Without question, every day of my celebrant life is different quite simply because every person I work with is different. In some ways, I liken it to creating a school project (which I always preferred to exams) over and over again. Because each day is different and the ceremonial location is different, I thought I’d create an “amalgam of celebrant days”!



This is day 6 of World Celebrants Week and so it is timely to show a variety of experiences in my celebrancy.

 



The immense privilege of officiating a wedding ceremony on a Marae (sacred meeting place for the Maori people) in New Zealand.

The bonding ceremony with no guests, just me and the couple, as the sun set over Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria.

The drunk person running up the aisle in the crematorium, just as I left the lectern to stand by the coffin for the committal, yelling ‘NO, you can’t send him away!’

The window cleaner, oblivious to the sacred farewell ceremony taking place on the other side of the window, with his headphones in and singing away, his cleaning tool scraping against the window. Screech, screech, screech!


A beautiful fertility ritual, just me and the woman concerned, by a 3000- year-old secret spring in rural Yorkshire. (p.s. She now has twin boys aged five!)

A deeply moving naming ceremony, the day before Christmas, for a new baby who never got to meet his older brother (he passed away aged three) but wears his brother’s first name as his middle name.

A delightful naming ceremony for a gorgeous girl whose name Andorra was spelled out with colourful gerbera flowers.

Wedding ceremony in a castle. The bride arrived on horseback.



An eco burial for a woman I had the honour of meeting before she passed. I was able to create a nature-based ceremony in keeping with her deep love and reverence for the natural world.



A beautiful burial ceremony, with moss at our feet, in a private ancient forest.



A sunrise lakeside wedding ceremony in Cumbria.



Writing and officiating a funeral and then a memorial ceremony for my best friend, Pam, after she ended her life on Christmas Day. 

 


LOTS of children running up and down a village hall during a naming ceremony. Chaos.

A sagesse ceremony for a woman to honour her role as a wise woman.


A divorce ceremony to heal the wounds of parting.

Menopause ceremony for women entering a new chapter in their lives.

A home blessing to give thanks for each room and the garden which would contain the residents.

Arriving home after a client meeting and thinking about the life their loved one lived, and what images really stood out for me about their story.

 



Listening to estranged family members bicker about what should go into the deceased’s ceremony. Remaining calm and graceful, and mediating towards compromise so that everyone feels heard.

Watching ‘security’ at the crematorium door and wondering if peace shall prevail or all hell will break loose.

Spilling water all over myself just before a funeral started. (the cup had split en route to the crem, and I didn’t notice till the water was all over me!)

The day the grave collapsed. Yep. Having to do the ceremony ‘back to front’ and inter the deceased first.

Picking up a notebook (I have loads of notebooks around the house) to see if it still had blank pages so I could take it to a funeral meeting. As I picked it up, a whole load of pressed flowers fell out! I pull the rest out thinking to myself “Can’t have flowers falling out when I’m at the hospice!” Minutes into my conversation with the family, they tell me that he loved to press flowers and his home is full of them. Spooky! (and, yet, entirely normal in my line of work)

 



The stress when someone who said they were only speaking for one minute speaks for 15 minutes! Going ‘over time’ in a crematorium is a major stress for a funeral celebrant as the funeral director will be fined if you go over the allotted slot time. I time my scripts to ensure we don’t run over but when someone ignores my request to stick to time, it is anxiety inducing.

Drive home from town and a red squirrel crosses the road in front of me.
Phone a mourner to learn their loved one’s story. Lo and behold, she was a huge supporter of the Red Squirrel charity.

Come home from a funeral and have a big cry. It might not be ‘my grief’ but I find it emotionally harrowing to watch people suffer.



Holding a beautiful new baby as I anoint him/her during their naming ceremony.

A ceremony to honour a woman whose little finger was ripped off during a fall.

A ceremony to honour the life of a beloved cat.

Drive to a mourner’s house. Listening to Elvis and singing along to the Wonder of You. Ten minutes later I’m being told the music choices for the funeral include: Elvis, The Wonder of You. “Erm, ok.”

A ceremony to honour the passing of a kitten who died before or during birth.

The word funeral or the name Tracy goes through my head quite randomly. But, I always know it isn’t random, and that within minutes or hours my favourite funeral director will call asking if I’m available.

Ringing the Tibetan prayer bell at the committal for a Buddhist.



A full Handfasting Ceremony for a pagan couple inside a stone circle in Yorkshire.

 



A beautiful wedding by a waterfall, and that breathtaking moment when the bride walked towards the groom and I.

 

Typing a message on my phone to a friend when the thought ‘Tracy is going to phone about a funeral while you’re typing this message’ goes through my head…and there it is “Tracy Lazonby is phoning you” flashes on my screen. Maybe I should be a psychic rather than a celebrant?

Sitting at my laptop at midnight trying to finish writing a funeral script.

Contacting the crematorium with the music choices for an upcoming funeral.

Listen to my clients talking and have images and ideas coming into my head about how to create a beautiful ceremony. Ceremonies are often fully formed in my head before I sit at the laptop.

Wake up with the headache from hell. Officiating a funeral when your head is pounding is not fun.

A wonderful evening out with wedding suppliers enjoying a drink and nibbles.

Styled photo shoot with brilliant local wedding suppliers.


In the middle of a one-minute silence, a crem assistant hits the play button and a loud piece of music blares through the crematorium. It’s not the first time this sort of shenanigans has happened! Of course, the mourners all think the celebrant has done something wrong. In my local crem, the music is out of my hands. Remain composed and ad lib ‘[deceased’s name] never did like silence’…



Deeply moving wedding ceremonies where the bride or groom is terminally ill. Heartwrenching.


