With Handfastings giving rise to the fashionable ‘Boho Chic’, many Wedding platforms are very keen to promote and use this in their digital marketing. From woodland Weddings to ceremonies at festivals, the olde ways are making a big impression, offering couples a wonderfully alternative way to be inspired as to how their special day can be. As well as connecting to our ancestral traditions – handfasting is where the term ‘tying the knot’ originates, for example.
This is having a noticeable effect on the celebrant industry, with many civil celebrants being approached by couples asking if they can conduct a Handfasting. Not surprising then that our Priestess Registrar Dawn Kinsella is now hired by a reputable company to hold Handfastating style workshops for professional celebrants. A ‘How to’ course to learn how to include elements of a Pagan ceremony as part of their clients wedding celebration. The Weddings industry is embracing alternative weddings and barely keeping up with the demand.
Last September Priestess Dawn Kinsella was awarded a certificate at the Convention for Civil Celebrants in Kettering. She was awarded the Runner-up Certificate in the category of ‘Influencing the Wider Profession.’ The judges were impressed by the nominations Dawn received saying how wonderful her ceremonies are but most importantly her work in setting up an academy to further teach and spread knowledge of pagan ceremonies.’ Inspired by this demand for high spec Celebrants, Dawn has founded the first academy to teach an accredited nine-month training programme in Pagan Celebrancy. She will also be running an intensive programme on how to conduct ceremonies such as Handfastings, Baby Namings and Passing-over ceremonies for Priestesses of Avalon. The training itself is an Academy of higher learning, situated in Glastonbury, with a team of Priestesses from the Glastonbury Goddess Temple.
Imbolc is celebrated on the 1st February and is the time of Bridie, Maiden Goddess, in her seasonal aspect of the land awakening. Danu, the old Woman of Winter and Solstice, ancient Cailleach of stone who holds the energy of stillness and death, slowly gathers her cloak of ice and snow as she passes back into the Northern gateway from whence she came. She makes way for the Maiden Goddess, who strikes the land with her fiery staff, creating a shout in nature… ‘wake up wake up!’ The promise of spring is still a distant echo clinging to winters chill, but we are feeling the awakening even so… This is the time of Imbolc, a fire season on the great wheel, when the year is as young as a maiden and awakening. Imbolc means ‘ewes’ milk’ and in ancient times our ancestors would bless the land with the first of the ewes’ milk, asking the Mother Goddess for a fertile crop for the coming year. It is a time for all things beginning anew. Growth, manifestations and projects begin to take on the energy of form… all things can begin again.
We are delighted to share that all Weddings booked from January 2019, will now include extra ceremonies to make your journey of love even more profound. The following ceremonies are included as part of your Handfasting and Sacred Marriage experience:
Couples Incense Blending
At the beginning of the Handfasting ceremony, during the rituals of Air, we use hand blended incense created by our couples to symbolically clear the future and the past. Each couple are invited to come into the Temple to blend their own ceremonial incense with their Priestesses before the Wedding. We provide the ingredients, organic resins, herbs and woods. The Temple is especially reserved for you to both create your own blend with loving intention This is a deeply energetic connection to the rituals that will follow, sensual, loving and creating together your very own secret recipe.
After the traditional ‘jumping or stepping over the Besom Broom’, we hold the Cake & Mead ceremony, to honour the Elements, Ancestors, Goddesses and Gods.
All is prepared by our fabulous team of Wedding melissa’s in the Glastonbury Experience courtyard, or if inclement weather the ceremony is held in the Temple. A table decorated with sumptuous cloth and tastefully adorned with ivy, flowers, crystals and candles, holds the Chalice of locally made West Country Mead and a platter of bite size pieces of scrumptious locally made cake. The two Beloveds – one holding the Chalice and the other holds the platter – offers each of the guests to drink of the Mead, with the words ‘’May you never go thirsty.’’ Then each guest is offered the cake with the blessing ‘’May you never go hungry.’’ We also provide juices and spring Waters from the land of Avalon for children and those that do not imbibe alcohol. (Gluten free and vegan cakes provided on request).Please note: For weddings that take place before the closing of the courtyard shops, the Cake & Mead Ceremony will only take place in the Temple or the Avalon Rooms
We are so much more than a wedding day, we will give you both an intensely beautiful experience that you will remember for ever.
What a fantastic year it has been for Goddess Temple Weddings. We have worked with wonderful couples, conducted many Sacred Weddings, and organised lots of great receptions! Our Goddess Temple Weddings experience is expanding and we are working with more talented people to offer couples an unique, bespoke service. We now have lots of different ceremonies that include Sacred Smithing, Sound Baths, Walking on the Land of Avalon, Anointing Ceremonies, Couples Pampering and more! This means that couples can create a real experience for themselves and their guests. Weddings of the past were just one day, nowadays people want to celebrate for a few days!
