ADVICE - How to Make Your Handfasting Earth-Friendly, by Sacred Celebrant Rebecca of Willow Ceremonies
22nd January 2020
Your ceremony is the most important part of your wedding day, yet it can often get overlooked when it comes to an eco-friendly wedding. Wedding ceremonies are what I’m lucky enough to do for a living, but more than that, eco-conscious pagan wedding ceremonies are what I specialise in. I’m a sacred celebrant at Willow Ceremonies which means that I conduct primarily pagan ceremonies or at least ceremonies with a pagan twist to them. I’m also a very eco-conscious person, and this naturally spills out into the ceremonies that I create and conduct. As a celebrant, there are many things I do which mean my ceremonies are as eco-friendly as possible, but there is so much more that you as a couple can bring to your ceremony to make it even greener. Together we’ll explore just a few examples.
To set the tone of your eco-conscious handfasting, you could start it off with a grounding and centring ritual for you and your guests. This is done much like a guided meditation, where your celebrant leads everyone through it with their voice and tone. Your celebrant will guide everyone through this moment by taking you, in your mind’s eye, down through the sacred earth beneath your feet, and eventually coming to a stop by an underground lake, miles beneath the surface upon which you stand. From this point, your celebrant can guide your guests to send out healing energy from the lake up through Mother Earth and rippling out across the world like waves. After this, your celebrant can then take you up and out through the treetops and clouds, and out into the atmosphere above. From here, the same healing energy can be sent out to the world much like before. Not only is this ritual tone-setting, but it also puts you and your guests in the right frame of mind for your sacred handfasting whilst giving something back to Mother Earth.
Once you are all attuned to Mother Earth, your handfasting can begin. This is where you can add meaningful rituals that not only demonstrate the deep love you share with your beloved, but also give some love back to our Earth in the form of eco-rituals. One lovely way to do this is to have a seed throwing ritual. Now, this does depend on where you’re having your ceremony; this is best done if you own the land upon which you are handfasted, or at least get permission from the landowner! Your celebrant can lead your guests to form a circle around you and your beloved, each with a handful of seeds that are native to the land. From here each guest can take it in turns to imbue their seeds with a wish for your marriage, and then toss the seeds onto the earth around you and your beloved. You are then encircled by the seeds; they will either take root or will feed the animals of the land. Your celebrant could speak about how surrounding you both with new life is a symbol of your new journey from partners to spouses.
Your chosen readings are impactful moments during your marriage ceremony, so why not use them to spread awareness for eco-issues? You can use poetry, pieces of literature, music, or even some of the greatest speeches given by eco-activists. If you would rather opt for more traditional readings, then you can always reinterpret them as being about Mother Earth and how best we should care for her. Your chosen reader can explain your preferred significance to your guests before they start the piece, this allows the message to settle in before the reading has even begun.
Just before your hands are tied together with your handfasting cord, you could plant two trees with your beloved. Whether in pots for you both to take home or on the land itself (again, check with the landowner) your trees will represent you and your beloved growing together in your new union. The trees will also help to reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding day. Trees are sacred, and your celebrant could bless them as such with some of your chosen biodegradable natural petal confetti. After this, you and your beloved can be handfasted with your new trees watching over your union.
These are just a few examples as to how you can incorporate your eco-ideals into your actual ceremony. They can, and should, all be adapted to suit you, your guests and the land upon which you will be handfasted. When you choose your celebrant, make sure we share your values, but also don’t be afraid to make your own suggestions and bounce ideas off each other. The best ceremonies are ones where there is a bond between the celebrant and their couple. The most joyous of ceremonies are the most unique, the most obviously ‘you’. Have fun and enjoy the blessed journey of your changing union.
Rebecca is an accredited sacred celebrant who conducts handfastings, vow renewals and marriage blessings. She is based in the magical wilds of Cornwall, very much embedded into the local nature and mythos. She can be found wandering around the woodland and trying to read all the books that are in existence.
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