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
Thanks

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.

TIP – Wiccan Rede


When it comes to Wicca, there are many aspects that are often misunderstood, and the the “Wiccan Rede” is a big one. Considering that it often incorporated into Neo-Pagan practices (without being properly understood), it’s sometimes a bit scary to contemplate the ways in which people attempt to apply it, not only to themselves, but to those around them. What many people don’t seem to realize is that the term “rede” simply means advice, which means that the “Wiccan Rede” is not an unbreakable law, or even a strict requirement – it is just exactly what it states it is… a bit of guidance along the path.

As to the “Rede” itself – “an ye harm none, do as ye will” (and yes it is just those 8 words, not the longer poem that many quote) it doesn’t actually tell us that we can’t cause harm, it just says – “if you harm none, do what you want”. So clearly not causing harm is acceptable, however if we look closely at that statement, at no point does it say “if it causes harm, don’t do it”. The truth is, that as long as one has carefully considered one’s actions and is willing to accept the consequences of taking those actions, then one can do whatever one feels is necessary. In the end, it’s all about taking responsibility for one’s actions, not about prohibiting a particular action when it is needed.

It is always acceptable to defend oneself from harm, and to protect one’s family and loved ones, and the Rede was definitely not meant to imply that one cannot do that. Too many people take it as some sort of blanket prohibition, which it really isn’t, and in truth it is impossible to go through life without causing harm to someone or something.

For more information on the origins of the Rede, and the meaning behind it, you can check out the following… The Wiccan Rede: A Historical Journey

What Am I


It took me a while to figure out what the lines between Trad Wicca, Eclectic Wicca and Eclectic Paganism were. Knowing when you’re no longer a solitary eclectic Wiccan but a Gaelic Polytheist (or any other distinct form of paganism) would be helpful to newcomers, I’m sure.

Making it more widely known that Wicca is a religion that cannot be eclectic (simply because of the level of structure the religion has and the way it is taught and practised) and how wildly different forms of Eclectic Neo-Paganism can be (both from one another and from Wicca) are things we feel strongly about and will touch on.

That point where you realise you’re no longer an eclectic but following a specific Pagan religion is a pretty great one, and it would be a good subject to focus on. Thinking about it now, not sure how we’ll go about it, but it’s important so we’ll definitely put some thought into it and get a couple of things written on that topic. Thank you very much for your ideas! We appreciate them!

Finding a Group or Coven


I am currently trying to find a group with whom to interact and study in Charlotte, NC area and am having difficulty doing so. Could you help me?

The first (and probably most important) question you need to ask yourself, is “What exactly are you looking to study?” Because there are different resources that might be better than others, depending on what you are looking for. Without knowing any specifics, I’m going to gear my response towards Wicca and Eclectic Neo-Pagan Paths. If you are looking for something else, please reply and let me know, so I can provide those resources as well.

My first suggestion would be to check out the WitchVox site. They provide a place for various groups and organizations advertise, and it is divided up by city/state (there are drop down lists on the left side of the page). You can go to the North Carolina page, to see what is over in the Charlotte area. Which just looking at the page, seems that there are at least some good choices in your area.

The other thing to remember as well, is that sometimes you might have to travel a bit to find the right group, so if there isn’t something that fits in your local area, and it is something that you really feel strongly about, it might not hurt to widen your search a bit. I know people who travel several hours one way to meet with their covens, and others who fly across country. Clearly that’s not something that we all can afford to do (time or money-wise), but it’s something to consider.

From there it can take a bit of detective work, because even though something might say “traditional” or “Wicca”, etc… in many cases what that particular group defines that as can really vary, so you really have to ask a lot of questions, especially if being in a lineaged coven is important to you. If you are just looking for an eclectic group then, it’s just a matter of checking out profiles and finding one that seems to suit what you are looking for, and then contacting them for more information.

Groups that are open to new members should be willing to at least discuss basic information (even if the majority of their practices are oath-bound). If someone seems annoyed that you are asking questions, or they get defensive or evasive, then it’s probably a good idea to run quickly in the opposite direction. Listen to your own instincts – if something doesn’t seem right, the it probably isn’t.

If you are looking for a Traditional Wiccan coven, your next resource would be the Amber and Jet Yahoo list. While they have discontinued their “official” seekers list, it is still the best place to get more information on if a particular coven is properly lineaged. Not only that but their archives contain a wealth of information on Wicca, and if you have any questions on anything you can always ask, as there are a lot of wonderful members (consisting of both Elders, Seekers and other Initiates) who are more than willing to help.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask! 🙂

Welcome


The Informed Pagan is a collaborative Pagan community that can be used as a resource for learning more about the various religions and practices that fall under the Pagan umbrella. A place where one can ask any question and expect thoughtful, honest answers, based not only on collective experiences, but currently available scholarly research.

Founded by a group of Pagans from various paths, we are dedicated towards promoting responsibility and integrity within the Pagan Community, through knowledge and awareness. Paganism is a very broad topic, and there is a ton of misinformation that has been perpetuated over the years, and unfortunately, very little has been done to stop it.

Most of us started out, as many do, rather “fluffy”, not knowing what we were doing, and often trusting what we thought were reliable resources, only to find that we’d been misled. The misleading wasn’t always done intentionally, but it was clear that there was a serious lack of genuinely reliable resources for those who were seeking a Pagan path. In talking about how far we had come and how embarrassed we were at some of the things we had once said and written (and yes we have ALL been there), we felt strongly that more guidance should be available for Pagans of all types. Talking about this wasn’t enough, and we decided we needed to take action. Which brings us here, to TIP.

The Informed Pagan is for anyone who needs a bit of help navigating the world of Paganism. If you are unsure of what you should be doing, which authors are reliable, or even what you believe, just ask. ALL QUESTIONS ARE WELCOME!! We have the knowledge and experience to help you find the answers that you seek, as you journey forward on your Pagan path.