The handfasting

Some weeks ago my friend Kevin Cadwallender asked me to conduct a handfasting ceremony for him and his partner Fatma. Of course I felt deeply honoured, but rather nervous about the process. I needn’t have worried. The ceremony was held yesterday, in the Scottish Poetry Library, and it was, I thought, a very beautiful occasion.

For those who don’t know, a handfasting is an ancient Celtic ceremony to recognise the binding of a couple, the creation of a partnership. Vows and promises are exchanged by the couple, and the guests are involved by promising to support them. Rings, having been consecrated by the elements of earth, air, fire and water, are exchanged by the couple, whose hands are then bound together by a symbolic ribbon.

As I spoke the words of the ceremony, in front of a large gathering of friends and family, I found them to be both moving and very meaningful, far more so than the memories of my own civil marriage ceremony all those years ago. It was lovely.

We then moved over to the Mushroom Trust’s beautiful garden in Dunbar’s Close for photographs and toasts – a gorgeous setting – and then we continued to celebrate in the Canon’s Gait pub. A memorable day, and a very happy one.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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7 Responses to The handfasting

  1. Rachel Fox says:

    It sounds perfect. So how does it work legally and all that? Does it make any difference in that sense or is it more for the individuals involved than anything to do with legal status, the state, pensions etc.?
    Me and mine are not married (as you may know). I have never wanted to be married (to anybody – not even my perfect man) but that ceremony sounds as good as it gets!

  2. Colin Will says:

    Handfasting is a legal form of marriage in Scotland, but only if the person conducting it is licensed (and I'm not) and if it's combined with a civil ceremony (which this wasn't). So in this case it has no legal status, but I'm sure in the minds of those present it is no less binding. It felt so right.

  3. Rachel Fox says:

    Just wondered. Thanks for the answer.

  4. BarbaraS says:

    How cool is that, trysted in the SPL! Now that's the sort of ceremony that I would have loved to have had.

    Have heard of handfasting before – with the clause that if after a year it doesn't work out, the couple can separate (provided no kids on the way, etc).

  5. Colin Will says:

    It was very special Barbara. And the couple promised 'for ever'.

  6. BellBookCandleSupply says:

    Handfasting is definitely one of the many celebrations wherein overflowing amount of joy is sincerely shared. A wonderful way of expressing undying love to whom you wanna be with as long as you live. Unconventional for some but its meaning is so profound and deep.
    Tools & Gifts For Your Spiritual Practice

  7. Anonymous says:

    It's over I think, quite sad really

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