A vow renewal ceremony on a canal boat in Lancaster.


Scattering rose petals over the shroud at an eco burial.

Pass on various ceremonies to other celebrants as I’m either too busy or not feeling the right connection. Have learnt to really trust my instinct and to say ‘no’ more often.

Move to coffin for the committal and the loudest doorbell ever goes off. DING DONG. I’m thinking ‘why the hell has the crem installed a doorbell that can be heard in here? So thoughtless!’…seconds later, after hearing laughter, I realise it is someone’s mobile phone and not a doorbell. Obviously!

Officiating in gale force winds at a moorland cemetery.

Toes falling off in minus 3Celcius as I officiate a woodland burial.

Hearing the grass, so dry from drought, crunch beneath my shoes as I officiate a wedding ceremony. The sunshine burns the top of my feet throughout the ceremony. There’s no escaping the scorching.

Tying the paws of two dogs together because the couple wanted them included in their ceremony.



Furious about the email I received from a crappy (kindest word choice used there) funeral director. My client had chosen me as the celebrant because of my passion for eco burials. During one of our conversations she had complained about the cost of coffins. I asked her if she had considered a shroud. After all, it is a good fit for an eco burial. Her and her family were keen to explore that. The next day, said funeral director writes “it is completely out of your remit to tell the client about a shroud. I’ve already chosen a coffin for them!” My response: “It was your job to educate the client about the shroud. Why didn’t you? And, I know for a fact that they hadn’t chosen a coffin.” Client then tells me that the funeral director talked them out of a shroud by saying “what will people think if they see your poor dad going through town in nothing but a bit of cloth?” I am livid but don’t show that to my client. A shroud is NOT a symbol of a pauper’s funeral. Day of the burial comes. Poetic justice for the funeral director, from my point of view. Turns out that he’d never overseen an eco burial before and was completely out of his depth. Add in gale force winds and torrential rain… “This is a bloody nightmare!” he curses under his breath before trekking up the hill to the burial site. Despite the drowned-rat look, I keep my composure and deliver a meaningful and personal ceremony for my family’s loved one. All to the soundtrack of rain belting on umbrellas and raincoats. Note to self: NEVER work alongside this funeral director again.

Placing a flower crown on the head of a teenage girl as she celebrants her ‘new moon’.

Dealing with the one and only Bridezilla I’ve ever had. It would only be months later that I realised it wasn’t me, it was her. She’d been horrible with every single wedding supplier. Her groom, however, was an absolute delight. 

Start my day walking barefoot on the grass so I can ground myself and prepare for a new day officiating a ceremony, rehearsing another, and writing another one, and fitting in Zoom calls. Remaining as calm as possible helps me through such days.

Overseeing a placenta-burying ceremony.

Standing beneath a boab tree in Outback Australia officiating my brother’s wedding ceremony.



A healing ceremony by the river in the woods for a woman who needed to let go of a past relationship.

A coming of age ceremony for a young woman.

Menarche ceremony in a yurt for girls ‘new to the moon’ (menstrual cycle)

Sitting in the garden jotting notes down for a wedding ceremony and creating a ritual unique to my couple.

A communal phoenix ceremony with fifty families writing down everything they want to let go of (that no longer serves them) and then throwing their pieces of paper into the fire.

Wondering if it is true what they say about men in kilts. Hoping the breeze doesn’t reveal the answer.


Barefoot in a flower meadow as the bride approaches the ceremonial space.

A ceremony for a hamster to honour his wee life, and the pleasure he brought.

Double checking EVERYTHING before I leave the house: amplifier, microphone, ceremonial cloths, ritual items, water and so on. The most important thing of all is the SCRIPT.



A triple blessingway ceremony for three woman in bloom and ready to meet their babies.

Cringing at the sound of Prosecco Laughter (the sound of a bride who has drunk too much while having hair and make up done before the ceremony).

Naming ceremony in a cob roundhouse.

Ensure car has regular services, passes MOT, has fuel, oil and water.

Double check directions.

Create a New Moon Ceremony with appropriate manifestation rituals.



Create a personalised ritual for an interment ceremony.

Going on holiday, thinking my schedule is clear, only to have two funerals come in that I’ll have to write and, while on holiday, a short-notice wedding comes in. I spend time on beaches thinking about these ceremonies and what I’ll bring to them. For one man, he had lived his life in Bali and lived for sun, sand and sea. Although my Scottish beaches weren’t exactly tropical, I gathered driftwood, shells, sand and sea water so that upon my return I could use them in a personalised ritual.

 



Press SAVE every minute while script writing, even though autosave is enabled.

Send Order of Service to the funeral director.

Can’t procrastinate any longer: I must sit down and complete my annual accounts for the accountant. This is my least favourite part of self-employed life. There’s no escaping it. January deadline is looming.

Visit new crematorium with my favourite funeral director, and marvel at how beautifully thought out it is.

Chat with a new wedding planner to liaise about tomorrow’s ceremony.

Ensure I swim most days of the week to have ‘me time’, and undo my body from laptop/zoom time.



Pop up to the venue for a rehearsal. I don’t do a word-for-word rehearsal but rather it is a choreography of the rituals and to meet anyone who might be involved in the ceremony. For all my destination wedding couples, it is often the first time we’ve met in person.



Tears flow when I receive beautiful gifts, bouquets of flowers or thank you cards. Gratitude is the foundation of my life, and when someone expresses gratitude to me I find it deeply moving.



