tlachtga (3)

Greetings,

I am an Irish Witch currently residing in Asia. 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 a Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality from the Institute of Public Administration at University College Dublin.

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. Each of these traditions are distinct currents of power in their own right and contribute to the diversity of Witchcraft practice and culture around the world. The differing emphases of each tradition offer greater choice to Seekers in the direction of their spiritual path and magickal development. I offer training in these traditions to suitable Seekers

I was also a co-founder of Pagan Life Rites, a civil society organisation which offers ceremonial and other services to the nationwide community through its network of Pagan clergy. Under the auspices of Pagan Life Rites, I was registered by the Office of the General Register (GRO) as a legal Solemniser of marriage in Ireland. I offered State recognised Handfasting ceremonies to all couples regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I occasionally offer Tarot consultation as a means of providing insight and understanding around personal situations and life events.

We have no interest in participating in any projects by artists or academics and we generally decline media requests.

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

Panel 1

Pagan

The term “Pagan” is an overarching descriptor for adherents of a variety of non-Abrahamic and pre-Abrahamic religious traditions. Just as there are many Christianities, Judaisms, and Islams so too are there many Paganisms such as Witchcraft, Druidry, Heathenry, and Shamanism. And within each of these, there are many diverse Traditions just as there are a plethora of denominations in said Abrahamic religions. The terms “Pagan” and “Paganism” are acceptable general descriptors for these religious traditions and their community members.

As it migrated from the Middle East, Christianity became a politically endorsed religion in various regions at different times and eventually became state religion. The term “Pagan” originates from the Latin paganus which referred to those who lived beyond the influence of organised walled towns and cities and therefore held to the indigenous religions of what we now call Europe. The term “Heathen” referred to those also living remotely upon heath lands where indigenous religious traditions survived and adherents were less likely to experience persecution. Propaganda from some institutional religions ensured that large populations came to understand both terms to incorrectly refer to a person as atheistic, ergo evil.

The notion that those of Pagan faith do not subscribe to a belief in Divinity is the result of cultural conditioning driven by historical and current misinformation by dominant cultural forces against native religious traditions of the West and other regions of our world. Although Abrahamic religions were born out of Pagan / polytheistic heritage, such discrimination and opposition is still encouraged today by some figures of institutional Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Those of Pagan faith may perceive Divinity through the deities of initiatory traditions, or those of one’s homeland and the ancestral lands one may connect to through culture and ethnicity. Divinity may be seen as either immanent or transcendent in relation to our world and may be viewed through a monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheist, panentheist, or animist understanding.

Pagan traditions do not operate by way of the same mechanisms as institutional religions such as Christianity. Paganism does not have a pope, or single magisterial voice, nor does it have descending multi-tiered administrative structures. The Pagan community is a collaborative lateral network of diverse strands and this trait is shared by other congregational religions such as Islam and Judaism. As our religious traditions are nature orientated there are almost no temples or churches. Sacred space is created outdoors through ritual at places of natural beauty or sites sacred to our ancestors such as Tara, Loughcrew, and Stonehenge etc.

Our Pagan communities are large and diverse, often involved in equality and environmental activism. Our clergy are Witches, Druids, and Shamans. Despite the peripheral image these words conjure, our clergy tend to be far more socially integrated into their local communities, quietly ministering to those in need and providing ceremonies to mark their rites of passage in life.

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Eight Sabbats are celebrated throughout the ritual year, four of which are the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes and the Winter and Summer Solstices. The dates for these Sabbats will vary a little from year to year as they are subject to astronomical alignments. Between these Sabbats are Imbolg (2nd February), Bealtaine (30th April), Lughnasadh (1st August) and Samhain (31st October). The ritual year commences and ends with Samhain and each Sabbat in between celebrate a signficant point in the turning of the seasons and agricultural cycle. The Sabbats are celebrated on reverse dates in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. For example, in New Zealand the Winter Solstice occurs in June while the Summer Solstice occurs in December.

Between these Sabbats people also gather for Esbats when the Moon is full. Such occasions may be celebrated publicly in large groups or privately in small Tradition-specific groups such as covens, groves, or lodges. Some Traditions may observe other festivals in addition to or distinct from the above.

Panel 2

Advice for Seekers

 

I – SELF ASSESSMENT

If you have a passing curiosity, please refrain from contacting us. We wish to engage only with Seekers who can demonstrate a serious interest in moving forward on their path. Only those with a thirst for learning and a true devotion to the Gods of the Witches are suited for this life-long commitment.

We have no interest in those seeking a social outlet or those simply seeking somewhere to belong because they do not fit in elsewhere. If you are sincerely seeking a Witchcraft Tradition, to experience the Mysteries, then a conversation may begin.

Do not contact us if you have not undertaken some research and developed a good general knowledge of contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft. A suitable candidate is expected to have already read at least three books on contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft. For a suggested reading list please click here.

Do not make contact if you experience anxiety about your body image or have an issue with being naked in the company of others.

Do not make any contact if your life is currently in chaos. Your first priority is self-care by way of reaching out to professionals who are best placed to assist you in managing your addiction or emotional / mental health issues.

II – MAKING THE CONNECTION:

The following is some advice on how Seekers should conduct themselves if they wish to develop a connection with a Craft Teacher. Remember, the number of covens offering training are few and we all know each other. It is in the Seeker’s interest to make a good first impression.

If you are seriously seeking a Craft path the onus is on you as a Seeker to introduce yourself to the Teacher you wish to connect with. Present yourself in an open, honest and reasonable manner.

