Before the ceremony the couple will sit with the Priest and Priestess and work out a fair division of their property, plus provision for support of any children of the marriage. A scribe will make note of this and the record will be signed by all. If either husband or wife are not available for the rite (by reason of relocation, ill health or whatever), then a Witch of the appropriate sex may stand in for the missing party. The rite will take place in this fashion only if there is a signed agreement from the missing party, together with the marriage ring.
The Erecting the Temple is performed. Priest and Priestess kiss.
Covener: "...(Husband's name)... and ...(Wife's name)..., stand forth."
"Names used for the gods may be inserted here.
Husband and Wife stand before the altar, Husband facing Priestess and Wife facing Priest.
Priestess: "Why are you here?" Husband: "I wish a Handparting from . ..(Name)..." Priest: "Why are you here?" Wife: "I wish a Handparting from ...(Name)..." Priestess: "Do you both desire this of your own free will?"
Husband & Wife: "We do." Priest: "Has a settlement been reached between you regarding the division of property and (if appropriate) care for the children?" Husband & Wife: "It has." Priest: "Has this been duly recorded, signed and witnessed?"
Covener-Scribe: "It has." Priest: "Then let us proceed, remembering that we stand ever before the gods."
HUSBAND and WIFE join hands. They repeat the following, line by line, speaking together.
Priestess: "Together repeat after me: 'I, ...(Name)..., do hereby most freely dissolve my partnership with... (Spouse's name) I do so in all honesty and sincerity, before the Gods, with my brothers and sisters of the Craft as witnesses. No longer are we as One, but now are Two individuals, free to go our separate ways. We release all ties, one to the other, yet ever will we retain respect for one another, as we have love and respect for our fellow Wiccans. So be it.'" Priest: "Hand Part!"
HUSBAND and WIFE release each other's hands, remove their marriage rings and give them to the Priestess. She sprinkles and censes them, saying:
Priestess: "In the names of the Gods do I cleanse these rings."
She returns them to the couple, to do with them as they wish.
Priestess: "Now are you handparted. Let all know you as such. Go your separate ways in Peace and in Love—never in bitterness— and in the ways of the Craft. So mote it be."
Then shall follow the ceremony of the Cakes and Ale and the Clearing the Tempk.
Generally speaking Witches are very open-minded people, especially where religion is concerned. They have no hard and fast "Commandments"; no catechisms. They feel that all should be free to choose the religion that best suits them. It would seem obvious that there can be no one religion for all. Temperaments differ. Some love ritual for its own sake; others look for simplicity. All religions lead in the same direction, simply taking different paths to get there. Witches feel that all should therefore be free to choose their own path. All—including the Witches' own children. A child should not be forced to follow a particular religion just because it is the religion of the parent (s). For this reason most Witch parents try to give their children as wide a view of religion as possible, that the child may make a free choice when ready. It is naturally hoped that the child will choose the Craft, but it is not forced. Far better that the child be happy in a religion different from the parent than that s/he become a religious hypocrite.
For the above reasons there is no Craft "baptism". Instead, in a simple ceremony, the parents ask the gods to watch over the child and give her, or him, wisdom in choice when older. The child will be fully initiated only when old enough to decide for her/ himself. The exact age will, of course, vary from one child to another. Until that time the child should certainly be encouraged to participate in Circles and to "get the feel" of the Craft. When ready, then the initiation will be conducted by the Priest and Priestess, or, if they so wish, by the parents acting as Priest and Priestess.
In virtually all branches of the Craft, anyone may leave at any time, should they so wish. They are also free to return again, at any time, should they so desire. There would be no need for a second initiation.
BIRTH RITE (or Wiccaning)
This may be performed at any of the rituals, prior to the ceremony of Cakes and Ale, or it may be done as a rite in itself, preceded by Erecting the Temple and then followed by Cakes and Ale and, of course, Clearing the
The Erecting the Temple is performed. Priest and Priestess kiss.
Covener: "There is an addition to our number. Let us give her/him due welcome."
PARENTS move to stand across the altar from the Priest and Priestess. They hold the baby.
Priest: "What is the name of the child?"
Parents give the child's name—the name by which it will be known in the Circle until old enough to choose its own name.
Priest: "We welcome you, . ..(Name)..." Priestess: "Welcome, and much love to you."
PRIEST and PRIESTESS lead PARENTS and child three times, deosil, around the Circle. PARENTS then "offer" the child—they hold the child over the altar.
Parents: "We here offer the fruit of our love to the gods. May they watch over her/him as s/ he grows."
PRIESTESS dips her fingers in the salted water and gently wipes them over the baby's face. Mother then passes the child through the smoke of the incense.
Priestess: "May the Lord and the Lady ever smile upon you."
Priest: "May they guard you and guide you through this life."
Priestess: "May they help you choose that which is right and shun that which is wrong." Priest: "May they see that no harm befalls you, or others through you." Priestess (to parents): "We charge you both, in the names of the God and of the Goddess, to lead this child, with love, through the highways and byways of life. Teach him/her the ways of the Craft that s/he may learn to honor and respect all life and to harm none." Priest: "Teach her/him of the Lord and the Lady; of this life, of all that went before and what may come after. Tell the tales of the gods and teach the history of our Craft. Teach her/him to strive for that perfection which all desire and, when the time is right, hope—but do not press—that s/he joins with us and becomes truly one of our beloved family." Parents: "All this will we do. So do we pledge." Priest and Priestess: "We bid welcome to .. .(Name)..." All: "Welcome!"
Because of the Craft belief in reincarnation, death is a time for celebration rather than grief. Death signifies the completion of a learning period ... the individual has "graduated" and will be going on to other things. This should be celebrated. Sorrow, then, is a sign of selfishness. We are sorry for ourselves, that we have been left behind, without the love and companionship of one dear to us.
There are no hard and fast teachings on what should be done wih the body after death. After all, it was only a shell for the spirit, or soul, that inhabited it and has now gone on. Many Witches (I think, probably the majority) favor cremation; others leave their bodies to hospitals. It is a personal choice. Few, if any, Witches see the sense of the elaborate and (for the relatives) expensive trappings of today's funerals.
CROSSING THE BRIDGE (at death)
This rite may be performed at any of the other rituals, prior to the Cakes and Ale, or it may be done as a rite in itself, preceded by Erecting the Temple and followed by Cakes and Ale and, of course, Clearing the Temple.
The Erecting the Temple is performed. Priest and Priestess kiss. A single long note is sounded on a horn, by one of the Coveners.
Covener: "The horn is sounded for ...(Name of
Deceased Witch)." •All: "So be it."
Priestess: "That today... (Name)... is not with us, here in the Circle, saddens us all. Yet let us try not to feel sad. For is this not a sign that s/he has fulfilled this life's work? Now is s/he free to move on. We shall meet again, never fear. And that will be a time for further celebration."
Priest: "Let us send forth our good wishes to bear her/him across the Bridge. May s/he return at any time s/he may wish, to be with us here."
ALL take their athames and point them at a spot behind the altar, facing the Priest and Priestess. They imagine the dead Witch standing on that spot, looking as they best remember her or him. They concentrate on sending love, joy and happiness from their bodies, along the line of the athame, into the imagined body. This continues for a few moments. The Priestess signals the end by replacing her athame and saying:
Priestess: "We wish you all the Love and Happiness we may. We will never forget you. Do not you forget us. Whenever we meet here, you are always welcome." All: "So mote it be."
ALL now sit and if any present wish to speak of the deceased, they may do so. If no one else, then at least the Priest and/or Priestess should speak reminiscen-tly of the dead Witch, remembering especially the good and happy times. Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes andAle.
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