Intro

tlachtga (3)

Greetings,

I am an Irish Witch residing on the East coast where I currently run my own coven. During my twenty five year journey exploring and studying Paganism and esoteric traditions I became a 3º High Priest of the Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca, the Minoan Brotherhood, the New York WICA Tradition and the Isian Tradition of Witchcraft.

I received a B.A.(Hons) in World Religions, Theology and Sociology from the Confederal School of Religions, Peace Studies, and Theology located at Trinity College, Dublin, and currently am a member of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR). I am also a co-founder of Pagan Life Rites which offers ceremonial and other services to the nationwide community through our network of Pagan clergy.

Under the auspices of Pagan Life Rites, I am registered by the Office of the General Register (GRO) as a legal solemniser of marriage in Ireland. I offer State recognised Handfasting ceremonies to all couples regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Based on Celtic tradition these ceremonies facilitate couples in declaring their union which is symbolised by the gentle binding of hands. Please see the menu above for further information and other services.

As well as providing Craft training to suitable seekers, I also offer pastoral support to anyone interested in or new to Paganism and especially to the LGBT community. The discrimination experienced by LGBT people from Abrahamic traditions often leaves some people with no outlet to nurture their own spiritual wellbeing since it can seem difficult to find  alternatives in Ireland.

I am happy to provide lines of enquiry for any person wishing to explore other possibilities. Queries may be submitted via the contact form at the bottom of this site. All enquiries shall be treated with confidentiality. Those using pseudonyms shall receive no response.

hag witch wizard warlock cunning man charmer sorcery sorcerer sorceress healer cure wise woman czarownik czarownica baba jaga magia magick magic

Panel 1

Training

Each of the traditions below are distinct currents of power in their own right and contribute to the diversity of European Craft. The differing emphases of each tradition offers greater choice to seekers in the direction of their spiritual path and magickal development.

The Minoan Brotherhood is a male-only tradition of Witchcraft. This is an oathbound, initiatory and lineaged tradition which explores the Male Mysteries in a Cretan and Ancient Near Eastern mythological context. This tradition flourishes in a number of countries with Ireland first receiving this tradition through Temenos ta Carmán.

The New York WICA Tradition, a Gardnerian kindred tradition, is an oathbound, initiatory and lineaged tradition of Witchcraft in its own right. This tradition observes both opposite-sex and same-sex initiation and working partnership. This tradition also flourishes in a number of countries with training also available in Ireland.

The Isian Tradition of Witchcraft employs both ceremonial magick and traditional Witchcraft techniques and places an emphasis on Egyptian mythology. This is an oathbound, initiatory and lineaged tradition of Witchcraft which also observes both opposite-sex and same-sex initiation. This beautiful tradition is facilitated by its teachers in many countries including Ireland.

The Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft is an oathbound, initiatory and lineaged strand of Traditional Initiatory Wicca observing opposite-sex initiation and working partnership. This tradition has a strong presence around the world and is a path well serviced in Ireland by its many teachers.

A seeker can expect a lengthy meet and greet process prior to a decision on acceptance for training. During this period a seeker should be able to convey a good knowledge of contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft. For a suggested reading list please click here. A candidate will be of adult age and able to demonstrate self-care, personal integrity and commitment. A candidate can expect to spend around five years completing training. Seekers may submit a considered expression of interest using the contact form at the bottom of this site. First, please see advice for Seekers here.  All enquiries shall be treated with confidentiality. Those using pseudonyms shall receive no response.

la brujería la hechicería la brujeria la hechiceria el encanto el hechizo el brujo el encantador occulto sobrenatural mágico magico esotérico esoterico spirituality religion mysticism occult esoteric

Panel 2

Study

A media archive of cultural interest can be viewed here.

Below is a small selection of publications that will be of interest to seekers and students. Some books are written or edited by academics while others are by Pagan and Occult practitioners. Some readers may be interested in the academic articles further below which point to the polytheistic heritage of Abrahamic traditions in the exploration of topics such as deity worship, ancestor veneration, divination and the role of women in these societies. Students are encouraged to stay abreast of developments in fields such as archaeology, astronomy and anthropology. For seekers who are beginning their research into Witchcraft and Wicca, titles by Margot Adler, Doreen Valiente and Rae Beth are a good starting point. For those interested in the Minoan Brotherhood or the New York WICA tradition titles by Michael Lloyd, Arthur Evans, and Randy P. Conner are good supplementary readings.

