Sunday, June 1, 2014

Handfasting Basket

Many Pagan and Wiccan couples choose to have a handfasting ritual instead of a traditional wedding ceremony.  In some cases, it may be simply ceremonial - a couple declaring their love for one another without the benefit of a state license.  For other couples, it can be tied in with a state marriage certification issued by a legally authorized party such as a clergyperson or justice of the peace.  Either way, it's becoming more and more popular, as Pagan and Wiccan couples are seeing that there is indeed an alternative for non-Christians who want more than just a courthouse wedding.
June is a popular month for handfasting and many Summer Solstice events hold a handfasting ritual.  No matter what time of year your happy couple is being handfasted, you can make this simple gift basket easily with items you can find in just about any craft store.  This can be a gift to the guests or a gift the guests give.

Think about the couple who is being handfasted.  Are they traditionalists?  Are they silly, and willing to laugh at themselves?  Consider what you know about them.  The handfasting basket is fairly traditional and many people will tell you to put thirteen specific blessings symbolized by certain items into a basket for a new couple.  But the number of items does depend on the couple or guests path.

You can make a handfasting basket as elaborate or as simple as you like.  The easiest way to do it is to buy a commercially made basket, which you can usually find at thrift stores and cover it in fabric.  Choose something with romantic summer colors - yellow, reds, flowers, etc.  Baskets can even be woven from twigs found in your yard.

Colors can mean different things in cultures but commonly light and bright colors are used.  Red for will, love and health and yellow for attraction and harmony.  Green for fertility and prosperity and purple for power and spirit.  And most common in America, white for purity and devotion.
Place the basket on a flat surface and use fabric to line the inside.  Use a piece of fabric large enough that you'll have some overhang.  For stability, you may wish to hot glue the underside of the fabric around the rim of the basket.

Cut a piece of ribbon(s) about three times the length of the basket's handle.  Tie it in place at one end of the handle and wrap it around until you reach the opposite side.  Add a small dab of glue to the underside of the ribbon periodically, to keep it from slipping down the handle.

Add some small silk flowers to the handle of the basket.  You can find these in the wedding aisle at nearly any craft store.  If the flowers don't have wires built into them, use some thin florist's wire to anchor the flowers in place.

To fill the baskets, you'll need a variety of things, each symbolizing some aspect of the relationship.  Traditional gifts for a couple being handfasted are usually handmade offerings.  Try to find thirteen items that are meaningful to the couple.  Small ornaments are perfect for this, so they can be hung up later, but use your imagination to find the symbols that are right for your couple.  Go for a walk in the woods or around the house to find ideas.  But please collect items with respect and harm no animals in making the basket.  Use the following list to help get you started:

  • A sun, symbolizing the strength and sturdiness* (sunstone, sun cutout, sun-catcher)
  • A moon, beautiful and mysterious* (moon image, moonstone, meteorite)
  • A cat, Goddess Freya's beloved, to guard the hearth and home
  • A dog, to offer loyalty and protection
  • A honey pot, sacred to Aphrodite, the Goddess of love
  • An owl, for wisdom and truth
  • A star, for the dreams of the future
  • A clock, to remind them that time is valuable
  • A piece of iron for protection (Thor's Hammer)
  • An acorn, for strength and longevity
  • A set of keys, Goddess Frigg's symbol
  • A broom, symbol of male and female fertility bound together (mini-besom)
  • A butterfly, for all the summers they will be together
  • A car, for the journey they're about to embark on
  • A house, so they have a place to return
  • A lavender sachets to set near the bed for peaceful dreaming
  • A pinecone, for prosperity and abundance
  • A heart, for the love that brought them together

* In the case of a same-sex couples, it would be appropriate to use two moons or two suns.
Make sure that while you're creating and filling your handfasting basket, that you're sending positive thoughts into it.  If you like, turn this into a small ritual.  You can charge the basket by focusing your intent into a simple couplet if you choose, such as:

               This basket of gifts I give from the heart
               with blessings for [name] and [name]'s handfasting.
               With these treasures I offer you joy, and hope,
               and happiness and love everlasting.

Include a note explaining to them what each item represents, so that they will always have these thirteen blessings with them in their relationship.


Have Fun!




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