Tags: marriage

Braided Wheel Tradition

On Marriage: Part 3, Marriage and Family

On Marriage
by Sheherazahde

Part 3 Marriage and Family

What is really going on when people get married?

We talk about “two people becoming one” but that is not literally true. Marriage clearly has something to do with sex and having children, but sterile people are allowed to get married, so it's not just about having kids.

Marriage is about family. When two people get married they talk about having “in laws” people who are now related to them by law not blood. (Further evidence of marriage as a legal, not religious, event.) When you get married you legally become part of another family. Traditionally the woman was legally transferred from her father's family to her husband's family. This used to be very important legally. The head of a family had legal control over family members. It is less so now. Modern married couples hold duel family membership. This social union of families becomes a physical union in children. When you have children you bind your family to the family of your partner.

The only other ceremony that welcomes unrelated members into a family is adoption. (No one ever talks about adoption as a religious matter.) Marriage is a sort of adoption. The parent “in-laws” adopt the spouse of their child to be their child “in-law”. Although, a spouse is a special kind of relative, family members are not usually allowed to have sex with each other. The fiction of couples being one person sort of covers that. But mostly we bow to the necessity, of putting our need to form couples to reproduce and care for children, before logical consistency.

We say that marriage is about love and certainly love is important. One should love one's children, one's parents, and one's siblings. But parents don't just dump their children if they feel like it. Being a family means sticking together even when you don't feel like it. We say “until death do we part” because you are related to your family until they die no matter how you feel about them. When you have a child with someone you are related to that person for the life of that child and that child's children. Even if you get a divorce you are still related.

Even today, when extended families are not economic units, marriage is still a matter for the whole family. When you get married you are binding your parents and siblings to another family. We have decided that people can make that decision without the consent of the rest of the family but it is still polite to at least inform them and let them get to know these strangers they are now related to. Your family is you first network of social support, make sure you keep them informed about your life.

Even though extended families are no longer economic units a “nuclear” family is an economic unit. Spouses depend on each other for support in maintaining a household and raising their children. Before you marry someone be sure you want to be tied to them economically. Life is dangerous. We are safer if we have a “buddy” to watch our back and help us if we get hurt. Before you get married make sure your spouse is the kind of person you can count on to be there when things get tough.

Traditionally parents paid for wedding parties because they could afford to and the young couple couldn't. If that describes you, and your parents agree, then they are the hosts of the party and they get to decide what to do. (And be grateful that you get to pick your spouse.) If you can afford to pay for your own wedding party then you are the host can decide what to do.

What religious tradition you get married in should be your decision. Just keep in mind that if your parents don't approve you might have to pay for it yourself. If you are willing to go through a sham ceremony so your parents will pay for the party you should probably reconsider your priorities.

Whatever you do, remember that marrying someone is making them part of your family. You can't disown a family member just because you get tired of them, your feeling change, or you change. If you have children with this person you are related to them no matter what the law says.
Braided Wheel Tradition

On Marriage: Part 2, Wiccan Marriage

On Marriage
by Sheherazahde

Part 2 Wiccan Marriage

Since the courts don't care what we do in a marriage ceremony I turned my mind to what marriage means in our religion.

The Great Rite is central to Wiccan sophiology. Our view of the cosmos is based on the union and balance of masculine and feminine energies.

The simplest Wiccan marriage ceremony can be the invocation of the personal deities of the couple followed by the public declaration of consent to be married before the gods and human community. A more elaborate ceremony for adepts could involve Drawing Down and marriage of the gods, with a full Great Rite (rather than the more common Symbolic Great Rite).

The basic spiritual principle involved is joining the couple the way the Goddess and God are joined in a greater whole.

There are also lots of folk practices that have come to be associated with Wiccan marriage.
Jumping a broom.
Joining two candle flames.
Walking around a fire.
Binding the hands of the couple together as a “handfasting”. (A popular misreading of tradition has led some people to believe that handfasting is a trial one-year non-binding marriage. This is incorrect.)
Wiccans tend to go for silver rings instead of gold. Moon metal instead of sun metal. But gold has the advantage of being “incorruptible”, it resists tarnishing.

White dresses for brides began as an ostentatious display of wealth, not an advertisement of virginity. Traditionally people got married in their best clothes. Whatever that meant for them. Buying special clothes for the occasion is a display of wealth. White is a very difficult color to keep clean and only a very wealthy person could afford to spend money on clothes they would only wear once. Color coordinated bridesmaids are also a display of wealth. Many Wiccans are choosing to simply “dress up” for the occasion. I recommend returning to this old tradition and wearing clothing you will have more use for.

