A week ago today I officiated my first wedding: uniting two friends in Chicago under Illinois’ new civil union law.
To say that I officiated perhaps overstates my significance in the ritual. It was very much their show. The vows were deeply personal, drawing on traditional American structures with influences from their long-standing Celtic and Druidic practices as well as the Germanic / Troth deities they have been working with more recently. Large swaths of the ritual were so personal that they were not even included in the script I was given. There was even another “officiant”, invoking the Lady of Asgard and a few others of the Aesir. My task was largely one of providing structure, of invoking certain gods – chiefly the Handmaidens of Frigga – and to provide my official seal as a ULC Minister.
I took it upon myself to open the archway under which the vows would be sworn, to cast (and banish) the circle in which the rite was taking place. I took it upon myself to be the photographer before and after the ceremony (turning the duty over to another while I worked). I have never worked with the gods of my blood-ancestors before – favoring deities of the cultures with which I more closely identify – and doing these things helped keep me grounded and open for the experience.
My key invocation, drawn from Raven Kaldera’s Weddings and Handfasting Rituals, went as follows:
In the name of Vara, may this couple take on this geas in full heart.
In the name of Syn, may they keep their boundaries strong.
In the name of Lofn, may they reach always for reconciliation.
In the name of Gna, we proclaim this promise to all.
In the name of Gerjon, may they be an example.
In the name of Eir, may they tend each other’s wounds.
In the name of Snotra, may they learn to work together.
In the name of Sjofn, may their affection be strong.
In the name of Huldra, may wealth flow through their hands.
In the name of Hlin, may their love survive even death.
In the name of Fulla, dear sister of Frigga, may they have always abundance.
The invocation struck me like lightening, running from the top of my head and into the earth. I lost track of things for a moment. I was wearing a newly-forged copper bracelet, the mate to my copper serpent-ring, which will henceforth be used only for channeling rituals. The handmaidens were most certainly in attendance.
A few moments later, I was called upon to invoke the State of Illinois. They, too, arrived as called:
Aside from everything else – my pleasure at being invited to the event in the first place; the honor of being asked to officiate; the fear and thrill of invoking new gods; my pride at performing the rite so well – this wedding re-confirmed what I have been coming to believe over the course of the last year or two. I will probably never find a group with whom I can work and worship forever – I am too radical, too queer, too eclectic. But I can serve and participate in the pagan community as a whole by helping perform rites with and for others who are likewise isolated. Some of the rites I will be called upon to share will be, like this one, carefully orchestrated; others, like the blot and the vision quest at Beltane, will be spontaneous. Regardless, this is the work I have been called to do.
Also, the fact that my first wedding was the civil union of two bisexuals, one of whom is mind-borkingly genderqueer? Totally appropriate.
Thank you, Squirrel and Gingko. Congratulations. I was honored to be there.