BOOKS

  • A Brief History of the Celts – Peter Beresford-Ellis
  • A Brief History of the Druids – Peter Beresford-Ellis
  • An Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion – Tammi J. Schneider
  • Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament – (ed.) James B. Pritchard
  • Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches – Charles Godfrey Leland
  • Arcana Mundi; Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Collection of Ancient Texts – Georg Luck
  • Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilisation – Paul Kriwaczek
  • Blossom of Bone: Reclaiming the Connections Between Homoeroticism and the Sacred – Randy P. Conner
  • Bull of Heaven – Michael Lloyd
  • Celtic Gods and Celtic Goddesses – Robert J. Stewart
  • Children of Cain – Michael Howard
  • Complete Irish Mythology – Augusta Gregory
  • Covensense – Patricia Crowther
  • Creating Pre-History: Druids, Ley Hunters and Archaeologists in Pre-war Britain – Adam Stout
  • Culture and Conscience. An Archaeological Study of the New Religious past in Ancient Palestine – Herbert Gordon May & William Creighton Graham
  • Drawing Down the Moon – Margot Adler
  • Ecstatic Religion: A Study of Shamanism and Spirit Possession – Ioan M. Lewis
  • Essays on Ancient Israel in Its Near Eastern Context: A Tribute to Nadav Naªaman – (ed.) Yairah Amit, Ehud Ben Zvi, Israel Finkelstein, & Oded Lipschits
  • Geosophia: The Argo of Magic – Jake Stratton-Kent
  • Gods in the Desert: Religions of the Ancient Near East – Glenn Stanfield Holland
  • Greek and Roman Necromancy – Daniel Ogden
  • Handbook of Contemporary Paganism – (ed.) Meredith Pizza & James R. Lewis
  • Hedge Witch – Rae Beth
  • Households and Holiness: The Religious Culture of Israelite Women – Carol L. Meyers
  • In the Path of the Moon: Babylonian Celestial Divination and its Legacy – by Francesca Rochberg
  • Initiation into Hermetics – Franz Bardon
  • Irish Witchcraft and Demonology – St. John D. Seymour
  • Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch – Lora O’Brien
  • Judahite Burial Practices and Beliefs about the Dead – Elizabeth Bloch-Smith
  • Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World – (ed.) Paul Mirecki & Marvin Meyer
  • Magic of the North Gate – Josephine McCarthy
  • Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds – Daniel Ogden
  • Mastering Witchcraft – Paul Huson
  • Minoan and Mycenaean Art – Reynold Higgins
  • Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete – Rodney Castleden
  • Modern Magick – Donald Michael Kraig
  • Mysteries of the Snake Goddess: Art, Desire and the Forging of History – Kenneth D. S. Lapatin
  • Natural Magic – Doreen Valiente
  • Power of the Witch – Laurie Cabot
  • Prophets Male and Female: Gender and Prophecy in the Hebrew Bible, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Ancient Near East – (ed.) Jonathan Stökl & Corrine L. Carvalho
  • Psychic Self Defence – Dion Fortune
  • Rethinking Ghosts in World Religions – (ed.) Mu-chou Poo
  • The Book of the Goddess Past and Present – Carol Olson
  • The Cosmic Serpent – Jeremy Narby
  • The Cults of the Greek States – Lewis R. Farnell
  • The Family in Life and Death; The Family in Ancient Israel: Sociological and Archaeological Perspectives – (ed.) Patricia Dutcher-Walls
  • The Gods of the Celts – Miranda Green
  • The Golden Bough – James Frazer
  • The Greeks and Greek Love – James Davidson
  • The Irish Celtic Magical Tradition – Steven Blamires
  • The Israelite Woman: Social Role and Literary Type in Biblical Narrative – Athalya Brenner
  • The Minoan World – Arthur Cotterell
  • The Occult World – (ed.) Christopher Partridge
  • The Pagan Man – Isaac Bonewits
  • The Rebirth of Witchcraft – Doreen Valiente
  • The Triumph of the Moon – Ronald Hutton
  • The True Grimoire – Jake Stratton-Kent
  • The White Goddess – Robert Graves
  • The Witches’ God Janet and Stewart Farrar
  • The Witches’ Goddess – Janet and Stewart Farrar
  • Transcendental Magic – Eliphas Levi
  • What Thou Wilt – Jon Hanna
  • What Witches Do – Stewart Farrar
  • Wicca: Magickal Beginnings – Sorita D’Este and David Rankine
  • Witchcraft and Paganism Today – Anthony Kemp
  • Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture – Arthur Evans
  • Witchcraft for Tomorrow – Doreen Valiente
  • Witchcraft, Magic and Culture, 1736 to 1951 – Owen Davies
  • Zutot: Perspectives on Jewish Culture (Vol 1) – (ed.) Shlomo Berger, Michael Brocke & Irene Zwiep