Check I have plenty of ink in the printer.

Put my wellies in the car for the eco-burial. And raincoat poncho. It is tipping down!



Check diary date availability for a new wedding couple.

Admire the beautiful moss heart, surrounded by heart-shaped stones collected by the couple on beach walks, that they will stand in to say their vows.

 



Adapt to Zoom life during the Pandemic. Hugging is my currency. No hugs. No home visits. Meet on screen. This all feels so wrong. I can’t bear to see people separated from loved ones in the crematorium, sitting two metres apart even from someone they live with (!), and having to choose who is allowed at the funeral because of number restrictions. Their masks catch snot and tears. It is horrendous and heartbreaking.

Tell a funeral director I’m not available on the date they’ve called about but recommend another celebrant.

Meet up with the celebrant-in-training who is shadowing me at the ceremony. We talk through what is involved. Later, we’ll debrief to see what they learned by watching a celebrant at work.

Set up a YouTube channel and make some videos for World Celebrants Week. Completely out of my comfort zone!

 



Veronika Robinson has been a celebrant since 1995, and officiates across all rites of passage. She is also co-founder and co-tutor at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training, and editor of The Celebrant magazine.

Having had the pleasure of officiating ceremonies, internationally, for more than 26 years, I am so excited to announce that World Celebrants Week will take place from November 15th to 21st.



During this week, I’ll be wearing my three celebrant-related hats: Independent Celebrant, Celebrant Trainer at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training, and as editor of The Celebrant magazine.

 



As a celebrant, I’ll be sharing tips on what to look for in a celebrant. I’ll also give a peep into my daily celebrant life through images, videos and blogs. I hope you’ll join me! You’ll be able to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and my blogs.

 



At the heart of celebrancy, we CELEBRATE LIFE!

 



Veronika x

 

 

Increasingly, people are seeing marriage, and certainly the patriarchal or religious influences around that institution, to be archaic. Indeed, at the time of writing, there is currently a long-awaited review into marriage laws as they are well and truly outdated.

Having a significant life relationship legally recognised, without the weight of traditions, is appealing to those who seek a balanced landscape upon which to honour and celebrate their union. Partnership is about equality.

 

A common question from fellow celebrants is: what’s the difference between a wedding ceremony and a civil-partnership ceremony? It’s understandable that there might be some confusion because of it being quite new to our understanding of what ‘bonds’ a couple in the eyes of others and the law.

 

A wedding ceremony (including contemporary and alternative ones) tends to share common themes such as traditional rituals like the processional of the bride, the bride being given away, the giving of rings, pledges/vows, and primarily the language used: husband and wife (wife and wife, husband and husband), marriage, and so on. These are so engrained in our cultural wedding traditions that we expect to see these in a bonding ceremony, even those with an alternative flair.

Loz and I the moment we see his beloved Kate arriving to join us and their guests beside the waterfall.

When I train celebrants, we talk about what makes a marriage commitment real. Is it the legal document the couple signs? Is it the wedding ceremony they share with friends and family? Indeed, does an elopement with only two witnesses constitute the same level of commitment as a ceremony with many witnesses? Is marriage God ordained? Does the legal signing of a document bond a couple? All these questions are important to ask, and from a celebrant point of view, I believe it is vital that we understand our own beliefs about relationships and bonding. What do we, as celebrants, energetically bring to the unions (traditional or otherwise) that we are so privileged to be part of?

Who decides if a bond is valid and/or sacred? Who has the right to ordain this? What words or actions need to be spoken or enacted to give credence to this rite of passage? Indeed, is a bonding ceremony considered meaningful only if it is in tandem with the legal contract? (which is essentially notification to the government about a change in taxation status [read that bit about the legal contract again])

 

It is because of all these questions/answers, and more, that some couples are turning towards civil partnership. Apart from the uninspiring label (no doubt decided upon by a civil servant), what couples like these are looking for is to have their loving relationship recognised for the co-creative equal union that it is, and in some cases they’re quite happy to sign the legal document and then carry on with life as per normal while enjoying the financial benefits that this brings.

For others, they wish to bring in the simplicity and balance that comes with identifying as partners rather than traditional titles but would also like a ceremony to share their commitment in front of loved ones. From a ceremony-creation point of view, this can still be as beautiful, romantic, creative, life affirming, and rich with symbolism, as any traditional wedding ceremony or alternative one. My job, as ever, is about creating a ceremony which reflects whatever is meaningful to the couples I work with, and which honours the truth about their lives and choices.

 

 

Veronika Robinson is a celebrant in Cumbria and has officiated all manner of ceremonies, internationally, since 1995. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant She’s the editor of The Celebrant magazine www.thecelebrantmagazine.co.uk and celebrant trainer at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant-training

Veronika is currently the president of the Association of Independent Celebrants (AOIC).

 

 

 

Grief, Gluttony, Giving, Gratitude. Our experience of Christmas tends to fall into one or two of those areas.

 

Christmas has always been a cherished time in my life, made magical by parents who brought the festive season alive with enchantment and mystery. The Germanic tradition my parents passed onto me is something I still honour. And so, I celebrate on Christmas Eve by candlelight with a lovingly prepared meal and gentle time with my loved ones. This, to me, is Christmas. It’s based on simplicity, love, beauty, and kindness.

As children we would gather by the tree (one grown on our land), the scent of pine infusing the room as we sang Christmas songs in both German and English. To celebrate Christmas was to cross the threshold into another world: it was, indeed, ceremonial, and imbued with ritual, magic and love. I’ve always adored Christmas for its ability to bring heightened beauty into my life.

