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The meaning of things



A HANDFASTING is an ancient, Celtic, nature-related, spiritual tradition that took place long before weddings became a legal function of the government. Couples were handfasted for a Trial Period, and if love lasted, then the vows were renewed for a longer period of time. The Celts considered the number three to be sacred, representing the Trinity of Sky, Earth and Water, which were three sacred elements in Celtic tradition. Typically, a TRIAL PERIOD would last for a year and a day, three years, six or nine. Charlene and Malik began their Trial Period three years ago and have now chosen to renew their vows for a lifetime.



Irish brides carry a handkerchief down the aisle to catch their bridal tears. A handkerchief passed down from relatives has a family history and carries generations of family tears. A piece of rosemary tied to the corner of the family hanky symbolizes remembrance of those who used it in the past. A handkerchief can also be presented to the mother of the groom at the beginning of the service to honor and thank her. The mother typically puts it to immediate use.



According to Celtic Spirituality, God is found in all things, not only the human heart, but also in all God's creations. The elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water are called upon to cast blessings upon the couple. The ritual is designed to enable us to get in touch with the life force within ourselves, to sense an interconnectedness with all life, and to access the energies of the living earth. Joining the bride and groom through their Higher Selves based on a love for the natural world offers a powerful way of working with and understanding the Self and Nature and speaks to the level of our soul that is in tune with the elements and the stars, the sun and the stones.


(The Ceremonial Circle, Wreaths, Rings)

All things in nature are cyclical—night becomes day, day becomes night, and night becomes day again. The moon waxes and wanes then waxes again. There is spring, summer, autumn, winter, and then spring returns. Death follows life and life follows death, these things are part of the great mysteries. A circle is the symbol of the Sun, and the Earth, and the Universe. It is a symbol of holiness and of perfection and peace. It is also the symbol of the eternality of spiritual truth, love and life, that which has no beginning and no end. In the context of marriage, they are also a symbol of faithfulness and undying love.



    Handfastings are conducted in a circle, which is a symbol of eternity—a sign that life, love and happiness have no beginning and no end. All who enter the circle must do so in perfect love and keep sacred the ceremonial space.

    A wreath is the traditional symbol of matrimony and friendship and also represents the Circle of Life, for all things in this universe move in circles, as do we in the family circle. Our love is part of the Circle of Life, for we laugh and cry, support and are supported, grow and then die, and through our love, bring more love to others. Wreaths given as gifts, represent love, happiness, friendship and gratitude.
    HERBS: Dill symbolizes passion; Rosemary, remembrance; Tarragon, unselfishness. A rose symbolizes unity and beauty. Wreaths with these particular herbs serve as a reminder of the marriage vows spoken and a reminder to always take the time to find the beauty around you and the passion within you, and to feel the strength that your unity provides you.


    Wedding rings are a couple's public pledge of commitment. A ring, being an unbroken circle, is considered to be a symbol of perfection. It is perfect unity without beginning or end. The ring remains a constant reminder of the unity you pledge on your wedding day. A ring on the fourth finger of the left hand expresses to the world that you love and are loved. It was once believed in Ireland that wedding rings were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because the bloodline or artery in this finger connected directly to the heart. Therefore, it is not a brand of ownership, as some would have you believe, but a magick circle that guards a sacred place and creates upon the giver a geise, or honor vow, to uphold the Handfasting oaths they take.


Charlene and Malik chose engagement rings made of the Celtic Love Knot. This pattern is created by using continuous unending lines. The crossing of the lines represents their hearts interwoven and their lives intertwined and symbolizes fidelity and the eternality of their union. The interlacing lines also represent the physical and spiritual nature of our being. The unbroken pattern represents a spiritual growth that is never ending, in addition to enduring love. Charlene and Malik customized their rings by creating a design that incorporated a diamond, which symbolize purity, sincerity and fidelity.  As one of the hardest substances in the world, diamonds also signify the durability of the marriage bond.
When Malik asked Charlene to marry him, she considered the word engagement and its multiple meanings. Charlene not only wanted to be engaged by him, she wanted to be engaging to him as well, and so they both have worn engagement rings that continue to serve as a reminder of their commitment to forever be "engaged" with one another and to forever be "engaging."



A pair of gold rings, formed as clasped hands, were love tokens exchanged by Admiral Lord Nelson and his mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton, in the 17th century as a symbol of love and friendship. The ring, now kept at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, is so worn that much of the detail is obliterated. A version of Emma's ring was imported from the UK in 9k gold from which Charlene and Malik had two duplicates made in 14k gold. Each ring consists of two rings in the form of interlocking clasped hands, which can be worn together or separately as a token of love and friendship. Clasped hands also represent pardon and the act of entering into a contract. They represent unity and agreement as well as the doubling of power and potential achieved by partnership ("where two or more are gathered…"). When two individuals join hands, the physical contact breaches insular reserve and takes the relationship to a more intimate level. Linked hands therefore symbolize solidarity against hostile forces ("united we stand…").
The 9k gold ring was presented to Max and Emily during the ceremony as a token from Charlene serves as a reminder of her vows to them.

