|Photo by Brian Jonson
Wiccan traditions — Mike Zult and Angela Wheeler from Penticton display some of the items used in a Wiccan wedding ceremony, or handfasting. Zult and Wheeler will both be ordained as full clergy in the Congregationalist Wiccan Association of B.C. and Zult will be authorized to perform legally binding marriages in a ceremony scheduled for next week. The South Okanagan Congregration is also set to be raised to full temple status. The items on the table are typical of a Wiccan wedding and are arranged to represent the four directions and the elements of fire, water, earth, air and spirit.
Apr 07 2006
Penticton pagans will soon have a new way to tie the knot — or in their case, the hands.
At a ceremony scheduled to take place in Kelowna on April 15, Mike Zult from Penticton and Diane Morrison from Vernon will be authorized to perform legally binding marriages in the Wiccan tradition.
Zult, also known as Lord Grunnar in Wiccan circles, is a lay high priest in the South Okanagan congregation of the Congregationalist Wiccan Association of British Columbia.
His congregation, as well as the North Okanagan Congregation that serves Vernon and Kelowna, have worked for years to establish a foundation of regular rituals and other Wiccan spiritual services to support local pagans, he said.
That work has now paid off with both groups being raised to full temple status and he and Morrison being ordained as a high priest and priestess with the right to perform legal marriages, he said.
“It’s huge,” said Zult. “The community has received us with welcoming arms and it has been an absolutely fabulous experience and I think it is a huge step for the Okanagan and the community.”
Right now, only one Wiccan in B.C., Samuel Wagar from the Lower Mainland, is authorized to perform legally binding Wiccan marriages. Most Wiccans who wanted a legal marriage had to have a civil ceremony first, then a Wiccan wedding, or handfasting, as the ceremony is known, said Zult.
“Now they’ll be able to eliminate that step and go straight through us,” he said.
Zult, who has practised Wicca for 20 years, said he is asked to perform four or five handfastings a year.
Although the details of a handfasting ceremony vary according to which of the Wiccan traditions the couple follows, it typically starts with the creation of a sacred space, he said. To do that, a priestess uses a bezzem, a type of broom, to cleanse the space, then the priest “casts a circle” which creates the sacred space, he said.
Guests enter the space first, followed by the couple. The couple then declares their wish to be married and exchange vows, which traditionally they write themselves. After the vows, the priest fastens their hands together with a cord to symbolize the binding of two souls, he said. The cord is later hung by the couple’s bed to remind them of the binding. The ceremony is usually followed by a traditional ceremonial feast and a general celebration.
Once ordained, Zult will be responsible for the territory from the border to Westbank. Morrison will cover north from Kelowna to Salmon Arm and to Kamloops. He will be able to perform any pagan ceremony, but through the Wiccan church, he said.
At the same ceremony, Angela Wheeler, a lay high priestess also known as Qwan Yin, will be ordained as full high priestess for the South Okanagan congregation.
She and Zult will share leadership responsibilities for the South Okanagan congregation, but only Zult will have the right to perform marriages.
The Wiccan congregation has about 32 people who regularly attend monthly rituals, but a larger number follow Wiccan traditions without belonging to the Congregationalist Wiccan Association, said Zult.
The open ritual and ceremony is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. at the Unitarian Church in Kelowna at 1310 Bertram Ave.
My concern on this I guess is that, are we not just sacrificing one aspect our of beliefs (Hand Fasting/Parting) in order to gain acceptance within the Christian model of Marriage? Do we really need it? Should not civil laws as they pertain to civil unions, given our freedom of religion rights, be adapted to encompass our beliefs?
/|\ Anarchenisis )O(