 

Carrying this beacon from my mother to my own children was no easy task. I’m not sure I ever managed to carry it off, but I will always cherish the years that my daughters were part of this season. I remember their sweet little faces as they sang songs, played instruments; and, as they grew older, their place alongside me in the kitchen preparing the celebratory food. There was nowhere in the world that I wanted to be other than with my little family all safe and happy under one roof. The whole of December was one long festive cheer. The fact my Christmas CD collection is disproportionately huge compared to any other type of music, is evidence of that. Those days are gone. Family Christmases are lost forever.

 

 

The Grief-riddled Christmas

Over the years, I’ve invited people who’ve been on their own to spend it with me (firstly, when I was single) and then later, when I had my own family. One of those people was my dearest friend Pam. She hated Christmas. Her dad had died the week before Christmas, when she was just ten years old. As you can imagine, it had a life-long impact. Over the years, she’d come and be a valued part of our family celebrations. I always hoped that by having her share Christmas, it might help to disrupt the script she had of it being a hated event. I was wrong. Christmas Day 2016: She hung herself with the dog lead. There’s no nice was of framing that event. That’s the reality of it. Here one minute. Gone the next.

 

 

There’s a level of grief that will inevitably permeate every Christmas I experience from here on in (no matter how optimistic or determined I am to free myself from that weight). I alternate between missing our laughter, shared tears, hugs, long walks, the sharing of rom-coms at the cinema, and someone I could talk to in a way I’d never been able to talk to anyone else and wanting to slap her. I find myself so angry at her level of selfishness. “Christmas day, Pam? Ffs!” And then I remember how much she hated life, and I allow myself to understand. I respect her choice, knowing she’s at peace. Oftentimes, I find myself envying her and that complete freedom she now has from all earthly crud.

 

Types of grief

Of course, grief isn’t a one size fits all, and there are many types of grief which can riddle the Christmas season.

 

There can be the death of someone we’ve loved either at Christmas or throughout the year, and the ‘festive’ season being lived without their presence can take its toll. We feel obligated to wear the face of ‘good cheer’ so as not to ruin Christmas for anyone else, while all the time we just want to scream. We’re forced to suppress our grief.

 

There can be the death of family life as we’ve known it, either by circumstance (kids or parents moving far away), estrangement, or with them just being unavailable due to other commitments.

 

For those of a more sensitive, highly empathic, humanitarian disposition, world grief can bite at the heels causing us ongoing torment. How can we have all this greed and gluttony in our faces while people around the world are starving, in war zones, having homes burnt down, stuck in prisons, or enduring the violation of their human rights. Knowing there are people sleeping rough on the streets or others who’ve gone missing, animal cruelty, and so on, can take its toll on our wellbeing. That they are strangers, makes no less an impact than if we knew them personally. Our culture doesn’t offer support for those who feel this pain acutely. Serving up a festive meal and ensuring everyone has gifts and been sent a card can feel numbing and utterly pointless when the world is falling apart.

 

We may experience grief when our home has been taken from us in some way, through flood, fire, violation or even because a loved one has died there. Home is meant to be our sacred space, our safe place in this world. If you like, it’s our second skin. When that’s peeled from us, we’re more vulnerable than ever. Where do we go? How can we create a sense of safety in our life?

 

Maybe we are grieving our health, knowing illness is taking its hold and that our days or months on earth are few. Perhaps it’s amplified by unhealed rifts with friends or family.

Perhaps we’re grieving the loss of employment or other ways we identify ourselves or measure our value.

It could be that we’re grieving the permanent loss of a relationship: friendship, partner or child.

These forms of silent grief don’t have a funeral. There’s no one to pat us on the shoulder and say “I’m sorry for your pain.”

 

Grief may show up in the form of existential questioning. “Why am I here?” “What’s the purpose of life?” “Why do I have a charmed life while that person is on the streets?” Or maybe it’s “Why is my life so shit?” This can be as isolating as any other grief, and just as misunderstood. Like other forms of grief, there are no answers.

 

Grief, like water, is difficult to contain; always finding a way to seep through any available space. We use funerals to publicly share our grief, if only for a half hour or so. Mourning has no timeline. It doesn’t conform to trends, habit or belief systems. It is almost unidentifiable because it is unique to each person. No one can ever understand the landscape of our grief. For the most part, grief is an invisible parasite sometimes feasting and other times resting. All we know is that we aren’t in control of how it will behave at any given moment.

 

Of course, we don’t need the Christmas season to bring up all the variations of grief, but the expectation of festivity and good cheer is so mired in our cultural soup that it only heightens anything unlike itself.

 

Gluttony

Yesterday I popped out to the shop to get a red cabbage and Brussels sprouts for Christmas Eve dinner. The queues were eye watering and glacially slow but not nearly as much as the over-laden trolleys. The anger and bickering between couples and families as they fought their way through the jungle of Tesco, only highlighted just how far removed we are (culturally) from the point of Christmas. Even if the ‘cute baby Jesus story’ isn’t our thing, surely the reason for the season is actually about expressing love? If not, then WHAT IS IT FOR? Why do we continue to engage in something that seems to cause no end of stress to so many people? Every year, at least a dozen people will ask me: “Are you ready for Christmas?” That is, have I bought and wrapped loads of presents and stressed myself to the max. My answer is always the same: “I keep Christmas simple, and I don’t get overwhelmed by it.” About the only Christmas card I send now is to my mother. Gifts are for immediate family. It’s not selfish, it’s self aware. I could easily send out hundreds of cards and buy dozens of presents. These things don’t make the world a better place.

