to the North, turns again and replaces bowl on altar

All four Elemental Keepers remain standing at their altars, facing to Center.

Brigid rings bell 3 times

Beth, Neel, Amber and Justin: comes forward in the circle to the altar

Val:  

Great Mother, whom I serve, please be here now as Neel and Beth intend to rejoin one another in the sacrament of marriage vows.

Brigid lights the Goddess candle while Val speaks

Spel:         

Beloved Father, whom I adore, please be here now as Beth and Neel intend to rejoin one another in the sacrament of marriage vows. 

Brigid lights the God candle while Spel speaks then rings Altar Bell 3 times.

Guardian (Justin): comes to the Altar and places the rings on the small plate upon the altar, keeping the Bride and Groom `ribbons in his hand. He now takes his place to the left of the Maiden (Amber).

Spel: calls the blessing unto them:

Gracious Lady, Gentle Lord.

Grant Your Blessing and protection upon these two who have come before you

To celebrate the sacrament of marriage and renewing their vows in the presence of these gathered people.

So mote it be!

 

And now we shall introduce Neel and Beth to the Elemental Powers to seek their blessings upon this enterprise.

Maiden (Amber): leads Beth & Neel to East:

Hail, winds of the East!

East Keeper: standing, raising the shell and burning smudge stick, facing Beth and Neel:

What is it you seek from the Powers of Air?

Beth:                 We seek your blessing and guidance for our family and marriage.

East Keeper: while wafting the smudge stick around them:

Blessed be your family and marriage with these gifts from the East:

Clear understanding of each other, and of yourselves. Knowledge that each day is a fresh start of your life as a family.  Joy in teaching your children together, and watching them learn about life.

Hands Maiden (Amber) a yellow ribbon and the party moves on..

Maiden (Amber): leads Beth and Neel to the South:

Hail, fires of the South!

South Keeper: Raises the candle, facing Beth and Neel:

What is it you seek from the Powers of Fire?

Neel: responds:           We seek your blessing and guidance for our family and marriage.

South Keeper: hands Beth and Neel the lit candle to hold together:

Blessed be your family and marriage with these gifts from the South:

Shared discoveries as a family, experiencing new things together. Inspiration to find new ways to surprise one another.  Opportunities to take on new ventures, and receive great rewards together.

Collects the candle from Beth and Neel, replaces it on the altar, hands Maiden (Amber) a red ribbon, motions the party onward.

Maiden (Amber): leads Beth and Neel to the West:

Hail, waters of the West!

West Keeper: Raising the bowl of water, facing Beth and Neel:

What is it you seek from the Powers of Water?

Neel: responds:           We seek your blessing and guidance for our family and marriage.

West Keeper: sprinkling water on Beth and Neel:

Blessed be your marriage with these gifts from the West:

Clear understanding of each other’s desire.  Resolve to stand by each other, no matter what may come to pass. Patience in those moments when your children ask a great deal of you.

Replaces bowl on altar, hands Maiden (Amber) a blue ribbon, motions the party onward.

Maiden (Amber): leads Beth and Neel on to the North:

Hail, powers of the North!

North Keeper (Stephanie):  raising small bowl of salt, facing Beth and Neel:

What is it you seek from the Powers of Earth?

Beth: responds:           We seek your blessing and guidance for our family and marriage.

North Keeper (Stephanie):

Then each give me your hands.

She sprinkles a little bit of salt on the backs of the Beth's and Neel's hands.                   

Blessed be your family and marriage with these gifts from the North:

Strength to do what you must do, when you must do it, and together as one.
Fertility, in all its many forms and manifestations. Stability such that you can always meet your family’s needs.

North Keeper (Stephanie): replaces the bowl of earth onto the altar, hands Maiden (Amber) a green ribbon, motions the party onward.

Maiden (Amber): leads Beth and Neel to their places at the Altar, moves aside, while still holding onto all of the ribbons.

Spel:

 

Love is an integral part of life, for without the spark of love, there is nothing to empower the mystery of continuance, and without continuance, all life will cease to be. This is how we came to be.  Now we are gathered here together because our parents, and our parent's parents, and so on before them, felt that spark, and empowered that continuance, and made it possible for us to be who we have become.

 

Val:

 

So it is today that, in the presence of us all,  and in the power of the Ancient Providence, in the abiding love of the Lord and Lady, Beth and Neel are about to renew their vows to one another, and continue to share that spark of love with one another in the custom of their chosen paths, thus making such vows both with love and spirituality.