A wedding is a ceremony of a life stage transition. It is a matter of interest for all your friends and family. It is right and proper that they should be invited to participate (or at least be informed) and it should be celebrated with a party.

Most of the folk traditions around modern marriage have to do with the party. Parties are important. Parties are how communities bond. People like to compete to put on the most extravagant parties. But it made more sense to spend a lot of money on weddings when weddings were primarily financial transactions that had financial benefits. When you get married it is right and proper that you should host the biggest party that you can afford without going into debt. But if you can't afford a big party don't have a big party. A small get together with immediate family a few close friends is just as good.
Braided Wheel Tradition

On Marriage: Part 1, Legal Marriage

On Marriage
by Sheherazahde

Part 1 Legal Marriage

When I first started practicing Wicca people would ask me if it was a “real religion”. I didn't know how to answer the question. Who decides if a religion is “real”. When I asked people what they meant by “real religion” they usually asked if Wiccans could perform weddings.

Who can perform weddings is determined at the state and local level in the USA. Some states have very strict requirements others don't. My friends in Colorado tell me they don't have to have any officiant at all, couples can marry themselves. If you want to get married please check the laws in your state. Most of my information is for New York State, (but not New York City which has stricter rules).

To get legally married a couple must usually purchase a “marriage license” from a city or county court. A license authorizes one to do something. In this case it gives the couple permission to get married, usually within a stated time period from the issuing of the license. (A marriage license can expire and some licenses have a twenty-four hour waiting period between purchasing the license and performing the ceremony.) The couple usually must take the license to someone authorized by their city, county, or state to perform the “marriage ceremony”. This usually includes “officers of the court” it could be anyone from the mayor to the clerk issuing the license. Some licenses are only good for ceremonies performed in their jurisdiction so make sure you can get married where you want to have the ceremony. Because most religions have some form of marriage ceremony the government usually recognizes religious officiants to perform the ceremony. The officiant, if there is one, must sign the “marriage certificate” certifying that the ceremony was performed at the time and place stated. The certificate is also signed by the couple, and their witnesses, then returned to the office that issued it to be kept on record. In New York State there is a hefty fine for officiants who fail to file the certificate in a timely manner.

Marriages by ship Captains at sea were recognized for two reasons 1) ship journeys used to take a long time 2) Captains were the highest legal authorities on board. New York State does not recognize ship Captains as officiants. However New York State has a general policy that if a couple thinks that an officiant is authorized, the marriage is legal. This protects the couple getting married, even if their officiant is a deliberate fraud their marriage is still legal.

Allowing someone other than an officer of the court to sign a marriage certificate is no different than authorizing a mechanic to certify that a repair has been completed on a mechanical violation ticket. The court really doesn't care who does the ceremony they just want a responsible person to see that it was done

This procedure is the result of thousands of years of legal precedent. It goes back to Roman and Germanic law regarding marriage. There are traditionally four conditions that must be satisfied for a couple to be married: 1) They must declare that they consent to be married, 2) there must be witnesses to this declaration, 3) they must have sex, 4) they must live together. Failure to consummate the wedding used to be grounds for annulment (annulment means the marriage never took place). So called “common law” marriages are based on the fulfillment of these four conditions. The act of publicly presenting yourself as married is counted as the declaration before witnesses. There are only a few states that still recognize common law marriages. In most states you are not legally married unless you have completed a marriage certificate.

New York State at least has no official position on what a marriage ceremony must involve. The Civil Ceremony simply requires that the couple publicly consent to be married. (“Do you take this woman...”). Anything else (rings. candles, kisses, “I now pronounce you...”) is irrelevant. A couple is married when they publicly declare they are, and fill out the paperwork. Because the government does not want to get involved in religion there are no requirements of what must happen in a religious marriage ceremony. The policy of the court is that: if the people involved believe that a couple is married, then it does not matter what the ceremony is. Going through with a religious wedding ceremony implies consent to be married.

There are some people who claim that marriage is a religious issue and the government should get out of it and leave it to the churches. There is little basis for this position. The Catholic Church did not recognize marriage at all until they had become a major source of civil authority. And marriage is the only “sacrament” that is not performed by the priest but by the people getting married. The priest witnesses the sacrament and performs a mass. (Although in the Eastern Orthodox church it is performed by the priest).