 

Christmas that straddles the terrain of crass commercialisation and the keeping up of appearances can only end up producing emptiness. A beautiful Christmas isn’t dependent on excess, greed, and over consumption (food, alcohol or presents). Giving isn’t determined by bank balance or baubles and tinsel.

Do we really need to buy that much food and alcohol for the couple of days that the shops are shut? Do we have to send Christmas cards to everyone we know? As with most things in life, if we’re always motivated or hindered by ‘but what will they think?’ it means we’re not being true to our self.

 

Giving

To give from the heart is to give of ourselves. In a world that’s riddled with pain, we can weave our way gently by touching others with sincerity and kindness. Even the smallest action can make a difference. Donating or volunteering to food banks, gifting to homeless shelters, visiting elderly people in a hospice who have no family, smiling at a stranger on the street, taking time to say to the person on the check out in hell city (supermarket), “I appreciate what you’re doing, and I hope you have a peaceful Christmas,” (ditto the people cleaning public loos) or checking on someone who has been bereaved – these acts of giving help to create a new world: a place that’s kinder and more gentle.

Gratitude

Gratitude is quite possibly the highest level of vibration that exists. The simplicity of just ‘being’ allows us to step beyond all cultural expectations and to be ourselves, grateful for our place in the world. Whether it’s from the perspective of ‘there, but for the grace of the Universe, go I,” or recognising that we could have been born into a different body, family, country, custom, religion or culture, and that where we are now is okay.

 

Do we have a roof over our head?

Do we have a meal to eat?

Do we have someone (no matter where they are geographically) we care for and who cares about us?

 

If we have these basics, is there a way we can share some of the good we have?

 

If we don’t have these, is there a way we can ask for what we need?

 

There will always be people with more or less than we have, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In the words of the late Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home”.

If that’s true (and I have no reason to doubt it), then what can we do to help each other enjoy that journey? Surely that’s the meaning of Christmas, and every other day of the blessed year.

 

Even though our Celebrant Training is based in Cumbria, we attract students from America, Canada, and across Europe and the UK.

Heart-led Ceremonies is tutored by Veronika Sophia Robinson, a celebrant with almost 25 years of experience creating, writing and officiating all manner of ceremonies. The vocal coaching is given by Paul Robinson, an experienced celebrant and voice coach. The tutoring is specific to celebrant voice work.

Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training is intense, creative, practical, inspiring and thought-provoking (and for some students, completely life changing), but it also involves a huge level of commitment from the student not only during the face-to-face training but afterwards with ongoing Skype sessions between the student and the tutors.

Unlike some training organisations, our certificates are issued on aptitude not attendance. This guarantees that all of our working celebrants are of the highest professional standard in the industry.

We make no apologies for these high standards as we take the role of celebrancy seriously, and we honour the fact that grieving families are vulnerable. Regardless of the type of ceremony you wish to create and officiate, we expect a high-level of professionalism from all our graduates. This begins with the commitment they bring to their training

Private Celebrant Training with Industry Experts

The training offered is done on a one-to-one basis; though two students who know each other are welcome to train at the same time.

The two-day course runs from 10am to 5pm. On the first evening you will have FOUR hours of independent learning time which includes written assignments to be completed in full by the next day.

The five-day course runs from 10-5pm, with TWO hours of independent learning time (for each of the first four days) which includes written assignments to be completed by the next day.

We’re often asked the difference between the 2 and 5 day training.

The 2 day will give you the nuts and bolts of what you need to become a professional celebrant.

The 5 day gives you the time and space to allow everything to embed, and to go deeper into the heart of celebrancy.

This training is person-centred, and offered in a relaxed and nurturing environment. Lunch and refreshments included.

 

TWO-DAY TRAINING | £580

FIVE-DAY TRAINING | £1450

Please note that this fee is tax deductible once you start working as a celebrant.

Please Note: All options include at least ten hours follow up by Skype or Facetime, as well as being included on the closed Facebook group for successful graduates where they’ll receive ongoing hints, tips, guidance, as well as other support.

Post-course support is ongoing, and there are opportunities to shadow experienced celebrants.

All formats include the study and practical experience of:

♥ Understanding ceremony structure. If you know how to create one type of ceremony you can create any ceremony (hence the reason this course encompasses funerals, namings, weddings, and other rites of passage).

♥ Recognising the skills and qualities necessary for personalised and professional, heart-led, celebrancy.

♥ Funerals, Memorials, Interment of Ashes (Understanding grief, family disputes, working with funeral directors, creating meaningful farewells, cremations, burials, eco-burials). In the five-day training, you may be able to include a visit to the crematorium or a funeral director. Both private training options may also include shadowing Veronika or other Heart-led Celebrants at a funeral or family visit.

dav

♥ Weddings, Handfastings, Elopements and Vow Renewals

 

♥ Naming Ceremonies (for babies, children, adults, and transgender people who wish to have their new identity formally honoured)

♥ Other rites of passage, such as menarche, blessingways, sagesse (wise crone), new business, divorce healing, and more.