The rings were reproduced and fabricated by Jeweler Tom Pinson, Jr. of Gemstone Gallery.



The expressions "join hands in marriage" and "tie the knot" originated from handfasting rituals. The bride and groom take hands, right to right and left to left. From above this is seen as the infinity symbol. The union cord is then used to bind the hands together. The lover’s knot, or the knot of destiny, is tied in the name of Love by Divine Power. As the hands are bound together, so their lives and spirits are joined in a sacred union of joy, love, trust, and mutual support.



Baskets represent the unity of the masculine and feminine creative forces. They contain gifts that are symbolic of the qualities of God (Divinity) and the Elements of Nature (Earth, Fire, Air, Water). The bride's basket contains the written vows, the union cord, the Irish hanky, and special herbs.

  • DIVINITY (Basket with purple and white ribbons, Celtic cross, ivy…)

    Qualities: abundance, balance, beauty, freedom, joy, love, order, peace, power, unity, wholeness, wisdom
  • EARTH (Basket with green ribbons, salt, stones, sticks, and herbs)
    Qualities: Good health, a happy home, groundedness, steadfastness

  • FIRE (Basket with red and orange ribbons, candle, leaves, red rose)
    Qualities: Creativity, harmony, sensuality, vitality

  • AIR (Basket with yellow and white ribbons, feathers, wind chimes, incense)
    Qualities: Wisdom, good communication, learning, intellectual growth

  • WATER (Basket with blue ribbons, shells, willow, water)
    Qualities: Understanding, emotional support, intuition, friendship.



The Irish are famous for their toasts. The idea of raising a cup to offer best wishes has a long history in Celtic tradition. The purpose of the Loving Cup Ceremony is for the bride and groom to share their first drink together as husband and wife. The cup is passed down from generation to generation, ensuring happiness and good fortune to all who drink from it. This is a special moment for the couple to toast their love, devotion, and friendship.


In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. The old Irish term anam cara is translated as soul friend. When you have an anam cara, you are joined in an ancient and eternal way with the person who is a friend of your soul. There is a deep sense of belonging and recognition. You are understood as you are and you are at home. When you feel understood, you can release yourself into the trust and shelter of another persons soul and they can release themselves into you. This kind of soul love is the most real, substantial and powerful form of human presence because it is the place or threshold where human presence and divine presence move in and out of each other.




The Celtic Cross is an ancient symbol of balance. The Celtic cross consists of a circle imposed upon the center of the Latin cross. The shaft of the Celtic cross represents the world axis, the spiritual bridge between heaven and earth. The crossbar eventually was added to the shaft, creating the familiar cross that has historically been considered a male symbol. The four sides of the cross divide the world into four directions, four elements, four seasons, and separates heaven and earth.

The circle is a female symbol representing the unity of all life. When placed at the crossbar it represents divine light and spiritual radiance. Thus the cross within the circle unites the principles of female and male. The point at the center represents the Most High God, the "motionless mover" about which all life revolves. The same point is also the place of the heart on the cross, the source for divine love everlasting.

The unbroken knotwork that adorns the Celtic cross is symbolic as well, representing the eternal process of man’s and woman’s spiritual growth. As one’s eye follows the endlessly repetitious pattern of the knotwork a meditation is induced, which allows one to transcend the earthly plane and reach spiritual heights.



This is the first act of working together as husband and wife, then the broom sweeps away their ties to the past.



The Celts believed, as do we, that the way you view your future actually shapes it…("Change your thinking, change your life"). The Pebble Toss is a Celtic tradition that provides the opportunity for each guest to take a moment to visualize a joyous future for the bride and groom. Pebbles are tossed into the water while visualizing the couple's future happiness.



The richness of the cake is thought to offer a promise of prosperity for the couple. When the bride and groom cut the cake and share it with their guests, they are thought to be sharing their prosperity and happiness. This is the bride and groom’s first food together as husband and wife. Feeding each other shows their commitment to caring for each other.

The Wedding Cake, baked with love, compliments of Emma Rauschenberger




May the flowers always line your path
And sunrise light your day,
May songbirds serenade you, 
Every step along the way,
May a rainbow run beside you, 
In a sky that's always blue,
And may happiness fill your heart,
Each day your whole life through.


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