40 Ideas for Your Handfasting

Planning a handfasting?

Don’t want it to look like a cross between a goth convention and a renaissance fair?

Or maybe you’d like to include a few subtle pagan touches to your traditional wedding that your pagan friends will understand, and your other guests will probably miss entirely?

Here are some modern ideas for the chic witch.

40 elegant ideas for your pagan handfasting

Consider a candlelight-only ceremony.   Nothing creates an ethereal, “elevated” atmosphere like candlelight.  Consider cutting electric lights and using lanterns and candles alone to light your ritual.

Choose your color schemes with magic in mind.  It need not be as obvious as “red for love.”  Perhaps you choose deep purple because you feel a psychic bond with your partner, or emerald green because your connection feels “earthy” and honest, or a deep yellow because you share an air sign.

Fill cauldrons with fresh wildflowers and floating candles to use as centerpieces or table decor.  It doesn’t have to be a super-witchy, Halloween-inspired affair.  Dutch ovens in french country blue are lovely for a rustic theme, for example.

wildflowers and floating candles

Carry a bouquet of herbs.   Botanical herbs make gorgeous bouquets and they smell amazing,  Choose local, in-season herbs with meaning for marriage, like rosemary for love, life-everlasting for longevity, or dill for marital passion.

If your ceremony is seated, leave scrolls with a prayer or chant on the chairs for your guests to repeat at some point during the ritual.  The united voices of all your loved ones blessing your relationship adds a powerful emotional and spiritual element to the ceremony.  (Better for full-on handfasting where all the guests are comfortable with full rituals).

Speaking of seating, try a spiral seating arrangement.  Aside from very unique advantage of letting everyone have a front row seat to the aisle march, the spiral subtly symbolizes the feminine divine as well as the lifelong inward journey of relationship commitment. 

Mark your circle with something beautiful.  Wherever you plan to stand for the ceremony, make a fuss about marking the border of where your clergy will cast the circle.   Be creative.  Here are some examples:

-For a spring or summer handfasting, ring the circle with fresh wildflowers.

handfasting circle

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circle of flowers

-For a fall handfasting, use autumn leaves, acorns and harvest fruits.

-For a winter handfasting, play with evergreens, pine cones, and molded ice create a wonderland feel.

-For a seaside handfasting, arrange seashells, hurricane lanterns, or nautical rope.

-For vineyard weddings, use grapes or grapevine.

Choose a dress with a connection to your ancestry.   Was your mother born in Mykonos?   Pay homage to her homeland with a drape-y Grecian gown.   Irish roots?  Try a delicate dress of intricate lace.

Give your handmaidens something inspired by your tradition as gifts (especially if many of them are also in your coven).  Here are some ideas:

-Gift certificates for a tarot reading.  Most tarot readers will be happy to creative gift certificates for bridesmaids or handmaidens even if they don’t normally offer them.

-A sachet of herbs blended for friendship and sisterhood.

-Rose quartz earrings or necklaces (symbolizes love in friendship).

-A bottle of herbs steeped in high-quality olive oil.  Choose herbs for friendship, loyalty or bonding.

-Personalized spell kits (baby blessing for the pregnant handmaiden, home blessing for the new home owner, passion spell for the newlywed in your circle, ect)

Give out mini smudge sticks to your guests as wedding favors or to use during your send-off. 
Floral ones like these are especially lovely for handfastings.

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floral smudge

handfasting smudge

Feature the Elements.   Be creative.  If you think about the setting and mood, a few obvious options will likely leap to mind.  Consider the following examples:

-Hang wind chimes from tents (Element of Air)

-Use elegantly potted herbs as centerpieces at garden handfasting (Element of Earth),

-Have a fire pit at the reception of a backyard handfasting (Element of Fire)

-Use floating candles in your centerpieces (Element of Water and Air)

-Release butterflies during the ceremony (Element of Air)

-Feature exotic seashells in the bouquets of a beach wedding (Element of Water).

-Give your guests bubbles to blow for your send-off (Element of Air).

-Give your guests sparklers for your send-off (Element of Fire).

Begin your reception with a traditional cakes and ale.  Instead of serving cake at the end, start your reception with dessert.  Serve mini cakes with ale during the toasts.

Tie cloth napkins with love herbs or spices.  Rosemary or thyme are both nice, subtle  love symbols for spring and summer months, or cinnamon sticks for winter and fall.

handfasting place setting

Serve seasonal, local food.  Farm-to-table catering provides earthy, delicious food that is connected to land around you.  I can’t think of anything more pagan than that.

Let your handmaidens/bridesmaids wear flower crowns instead of carrying bouquets.

Make lavender-filled sachets for your send-off (or let me make them for you!).  You will never forget running through a cloud of lavender.  This classic love herb smells amazing!

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10 Ways to Use Dandelions in Witchcraft

While you’re weeding your spring lawn, pull these little beauties up and throw together some magick.

