Guest Blog by Patricia Eddy, author of By the Fates, Fought
I love weddings. But in a magical world, you can’t always have an actual wedding. In my series, By the Fates, Raven and Ealasaid are destined to love each other forever. They say the sacred words of binding in By the Fates, Freed and from that moment, their souls are one.
I love the idea of destined love and a love that lasts throughout the afterlife, but we are creatures of tradition and so after I finished By the Fates, Freed, I realized there was something still missing between Raven and Ealasaid-a public and visible commitment between the two characters.
Hence, handfasting. It’s an old custom, dating back centuries. The term comes from the custom of tying the man and woman’s hands together at the wrists. In many instances, the binding only lasted as long as the ceremony, but in others, it lasted until the now-husband-and-wife actually physically consummated their relationship.
There are many different handfasting rituals. Some actually require the binding of both hands, others just one. Most have an officiant, though the couple recites their own vows to one another. One of the reasons for the rise in popularity of handfasting after the 1950’s was that anyone could technically be handfasted-even those for whom traditional marriage was illegal (same sex couples for example). It is a symbol of commitment that is often incorporated into a wide variety of civil marriages even today.
In By the Fates, Fought, Raven and Ealasaid perform a public handfasting. In their world, the words of mating are only for each other. They are said in private, usually in an intimate moment, and have no witnesses. Though only those words are required to complete the mating, the public ceremony gives family and friends the opportunity to witness the couple’s love.
When creating the ceremony in By the Fates, Fought, I researched a variety of Wiccan and Pagan handfasting ceremonies. Most reference the points of the compass or the elements of the earth as both factor strongly in Wiccan and Pagan customs. A handfasting can be more than a promise, it can be a deep and personal commitment between two people.
I hope you enjoy the handfasting ceremony from By the Fates, Fought.
Raven offered me his hand and led me inside the circle. We stood at the center. The couples formed three points of the compass with Faolan taking up the fourth. Moire and Ian spoke first, their voices combining in unison. “We ask the Fates to bless this union with the gifts from the four corners of the world. We represent the gifts of the northa firm foundation on which to build, a hope for a fertile mind and body, and a stable home where you may always return to each other’s arms.”
Marcas and Una spoke next. “We represent the gifts of the souththe comfort of a loving home, the heat of the heart’s passion, and light in the darkest of times.”
Seònaid and Ami stepped forward. “We represent the gifts of the westa commitment as deep and a passion as allencompassing as the sea.”
Faolan’s raspy voice completed the ritual. “I give you the gifts of the eastthe union of the heart, mind, and body, fresh beginnings with the rising of each sun.”
The air around us stirred. I swept my gaze over the deep purple sky to where it touched the expansive sea. The water lapped softly at the sand. I inhaled deeply. The salty air filled my lungs. I had never felt so freeso very loved and safe.
Ami stepped forward with a braided piece of silk. “Ealasaid, take Raven’s left hand in yours.” She laid her hand on ours, cool against our warmth. Her eyes met mine. “May I bind your hands?”
I nodded. As she tied a loose knot at our wrists, a sudden memory threatened me, but one look into Raven’s eyes and it vanished.
“Your hands are now joined, in front of your family, as witnessed by the Fates. Hold each other, caress each other, support each other, love each other. Your lives, your hearts, and your souls are joined in this life and the next. By the Fates and by the laws of this land may this be done.” Ami unwound the silk and handed it to Seònaid. “There is only one thing left to do.”
I looked over at her. What else could there be?
Raven dipped his hand into his pocket and brought forth two silver rings, one large and one small. “A symbol. Like our sigils. I had them made for us.”
He took the smaller ring and slid it onto my finger. It was warm. The engravings appeared to come alive for a brief second, glinting in the light of the surrounding lanterns. Raven extended his hand, offering me his ring. I had a sudden flash of memory: Raven offering me a grape the first morning I’d been free. Tears pricked at my eyes. With trembling fingers, I held his ring. My magic pulsed, heating the silver. What is happening? As the ring slid over Raven’s finger, I awakened my sight. Emerald wisps of air were flowing from my hand to his. His aura took on the slightest green tinge. It was almost like a halo around his body. The ring had a stronger aura, one all its own. Was there magic in the metal? I looked down at my hand. My ring had no such aura. When I looked back at his ring, the aura was gone.
“Ealasaid.” He brought me back with the gentle word. “The Fates smiled upon me the day they led me to you. They have blessed me every day since. I have seen you discover your magic, your voice, your strength, and even your very name. Each day with you is a gift-one I treasure.”
I cupped his cheek. “It is I who am blessed. I had nothing. You gave me the strength to discover who I was. It is because of you that I have a family. There is nothing more precious to me than this.”
For several long moments, all was silent. We were locked in a gentle embrace. Raven’s eyes shone with unshed tears. He dipped his head. His lips were soft, warm, and tasted of home. He was my home.