 

Spel:

 

Neel and Beth wish to declare, in our sight, their formal intent to continue to share their lives and make a family together with their children. In this day and age, many people do not feel the need to make such a declaration, and yet many more still do, for they remain aware of the presence of the mystery that underlies the sacrament of marriage, and they value this presence, and so they make their decision and act upon it as Beth and Neel are about to do.

 

Val:

 

As they make such a decision, there are four things which we must ask of them:

 

- They must both understand that they are continuing to commit themselves to, for nobody should stumble into marriage with eyes closed.

 

Spel:

 

- They must freely consent to their marriage, for any sort of trickery or duress would render such a consent meaningless.

 

Val:

 

- There must be no turning back. Both parties in a marriage must fully and passionately intend to stick with it through difficulties as well as through triumphs, otherwise they shall grievously hurt each other and the children who trust in their wisdom. From this day forth, Neel and Beth will hold each other's hearts in their hands.

 

Spel:

 

- In considering their decision to renew their vows, we must ask them what they understand by the word, 'love'. The decision to marry must stem, not from material gain, social advantage or any other reward, but from mutual and realistic love. A marriage without love is but an empty cup.

 

Val:

Of these four things, the one which matters most is love, the abiding yet surprising, practical yet passionate, mirthful yet reverent love -- the difficult and complicated sort of love that they have to grown into. Marriage is a place where we can learn from each other about that love.

 

Spel:

Neel and Beth are most evidently not afraid of adventure -- look where they are standing today. Together they embrace the uncertainty of adventure, awaiting the surprising discoveries which they shall make. Love, this spark of life, is the greatest adventure of all.

 

Val: raising Unity candle from altar for all to see, facing Beth and Neel:

Marriage is unique among the rites of life, in that it is a sacrament which requires not one, but two empowered celebrants. Each celebrant comes to this rite with his or her own history, abilities, empowerments, and hopes.

 

Spel:

 

Through the sacred mystery of marriage, all of these things are commingled for the common benefit of the celebrants. And so, in commingling their flames as one, Neel and Beth now demonstrate their desire to work together as husband and wife.

Beth and Neel: take one candle each from altar, light it from God and Goddess candle and together they pass their flames to the Unity candle.

Spel turns towards the Maiden (Amber):

Do you know the name of this woman?

Maiden: She is my mother, and known to the Lord and Lady as Beth and Willow Sageheart.

Spel:

Can you vouch for her love and willingness to renew her vows to this man?

 

Maiden:

Yes, I can.

 

Val: turning towards the Guardian (Justin):

What is the name of this man?

Guardian (Justin): He is my father, Neel, known to the Lord and Lady

Val:

Can you vouch for his love and willingness to renew his vows to this woman?

Guardian (Justin):    Yes, I can.

Spel: To Beth

Beth, have you come here in perfect love and perfect trust, of your own free will and accord, without coercion or false pretence?

Beth: I have.

Val: turning towards Neel

Neel, have you come here in perfect love and perfect trust, of your own free will and accord, without coercion or false pretence?

Neel: I have.

Spel:

Then you may proceed.

Maiden (Amber): holds up the plate with the rings, so that Beth and Neel can have access to them.

Val: turning now to Neel:

Neel, only you have the power to marry this woman, your best friend and partner, who stands beside you. Do you now wish to have Beth as your wife, knowing her as you do?

Neel:  I do.

Val:

Then take your own ring, and place it in Beth's hand.

Spel: turning to Beth

Beth, only you have the power to marry this man, your best friend and partner, who stands beside you. Do you now wish to have Neel as your husband, knowing him as you do?

Beth: I do.

Spel:

Then take your own ring, and place it in Neel's hand.

Val: turning to Neel:

Neel, repeat after me:

 

I, Neel, in the names of the Lord and Lady that reside in us all,
and in the love that resides within my heart,

Take you and you alone Beth to be my wife and beloved partner.

 

I promise that I will continue to honor our union with words of adoration and actions of consideration and love. That I will continue to commit myself to work together with you, grow with you  as individuals, partners and as a family.

 

And how long do you pledge these vows?

 

Neel:  As in the past, for the duration of this life and each life after.

Spel: turning to Beth.

Beth, repeat after me:

I, Beth, in the names of the Lord and Lady that reside in us all,
and in the love that resides within my heart,

Take you and you alone Neel to be my husband and beloved partner.