Marriage is a civil issue regulated by the courts because it involves property and other rights that are frequently brought before the courts. In our current time when people are free to set up house together without getting married they are finding that they don't have the legal protections that legally married people have. If you and your unmarried partner contribute equally to your expenses but only one of you has your name on the property you might be in real trouble if your partner dies. If you do any research on the rights denied, and the problems faced, by same sex-couples who cannot get married you will see how important legal marriage is. (List of 1,138 Federal Rights, Benefits, and Privileges of Marriage)

So called “civil unions” and “domestic partnerships” are doing more harm to traditional marriage than same-sex marriages ever could. There are more straight couples choosing these “alternatives” than there are same-sex couples. But “civil unions” and “domestic partnerships” do not offer the same rights and protections as traditional marriage. Including the right to have a court oversee your divorce settlement. If you don't get legally married you can't get legally divorced.
goddess and god

Teen Handfasting, and Climate Change Deniers

I performed a legal wedding/handfasting for a 17yr old pregnant teenage girl to her 18yr old boyfriend. Her mother was a friend of mine. It was a very nice ceremony with all the family and friends involved. The parents had to sign off to the underaged marriage.

I've never liked the idea that Handfastings are just for a year, as if they were practice marriages that expire.

I want to remind people once again: a year and a day means the same date the next year. March 9 2010 to March 9 2011 is a year and a day. Think about it. A year is from Jan 1 to Dec 31. Jan 1 to Jan 1 is a year and a day. When you sign a lease or rental agreement for a year you have to be out on the last day of the last month of the contact, not the anniversary of the day you moved in. It's well established from Germanic contract law.

Teen to wed schoolgirl in pagan ceremony
by John Simpson, Southern Star, 09 Mar 2010
"A TEENAGER plans to marry a schoolgirl in a pagan ceremony next month with the bride’s mother officiating.

Using a simple length of rope, Alex Stewart-Pole [19yrs] and Jenni Birch [16yrs] will become partners for “a year and a day” through the ancient ritual. A handfasting can then be renewed for the same or a longer period.
Eileen Harlow, one of three people in southeast Queensland licensed to conduct legally-binding handfasting ceremonies, said: “Unfortunately peoples’ picture of paganism can be very superficial and a little bit Hollywood.”

“It can appear very dramatic but, to the people involved, paganism is a heart-felt, nature-based faith that centres around health and healing and a holistic approach to life.’’

Pagan marriage is not recognised under Australian law, which stipulates those marrying must be 18 years or older.

Christian Democrat Party leader and anti-pagan campaigner Reverend Fred Nile said: “(Handfasting) can’t be in any way acknowledged by the state and should not be listed as a genuine wedding. Our party will do what it can to stop pagan weddings and witchcraft or Wicca activities.’’ "
The New Paganism
by David Solway, FrontPage Magazine, Mar 9th, 2010
"As many commentators and “global warming skeptics” have observed, climate science has metamorphosed into a religion—or, more accurately, a cult in religious dress. It has its high priests (Al Gore, David Suzuki, James Hansen, Rajendra Pachauri), its sacred texts such as computer models whose inconsistencies and disparities are blithely ignored by the myriads of true believers, its prevailing orthodoxies that cannot safely be questioned or violated, and its Second Ecumenical Council of the Global Warming Vatican (after Kyoto), known as the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Carbon taxes resemble the traffic in Indulgences during the Medieval era as energy sinners buy absolution from a profiteering clergy. A divinity called Gaia now receives the prayers and invocations of a vast sodality of devout worshippers. The new religion is here, a resurgent faith, as George Will writes, “in man-made global warming [which] is now a tissue of assertions impervious to evidence.”"

The problem I have with this is that it is a bad definition of religion. As my regular readers know religion is worldview, cosmological beliefs, not just any strongly held belief about any issue. Climate science is a dependent, secondary belief not a primary, cosmological belief. The fact that a cause has advocates, supporting texts, orthodoxies, and support groups does not make it a religion.
"First of all, when the dictates of faith determine our attempts to manage the natural world, we generally end up doing far more harm than good. Sanctimonious ignorance—or willful suppression of concrete facts—supplants informed research and genuine knowledge. Genuine spirituality then gives way to a profusion of cults, fads, social rituals, fabular constructs, romantic fetishes and rampant hero-worship. Serious conviction is replaced by earnest frivolity and rooted egotism is masked by the fiction of a sublime transmutation. Assuming, of course, that the primary motive for many is not mere self-aggrandizement, the accumulation of power, prestige and lucrative emoluments,
The similarities are striking: autocratic control of comportment and belief, immense self-righteousness, dubious moral foundations, the reckless squandering of funds."