10 ways to use dandelions in witchcraft

Use them in sun magick.  A bright, yellow, full-sun flower makes a cheerful addition to any solar or daylight ritual.

Include in creativity and inspiration spells.   Dandelions begin to come up just as the winter fades completely, symbolizing hope and and new beginnings.  Include dandelions in spells to jump start projects or break a creative block.  

Press them in your Book of Shadows.  Dandelions wilt quickly, but they press well!   Press between the pages of your Book of Shadows or journal to infuse it with positive solar energy.

Add them to little wildflower bouquets for woodland spirits.  Planning an outdoor ritual this spring?  Gather dandelions and other wildflowers as an offering to the woodland spirits.

wildflower bouquet

Use them in spells for bravery and courage.  The word “Dandelion” comes from the french word dent-de-lion, meaning “tooth of lion.”  Use them in mojo bags for confidence, bravery or courage.

Include in wishing spells.    In many regions of the United States, people remember as children finding dandelions after they’ve gone to seed and blowing on them whilst making a wish.  Adapt this charming tradition to a wishing spell for a nostalgic ritual.   Makes a lovely feature in children’s spells and rituals as well.

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Make a divination tea.  Boil dandelion leaves and roots into tea and drink it before reading tarot or other divination practices for keen insight and clarity.

Pile them on your Beltane altar.  Dandelions brighten any springtime altar, but especially Beltane!  Put them in a vase with fresh rainwater

Drive out dark energy or spirits.  Bring bouquets of dandelion into the home to dispel dark thoughts and negative spiritual energy.

Ring spell candles with them.  Arrange dandelions around the base of an altar or spell candle to welcome happiness and playful joy into your circle.

 
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10 Magical Ways to Use Your Chalice

There it is, on your shelf, where you’ve been neglecting it for many moon cycles.  It’s time to dust off this classic altar piece and bring it back into your ritual rotation.

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If you’re lacking inspiration, try using your chalice . . .

To pour libation.  Pour any liquid libations, like wine or juice, from a chalice for an elegant touch.

To collect rainwater for blessing.  Leave your chalice in the rain for pure, natural water to use in making moon water or herbal infusions.

In binding rituals.  If you have a small coven, and it doesn’t weird you out to drink from the same cup, Chalices are a lovely way to seal the bonds of sisterhood.  Choose a blended wine, pass the chalice around the circle, and have each member pledge their friendship to the people next to her.

In handfasting ceremonies.  Similarly, add a “unity chalice” in place of the unity candle at a handfasting ceremony.  The couple each pours some wine into the same chalice, and then they each drink from it.  We used this idea at our vineyard wedding for a rustic touch and it worked out beautifully.

For scrying.  Fill your chalice with water, then add dragon’s blood ink or another dark ink to the water.  Take it outside under the full moon and use it exactly as you would use a scrying mirror.

In place of a cauldron.  If your chalice has a heat-safe finish, place a charcoal disk inside and burn your ritual herbs in it.  The visual of smoke rising from the chalice adds a mystical quality that I just love!

To dress up cakes and ale.  Don’t use plastic or disposable cups for cakes and ale!  Chalices make everything feel so much more witchy.  Serve your cakes on a formal serving plate and add chalices for a classy ritual that would please Martha Stewart herself.

To float candles.  If you are working with the energies of fire and water, floating candles inside a chalice makes an effective way to blend these elements.

To cleanse gemstones.  Leave your gemstones or crystals in your chalice with water and place in the moonlight overnight to cleanse and charge them.  Just be sure you know your stones!  Some dissolve in water!

To blend potions.   Blend small batches of oils, infusions or brews for immediate use in your chalice.

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Ostara with a Kitchen Witch: Cabbage Dyed Ostara Eggs

Every year, I try to do something inspired and kitchen witchy for this most decidedly food-friendly holiday.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the concept of naturally dyed Easter eggs floating around Pinterest the last few years.

I thought this made for a perfect Ostara activity.

I tried tumeric, spinach and cabbage.

Spinach was a dud.  I boiled and boiled, but the dye wasn’t strong enough.

Tumeric worked okay, but it stained everything!  I can see why they use this in India to dye cloth!

But the humble cabbage, at 79 cents, proved to be both the cheapest and most effective option.

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The idea is pretty basic.  Start with a base for extraction.  In this case, we have our head of red cabbage.

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Shred it and place it in a pot with a 1 to 1 ratio of water.  I did 4 cups shredded cabbage with 4 cups of water.

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Meanwhile, make your hard boiled eggs.  Some recipes call for boiling the eggs with the dye, but I like my eggs cooked a certain way, so I did them separately.   (Place eggs in pot with cold water, bring to boil, turn off heat, let them sit for 10 minutes in a covered pot, then rinse with cold water—perfect every time!)

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Once your dye is done, allow it to cool and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar per cup of liquid dye.

Then submerge the eggs in the dye for 24-28 hours in the refrigerator.