Winter Solstice falls on the 21 December and is the shortest day and longest night. It is the time when the sun has reached the most southerly rising and setting points on the horizon. For a few days it stays at this point before returning north once again. In ancient times fire festivals were held to celebrate the rebirth of the sun. Then and now children go from house to house with gifts of clove spoke apples and oranges to represent the sun. Holly and ivy are used as decoration in the hope that nature spirits will come and join our celebrations. Mistletoe is hung to represent the seed of the Great Mother. A kiss beneath the mistletoe is the kiss of Goddess. The ceremonial ash yule log is a highlight of this time. It is a long log laid in the fireplace and decorated in seasonal greenery, then doused with cider and ale. The log burns through the night and smoulders for 12 days before being ceremonially put out. It symbolises the sun still burning in the depths of winter.
In the Goddess Temple we honour the Mother of Air, Danu. Danu is the Ancient Mother, Stone Woman, Bone Woman, Caileach of Winter. She who dwells in the stars. She is the Void between death and rebirth and the pause between the in and the out-breath. She brings stillness and invites us stop, to rest and sleep. This is the dreamtime… the time to turn inwards and to vision for the year to come.
We are delighted to share that Priestess Dawn Kinsella, Celebrant and authorised person for legal marriages for Goddess Temple Weddings, was awarded a certificate at the Convention for Civil Celebrants in Kettering, September 2018. She was awarded the Runner-up Certificate in the category of ‘Influencing the Wider Profession.’
‘The judges were impressed by the nominations Dawn received saying how wonderful her ceremonies are but most importantly her work in setting up an academy to further teach and spread knowledge of pagan ceremonies.’
As Handfastings are becoming increasingly popular, Dawn is drafted to the Midlands each year to hold workshops for Civil Celebrants on how to conduct these beautiful ceremonies.
In January 2018, Dawn founded the first academy to teach an accredited nine-month training programme in Pagan Celebrancy; an intensive programme on how to conduct ceremonies such as Handfastings, Baby Namings and Passing-over ceremonies.
The training itself is an Academy of higher learning, situated in Glastonbury Somerset, with a team of Priestesses from the Glastonbury Goddess Temple. Contact Dawn for more information on this.
Here on the Isle of Avalon, we at the Glastonbury Goddess Temple are preparing for Samhain and welcoming in the Goddess Kerridwen. This is also known as the Souls Night and Festival of Remembrance.
The Temple Dressing Team have re-dressed the Temple in dark delicious fabrics, candles, pumpkins, seeds, and ivy, giving the visitor a deep sense of entering a space between the worlds.
Samhain is one of the major festivals of the Wheel of the Year. It is the third and final harvest festival of nuts and berries and a fire festival. All the harvest is in, all is complete, it is the end of the cycle of birth and growth, it is the point of death. The seeds of the harvest have fallen deep into the dark earth. Mother Earth is in her finery of the many colours of Autumn, as she dances one final time in her splendour before the long sleep of winter’s chill.
The Goddess, now as Crone, is Kerridwen, she who holds the cauldron of rebirth and transformation. This is the time of the descent into darkness, of pre-conception, out of which new life, new ideas, will eventually emerge.
The veils between the worlds are at their thinnest at this time of the year. Boundaries dissolve and all is laid bare. It is time to honour and remember our dear departed and ancestors.
At Samhain, the dark half of the year commences. It is a truly magical time. Death is always followed by rebirth and while this is the end of the old year, it is the beginning of the new year. With the beginning of this dark phase comes the opportunity to rest and reflect on the past and to dream of new beginnings.
Samhain is a wondrous and magical time for Sacred Marriages in the Goddess Temple, as this marks the beginning of the Celtic year, and so the energies of new beginnings for your marriage.
The Temple is ablaze with candles and dark luscious fabrics of purple and black, and for those of you with a gothic flair, this is the most sublime setting for your Samhain Wedding. Contact us for more details for your 2019 Samhain Wedding! Combined with one of our wedding packages and pre-marriage ceremonies, this will be an unforgettable and memorable experience.
