Wed by handfasting

Summer weddings are much the norm in the area, but a summer handfasting is far less common.

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic ceremony or wedding which dates back to pre-Christian times.

On July 14 Nadine Jochymski and Patrick Frank were wed by handfasting in Melville.

Blessing to the four directions

It was believed in ancient times that the elements of our Universe bring with them special gifts. Tonight in preserving that old tradition, we will ask that these gifts be given to this couple. We bless this marriage with the gifts from the North. From the North comes the gift of earth, symbolizing a solid foundation to build your loving union. We bless this marriage with gifts from the East. From the East comes air, our incense, symbolizing the gift of communication between you, and the wisdom of knowing when to be silent and listen. We bless this marriage with gifts from the south. From the south comes the spark of passion, our candle, symbolizing a warm and welcoming hearth. We bless this marriage with gifts from the west, our water. From the west comes the sharing of heartfelt emotions that flow as the river of life. May you always remember these gifts that have been given to you in order to help ensure your successful marriage together.

Jochymski said being wed by handfasting was a natural since she has been a practicing pagan for more than a decade.

"I took my Teen Seeker Ceremony in 2000 after reading Silver Ravenwolf's book Teen Witch," she explained. "She spoke words out of my soul, everything was clear and I felt like coming home from a long, exhausting journey. I loved that she put it into clear words how I felt. It's been an amazing journey since."

While there are many paths for pagans to follow, such as the ways of the Celts and Norse before Christianity, Jochymski said she chooses to be rather eclectic in her views and traditions.

"I don't particularly follow one tradition. I do a bit of a lot; herbs, aromatherapy, meditation, visualization, lunar cycles, spells, energy work, channelling, dream analysis, Reiki, Touch for Health," she said. "I try to evolve in new things, when the time is right where I need a new tool in my tool box, the universe will present an opportunity for to learn."

Jochymski practices as a solitary pagan adding "I am fortunate to have a resourceful open minded circle of friends who inspire me. My kindred spirits as I call them."

Patrick is one of those open-minded people.

"Patrick is not pagan, however he is open minded about this and loves me the way I am," said Jochymski. "He has come to appreciate my beliefs and gifts. We are on the same goal in life path together, each of us contributing different tools and ideas to achieve it. That's what makes us unique."

Unity Candle Lighting

Fire is a symbol of passion, and of security in the home. We burn this flame first as an individual within the very core of our being, but then when we meet the person we want to share that love and passion with for the rest of our lives, we join and burn each flame as one.

Nadine and Patrick, please light the outer candles, representing your individual flames.

And now, please light the center candle together using the outside candles, representing your intertwined internal flames. May this be the beginning of a passion that grows stronger with each passing day.

Jochymski said having a handfasting ceremony took some organizing.

"I wouldn't necessarily call it difficult," she said. "It was challenging in achieving my vision.

"We decided to go with a marriage commissioner, Mark was very open minded about doing a medieval handfasting wedding. The ceremony itself took a few months of careful researching. I bought a handfasting and wedding rituals book years ago plus I also borrowed a few books from the library to draw some inspiration and ideas on how to combine them. I wanted the ceremony to reflect on our personality but yet make it comfortable for everyone to experience a unique setting.

"I put everything together after researching different handfasting ceremonies ... I took things that I liked and felt reflected us. The ceremony itself is based on incorporating the four elements-corners, the god and goddess and the hand binding with a cord to symbolize a unity. The jumping the broom for good luck and taking that leap of faith together as a couple."

Jumping the broom

Tonight, Nadine and Patrick have asked you here to be part of their marital union. They have exchanged vows and promises to one another and presented each other with wedding rings. They have declared that they will, from this day forward, live a unified life together.

Another example of the pagan tradition was seen in the bridesmaids each wearing a different coloured dress representing one of the four elements.

"The colours represented the four elements -- earth, air, water and fire," said Jochymski. "The bouquets also represented the four elements -- each of my bridesmaids is an individual -- I gave everyone an element that I felt represented themselves the best."

While Melville is a small city, Jochymski said she did not meet with any resistance to what she was planning.

"I respect everyone's individuality. I live by the philosophy to each their own. It doesn't matter to me what you believe in as long as you are comfortable to be yourself," she said.

It was the same with family.

"My family has come to accept my personality and lifestyle, they know I dance to my own beat," said Jochymski.

Broom Ceremony

Nadine and Patrick have decided to include a Broom Jumping Ceremony to represent their renewed commitment to each other. The broom symbolically represents the sweeping away of the old and welcoming of the new; the sweeping away of all negative energy, making way for all things that are good to come into your lives.

Jochymski said the ceremony was what she wanted, and the reaction of those in attendance confirmed it was the right way for her to go.

"The reaction was awesome," she said. "Everyone loved the ceremony, telling me that it reflected me.

"They didn't expect a traditional wedding ceremony anyhow because that would not have been who I am.

"It's great knowing that everyone enjoyed the day and loved sharing it with us. Mark, our marriage commissioner asked me after the ceremony if I would mind if he could use some of the ceremony for future ceremonies - absolutely, I don't mind at all.

"It was a perfect day and everyone who was meant to share it with us was there.

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