ARTICLES

  • 1 Sam 28: The woman of Endor. Who is she and what does Saul see? – S. Fisher (Basel)
  • Age at Marriage and the Household: A Study of Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian Forms – Martha T. Roth
  • Ancient Jerusalem’s Funerary Customs and Tombs – Levi Y. Rahmani
  • Asherah in the Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Literature – John Day
  • Ben Sira and the Giants of the Land: A Note on Ben Sira 16:7 – Matthew Goff
  • Biblical Women’s Marital Rights – Étan Levine
  • Capturing Basque Witches, Releasing Lyrical Resources: From Historical Cases to Folk Song – Begoña Echeverria
  • Capturing Magics: The Witches in Early Modern England Project as Micro-Historical and Visualization Research – Kirsten C. Uszkalo
  • Charming Witches: The “Old Religion” and the Pendle Trial – Diane Purkiss
  • Chirps from the Dust: The Affirmation of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:30 in its Ancient Near Eastern Context – Christine Hayes
  • Deuteronomy and the Politics of Post-Mortem Existence – Joseph Blenkinsopp
  • Diana Nemorensis – Andrew Alfoldi
  • Dynamic Spirituality on Minoan peak sanctuaries – Christine Morris & Alan Peatfield
  • Evidence of Minoan astronomy and calendrical practices – Marianna P. Ridderstad
  • Exe(o)rcising Power: Women as Sorceresses, Exorcists, and Demonesses in Babylonian Jewish Society of Late Antiquity – Rebecca Lesses
  • Experiencing ritual: Shamanic elements in Minoan religion – Christine Morris & Alan Peatfield
  • Hebrew thoughts on immortality and resurrection – Edmund B. Keller
  • Immortality and the Unseen World: A Study in Old Testament Religion – William O.E. Oesterley
  • Inanna and Ishtar in the Babylonian World – Joan Goodnick Westenholz
  • Isaiah 57:5-6: Tombs in the Rocks – Charles A. Kennedy
  • Judah’s Covenant with Death (Isaiah XXVIII 14-22) – Joseph Blenkinsopp
  • Lie Back and Think of Judah: The Reproductive Politics of Pillar Figurines – Ryan Byrne
  • Necromancy and Cleromancy in 1 and 2 Samuel – Bill T. Arnold
  • Official Attitudes toward Prophecy at Mari and in Israel – Simon B. Parker
  • Old Testament religion in the light of its Canaanite background – Elmer A. Leslie
  • Royal Women and the Exercise of Power in the Ancient Near East – Sarah C. Melville
  • Secondary Mortuary Practice and the Bench Tomb: Structure and Practice in Iron Age Judah – James F. Osborne
  • “She Will Die by the Iron Dagger”: Adultery and Neo-Babylonian Marriage – Martha T. Roth
  • Some Neglected Aspects of Israelite Interment Ideology – Saul M. Olyan
  • Spiritual Physiologies: The Discernment of Spirits in Medieval and Early Modern Europe – Nancy Caciola & Moshe Sluhovsky
  • Tamar, Qědēšā, Qadištu, and Sacred Prostitution in Mesopotamia – Joan Goodnick Westenholz
  • The Archbishop and the Lord Chief Justice: Dispossessions and the Clash of Jurisdictions in Jacobean England – Marcus Harmes
  • The Daughters of Your People: Female Prophets in Ezekiel 13:17-23 – Nancy R. Bowen
  • The discovery of Witches: Matthew Hopkins’s Defense of his Witch-Hunting Methods – Sheilagh Ilona O’Brien
  • The Dynamics of Gender in Early Agricultural Societies of the Near East – Diane Bolger
  • The Exaltation of Inanna – William W. Hallo & J. J. A. van Dijk
  • The Invocation of Deceased Ancestors in Psalm 49:12c – Mark S. Smith
  • The Necromancer’s Inheritance: The Ba’alat Ov of Endor in 1 Samuel 28 – Ben Siegel
  • The Queen Mother and the Cult in Ancient Israel – Susan Ackerman
  • The Role and Function of Goddesses in Mesopotamia – Brigitte Groneberg
  • The Roots of Restriction: Women in Early Israel – Carol L. Meyers
  • The Saturnine History of Jews and Witches – Yvonne Owens
  • The Social Role of the Nadītu Women in Old Babylonian Nippur – Elizabeth C. Stone
  • The Theological Implications of an Ancient Jewish Burial Custom – Eric M. Meyers
  • The Witchcraft Hysteria in Early Modern Europe: Was Russia an Exception? – William F. Ryan
  • Transfer of Property by Inheritance and Bequest in Biblical Law and Tradition – Richard H. Hiers
  • Unnoticed Resonances of Tomb Opening and Transportation of the Remains of the Dead in Ezekiel 37:12-14 – Saul M. Olyan
  • Voicing Women, “Community” Drama, and The Late Lancashire Witches – Eleanor Rycroft
  • Who Names the Namers? The Interpretation of Necromantic Terms in Jewish Translations of the Bible – Andrés Piquer Otero & Pablo A. Torijano Morales
  • Women and Communication in the Ancient Near East – Samuel A. Meier
  • Women and Gender in Babylonia – Laura D. Steele
  • Women and Men at Çatalhöyük – Ian Hodder
  • Women in Ancient Mesopotamia – Amy R. Gansell
  • Women’s Divination in Biblical Literature: Prophecy, Necromancy, and Other Arts of Knowledge – Esther J. Hamori
  • Yahweh and the Goddesses Astarte and Anat (and the Queen of Heaven) – John Day
Panel 3

