Rites of Passage - Joinings and Unions

Magazine article for Triple Spiral. Spring/Summer 2003
By Glennie Kindred and Lu Garner

Glennie Kindred - www.glenniekindred.co.uk

As the sun re-emerges to warm our hearts and bodies, our horizons often turn to thoughts of joinings and unions of all kinds. Spring and summer have traditionally been the time for people to celebrate their commitment to each other but, of course, any season can be a good time to mark any kind of joining. Consider marking a new business venture, honouring a group partnership, or celebrating a shared vision or creative project. Creating a ceremony will focus your intentions and commitments, which in itself will contribute to the success of that partnership.

Where there's a separation of a couple or group, ceremony can be used in the same way to mark and honour what has been. To release each party into what is to come.

We are free to create whatever kind of event we need to make a heartfelt connection. To create a ceremony is to stand in stillness and declare our intention to honour a part of our lives. Developing our own rituals empowers us and all who come; opening many doorways into a world of possibilities for enhancing our lives and creating lasting treasured moments for all who take part.

When planning a joining ceremony, such as marriage or handfasting, it is the couples own intentions that must be kept central. Consider who is to be invited and where the event will be, as this will affect everything else. Remember to keep things simple - don't try to include too many different ceremonial activities - and ensure the couple don't have any responsibilities for running the ceremony on the day.

The shape of any joining ceremony includes certain key elements, with many different ways to explore each:

- Opening the circle and declaring the intention

Mark out a circle with salt, petals, greenery, stones, candles and create sacred space. The couple make a ceremonial entrance - they could enter separately and come together into the centre of a circle of friends and family or they could enter together through an archway or bower. Guests could hold hoops of hazel decorated with greenery and flowers or willow withies could be bent into a structure fixed into the earth or in disguised bricks with holes in them.

Speak out the intention of this ceremony - this can be done by the couple or by the celebrant.

- Making vows

This is the pivotal part of any joining ceremony where the couple make a promise/intention out loud with the support of family and friends bearing witness to them. The couple can use vows from other traditions or write their own.

Vows can be led by a celebrant or friend or by the couple themselves.

Wrap a scarf, thread of ribbon around the couple's wrists and tie them together when they make their vows.

Drink from a goblet with arms entwined; break bread; share fruit.

Each light a candle separately as they make their vows, finishing by lighting one together.

Jump the broomstick; leap the fire calling out a pledge to each other.

Hold a special crystal whilst making the vows.

- Exchanging tokens

These can be rings or something else meaningful (scarves, garlands, necklaces, something made for each other) to symbolize their union.

Give each other a tree, plant them together and twist the trunks around each other.

Exchange crystals.

Bury something together.

Anoint each other with earth, water, henna, powdered dye or oils.

-Blessing the Union

Marriage needs the loving support of family and friends. Create space for them to include their hopes and blessings for the future.

Lead the group through a commitment promise (like a communal vow) for supporting the union.

Make a blessing book for everyone to write in.

Tie threads or ribbons onto the couple or a branch saying a blessing for them.

Bless any future children.

Include the children for any previous relationship - e.g. the parents and the children hold hands in a circle while the guests throw confetti on them.

We hope that you feel empowered to create your very own unique and wonderful ceremonies, joining with your community of family and friends to bring lasting and deepening connections into your lives.