 

♥ Understanding the legalities around death, funerals and marriage (e.g. the difference between a registrar and a celebrant)

♥ The difference between a heart-led celebrant and other types of celebrants

♥ The difference between an independent celebrant and a humanist

♥ Indoor and Outdoor Ceremonies

♥ Creating Sacred Space

♥ Setting Intention

♥ Creative Writing

♥ Script Writing

♥ Word Medicine

♥ Storytelling

♥ Performance

♥ Archetypes in Storytelling

♥ Symbols, Rituals and Altars

Altar at an outdoor wedding ceremony officiated by www.veronikarobinson.com

♥ Ceremonial Herbs

♥ Working with the Four Elements

♥ Body Awareness

♥ Celebrant Well-being

♥ Understanding the role of the Community Celebrant

♥ Voice development and coaching (this is required as an ongoing commitment by students via Skype after the initial training)

Sophie

Sophie

♥ Being of Service

♥ The Responsibility of being a Celebrant

♥ Developing a higher-vibrational heart frequency

♥ Enhancing Intuition

♥ Sacred Connections with Clients

♥ Mainstream and Metaphysical Marketing

♥ Being Self-Employed

♥ Establishing Your Celebrant Business

♥ The Four Sacred Archetypes of Building Your Celebrancy Brand

Applicants

Applications are invited from people who are committed to developing awareness of self and others, willing to train to an excellent level, are creative, independent, inspirational, authentic and courageous, and wish to consciously create beautiful ceremonies in their community.

Unlike any other training course in England, this focuses on the importance of ongoing personal development, and takes a mind, body and soul approach to celebrancy and ceremonies, as well as recognising the importance of ongoing skill building.

The foundation of this celebrant training is based on integrity and self-awareness.

 

Dear Veronika,

There are not enough words to thank you for the truly life-changing two days spent with you in your lovely home in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside.  You are an inspiration, a mentor and an advocate. You helped me to value myself and the gifts I can bring to this new chosen career.  

You challenged me, but in a gentle and empathetic way that made me feel that it was going to be ok to try to get my words onto the page and then “off the page”.  By the time I started writing with you (and it was very early on the first day), I felt that no matter what the result was to be, I had a soft place to land, and that you would support my efforts, no matter what the end product. And, as a result, I could take risks with my emotions and my words; not easy for anyone, especially an introvert like me.

I learned more about being a celebrant from you in two days than I did in the entire nine months of my previous program. I now feel that I can, with grace, humility and hard work, develop and deliver celebrations that will honour and support events in anyone’s life journey. 

Thank you, thank you, Veronika for giving me the gift of “you”. You are a true, beautiful and rare gem. I shall never forget our time together.

Thank you.

Brenda Martin, Canada

If you’ve entered the world of celebrancy after being in paid employment and surrounded by other people all day long, you soon come to realise there are acres of time spent on your own. Working hours are irregular, too: there can be evening visits to those in mourning, and for wedding celebrants Saturdays are booked up long in advance, not to mention those midweek ceremonies. We can sit up long, long into the dark of night writing scripts.

Issue 2 of The Celebrant magazine

 

In an ideal world, we’d meet up with other celebrants each week and share ideas. This is where The Celebrant magazine comes in: it’s your ‘get-together’ with other celebrants to share, inspire, grow and remain enthusiastic.

 

Veronika Robinson - funeral celebrant

Launched in September 2019 to an international readership, The Celebrant exists to unite celebrants around the world.

Amy and Samantha

 

The magazine is edited by Veronika Robinson who has been a celebrant (officiating all manner of ceremonies) for 24 years, and is the tutor at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training in Cumbria. She’s enthusiastic about sharing ceremonies and rituals from around the world.

Issue one of The Celebrant magazine

 

To subscribe, visit:

www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant-magazine

 

As we descend further into the chill of Autumn, my thoughts shift to an upcoming script I’ll be writing: A Sagesse Ceremony. Sagesse is from the French, and means ‘wise’.

 

I recently officiated a funeral for a woman who, when due to retire from the NHS, was given a certificate to say she could keep working. She stayed in that job until 75, and then continued working in private care right into her 84th year. Stories like this are few and far between. Of course, some people can’t wait to retire. This could be because they hate their job, or have fabulous hobbies they want to spend more time on, or they simply don’t need to work because they’re financially secure. But what we don’t tend to talk about as a culture is what happens when we reach society’s Use-By Date it has assigned us. More often than not, Culture offers the elderly a nursing/care/retirement home. So long they’re comfortable and fed, let’s keep them away from the rest of the world and out of sight. We certainly don’t want to be reminded about what’s down the track for us at the end of life, do we?

 

One of the reasons for the rapid deterioration of the elderly is because they’re no longer valued. They’re not considered an asset and so with that loss of purpose, what else do they have to live for? Studies show, for example, that hands-on grandparents live longer and are healthier than those who don’t have such interactions. In the moving book, Being Mortal, we read about how people in care homes where there are indoor plants, pets such as cats, dogs or even a lorikeet in each resident’s bedroom, visiting children, and vegetable gardens they can tend, usually come off most or all medication and thrive. Why? Because they have a sense of purpose. Each day there is a focus, a job to do, something or someone to observe or care for. It’s pretty much common sense, but this is so fundamentally lacking in many options for the elderly.

 

 

 

 

I had a conversation a year or so back with a man in his early 70s who was reluctant to retire from his business because of the lack of purpose he’d be facing. He wanted to do something with all the knowledge and expertise he’d spent a lifetime accumulating. Where was he to leave and share that experience, he wanted to know. Some elderly people volunteer in charity shops, and others befriend the lonely. On the whole though, culture shuns those who are no longer of use.

 

Writing ceremonies for those transitioning between working or reproductive life, and what’s on the other side of that, is done so with immense reverence, and with the intention of honouring all that has gone before, and how that shall be mindfully carried into the future in such a way that the Cloak of Wisdom is wrapped as a regal shawl of worldliness. Such a ceremony may be titled: wise crone; sagesse; menopause; Saturn return, for example.

