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Spellcraft for Handfasting


previously published as a feature entitled “Rings, Vows and Chalices” in issue 10 of WitchCraft magazine

Spellcraft is achieved by using the natural magick in physical symbols, the flowers, herbs, colours, crystals, candles, etc., that so delight the powerful Child in every Witch. These symbols are also Keys that work on the deep mind, the Witch’s inner Nature merging with the Intelligence of Greater Nature, understood on one level as the power of the God and the Goddess. By using the physical symbolic forms, we expand our consciousness into their corresponding metaphysical or “spiritual” aspects.  We will use the Symbol Keys of natural magick to “spell out” our goal of lasting and loving partnership.

There is great magickal power in the sheer beauty of a Handfasting Circle, laid out with Ivy or Vine and many flowers, with posies marking the Quarter Lamps and the Altar in the South (Earth). Thus begins the adventure of learning about and gathering your magickal Allies or Power- Familiars, from the Plant, Mineral and Totemic Realms, and feeling the presence of those Beings that guide and guard all works of Love.

If you are going to Handfast under a sacred tree, the enlistment of a Tree as an Ally in Love Magick is certainly a time-honoured tradition. To awaken and befriend your Tree well before the Ritual, take time to merge with it from roots to branches, feeling the Tree flowing between Sky and Earth. Ask the Tree to help bring the blessing of God and Goddess to the Handfasting Altar, leaving an offering of cake and wine at its roots.

After the Celebrant has cast the Circle and called the Powers, the Handfasting Party are admitted into the Circle, but not before the couple pass the challenge of the Magickal Sword, to test their Intention. Then comes their presentation to the Mighty Ones of the four Quarters, after which they receive the purification and blessing of the Elements. To clear all past negativity, the Celebrant sweeps the Circle widdershins (the banishing direction) with the Broom.

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The simultaneous lighting of the Handfasting Candle by both Bride and Groom, consecrates, focuses and ignites all the Spellworking built up before this Rite of Union. Mirroring the Tarot “Two of Cups”, the couple now exchange Rings, Vows and Chalices, which is the sharing of auras, minds and hearts, while their hands are loosely bound in a “figure of eight” knot. This signifies the sacred flowing together of male and female energies. Removing the Cord with the knot still in place, the Celebrant raises it over the couple’s heads, saying “I tie the Knot. You are now joined in Timelessness. To their joined hands, O Stars, shine in peace.”  It is a wonderful moment. They are Priest-King and Priestess-Queen, and the God and Goddess are present. Now the happy couple kiss and jump the Broom together, out of the Circle and into their new life!

The Cord should be kept, like the Handfasting Candle, as an active Relationship Talisman which can be kept magickally charged and worked with later on.

Magickal timing for Handfasting favours the waxing half of the year (between Midwinter and Midsummer) as well as the waxing Moontide. Also pay attention to those Sabbats that are traditionally linked to Marriage, namely Spring Equinox, Sept 21-23; Beltane, Oct 31; Midsummer Dec 21-23 and Lammas Feb 2. The nearest New Moon or Full Moon to these dates will carry the influence of the Sabbat.

Once the date is set, allow yourselves six months preparation. The Spellcraft needs to be worked on by both of you during the same time period, which should be at least from the New Moon to the Full Moon before the Rite of Union. It is then traditional to live separately during the waning half of the Moon in order to prepare spiritually for the Handfasting, held after the New Moon.

First you will need two identical Handfasting Candles, preferably beeswax, the thick long -burning kind (20 hours or more). You keep one as a Charging Candle for the Spellcraft building up to the Handfasting, and reserve the other as the centrepiece of the Handfasting Altar.   It is important that this Candle not be lit until the Handfasting.  One of the Symbol Keys you can inscribe on this Candle is the “combined heraldry” of both partners, a composite of totemic animal designs to symbolize the two individual powers joining as one. A design I like to engrave and paint on a Handfasting Candle is the symbol of two hearts in interlacing Celtic knotwork that form one crowned heart.


