Tying the Knot: how to conduct magical handfastings
This short course is aimed at anyone who would like to conduct magical handfasting ceremonies: whether you’re a professional celebrant who would like to learn more about this ancient tradition and how draw on the inspiration of the natural world to bring greater depth and authenticity to your ceremonies; or a practitioner of nature-based spiritualities who would like to be better equipped to conduct handfasting ceremonies for those in your communities, and perhaps more widely.
Whatever your experience of celebrancy and nature-inspired spiritual practices, this course will equip you to conduct handfastings for people from all walks of life; drawing on the inspiration of the elements and directions to bring greater richness and magic to your ceremonies.
About the Tutors
The courses will be led by River Jones, with support from Liz Williams and Philip Carr-Gomm.
River Jones is a celebrant with over twenty years’ of experience working with the general public. With a background in adult education and community outreach she worked for over fourteen years at the University of Sussex, where she taught and convened courses ranging from Creative Writing through to Shamanic Consciousness. She has been course director at School of Celebrancy since 2015, and is a sought after workshop leader and speaker, contributing to events for the Celebrants Collective and the Association of Independent Celebrants . River provides bespoke and inclusive ceremonies to people from all walks of life, outlooks and beliefs.To find out more about River’s Celebrancy work see www.celebrantforyourceremony.co.uk
Liz Williams is a celebrant, tarot reader, author and workshop leader, and co-owner of the Witchcraft Shop in Glastonbury, England. Her books include Modern Handfasting: a Complete Guide to the Magic of Pagan Weddings and Miracles of Our Own Making: a History of Paganism. To find out more about Liz and her work, visit her biography page at The Wild Hunt.
Philip Carr-Gomm is a writer and psychologist with a special interest in combining psychological understanding with spiritual perspectives to help people lead richer, more fulfilled lives. He has trained in psychotherapy and Psychosynthesis, and as a teacher of Sophrology, Yoga Nidra, and Mindfulness Meditation. In addition to writing books on spirituality, for 32 years he was leader of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. See his website for his blog and information about books and events.
About the Course
No special software is required to access this course. It is delivered via three online lessons, which you can work through at your own pace. Course materials include video presentations; downloadable documents, and examples drawn from real-life ceremonies; resources and suggestions for your own research.. The course and all materials will remain accessible and free to review at any time.
These self access sessions are supported by an interactive course platform where students can ask questions, participate in discussions, submit assignments and receive feedback on their course assignment, as a well as a rolling programme of drop-in webinars with the lead tutor.
Lesson 1: Setting the Scene
We’ll begin the course by exploring the historical origins of handfastings and the question of whether it is a specifically celtic or pagan rite. We’ll look at some of the other rites often included in contemporary handfastings, considering how they can be personalised for different ceremonies.
You’ll be invited to reflect on your own aims as a celebrant as we reflect on what makes a handfasting ceremony truly meaningful.
Lesson 2: Making it Magical
In this lesson we’ll consider what magic means in the context of nature inspired ceremony, and the role of the celebrant in conducting ceremonies that feel truly engaging and meaningful. We’ll discuss the language of ceremony; prayer and invocation; and explore different ways of invoking the directions and elements in handfasting ceremonies.
You’ll be offered some examples, and asked to write your own inclusive nature inspired welcoming words for a handfasting ceremony.
Lesson 3: Crafting Ceremonies
We’ll complete the course with a mainly practically oriented session: looking at how to work with clients to plan and prepare for bespoke handfasting ceremonies; how to support them with vow writing; how to make / source handfasting cords, and different ways of actually tying the knot!
We’ll also look at blessings and your final homework task will be to write your own words for tying the knot, and a nature inspired closing blessing for a handfasting ceremony.
River Jones, joined OBOD in 2000 – a year after conducting her first Handfasting. Since training with the UK College of Celebrancy she has become a full time celebrant, and has conducted over 500 rites. Previously River worked in adult education, designing and managing outreach programmes and teaching creative writing, personal development and life history courses for the University of Sussex. River will share her knowledge, resources, and many examples of rituals drawn from her wide range of experience as a celebrant . To find out more about River’s Celebrancy work see www.celebrantforyourceremony.com