 

The elderly are the libraries of our culture. We’ve already seen the impact of kindle on bookshops, and social media destroying face-to-face communication; how long will it be before care homes are considered a ‘waste of space’? Changes happen incrementally in our world. Things come and go: people, trends, inventions, values. When parents/grandparents are no longer an integral part of family life, they deteriorate. But you know what? So do we. We lose the vital opportunity to have our lives enriched.

 

 

When I come across someone in their 90s who is positively thriving, it’s always because they have a rich and purposeful life: they’re avid gardeners, bakers, have a firm family life, volunteer, are still driving and therefore independent, and so on. They’re not sitting on a sofa watching Jeremy Kyle.

 

Think about the elderly people in your life whether they are family, friends, neighbours or even strangers you pass. When was the last time you stopped and talked to them? Really talked to them. Not about the weather or some external thing, but about what their dreams were/are, their passions, their regrets, their loves, their losses. What makes their heart sing? If you don’t have the time or inclination to care about such people, just remember this: one day you’ll be old, and there may not be anyone around to value your life’s journey. Maybe you’ll be shunted away without anyone giving a damn as to all you’ve learnt and can pass on to others. What makes a life meaningful (goes the reading I sometimes share at funerals), is not what we learn but what we teach.

 

So, when you’re old, will you be wise? Will you feel impotent because there’s no one interested in all the experiences you’ve garnered and life lessons you’ve mastered? What shall you do with your three score years and ten of ‘life’?

 

When I teach celebrant students, I say that the most important part of this job is our ability to listen. It doesn’t matter a jot if you’re the world’s best writer, performer, have good business sense, are a whiz at marketing, or have fab social skills or thousands of likes on Facebook. If you can’t slow down, keep your mouth closed other than to ask caring or insightful questions, then you miss laying the strong and vital foundations of all ceremony work. If the same truth was applied to our cultural approach to the aging, oh how different society would look.

(*silent and listen contain the same letters)

 

For my part, it will be my immense privilege to start creating a Sagesse (wise woman) Ceremony for a lady transitioning into being an elder in her community.

 

Veronika Robinson is a Heart-led Celebrant who has been officiating ceremonies since 1995, and is a Celebrant Trainer in Cumbria where she offers private tuition in all aspects of celebrancy. She’s also the editor of The Celebrant magazine. Veronika is currently President of the Association of Independent Celebrants.

 

As an Aussie-born child, I had the delicious delight of being raised by German parents. Christmas was an absolute joy and wonder year after year. It was never a commercialised event based on how much money could be spent or buying presents to make up for presence; and it is still a ceremony that I hold as sacred (not in a religious sense, but as a time of family devotion, love and dedicated rituals).

 

Amongst the beautiful memories of singing carols in German and English by the gorgeously scented Christmas tree (grown on our land) with candlelight all around, are the tastes of Christmas. Mother would bake stollen (German fruit bread with marzipan). Our home would be awoken by the scent of spices mingling, brandy, almonds and honey as the yeast-based dough rose willingly in a warm bowl. As I sat nibbling on some shop-bought stollen today (with the student I have here for 5-day celebrant training), I confessed to feeling a bit like a fraud eating the stollen I’d bought when I’m perfectly capable of making one (and have done, over the years while my daughters were growing up).

 

 

While my student, Lorna, is writing a naming ceremony, soup is simmering on the stove top. Despite the grey, glum day outside, we’re warm and cosy. Not long now till I’ll serve up the home-made minestrone for lunch. How good does food taste when made with love and care and cooked from raw ingredients? So many of my warmest childhood memories are tied up around delicious food always cooked from scratch: the best mushroom soup ever made from the wild mushrooms we’d collect after much-needed rain. Saturday night was always pancake night (crepe-like with lemon juice and brown sugar): mum’s secret ingredient was custard powder. Whether it was delicious sweet treats like stollen or lebkuchen or the healthy salads we’d eat at night, they were always prepared with care.

 

After reading through some of the ceremonies I shared with Lorna as part of her training, she made the comparison between celebrants who use templated scripts for their ceremonies (the ‘cut and paste’ celebrants), and those who write (cook) from scratch. The difference is… LOVE.

 

The pot of minestrone I made for my daughter a few days after she’d given birth to my granddaughter.

 

Similarly, registrars use one of three or four scripts (in the UK) and everybody gets one of those for their wedding ‘ceremony’. It’s like having cup-a-soup from a packet. They all taste the same. One size fits all. Yeah, it’ll do, but really, where’s the magic? Where’s the love? Where’s the care? Where’s the personalisation?

 

 

 

When I make a pot of minestrone, there’ll always be similar things: the tomatoey base, some gluten-free spaghetti and some beans. Everything else is ‘what do I have? What will make this delicious?’ It could be, as in today, sweet potato, red pepper, spinach leaves, pinto beans, smoked paprika, black pepper, Italian herbs. Another time, it might have green beans, broccoli, carrots, potato. It’s still minestrone but it’s personalised.

 

 

When I order soup in a café (and I rarely do, as I’d rather have my own soup at home), I can immediately taste if it’s from a can or a packet. Immediately! When you’re a heart-led celebrant, you can immediately recognise a scripted ceremony when you hear/read it.

 

 

As celebrants, we surely come to this role as guardian of the liminal spaces that people must pass through on their rites of passage to give them the best ceremony (and celebrant) they deserve? Now, it’s fair to say that in a ‘hungry’ world where people are generally deprived of meaning, it could be said that any ceremony will fulfil that need. If you have the choice to feed someone soup from a packet or one you’ve made yourself, presumably the first is only an option if you’ve no other food in the house? As a celebrant, though, we ALWAYS have food in the house of our creativity. If we’re too lazy to draw on those ingredients, perhaps the job should be left to someone who has the time, care and energy to make a worthwhile offering?

