Rites of Passage

It is wedding season, and one thing I LOVE about being ordained is performing handfasting (Pagan wedding) ceremonies. I don’t have the opportunity to perform them as often as I would like, yet this month I have been invited to perform two of them. Hooray!

age-cycle-womanThe first one was this past weekend, in the beautiful city of Kelowna in the interior of BC. My family took the weekend for a family trip, and visited my husband’s mother, and connect with a student of mine for an initiation. The next one is next week, near the beach on the Island. I’m looking forward to that one as well.

Marriage is a rite of passage, a celebration of the love between two people. The ceremony acknowledges that love, and shifts the relationship, affirming the commitment of the couple to each other, surrounded and witnessed by loved ones.

Because of one rite of passage, I missed another. The celebration of life for my friend Shelby, who crossed over several weeks ago, was also this weekend. That rite of passage was more for the people left behind than for Shelby.

We underestimate the importance of these rites of passage. Rites of passage change the participant, and mark a shift from one stage of life to the next. Marriage and death are obvious shifts. There are other moments in our lives that ought to be celebrated – birth, becoming an adult, achieving a big goal, separation from a partner, becoming a crone or sage… anything that feels significant.

Our society marks some of these moments – bachelor or bachelorette parties; baby showers; graduations; funerals. The goals, and endings (whether jobs or relationships), and aging – those we often let pass without recognition. And when we let them pass, we soon forget the importance of the lesson, or the things we went through to get where we are.

So mark those moments, as I did with my tattoo. I’m not saying you ought to get a tattoo at each of these points! Do *something* to acknowledge the moment. Go out for a nice meal. Light a candle and make an offering to the God or Goddess you feel most connected with. Throw a party. Make the moment special.

What moment would you like to recognize with a rite of passage?



I Don’t Do Windows, But I Do Weddings

This past Saturday I performed my first legal wedding. I’ve performed handfastings and wedding ceremonies before, I just wasn’t able to legally sign the paperwork for Vital Statistics BC until recently.

Tahsis BCThe ceremony was in Tahsis, BC, a beautiful and remote village on Vancouver Island. I was told Tahsis means “end of the road”. I certainly believe it!

We were supposed to meet the couple for a rehearsal at 10:30 am. So we left home with plenty of time to get there. It’s a very good thing we did. After driving for an hour through the absolutely gorgeous Strathcona Park, we came to the turn we needed to take to get to Tahsis, just past Gold River. Within a few hundred meters, the road turned to gravel, with warning sign about it being an active logging road.

For the next 62 kilometers, my husband held tightly to the steering wheel and tried to navigate around the worst of the potholes. The road went from gravel, to old pavement, to old pavement patched with gravel, back to gravel, to new pavement, back to old pavement… you get the idea. By the time we finally arrived in Tahsis, almost an hour and a half later, our vehicle was two-toned, painted with the mud from the dirt road, and our tailbones were eager for us to get up and walk around!

Don’t get me wrong – the drive was lovely. There were some stunning views as we drove through the mountains, past rivers and creeks that were clear and green with life. We even saw a black bear.

As I was told, the village was small, and so the location of the ceremony was easy to find. We arrived just before 10:30 am, but the bride and groom weren’t there. The bride had gone to get ready – apparently they hadn’t remembered that we set a meeting for that morning.

We made the most of the situation, going for a short walk up Ubedam Creek Trail (I commented that it was so named because “you-be-damned” if you make it all the way! It was a very steep trail), while we waited for the restaurant to open. We had a lovely lunch at the Tahsis Time Grill (if you ever make it there, their homemade lemonade was fabulous!).

Since we still had some time before the ceremony, we decided to go check into our room at the motel. It was across town (a whole two minutes away :)), attached to the pub and liquor store. None of them were open. After we walked part way around the building, a young girl asked if we were looking to check in. We said yes, and she opened a door and told us to go through “there” and the keys should be inside. We went through an office, and what looked like a reception area, into a cafe. No one was inside, and we couldn’t see anywhere that had keys.

We went back outside, and asked her where exactly to go. She said we had to go through the kitchen. Yes, that’s right. We had to go through the kitchen of the cafe, through the storage area, through the kitchen of the pub, and into the back entrance of the pub, where we finally found someone to give us a key.

Back the way we had come, and now we went all the way around the outside of the motel to find our room. My husband was about to go bring the van around, when I opened the door, only to realize that room was already occupied!

Thankfully, we found someone else to help us, who gave us a key to a room that was clean, and more importantly, unoccupied! We changed out of traveling clothes and drove back to the park where the ceremony was to be held.

Ready for the handfastingThe rest of the day went much better. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, the ceremony went well, bride and groom were very happy, and everyone was extremely friendly. The groomsmen and several others kept checking in to see if we wanted anything to drink and that we were having a good time. There was a ton of delicious food, good conversation (even if many people were deep in their cups) and fun music. I heard some amazing stories – the best was from the father of the groom. He was a little concerned because of our robes than we were members of the KKK, but he was fine with us being Wiccan.

We took our time coming home the next day, stopping to take some pictures of the sites along the way, including three more black bears, and stopping for brunch in Gold River. My first visit to Tahsis was quite an adventure – one that I will remember for a very long time with smiles.

Oh, did I mention that I do legal handfastings? 🙂