Prayers and Blessings

Handfasting is a historical term for "betrothal" or "wedding". In the Early Modern history of Scotland (16th and 17th centuries), especially in the Hebrides, the term could also refer to a temporary marriage. The term has come to be used as a replacement for "marriage" in the vocabulary of Neopaganism, especially in Wicca.[1]
The verb to handfast in the sense of "to formally promise, to make a contract" is recorded for Late Old English, especially in the context of a contract of marriage. The derived handfasting is for a ceremony of engagement or betrothal is recorded in Early Modern English. The term was presumably loaned into English from Old Norse handfesta "to strike a bargain by joining hands"; there are also comparanda from the North Sea Germanic sphere, Old Frisian hondfestinge and Middle Low German hantvestinge. The term is derived from the verb to handfast, used in Middle to Early Modern English for the making of a contract.[2]
The term "handfasting" or "hand-fasting" has been in use in Celtic neopaganism and Wicca for wedding ceremonies from at least the late 1960s, apparently first used in print byHans Holzer.[3] It was popularised by the 1991 movie The Doors, depicting a fictional version of the real 1970 handfasting ceremony of Jim Morrison and Patricia Kennealy-Morrison (with the real Patricia Kennealy-Morrison playing the Celtic Pagan priestess). The expression "handfasting" is also found in newsgroup discussions from the early 1990s.[4]


In Neopaganism, and particularly in Wicca, "handfasting" is a term used for a wedding ceremony. The marriage vows taken may be for "a year and a day," "a lifetime", "for all of eternity" or "for as long as love shall last." As with many Neopagan rituals, some groups may use historically attested forms of the ceremony, striving to be as traditional as possible, while others may use only the basic idea of handfasting and largely create a new ceremony.[5] In some traditions, the couple may jump over a broom at the end of the ceremony. Some may instead leap over a small fire together.

The Prayer

Blessed are the man and the woman who have grown beyond themselves and have seen through their separations.

They delight in the way things are and keep their hearts open, day and night.

They are like trees planted near flowing rivers, which bear fruit when they are ready.

Their leaves will not fall or wither.

Everything they do will succeed.

Blessed is one who comes in the name of Love.

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