 

 

Veronika Robinson is a Heart-led Celebrant who has been officiating ceremonies since 1995, and is a Celebrant Trainer in Cumbria where she offers private tuition in all aspects of celebrancy. She’s also the editor of The Celebrant magazine. Veronika is currently President of the Association of Independent Celebrants.

 

 

The Celebrant magazine is here!

 

This invaluable and gorgeous full-fat resource for celebrants-in-training and working celebrants is edited and published by Cumbrian-based celebrant Veronika Robinson. A whopping 88 pages, each colourful issue is brimming with lively, intelligent, interesting and inspiring articles relevant to all aspects of ceremony and celebrancy.

 

Consider it your 24/7 CPD. This handy A5 publication is easy to read in the bathtub, while waiting for a train, in bed, or any other place where you’ve got some spare time and when you wish to be re-energised in your celebrant role.

 

 

The Celebrant is a subscription-only print publication available worldwide.

 

 

 

The Celebrant: international journal of celebrants and ceremonies

 

ISSN 2632 – 9557

Subscribe here:  Celebrant Magazine

 

Publisher and editor: Veronika Robinson/Starflower Press

 

 

 

U.K. publication dates

 

September: Autumn Equinox

 

December: Winter Solstice

 

March: Spring Equinox

 

June: Summer Solstice

 

 

 

The Celebrant magazine warmly welcomes submissions from celebrants around the globe. Contact us for submission guidelines.

 

How often do we use the word ‘courage’ to denote someone who acts bravely in the face of adversity? It’s certainly how most people understand the word and its tone of battle-like determination. Yet, when I reflect on what it means to live a courageous life, it is based on the original meaning. Courage comes from the Latin, Cor, meaning ‘from the heart’.


A courageous life is one whereby you tell your heart story without a flutter of doubt about your north star. It is a life based on inner values and the ability to speak your truth. The languages of trust, listening within, intuition and authenticity are ones few people would associate with courage, and yet, they are essential companions walking ‘hand and heart’ with the life of those who listen to their inner drummer.

 

 

The treadmill of life, which we are all hoisted onto at birth and ripped off at our expiration date – no matter how great and glorious the world has decided we are – has most people just trying to get by. At times, it feels like we have to run just to keep up, or else we’ll fall off. If you ended up being born into Western society, you’ll have been enculturated with beliefs about your worth stemmed firmly in external validation (it begins at birth with our measurements and weight!; and continues with grades, certificates and awards, for example), and status symbols of car, career, house, wealth, and so on. A Yang-based cultural soup encourages egocentricity. Now, it’s not that we shouldn’t aim or reach for such things if they’re meaningful to us. The question, however, must be asked: Does this desire mean something to me or am I trying to prove something to someone else? Parents, siblings, peers, friends, and so on? Honest reflection isn’t encouraged by those around us because, if it were and we were true to ourselves, we’d probably all make radically different choices. However, to our great detriment, almost everyone lives their life based on what other people will think.

 

 

If we truly made decisions based on what felt right to us, and on what made our heart move through this world with joy – and therefore lived our days without fear of censure, or the desperate need of applause – how might our life look? Would it even be recognisable? What if, we were simply true to our inner calling?

 

My work as a Heart-led Funeral Celebrant is based on listening intently to the stories I hear of other people’s lives, and then it is up to me to craft meaningful ceremonies and create stories from the snippets of information I’ve gleaned. Being immersed in a family’s grief has a profound impact on me. Deeply empathic, it’s as if I draw their pain right into my heart. The one thing that always stands out for me, though, is the simple truth: we can’t take ANYTHING with us when we’re booted off the treadmill. Except love. Read that again, if you need to. Love. Where does love emerge from? The heart.

A humanist, of course, doesn’t believe that love continues after death. I do, though.

 

 

So, if we really understood that everything is temporary, and that all the stress, madness, ambition, control and power are, frankly, pointless, would we live differently? How about greed, consumption, jealousy? Who are we without our titles, roles, and material possessions?

 

I met a gorgeous young lady recently, aged about 16, who was not only a truly lovely person, but she had a wonderful singing voice too. Afterwards, in conversation I said to Seanna about how blessed she was to have such a gift. I confessed that I mourned the lack of any such gift or talent. She replied “You do. You’re really good at reading people.” Her words stopped me in my tracks. She was right. I’d never really considered it before as a ‘gift’, only as a given. With radar-like vision, I see people because I look beyond the labels, badges, jobs, empires, wealth and all the other human-made plasters. I look into their heart, and perhaps even deeper than that.

 

 

Who are you?

How would you identify yourself if all these externals were taken away from you? I ask these questions not to be morbid or cruel or condescending, or even disrespectful of your life path and choices, but to encourage a deeper awareness of what creates a courageous life.

Who will miss you when you’re gone?

 

Why will they miss you?

 

It certainly won’t be because of your fancy clothes, expensive car or eye-watering mortgage, boob job or bikini wax. I doubt it’ll be because of your job title or manicured lawn or your business logo.

 

A life invested in mindful awareness of the sacred all around, and the offering of compassion, kindness and love, is one that not only contributes to our well-being, but it also leaves the world a better place.

 

Legacy isn’t about our constructions and empires and pursuits, it’s the feeling we leave in others when we’re gone. And this can only come from the heart.