In the last week I’ve had the honour of being the celebrant for two quite different legal Pagan weddings.
On the summer solstice I joined with the Tuatha de Bridget group in Glasgow for a summer solstice ritual with a handfasting included. There was a mixture of members of the Tuatha de Bridget group and friends and family of the couple. The group is described as druidcraft – meaning a mixture of druidry and Wicca. This particlar ritual included honoring the earth, sea and sky and the spirit of the place we were in and calls to the ancestors, Belenus and Brigantia. The handfasting aspect of the ritual was heavily influenced by modern druidry which is what the couple wanted. I think it went well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was the first time I’ve done a handfasting or wedding within a seasonal festival.
On Friday (26th) I was the celebrant for a heathen wedding. I had to do quite a bit of research for it and I’ve learnt quite a bit. On behalf of the couple I called on Odin, Freya, Thor, Sif, Var, the Disir and the Norns. While I do not have any personal relationship with any of these beings I do feel that my words were heard. A libation was made by the bride’s daughter on behalf of the couple. The wedding vows were exchanged while the couple held an oath ring and they later made promises to their children using that same oath ring. It was quite different to anything I had done before and very enjoyable.
It was and is a pleasure and a priviledge to be part of such special days for couples and something I really enjoy doing. It is tiring because you put a huge amount of energy into doing the best you can for each couple but worth it when it all comes together of the day.
So to Rachel & Simon and Cassie & Drew long life and happiness to you and may your Gods guide and bless you.
What is it to be a priest in a pagan community? This is a question I keep coming back to and I’m still not certain I have a convincing answer.
Most dictionaries I have looked at give definitions of a priest as one who act as a mediator between god/s and people and who perform rites of sacrifice and celebration. The word itself comes from the Greek presbyteros meaning “elder”. Some dictionaries will give a definition of someone ordained in a Christian church to consecrate the bread and wine for Mass.
In most pagan communities individuals are encouraged to develop their own relationships with their gods, to make their own offerings and sacrifices. Individuals are usually encouraged to develop their skills so that they can craft their own rites and rituals. My own experiences show that some simply don’t want to do learn how to craft rituals for groups or indeed for themselves but prefer to let others craft rites where they can take part.
There are also times in life where you don’t want to be writing and or leading a ritual such as a wedding or a funeral – most people at these times want someone else to act as a celebrant.
Some months ago a discussion took place on one of the forums I belong to on what a priest should be. The following is my summary of ideas from that discussion:
A priest would most importantly be expected to serve the community and the gods. They would expected be able to communicate effectively with both the gods and the members of the community and if necessary negotiate between them. They would be expected to be a well known figure in the community and an exemplar to all within it. They would be expected to be willing and able to share their experience and knowledge to aid members of the community in both spiritual and practical matters. They should be willing and able to share what they have learnt and to continue their own learning.
A priest within a community would be expected to enable members to celebrate ritual in a deep and meaningful way, they would not necessarily lead all rituals but would be capable of doing so as required. They would also be expected to be able to act as a celebrant for namings, weddings, funerals and other rites of passage as required.
I think the key to this role is service and in order to be a priest as defined above you must have a community that you serve and a community that recognises your service.
I am going to use this place to record some of my thoughts and feelings about my spiritual journey. As a spiritual journey can touch all aspects of life there maybe posts about a wide range of things in the future but the journey will unfold as it will.
I am a polytheist pagan living and working in Scotland and I have been a pagan for just over a decade now. I’m a member of the Pagan Federation (Scotland) and of the Druid Network. At one stage I called myself a Druid but I no longer do that. I used to say I walked in the forest of druidry but I’m not sure I really do that now either. I am a member of Brython and I’m still exploring what that means to me. I am also a legal celebrant and have had the honour and priviledge of leading both weddings and funerals for members of the pagan community and others.
Let the journey continue.