To put the main Spell Bag together you will need a 4-6 cm square of emerald green velvet; red thread (wool); small rounded pieces of sardonyx, turquoise and rose quartz; a little gold heart charm or locket; a mortar and pestle to combine the following: petals of rose, marigold, carnation; dried herb of marjoram, speedwell, yarrow, myrtle, rosemary; essential oils of rose, rose geranium, neroli, patchouli and frankincense resin. Place enough of the resulting mixture in the centre of the velvet square so that the charm and the stones all fit, then tie it all firmly with the red thread.

The Evergreen Spell is made by the partners together with small twigs from a strong and healthy evergreen tree, three for the woman; four for the man. While chanting the man’s name over and over, the woman binds red thread round the four twigs, tucking a piece of his clothing under the yarn. The man does the same with the three twigs for the woman using a piece of her clothing. Both bundles are bound together tightly with hair from both partners while singing each other’s names. Sew this into a red velvet pouch and tie it onto the Spell Bag.

For the Altar you need an oak green cloth and two 6 cm squares, one royal purple (divine oneness of male/red and female/blue), the other gold (success, joy). The purple square goes under the Charging Candle which is placed in the centre of the Altar; the gold square goes under the decorated Handfasting Candle, which is placed centrally at the back of the Altar directly behind the Charging Candle. Along with greenery and flowers, prop the Lovers Tarot card in front of the Handfasting Candle, placing the Emperor to the right and the Empress to the left to represent the God and the Goddess empowering the Union.

With this “battery-charging” type of Spellcraft, once you’ve set the Altar you can renew the magickal “charge” daily, spending five minutes or two hours, according to your schedule. For long sessions, add Cakes and Wine to the Altar, to help with earthing out and to embody the energy of the Spellworking.

Around the central Charging Candle you place: the Spell Bag and the Evergreen Talisman; the two Chalices with a Ring in each one; a copy of the Two of Cups Tarot card with photos of the couple pasted over the Tarot couple; a little Map or Flow Chart of the partnership goals. Now wind the black Handfasting Cord around this in a Circle, carefully including the Handfasting Candle.


Put on some inspiring meditative music, sit before the Altar, and begin. Light the Charging Candle, aware that you have now ignited your own Body of Light, your divine, magickal Shining Self. Let your mind extend to the Four Elemental Quarters and centre within this balancing Circle, aware of the benevolent strength of the Great Mother and the Horned God. Knowing everything is prepared, your body releases tension and lets go into the grounding of Earth.

Now you become lighter as you begin to breathe as deeply and easily as a child, letting your mind become clearer, your concentration deeper and wider with each breath. Become intensely aware of each Colour and Symbol Key on the Altar, concentrating on whichever ones feel strongest to you. Simply meditate on their meaning and intention, breathe in the fragrance and breathe out the Intention in sound or word, the vibrant power of Air.

Let the fertile images of Water, the romance of the story, flow into your heart in deep waves, passionately knowing that each Symbol Key is a goal fulfilled, a Dreaming that is true. The energy quickens, twisting and rushing upwards, a vortex of power deep within, building and building. Pull the light-energy you have generated in each Symbol Key into this inner vortex, using the Candle as the focus, cycling and spiralling the energy from the Keys into the Candle, then pulling the energy from the Candle’s battery into the Keys, and so on. The Power- Allies behind the Keys burst into life, dancing their energy into your objectives! Project your will now with certainty and suddenly clap out the Candle flame, throwing the vortex into the Spell Bag and Talisman, which you then place in contact with the Handfasting Candle.

Let all excess energy drain off into the Earth. Let go. Blank out any further thoughts and keep the Magickal Silence. Feel the presence of the Great Mother and the Horned God filling and expanding you. Feel their hands over yours, glowing out a Blessing on the Work and the Cakes and Wine. As you eat and drink to the Old Ones, we say “Wise and Blessed Be, you Witches All!”

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