Temenos ta Carmán

Kouros

Minoan Groves (covens) can only be created and led by a Minos and Temenos ta Carmán was the first Minoan Grove to be seeded in Ireland. A Minos is a 3º High Priest, the only role enabling a Brother to teach and initiate suitable seekers into the Minoan Brotherhood. Not to be confused with Wicca, this is a distinct initiatory, lineaged, oathbound tradition of Witchcraft which explores the Male Mysteries and places an emphasis on resonance rather than polarity. The core beliefs of the Minoan Brotherhood centre on the worship of the ancient Cretan Snake Goddess, the Great Mother of the Aegean civilisations, and Her Divine Son, the Starry One, or Bull of Heaven.

Some Craft paths which are polarity-defined or hetero-centric in praxis can leave LGBT people feeling like their nature is on the periphery to what is centrally upheld as an ideal, thus meaning that the mundane experience of being the “outsider/other/stranger” is underlined within ritual space.  The Minoan Brotherhood provides a safe and sacred space for Men Loving Men to nourish their spiritual wellbeing where their nature is centrally placed and celebrated as equally divine. The Minoan Brotherhood is the only tradition in the West European Isles solely dedicated to Queer spirituality.

As a Grove of the Eleutheria Line, which embraces diversity and individual expression, Temenos ta Carmán maintains a healthy balance between received wisdom and the guidance of our Gods to maintain a living experience of this spiritual and magickal tradition within an Irish context. This is symbolised by the Matron deity of our coven, Carmán, the only Goddess figure to bridge the mythology of the Irish landscape with that of Greece.

carman pic

Carmán, was a warrior and sorceress from Athens who made a bid to invade and destroy the fruits of Ireland with the aid of Her three Sons before being defeated by the Tuatha Dé Danann and buried in Leinster. This triple aspect and Carmán’s dark traits are reflected in the Irish Goddess of the Underworld, the Mórrígan (Great Queen), and Her offspring such as Her serpentine Son, Meichi, who suffered a triple slaying at the waters of the Three Sisters in Leinster; the realm of Carmán.

