Being a more spiritual person, I wanted to do something related to my beliefs and customs. I thought for a while on what I wanted to do, and I decided I would love to “document” a Handfasting ceremony and show it as a sort of photo album displayed on a traditional Wiccan Altar.
Handfasting is a historical ceremony that is similar to a wedding or betrothal. It means to “formally promise” yourself to your significant other. It dates back to the time of the ancient Celts, and many different religions have adopted it as a custom since then. I will be using the Handfasting tradition used in Wicca, as that is the religion I loosely follow. I have always been interested in this type of ceremony, and have been researching every aspect of performing one and what I will need. Traditionally in a Wiccan Handfasting Ceremony, there are cords/ ribbons that are used to bound the couples hands together while the ceremony is being done. The colour of the cord used to have to be red, but further research has shown that nowadays any other colours can be used to symbolize the couple and what they want for their relationship. A Wiccan Priest/ Priestess will be present to “cast” a ceremonial circle around the couple, perform the readings and tie the couples hands together, usually 6 or more times, the last time being loose so the couples hands can be slipped out of the cord easily. The cord is then to be kept by the couple as a symbol of their lives being forever knotted together and united, never to be unknotted.
A Wiccan Altar is a small structure, like a table, where one would put different objects to be used in worship and prayer. Permanent objects on the Altar are: an Athame (ceremonial knife (NOT used in any sort of killings or sacrifices- a common misjudgement)), a Chalice (ceremonial cup), candles, a Pentacle (the 5 points of it symbolize your Spirit, and the Four Elements) and some sort of incense related to what you are worshiping that day/week/year. Traditionally, one will celebrate and worship the 8 Wiccan Sabbats, changing the different objects they place on their altar as each holiday rolls around. They can also place other things on their altar unrelated to these holidays, to worship and create a sort of “shrine”. The topic that these things relate to would be something of importance, like a wedding, death or birth.
This is where an altar comes into play with my piece. My piece will be displayed as a photo album with photos documenting the handfasting ceremony, on an original altar I will be designing. I will have many objects related to worshiping the love and union/handfasting between the two people placed on the altar with the photo album.
I have actors which I will be instructing on what to do when doing a handfasting ceremony, and I will be taking the pictures to document it. I am also making the original cords that bind their hands and symbolize them, the different aspects to their outfits, the photo album itself and designing the altar and it’s objects on it.
Crowley, V. (2003). Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World. Harrisonburg, USA: R.R. Donelley’s.
Harvey, Graham (1994). “The Roots of Pagan Ecology”. Journal of Contemporary Religion