…So you think you've got everything ready for your wedding, do you?
The flowers, the ice sculpture, the dress, the embarrassing aunt, the Witch… The Witch?!
Welcome to the now!
Witches, once fearful lonely persons hiding from persecution, are the new black. Everyone knows a witch, or has heard of one, be it your daughter's best friend who's exploring ‘the old ways', or that lady in Southall who always wears pink and can bring your lover back – payment after results.
As the fires of the burnings died down, some witches stopped shying away. Little by little the position of the village wise woman was re-filled. In the last few decades witches became counsellors, herbalists, nurses (and, funnily enough, an astounding number of IT consultants) to reclaim their calling of helping their folk.
Witches marry in a ceremony called ‘handfasting', which is led by one or two fellow witches who act as priestess and priest. In a handfasting, the wrists of the willing couple are bound together to show their free will to be joined together in love. Some handfastings are for life, some last for all of your incarnations, or they could last as long as the bride and groom are in love (one for the commitment phobics). The most popular type of handfasting lasts a year and a day, and the vows are renewed every year.
As well as having a handfasting ceremony, most witches have their union registered in a more formal wedding, either to please their families or for legal reasons.
Now, it seems, tradition went a full cycle, and there are cases of non-pagan couples who choose to have their wedding blessed by a witch. Those couples feel that a spiritual woman, with a connection to the earth, who can invoke the old Gods and Goddesses, is just the person to bring luck and success to the marriage.
Those people invite Inbaal to their wedding.
Inbaal is a thoroughly modern witch. She doesn't follow one particular set of Deities, believing, instead, that each spell or blessing is individual and requires different herbs and chants.
When called upon to bless a wedding, Inbaal will gather the guests around the couple.
She will tell a story about an appropriate pair of deities. For example noble Here, the white-armed queen of heaven, Goddess of marriage and childbirth, and her husband great Zeus, the Thunderer, King of the Gods and Lord of the Sky. Or perhaps Hades, the Wealthy One, Ruler of the Underworld, and his young and beautiful Queen Persephone. At times simply Aphrodite (Venus) will be mentioned – she is the Goddess of Love and Beauty and generally just likes to have a good time.
When the Gods have been remembered and honoured, Inbaal will perform the ceremony in their names.
She ties the wrists of the husband-and-wife-to-be, explaining to the guests the symbolism of it, and then blesses them with each of the elements. The element of Air brings intellect and communication to the nuptials. Fire can bless them with undying passion and ambition. The emotional Water element would ensure their love would keep flowing, and Earth caps it nicely with security and stability. Often the couple would be happy to share their blessings with their guests.
Bride and groom then, aided by Inbaal, bless a drink, from which they drink first and then pass a chalice of drink around for all their friends and family, singles and couples alike, to sip from.
The traditional way of sealing a marriage ceremony is jumping over the broomstick. The witches' broom is a symbol of the joining of the female (twigs) with the male (stem), and jumping over it brings equality and endurance to the wedding.
After the newlyweds jump the broomstick, all couples who want their union blessed are invited to jump as well. This would normally seal the ritual, after which, if the witchy theme of the evening is to be kept, Inbaal can be found in the corner of the hall with her crystal ball and Tarot cards, doing readings and making herbal charm bags. Any quirky request is catered for, and charms can be made to bless an unborn child, to promote monetary success, to bring luck and stability, or whatever you may think you need magic for.
Now, that witchcraft is nearly mainstream, you find them everywhere. Inbaal arrives to the weddings purple-cloaked and robed and wearing a floral garland. ‘What's the point of being a witch', she says, ‘if no-one can tell?'