Carmán’s story is told in a poem of the Metrical Dindshenchas which states that She died in 600 BCE. The Tuatha Dé Danann instituted the Óenach Carmán, or Festival of Carmán, held in Her memory every three years at Lughnasadh, 1st August. The Irish God, Lugh, established a harvest festival and funeral games, named the Áenach Tailteann, in honour of His foster Mother, the Goddess Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion having cleared the plains of Ireland for agriculture. These festivities were believed to have been established between 1829-1600 BCE and continued to be observed at Telltown up until as late as 1770 CE when they were later expressed as the Taillten Fair. Aspects of these customs continue in present day celebrations of Lugh’s harvest festival called Lughnasadh.

The Mórrígan, Carmán and Tailtiu are mutually associated with the Underworld and the honouring of the Dead. While the Mórrígan is also associated with the land and sovereignty, the festivities in memory of both Carmán and Tailtiu share in both the agricultural focus and the time of year they were observed. Carmán’s origins may lie in Carme, the Latinised form of the Greek Karmê (shearer), a female Cretan spirit who assisted the grain harvest of Demeter’s Cretan predecessor.

The name Karme means “She who cuts the grain,” and derives from keirein, meaning “to cut.” According to Olympian mythology, She was the Mother, by Zeus, of the Minoan virginal huntress Goddess, whom She bore at Kaino. Carme was the Daughter of either Phoenix and Cassiopeia, or of the divine ploughman Euboulos, Son of Karmanor. The duplicates and parallel genealogies are symptoms of the uneasy fit between the Minoan cult, to which Carme belonged, and the Mycenaean cult that superseded it.

For suitable seekers who have a sincere interest in Witchcraft, Magick and the Minoan traditions, Temenos ta Carmán offers a path of learning that is healing, affirming and transformative. A seeker can expect a lengthy meet and greet process prior to a decision on acceptance for training. During this period a seeker should be able to convey a good knowledge of contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft. For a suggested reading list please click here. A candidate will be of adult age and able to demonstrate self-care, personal integrity and commitment. A candidate can expect to spend around five years completing training. Seekers may submit a considered expression of interest using the contact form at the bottom of this site. First, please see advice for Seekers here. All enquiries shall be treated with confidentiality. Those using pseudonyms shall receive no response.

A glimpse of Carmán’s landscape including one of the Three Sisters…

queer gay lesbian transgender intersex bisexual non-binary gender-fluid gender-queer same-sex LGBT pride stonewall civil rights equal rights human rights equality diversity justice sovereign

Panel 4

Rites

SUMMARY INFORMATION

I am a Wiccan Priest registered with the Office of the General Register as a legal Solemniser of Marriage.

I offer legal Handfastings to all couples seeking a wedding ceremony with a spiritual element that is more aligned to an Earth based belief system.

Handfasting is the term for the traditional religious wedding rite. This is a continuation of Ireland’s indigenous practice which was recognised in Brehon law.

You do not need to identify specifically as Pagan to avail of a Handfasting. Such a ceremony may suit if you feel at peace in nature, notice the cycle of the year and feel a sense of wonder and awe in the majesty of the Earth. If you desire a ritual to mark your special day with reference to these moments a Handfasting may resonate with you. Ceremonies may be tailored to suit the needs of couples.

Handfasting ceremonies may be availed of by:

i) couples who wish for their union to be recognised by the State; a spiritual ceremony including the required legal element. Standard legal preliminaries apply.

ii) couples who do not wish for their union to be recognised by the State; a spiritual ceremony only, without the legal element.

iii) couples seeking to renew previous vows; a spiritual ceremony only.

Please see below for further information and contact form.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Handfastings were the first legally recognised unions in Ireland. A Handfasting is a spiritual wedding ceremony during which the hands of the couple are bound by cord or ribbon as a symbol of their union. This element of our indigenous wedding customs survives today in the popular phrase “tying the knot.”