 

I promise to continue to bring to our union my compassion, understanding, and unconditional love. I commit myself to continue to honor, respect, believe in, and grow with you, through the many challenges that will continue to lie before us.

 

And how long do you pledge these vows?

 

Beth:  As in the past, for the duration of this life and each life after.

 

Spel: speaking to the people:

The wedding rings are tokens of Neel and Beth's love for one another, as they exchange them, so do they offer the gift of consideration which is essential to the true sacrament of marriage.

to Beth:

Beth, in consideration of your desire to marry Neel, you may place his ring upon his finger, now.

Beth puts the ring on Neel's left ring finger.

Val: speaking to Neel:

Neel, in consideration of your desire to marry Beth, you may place her ring upon her finger, now.

He puts the ring on her left ring finger.

Spel:

And so have you both done.

So mote it be!

 

Val:

 

And now we will consider the symbolism of handfasting: the tying of the knot that will join Beth and Neel together in marriage.

Brigid: comes forward

The handfasting knot, which binds two lovers' hands together, represents their sincere and hopeful intention to make an indestructible union.

Guardian and Maiden: now prepare to hand over the ribbons that they have collected.

Brigid:

May I have the Handfasting Ribbon?

Guardian: gives them to Brigid.

Beth and Neel: join left hands, Brigid ties their hands together, closely enough that the ribbons would not fall off.

Brigid:

May I have the ribbons which carry the powers of the Elements?

Maiden: gives them to Brigid, who ties them on as well.

Brigid:

Now raise your hands together, so that all may see.

 

Made to measure, wrought to bind, blessed be these lives entwined!

You may kiss now...

 

What you have here done together with one another, let no one break apart.

 

Spel:

 

May the Lord and Lady take notice of, and be favorably inclined toward your union, and may you be blessed with health, prosperity and fruitfulness, from this day forth and forevermore.

 

So mote it be!

Spel: Turning to the People

I present to those assembled here, and to the God, Goddess and the spirits of this place, Mrs. Beth Persad and her Husband, Mr. Neel Persad

Spel:

And now, as in all marriages, you have certain duties towards each other.

Spel pours water into a cup, and passes the cup into the Beth and Neel's left hands which are bound together.

Spell then takes up the knife from the altar and passes it into the Beth and Neel's right hands, above the cup. Their hands and arms thus describe the sign of perpetuity.

Spel: As the knife is to the lover,

Val:  So is the cup to the beloved.

They lower the knife into the cup, saying:

Spel, Val and Brigid together:  And conjoint, they bring blessedness.

Spel: takes the knife from them, placing it back on the altar.

Maiden: takes cup and replaces it on the altar.

Spel: blesses the bread.

Spell pours juice into the chalice. Then hands the chalice to the Beth's free hand:

Spel:

 

This is your first drink together. May you never thirst!

Beth & Neel: Beth holds cup for Neel while he drinks. Neel holds cup for Beth while she drinks; then hands the chalice to Spel to be returned to the altar.  

Spel: breaks bread, offering a part to the God and Goddess, and giving a piece each to Beth and Neel:

This is your first food together. May you never hunger!

Neel: holds bread for Beth while she eats.

Beth: holds bread for Neel while he eats. If any is left over they return it to the altar.

Guardian and Maiden: place the Broom down on the ground. They hold the ends of the Broom in place upon the ground.

Spel:

This will be your first leap of faith together.

The couple: jump the Broom.

Val:  

Thanks be to the Lord and the Lady. Go if you must, Stay if you will.

And now, from East sunwise round to North, let us do what we must do.

GONG

East Keeper: stoking smudge stick, raising overhead

Hail, guardians of the East! Thank you for your attendance at our rite. We bid you, hail and farewell!

Replaces smudge stick in shell.

GONG

South Keeper: raising candle overhead

Hail, guardians of the South! Thank you for your attendance at our rite. We bid you, hail and farewell!

Blows out candle, replaces candle on altar

GONG

West Keeper: raises bowl overhead

Hail, guardians of the West! Thank you for your attendance at our rite. We bid you, hail and farewell!

Replaces bowl on altar

GONG

North Keeper: raising bowl overhead, sprinkling salt on ground

Hail, guardians of the North! Thank you for your attendance at our rite. We bid you, hail and farewell!   Replaces bowl on altar

GONG

Spel:

Thus what is Hers in truth, and mine in trust, returns to me for safekeeping. It be done! Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again. Blessed Be!

 

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