Sounds like he is describing the climate change deniers, and most organized religion actually. Some days I'm so glad to be disorganized.
"In actuality, we have come to revere a cold, deterministic and solipsistic deity more at home in the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans than in the spirit or psyche of modern man. She represents both a misunderstanding and a betrayal, a deity we have sentimentalized as a nurturing mother but who is only a displacement of our own self-infatuation, as the pagan gods were essentially the embodiments of the traits and attributes of their votaries. What we are witnessing is a form of self-worship, and the sense of our own ostensible planetary credentials is fueled by a quasi-religious dementia that operates in defiance of critical facts. The new theology is only a variant of the Sabbatarian gospel catering mainly to windy enthusiasts and canonical fanatics while imposing a strict regime of censorship upon agnostics and dissenters.

Although the metaphors and, let’s say, cosmetic properties that cluster around the global warming delirium owe their provenance to Judeo-Christian devotional literature and puritanical conviction, the substance of the movement is essentially a form of pagan idolatry. This appears to be the only way a secular culture which denies its heritage, yet cannot evade it, is able to justify and affirm its need for redemptive consummation, signifying a hunger for spiritual nourishment that goes otherwise unsatisfied. The urge to belong to something that is numinous, to form a community of believers, to parrot a confession and join a hieratic collective is almost impossible to resist. Like James Lovelock and a kindred host of officious doomsayers, we find ourselves subject to a pervasive fever inspired by an apocryphal religious groundswell. And so we are now Gaia’s obedient, exalted and fearful children.

Welcome to the new paganism."

As a Wiccan I have to say that doesn't feel like my experience of Paganism.
goddess and god

Home Schooling, and Pagan Weddings in Ireland

Absolutely normal home schoolers
Posted by tmatt, GetReligion (blog), February 21, 2010
"Years ago, I wrote a Scripps Howard News Service column about a pagan mother and some of the parenting choices that she was making during an age in which pop-culture was becoming increasingly fascinated with its own glitzy few of witchcraft and wizardry. It was a Mother’s Day column.

In addition to deciding not to read the Harry Potter books to her children, she was also actively considering becoming a home-school mom. Her reasons, I discovered, were typical of others who have made that choice, including her conviction that public schools in American really could not afford to take religion very seriously, especially the beliefs of religious minorities. She wanted to be able to pass her beliefs on to the next generation.

This brings us to a perfectly normal news report in the Washington Post about homeschooling. Actually, that is not quite right. This story treats home schoolers with complete and total respect, which is not always the case in the mainstream press."
Pagan weddings now allowed in Ireland
by Jane Walshe, Irish Central, February 21, 2010
"Pagan weddings, in many cases performed by a recognized druid, will now be allowed in Ireland.

Following a five-year campaign the Irish state has now recognized the right of the Pagan Federation Ireland to perform weddings.

Couples will now be able to be legally married after a ceremony that concludes with jumping over a broomstick to mark crossing over from an old life to a new one.

Pagan weddings are also known as hand-fasting and most recently, the nephew of Richard Branson got married that way and they have become increasingly popular."

Is Wicca a real Religion?

In America we have what we call separation of church and state.
In our federal Constitution in the part called the "Bill of Rights"
Amendment I
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

As you can see that only applies to the federal government, until Amendment 14 Civil rights
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

What this means is that there is no government agency that decides if a religion is "real" or not. The IRS does class some non-profit organizations as Churches but that is based on their behavior not their beliefs. The only other time the government gets involved in religion is when people get married. Marriage laws are determined by the states, not the federal government.
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My English translation of that is:

The term "clergyman" and the term "minister" include a duly authorized person having authority in accordance with the rules and regulations of the (assemblage of persons who are accustomed to statedly meet for religious observances) to preside over and direct the spiritual affairs of the (assemblage of persons who are accustomed to statedly meet for religious observances)."

You don't have to be incorporated to be a church, you just have to "statedly meet for religious observances".

The legal basis of marriage