||[Jun. 28th, 2008|07:14 pm]
Today I got to go to a Wiccan wedding for the first time, and some of my friends expressed interest in what it was like, so I thought I'd post the explanation from the program and some notes of my own.|
I'm afraid there wasn't a note as to who wrote the program, but thank you, whoever you are!
A Guide to the Liturgy
Casting the Circle
Wiccans have no churches or other religious buildings, so Wiccan religious ceremonies take place in sacred space known as a "circle." This circle is erected anew before each and every ceremony, yet its creation reminds us that we return to the same Sacred Space, the same Temple, over and over again.
Before we begin to construct the Sacred Space, we sweep away all negativity and unwanted influences, leaving the area ready for the ceremony that is about to take place. In times past, the broom was used not only to physically clean the home, but also to spiritually bless it.
The Priest and Priestess mark the perimeter of the Sacred Space, and consecrate it with incense and salt water.
Calling the Quarters
We call the Guardians of the four directions, symbolized by Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, to witness and protect this Rite, and to bring their unique gifts to the Bride and Groom and to their union.
Calling the Lord and Lady
The Priest and Priestess invite the gods to enter into our circle. Wiccans see Deity as both masculine and feminine, and therefore, we invite both the Lord and Lady to join us in this Sacred Space, witness the Rite, and bring Their blessings to the Bride and Groom's union, which is an echo of Their own.
Binding of the Hands
Wiccan weddings are best known for the "handfasting," or the binding of the hands of the couple.
Presentation to the Quarters
The Bride and Groom are brought to each of the Quarters in turn, to declare their union and receive the blessings of that Quarter.
Wine and Cakes
The sharing of food and drink with one another is one of the oldest and most basic rituals known to Mankind, and it is a part of every Wiccan ceremony. The wine and cakes are blessed by the newly married couple, symbolically representing the Sacred Union between the Lady and Lord.
Jumping the Broom
The ritual of jumping the broom is an old one, and steeped in tradition. It symbolizes the couple's union, their new home together, and jumping over the threshold into a new life together.
Extending the Circle
The Priest and Priestess will extend the Sacred Space we have constructed, so that it will encompass all of the wedding celebrations to follow. We know that the food, drink, dancing, and celebrations that will follow are just as sacred as the Rite in which we have just participated.
One of the things I liked best was that, because it was a smallish group, we were all inside the circle. They swept all around everyone, and, while we stood and faced the different directions as instructed, they moved around the perimeter of the circle. You could easily tell who had been to a Wiccan wedding before and who hadn't from who knew which way to turn and when! It was inside, likely because the weather was iffy, although I think outside would have been better. As they're casting the circle, one of the things they bring around is incense, which was a bit strong in the small space, and I think made some of the kids tend to sneeze.
I have a feeling that the ceremony was vastly simplified for us, as I know Wicca tends to have a *lot* of symbolism and a kind of poetry to it. The casting the circle, and calling the Quarters and the Lord and Lady were very short and seemed abbreviated. That actually makes sense, since I presume a lot of the guests wouldn't get most of the symbolism anyway!
The handfasting part was pretty. The little girl that brought up the rings also brought the cord, although it wasn't red like I had read about. It was in the wedding colors, instead. The Bride and Groom's hands were bound together, with each one's hand on the other's wrist, so that they could put the ring on each other's finger. They wrote their own vows, which were very similar to others I had heard. I liked the end, which was something like, "Will you take me as I truly am?" and there was a part about, "I promise to carefully listen, and to speak the truth."
Then there was more moving around the circle, which was nice as everyone got to have a front row seat at some part or another. That helped as it was sometimes hard to hear what they were saying. Then their hand were unbound, and the Bride and Groom blessed the wine (white grape juice) and cakes (small, possibly gluten-free, cookies). Then the bridesmaids and groomsmen brought the trays down to each row of seats and had us pass them along, taking one as they went. This was very practical, as there was no room in that space for a lot of people to get up and move around. It also had us looking at and smiling at each other. The grape juice was in lots of small glasses, though, and no one was quite sure what to do with them afterwards. I suspect a lot of them got left under chairs and forgotten. The blessing was lovely, though, and it was nice to share in the ceremony.
Jumping the broom was cute, but I imagine it was a lot harder to do in a wedding dress than it looked!
There was a bit more ceremony, and then the Bride and Groom left, presumably to start a mad round of picture-taking, while the Priest and Priestess finished up the blessings, and the ceremony to extend the circle to encompass the reception and all the following parties. I think they simplified that part, too. The whole thing was very graceful, and very personal. I learned later that the bride had officiated at the wedding a few years previous of the Priest and Priestess who officiated today. There were a lot of neat touches like that.
The reception was wild. There was a live jazz band, and the Bride and Groom had taken lessons, possibly from some of the guests, as there were a lot of great dancers on the floor. Some of the guests left at one point and came back in full costume, one group of sword dancers (Renfaire style, maybe?) and another crew in leiderhosen (spelling?) and doing all sorts of crazy dances. There was a lot of laughter and good food. It was a lovely day, spent talking, laughing, and dancing with my husband and celebrating a new marriage just begun.