But before you do that, there are some creative options that I didn’t try.  The internet rumor is that if you write or draw on the eggs with crayon, it won’t dye there.  You can imagine all the possibilities for spell work there!

I wanted to keep my eggs as natural as possible, so I skipped this, but I might try using beeswax in the future for a similar effect.

I really loved the way the dye turned out.  It felt so earthy and wholesome.  I see myself using this for a lot of things, maybe even cloth.

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And there you have it!  Charming, naturally dyed eggs for your Ostara ritual.  Use them on the altar as an offering, or for your Ostara meal as a beautiful table decoration.

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With eggs on sale at my market for 28 cents a dozen, my total cost for this project was a mere $1.08.

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10 Spring Crafts for Wiccans

With just a few more weeks of winter ahead, the earth already begins to warm and wake up, pushing up delicate baby green grass and soft, pastel-colored bulbs.

Spring is almost here!

Here are a few activities to get you inspired for the coming season.

spring-crafts-for-wiccans

1.  Try a bird feeder wishing spell.   Choose a spring fruit and hollow it out (grapefruits are nice).  Fill it with appropriate herbs and stones and close it up, securing it with a ribbon or string.  Carve symbols in the flesh.  Cover with peanut butter and bird seeds and hang it somewhere it your yard under the full moon.  Every time a bird comes, imagine it is carrying your wish to the heavens.

2.  Decorate eggs naturally for Ostara.  Rather than using the dye kits to decorate your Ostara eggs, try using natural dyes like tea, blueberries and other naturally occurring pigments.

3.  Make an “enchanted” flower bouquet.   This one is particularly fun if you’re knowledgeable about the local flowers and plants.  Choose a theme, like “love and attraction” or “home blessing.”  Go on a nature walk and pick out local flowers, herbs and plants that you associate with this theme.  Leave it in your kitchen to bless your home with the energy.

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4.  Head to the farmer’s market to cast your first kitchen witch spell of the season.    Living close to the earth starts in your kitchen!    Search the farmer’s market for the freshest natural, sustainable spell ingredients and design a ritual around what you find.

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5.  Make an outdoor pillow with a twist.  Pick up some outdoor fabric (available at most fabric stores during the warmer months).  Throw in a pinch of lavender, mint or dried lemon rind and leave it in your coziest outdoor living space to bless the garden.

6.  Make your own bath magical products.  If you enjoy whipping up your own bath band beauty products from natural, wholesome ingredients, try making them with magic in mind.  Spring is prime time for beauty spells, so get cracking before the season slips away!

lavender rub

7.  Make some new ritual wear.  Good with a needle and thread?  Try making your own ritual robe.  Choose a flattering pattern, select a pattern or color for your robe that speaks to you and go to town!  Get creative.  You can even add beading or buttons with moons or other symbols.

8.  Plant a magical garden.  You’ve always meant to do it.  This is the season!   If you’re intimidated by the green arts, start small.  A simple window box will do.  Choose herbs that are easy to grow and magically useful.  The possibilities are endless.  Bury gemstones in it, choose garden ornaments and symbols with meaning to your practice or create a space for your moon rituals.

9.  Create a spring altar piece.  The craft stores are full of items perfect for making an altar piece for the spring season.  I craft these little boxes last year, and they were a hit on my retail site.

ostara altar box with nest

10.  Craft your own dandelion wine for libation or cakes/ale.  I love the potent spiritual power of making my own wine for libation.  I also enjoy getting creative with the cakes/ale portion of a ritual.  Dandelion wine makes an excellent spring-themed substitute for Ostara and spring moon rituals.

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Candlemas with a Kitchen Witch

I decided to whip up a little something in honor of the upcoming Imbolc/Candlemas holiday.

In the past, I generally neglected Imbolc.  Maybe because by February, I was over-holidayed, or maybe because unlike Mabon, Samhain, Yule and Ostara, there aren’t really any corresponding mainstream holidays.

But now, Imbolc is one of my favorites.  I love that while every else considers the winter holidays to be over, we have one more to look forward to, and it’s the coziest of the year.

I chose a poppy seed cupcake for this Sabbat.  The key ingredients represent some of the classic, deep-winter symbols of Candlemas.

For reference, I used this recipe.

Because of Imbolc’s strong association with seed blessing, I wanted something that features seeds.  Poppy seeds in particular symbolize deep meditative states and spiritual insight.

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In this context, powdered ingredients like sugar and flour represent the lightly falling snow of the season.

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Known sometimes as the “Festival of Lights,” Candlemas celebrates the return of the sun and the waxing of the light after the Winter Solstice.  Lemon symbolizes solar energy and light.

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Imbolc celebrates animal husbandry and dairy farming in particular.  For this reason, I am adding a cream cheese frosting in addition to the light lemon glaze in the recipe.

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The inclusion of butter also compliments this theme.

butter-web

I kind of imagine the time in the oven as “when the magic happens” in baking.  So for a ritual meal, I like to say a blessing before it goes in.

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And like magic, out they come!

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Happy Imbolc!

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