Vows: Dissolving a Handfasting

My ex and I were handfast 4 years ago. The relationship changed this year. I would like to have a handparting to bring closure and move on. My ex says she performed a ceremony that released us from the handfast. I requested a 2 person ceremony, but she does not want to participate in it. The wording in our handfast document does not have the words “for a year and a day or as long as love shall last” . It  has stronger language “that lasts a lifetime”, through all the years, and “all your tomorrows”…

Any advice? She has moved on. I want to move on as well, but feel in limbo without a closure. I want to release her from the handfast with a similar ceremony as the original handfast

So… the following is based on the original email that I received. I’ll add a bit more at the bottom, regarding the additional details that were sent as well.

This is probably the number one reason why I advise that any sort of oaths or vows made should be very carefully considered before they are undertaken. Also to be extremely careful with exactly how they are worded, because while certain things may sound romantic, or dedicated and make for a lovely ceremony – the implications are far reaching and we will generally be required to carry out what we’ve pledged. Having to later go back and break our word, or beg the Gods to release us, can definitely get a bit tricky. Even if you do manage to find that release, there will, in many cases still be some lingering energy between the two (or more) parties involved, even if it is diminished.

Obviously having a parting ceremony together would be the most ideal. However as that is not possible, if you can find out from your ex, the exact ritual she used – the next best thing would be for you to follow that in the same way, saying the same words, so that you are both on the exact same page as far as words and deeds. At the very least try to find out the wording she used, for dissolving the union, not that you can’t use your own if absolutely necessary, but it would be a good reinforcement if you are echoing what has already been said.

If you end up having to write your own parting ritual from scratch, be sure to acknowledge the original words that you spoke. You may find it easier to change the nature of the vow – from romantic love to the love of friendship, rather than attempting to break the bond entirely. You can find some good advice for how to structure your own ceremony here, as well as a sample ritual here (though it would obviously need to be modified for solitary use). The key thing is to symbolically part ways – either by cutting or burning the cord that was used in your handfasting (if there was one), or other symbols of your time together. Being sure to release any residual negative feelings (as much as possible), and allow yourself to know that the time has come to move on. Something to keep in mind as well, if any Gods were called on to bless the original handfasting, you will need to petition them in your ritual as well, asking that they release you from any vows made before them. It would likely be a good idea to make sure that you have some sort of offerings for them, to make that part go a little smoother.

Overall, let this serve as a reminder to us all, to always have a care with our words. Even though we may have absolute faith that we can keep such vows at the time that they are made (obviously we wouldn’t consider making them if we didn’t think we could), the truth is that the universe is ever changing, and everyone in it has to change and grow with it (or choose not to as those around us change and grow) – in either case what was true 5 years ago, may not be true today, or even 10 years down the road. So when we do magical workings, especially anything that involves binding or joining, or dedicating ourselves to a person, or a God, or any other entity or spirit – we need to make sure that we aren’t committing ourselves to something that we will later find ourselves in a position of having to back out of. There are reasons why handfastings use the phrase “or a year and a day or as long as love shall last” – it’s the out clause, that keeps one from being in the position of being an oathbreaker.

From the additional details that you provided…

You did mention that there was a “year and a day” intent in your original ceremony… this is really good. While it’s definitely still worth having a parting ceremony, there is a lot less “baggage” than as would be if it had not contained that intention. Basically even with the other stronger wording that you mentioned originally, by adding in the renewal clause (as it were), you both are free to not exercise your option to renew – which is what has occurred. So in this case rather than having to make a high pressured “sales pitch” to the universe and/or Gods in hopes they will release you from a seemingly unbreakable bond – it’s more a matter of just formally stating your intent to end the relationship, working through and letting go of any harsh feelings, and allowing yourself to look positively to the future.

7 responses

  1. Pingback: Reversing a Soul Binding | The Informed Pagan

  2. How can our ministry dissolve a handfasting that we will no longer support? Is there a sample certificate or letter that we can use to send to the couple?

    • If I understand what you are saying – you were the “clergy” who performed the original ceremony?

      In that case, you don’t really have any say in the relationship, beyond the original ritual. You (or your group) no longer supporting the union is irrelevant, and any document that you might send has no real legal or really even spiritual significance, since the oaths/vows spoken were not yours to make or break. You only facilitated the speaking of them, by those who were making them.

      If one of the parties involved wishes you to do a ceremony to dissolve a handfasting, then you would be involved again, but other than that – you aren’t party to the relationship, and have no say in dissolving it.

      (If I totally mis-understood that, please feel free to comment back and I’ll address it again.)

  3. I’m actually wondering the the same thing EXCEPT, the day before our ceremony we did a blood ceremony as well. How in Aesir do WE break THAT ceremony tbh? My vow was to, “Love you Forever and Always. Til the end of this life and the lives after AND in this world AND the next.” She NEVER made such and oath to me except to, ” Love you to the Moon and Back.”

    • The main post is still pretty relevant to this situation as well. Really just a matter of re-addressing the vows that were made and asking to be released from them in some sort of parting ceremony.

  4. I think the advise you gave the person asking to dissolve the hand fasting started out terribly. Why you would scold them or anyone on being extra certain before they commit is ridiculous! People are in love then get divorced all the time, nothing is 100% guaranteed in life, things happen and I’m sure she feels bad enough without hearing that. Show more compassion next time

    • The advice was relevant because instead of regular vows which often include wording relating to “as long as our love shall last” or similar, the couple did something a little more binding – “that lasts a lifetime, through all the years, and all your tomorrows.” Language matters, and if you have invoked a blessing on your union that is meant to essentially be unbreakable, then attempting to break it can be complicated in the best of circumstances or actually impossible (at least on an energetic level). So it is REALLY important that people consider such things – regardless of how in love they are at the moment. Because yeah, people who are in love do eventually sometimes get divorced (all the time), so if you know the odds aren’t exactly in your favor then binding yourself to someone for a lifetime – when it’s entirely possible that your union won’t last that long (even though you fervently hope that it will and at that moment feel like you are soulmates for all eternity) – isn’t the best idea.

      In truth though, it wasn’t meant as a scolding to the person who asked but more of a note to other readers who might be contemplating such a ritual. And the point is if you are making a vow or oath (to a partner/spouse, the Gods, or really anyone else), regardless of how you feel at that exact moment – ALWAYS give yourself an out. Because other than death, the only other thing in life that is absolutely guaranteed, is CHANGE. And if you don’t allow yourself some wiggle room, it makes it a lot harder to adapt when that change does happen.

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