Lammas is the Festival celebrating the first fruits of Mother Earth’s harvest, where we see the first grains of wheat appear, alongside ripening fruits, such as apples and pears. The word ‘Lammas’ is derived from ‘loaf mass’ and is indicative of how central and honoured is the first grain and the first loaf of the harvesting cycle. The first sheaf would often be ceremonially cut at dawn, winnowed, ground and baked into the Harvest Bread which was then shared by the community in thanks. The first barley stalks would be made into the first beer of the season. The last sheaf was also ceremonially cut, often made into a ‘corn dolly’, carried to the village with festivity and was central to the Harvest Supper. The corn dolly was made into a Corn Maiden (after a good harvest) or a cailleach, hag or cone (after a bad harvest). She could be dressed with ribbons, even clothed.
Most Handfastings were entered into at Lammas Fair Time in the past. This was when the annual rent was due and country folk gathered. The custom was single persons of both sexes to choose a companion for the next year. When Lammas Fair time came again they were to wed or separate.
Ker’s colour is gold and in the heat of the August sun, the grasses begin to turn golden as the earth becomes dry. Our beautiful Tor is the left breast of the Goddess in the landscape and is wondrous as the colour changes from green to golden. In this age and society, it is all too easy to lose touch at the miracle of the natural cycle of her nature. The Feminine is giving and nurturing.. Look around you and spend time in her nature, giving thanks for all that she provides.
Every year thousands of people visit Glastonbury, to see the sacred sights, to walk the land and to connect to the energies. Not surprisingly many people then choose to marry here rather than where they live. This sacred land feels like home to many… it’s a place that opens peoples hearts and awakens their souls.
For people trying to plan their Magical Avalon Wedding, it can sometimes feel slightly overwhelming with all the different aspects to think about. Not only is there the ceremony but there’s everything else, like the reception, food, music, flowers, wedding cake, photographer….
So how do you start to organise something like this?!
First you need to decide what kind of reception you would like. Is it a small, intimate gathering or do you want to let your hair down and have a good old party! Many of the restaurants in town do cater for smaller Weddings. If you are looking for something larger, you would need to hire a function room and a caterer and staff. Have you thought about where wedding photos at all of them? There is so much choice as to where you can have your photos… the Tor, the Chalice Well and the Abbey are all a possibility. Have you thought about flowers and cakes? There are some very gifted artists that will create something more enchanting and magical than you could have ever have imagined. Have you thought about music? There are some great local ceremonial musicians and some fantastic celtic bands… both sure to make your Wedding as beautiful and memorable as possible!
Once you have an idea of what you want, the next step is to come to Glastonbury to meet all the different businesses that may be able to help you. We are lucky and blessed to have some truly creative and talented people working here. If you need help or recommendations with anything, get in touch.
The Waters of Avalon by Dawn Kinsella
In ancient times Glastonbury (Glass-town-borough) and the surrounding hills were islands in a swampy inland sea called the Sea of Glass. Shrouded in the mists which rose from the Sea, the Tor was often all that could be seen of the island. This is a most beloved image in legends of The Isle of Avalon. It was during the summer months of June onwards that the ancient peoples who lived on the Isle would find the waters warm enough to swim in, and so the Avalonion wheel has the element of Water in the South, other paths such a Wicca for example would have Water in the West.
Over time, the sea, fed by fresh water from the surrounding hills, began to fill with silt. Reeds began to grow in the shallower waters and slowly the sea filled in, creating swamps and later dry land. Further drainage took place when channels were built to drain the remaining water away until today there is no sign of the ancient sea.
The land remembers the waters and we are blessed here on the Isle with the red & white springs that make their way from deep underground to pour out from several places, such as the White Spring and Chalice Well. The red spring contains a high amount of iron and is the colour red, staining the stone it flows over with the earthy pigment of blood, symbolising the feminine and the Motherline. The water of the White Spring is highly calcified and often solidifies as a white crystalline deposit and symbolises the masculine and the Fatherline. Avalon literally floats on the surface of the waters and amplifies the energies here of the ley lines that crosses through the centre point that is the Tor.
The blessing for Water takes place in the South of the elemental altar (which is a demarcated flower circle marking the compass points & elements of Air in the North, Fire in the East, Water, South & Earth in the West). The entire ceremony is conducted within the circle and it is during this part of the ceremony where you exchange rings, say your vows and legal words of marriage. During the ceremony we often refer tothe amazing work of Dr. Masaru Emoto and his discoveries of how water has memory and changes its molecular structure when blessed. As Priestesses of Avalon and your Celebrants, we bless the waters which infuse the molecules and frequency of love. Your Priestess invites you at this point to hold the Chalice and feel with thought and intention the cellular essence of love into the waters, before you both drink of the sacredness of love essence within.
We now offer your own Chalice made just for you for your special day. Our ceramist mixes some of the natural clay from the Avalonion landscape into the white clay and shapes the Chalice with waters from the sacred springs. Please contact us for more details.