During the ceremony a couple will also jump over a broom to mark the transition from their old life into their new life as a married couple. Some say this also survives in the more recent custom of the groom carrying the bride over the threshold of their home or honeymoon suite. Any couple wishing to renew their vows may also avail of this ceremony. There is no prerequisite for a couple to identify as Pagan in order to avail of a Handfasting although the ceremony will be of a general Pagan flavour. There is a degree of flexibility which allows for the rite to be tailored to meet the individual needs of a couple.

Any opposite-sex or same-sex couple of adult age wishing to be Handfasted will be facilitated by the wide network of Priestesses and Priests across Ireland. Pagans tend to have a very healthy psychological attitude towards sex and sexuality which is in stark contrast to the dysfunctional attitudes of the Abrahamic traditions. As far as marriage equality and LGBT people are concerned there is no objection from Pagan clergy, some of whom also freely identify as LGBT. Couples are free to avail of Handfasting ceremonies solely, use these to supplement a civil marriage with a spiritual dimension, or use these to renew previously made vows.

Under the auspices of Pagan Life Rites, I am registered by the Office of the General Register (GRO) as a legal solemniser of marriage in Ireland. I offer State recognised Handfasting ceremonies to all couples regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The customary fee for the ceremony provided varies slightly from clergy member to clergy member. It is generally low-cost yet covers the time and skill required of a Priestess or Priest from initial contact until the ceremony itself. Aside from the service fee, any potential travel or accommodation expenses for ceremonies outside Dublin must be covered by clients.

Before any service is undertaken much contact, ideally including a personal meeting, must be had so that the needs of a couple are clearly conveyed and the celebrant may be assured of a couple’s sincerity in choosing this ceremony. Those with a preference for a Priestess to facilitate a ceremony will be referred on request to other members of the Priesthood. I also offer Home Blessings as well as tailored Coming Out, Baby Naming, and Funerary rites. Please use the contact form at the bottom of this site if you wish to enquire of these services.

Tradition of Handfasting…

Handfasting is a continuation of Irish indigenous wedding customs reflected in Telltown marriages. According to the Book of Invasions this county Meath town (formerly named as Tailtin in Gaelic) was named after an Irish Goddess, Tailtiu, by Eochaid Mac Eirc, the last Fir Bolg High King of Ireland. Tailtiu is said to have died of exhaustion having cleared the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Her foster son, an Irish God named Lugh, established a harvest festival and funeral games in Her honour. The games were named the Áenach Tailteann and are said by some sources to have been established by our ancestors between 1829 – 1600 BCE. These continued to be observed at Telltown up until as late as 1770 CE when they were later expressed as the Taillten Fair. The Áenach Tailteann was a time of peace when religious celebrations were also held, aspects of which continue in present day celebrations of Lugh’s harvest festival called Lughnasadh. The name of Lugh, a deity referred to as skilled in many arts, was assigned to the neighbouring county known today as Louth (anglicised from , derived from Lughbhaidh). The official motto of this county is “Lugh sáimh-ioldánach” which translates as “Lugh, equally skilled in many arts.”

Historically, the Áenach Tailteann was an occasion of contests to showcase strength and skill and was an auspicious time for marriages. During the ceremony young couples joined hands through a hole in a wooden door. This symbolism survives in Handfasting today in the joining of hands and the use of wood (i.e. broom) and the threshold custom. The trial marriages were pragmatic since they lasted a year and a day, after which time the marriage could either be made permanent or broken without consequences on the Hills of Separation. Among the other remains of antiquity still to be seen at Telltown are traces of three artificial lakes; just north-west of the area noted as the Vale of Marriage, are two earthen mounds, popularly known as “the knockans,” which tradition says constitutes the Hills of Separation. Those who had contracted a marriage might, after a year and a day, cancel their contract, if so disposed, by simply marching up these mounds and turning their backs upon one another. Couples today may avail of Handparting ceremonies to help facilitate that process constructively if they so wish, however, these ceremonies have no legal recognition.