We do not respond to queries from those using pseudonyms so be open about who you are.

You must state your age and indicate which town or city you reside in.

You must provide a recent photograph or link to an online profile.

You should be able to explain why you are interested in a particular tradition over others, please see above menu for further information on the traditions we offer training in. Be open to describing your spiritual path to date and any personal practice you may have. You must list the specific books you have read on relevant topics.

Your introduction should be a lengthy and considered expression of interest. E-mails will go unanswered if they are one liners, lack personal introductions, or are of a demanding nature.

If a Teacher takes the time to respond to a query, the Seeker should have the courtesy to reply swiftly and maintain consistency in their communications with the Teacher. If the Seeker fails to do so the Teacher may decline future requests for contact.

Seekers will be asked questions by Teachers to help understand where Seekers are on their journey. Seekers should answer these directly; minimalist and vague responses will likely result in the Teacher disengaging.

It is very important that Seekers have begun the internal work of letting go of the baggage of Christian conditioning, and are fully aware of what they may be stepping into; an experiential path which includes a process of acculturation. This is why Seekers are expected to have undertaken some research and have a good general knowledge of contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft. For a suggested reading list please click here.

A Seeker must SEEK! The onus is on the Seeker to progress their journey. Teachers do not spoon-feed.

III – FIRST STEPS TOWARDS TRAINING:

Depending on how correspondence progresses, a Teacher may be open to a meeting requested by the Seeker. This may be the first of many meetings in what can be a lengthy meet-and-greet process before a decision is made on acceptance for training. This may take weeks, months or more than a year depending on the individual and where they are in life. This time allows for a Teacher and Seeker to get to know each other first, so that the Teacher can be assured of the suitability and sincerity of the individual seeking the tradition, and whether the Seeker would be a suitable addition to the coven.

A Seeker should be able to demonstrate self-care, personal integrity and commitment. Seekers are expected to demonstrate their knowledge of contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft at length during the meet-and-greet process. The Seeker will discuss the particular books they have read, their understanding of various Pagan paths, different Witchcraft traditions and well known Elders.

Teachers of the Craft are not obliged to accept anyone for training. If deemed a suitable candidate and accepted for training, a Seeker will undergo a Neophyte training phase in preparation for initiation into the Craft. The Seeker will attend Full Moon and other rituals throughout the annual cycle. All training comes by way of instruction and skyclad (ritual nudity) practice in a coven setting. Seekers residing in other countries must be able to commit to very regular travel on a long-term basis or consider relocation.

The Neophyte phase will last for a minimum of twelve months during which the candidate will be required to follow instruction, read at least three more books on Occult matters, and complete all assigned tasks. Candidates are assessed for suitability throughout this process after which there is absolutely no guarantee of initiation. There is no entitlement to the privilege of initiation. Those accepted are chosen by Elders whose wisdom is guided by our Gods. An Initiate will continue to progress through their training over a number of years before the 3° is attained.

Seekers who meet the above criteria are welcome to submit a considered expression of interest to temenostacarman@gmail.com.

 

Panel 3

Reading

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 4

Divination

tarotTarot reading is often mistakenly understood as fortune telling, a way to spell out what the future is supposed to have in store for a client. However, Tarot consultation is less a means of prediction and more a method of divination which offers a client the opportunity to gain additional insight about themselves or a situation in their life. A Tarot spread can be seen as a map of the mind, body and spirit which offers the reader a bird’s eye view of a client’s situation or life path. Most often clients come with questions relating to concerns of the mundane world such as love, health and prosperity, however, readings can provide information that may aid a client in moving forward on their spiritual journey.

Every Tarot card is a world in itself with each serving as a piece in the story-board of a reading. The meaning of each card is influenced by its sequence and placement in relation to neighbouring cards which collectively opens up a window into the life of the recipient. The cards serve to tell the story in much the same way a brush serves to bring forth into this world the insights of the artist from the inner worlds. The occult symbolism of the cards is a language that is interpreted by a skilled reader to answer a client’s questions.

A reading is subject to what a client is inquiring about and may verify past events up to that point. A reading may shed light on potential future events based on the current trajectory of the situation and energetic influences. However, what transpires in the future may depend upon how a client chooses to respond to their situation following a reading. That choice may be informed by the additional insight offered up by a reading.

For my Tarot readings I may use the beautiful Wildwood deck, a collaborative work by Mark Ryan, John Matthews and Will Worthington, or the classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck created by Arthur Edward Waite, Rider & Son publishers and Pamela Colman Smith. I use a variety of spreads for different types of readings and will choose one which I feel best fits the nature of the client’s query.

I do not visit the homes of clients to provide readings. These are offered either at my home or a mutually agreeable venue conducive to readings.

I do not provide readings through the internet or by telephone. Readings are offered in person and one-to-one only. I do not offer readings to groups, companies or any individual seeking entertainment. I do not accept requests for general readings; clients must have a specific question or situation in mind for a reading.

A maximum of two readings per year will be available for each client with the second reading being provided at least three months after the initial reading. This is to allow enough time to pass between readings and dissuade some people from depending on Tarot to navigate their lives.

The fee is paid on arrival and the reading will last approximately one hour. The fee is of a reasonable rate and is payment for the time and skill provided. If you would like to book a reading please e-mail your request to temenostacarman@gmail.com.

Panel 5

Rites

SUMMARY INFORMATION

I am a Wiccan High 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. Queries may be submitted via temenostacarman@gmail.com.

Please note, I am currently not accepting bookings until further notice.

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