GUEST POST - Celebrant Kate Explains the Use of an Oathing Stone in Your Wedding Ceremony
3rd February 2020
One of the most intimate and meaningful ways to say your vows is the use of an Oathing Stone. This is an ancient Celtic tradition in which an oath made with your hand resting on stone or iron was seen as more binding than one made another way.
The ancient Celts had a very strong sense of place. Their tribes were intimately connected to the land and their spiritual beliefs were also woven into the very fabric of their homes. Often their given names were taken from place names or features of their tribal homes, and they also believed in the spirits who they believed resided in their locality.
To a Celt, their ancestry was key. They believed that the spirits of their ancestors lived on in the rocks, earth, sky and water which surrounded their tribes’ homeland. As a result, an oath given on stone from their homeland was also a way of involving their ancestors in the promises made. They believed that the stone carried messages as a conduit from the ancestors to the couple and back again. The oathing stone was seen to be part of the commitment the couple gave to each other, often witnessed by the tribal chieftain, and rooted their love in the land that bore them and which was also their future.
For a couple, the oath gave them access to the wisdom of their forebears, and also to their protection for future happiness.
Nowadays couples often take time to find a stone which ‘speaks’ to them. It is lucky that so many of our beaches in the UK are pebbly, as this makes it much easier to find the perfect stone! I often find that couples want to keep the stone, rather than send it on its own journey, and the painting of stones with colours and patterns to the couple’s design is one of the ways in which this can be done.
There are many ways to conduct this ceremony. My own favourite is for one person to hold the stone in their left hand, and the other to place their hand on top. This leaves their right hands free to hold their vows for them to read to each other. They can gaze into the eyes of the one they love whilst making their vows in an intimate way which is very moving to see. I then lay my hand on top and say the Celtic Blessing. This moving ceremony is very popular in couples married by celebrants and is a wonderful way to involve members of the family and the couple’s ancestors, as they can be mentioned in the vows and in the celebrant’s address.
The Celtic Blessing
Above you are the stars, below you are the stones.
As time passes, remember...
Like a star should your love be constant,
Like the earth should your love be firm.
Let the powers of the mind and of the intellect
guide you in your marriage,
Let the strength of your wills bind you together,
Let the power of love and desire make you happy
and the strength of your dedication make you inseparable.
Possess one another, yet be understanding.
Have patience with each other,
For storms will come, and they will go quickly,
Forced to dissipate in the light of your love.
Be free in giving of affection and of warmth.
Have no fear, and let not the ways
Or words of the unenlightened give you unease.
For your love is with you,
Now and always!
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