Looking further afield to the Scottish Hebrides one will find details of a “Handfast” or “left-handed” marriage taking place on the Isle of Skye during the late 1600s. From the 12th – 17th centuries, Handfasting in England became a term for “engagement to be married,” or a ceremony held on the occasion of such a contract, usually about a month prior to a church wedding, at which the marrying couple formally declared that each accepted the other as their spouse. Handfasting was legally binding: as soon as the couple made their vows to each other they were validly married. It was not a temporary arrangement. Just as with church weddings of the period, the union which Handfasting created could only be dissolved by death.

During Handfasting the man and woman in turn would take the other by the right hand and declare aloud that they accepted each other as man and wife. The words might vary but traditionally consisted of a simple formula such as “I (Name) take thee (Name) to be my wedded husband / wife, till death us depart, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” Because of this, Handfasting was also known in England as “troth-plight,” or to be betrothed. Gifts were often exchanged, especially rings, and a gold coin broken in half between the couple was also common. Other tokens recorded include gloves, a crimson ribbon tied in a knot, and even a silver toothpick. Handfasting could take place indoors or outdoors just as they can today.

Handfasting / Taillten marriages were the first legally recognised unions in Ireland and that recognition continued up until the 13th century. This practice of marriage is documented in the fourth and fifth volumes of the Brehon law texts which contain a great amount of detail pertaining to the Celts in Ireland. This indigenous system of law survived until the 17th century when it was finally supplanted by the English common law. Brehon law developed from customs which had been passed on orally from one generation to the next. In the 7th century the laws were written down for the first time. Brehon law was administered by Brehons (brithem) who were the successors to Celtic Druids. While similar to judges their role was closer to that of an arbitrator; their task was to preserve and interpret the law rather than to expand it. In many respects Brehon law was quite progressive; it recognised divorce, equal rights between the sexes and showed concern for the environment.

Sate involvement in the recognition of Christian marriages is a fairly recent affair but when this occurred the marriages of non-Christian traditions were excluded from the same privilege. The legal registration of Christian marriages other than Roman Catholic ones began in Ireland in 1845. However, it was not until 1864 when a full registration system came into operation that all births, Christian marriages (including Roman Catholic) and deaths began to be registered. It was only on foot of the 2007 amendments to the Civil Registration Act, 2004 that it became possible again for the marriage customs of those of Pagan faith to be legally recognised.

draoi draiochta sidhe sídhe dryad druid druidess celt pre-celt indigenous Irish gael gaelic eire Éire Éireann eireann paganism callighe cailleach Cailleach Bhéara cailleach bheara

Panel 5

Legal

People of Pagan faith in Ireland enjoy the same legal protections as any other citizen no matter what tradition they belong to.

The last remnants of the Witchcraft Act of 1735, inherited from the old English legal system, were scrapped in 2006 as part of a long list of archaic laws to be removed under the Irish government’s modernisation programme. As of early 2012 an additional 3,000 obsolete laws were earmarked for scrapping.

The freedom of religious belief is set out in Articles 2 & 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, 2003, and Articles 40(1, 3) & 44(2) of the Constitution of Ireland, 1937. The protection from discrimination on the grounds of religion is further underlined by the Employment Equality Acts of 1998 to 2011 and the Equal Status Acts of 2000 to 2011 with the Defamation Act, 2009, offering further measures for redress.

In 2009 the national Health Services Executive launched the Health Services Intercultural Guide in response to an expressed need by healthcare staff across a range of cultural backgrounds for knowledge, skills and awareness in delivering care to people from various backgrounds. This publication devotes a chapter to Pagan traditions including Wicca & Witchcraft.

Another step towards fully expressing the ethos set out in the Intercultural Guide came in 2016 when the Health Services Executive agreed, on foot of consultation with Pagan Life Rites, to include Pagan faiths amongst the categories of religion on the Patient Administration System (PAS) used across the national network of fifty acute hospitals. Furthermore, these hospitals will provide details of the Priestesses and Priests of Pagan Life Rites to patients and families requesting Pagan chaplaincy support. The clergy of Pagan Life Rites are registered by the Office of the General Register (GRO) as legal solemnisers of marriage in Ireland.

All public bodies are legally obliged to act in accordance with Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act, 2014, which compels them to implement Public Sector Duty, promote equality and eliminate discrimination.