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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Indeed, at the time of writing, there is currently a long-awaited review into marriage laws as they are well and truly outdated.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).

 

 

 

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of me being a celebrant. I’ve had the joy of officiating a wide variety of ceremonies across three countries.

In a few short weeks, September 16th and 17th, my husband Paul and I will be hosting our celebrant-training programme here in Cumbria. You can find more information here. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant-training

I am delighted to say that, due to popular demand, we will be running the course again on April 21st and 22nd 2018.

 

If you feel drawn to the vocation of heart-led celebrancy, do consider joining us. ~ Veronika & Paul

 

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.”

Kahlil Gibran

Yesterday I asked myself: “Who is the most spiritual person you know?” I was rather surprised when no obvious person came to me, but had to laugh out loud when I saw Azaria’s face. For those of you who don’t know Azaria, she’s the main character in my novel, Sisters of the Silver Moon.

Azaria

I modelled Azaria’s physical characteristics on this lovely Danish hairdresser. I adore her open face.

I pondered our cultural notion of spirituality, and also why I’ve heard from women who say they want ‘to be like Azaria’. I was intrigued, but not surprised, that a fictional character was held up as an archetype of  ‘spirituality in action’.

As a writer, I adored watching Azaria unfold. She’s 56 years old, and has four adult daughters. Her husband died some years ago in a storm. She lives in an old homestead in the mountains of Colorado, and spends her days tending her beehives and growing/harvesting herbs. Without doubt, she’s well-loved and respected in her community. But she’s not perfect, and that’s part of her charm.

The more I think about this character (and certainly where she’s heading in the sequel, Behind Closed Doors) I can understand her magnetism. Although she’s a fictional character, she does represent something to which we can aspire. And isn’t it interesting, when you look at the Latin roots of words, to see aspire and spiritual both containing ‘spir’? As a metaphysician, I also see it as ‘to breathe in life’. Indeed, to breathe in the Divine.

Perhaps you or someone you know meditates regularly or goes to church. Maybe they or someone else burns incense or keeps a gratitude journal. Maybe their temple is Mother Nature herself. Perhaps they’re avid readers of spiritual or person-growth books or the Bible. Maybe they regularly consult divination cards? Do these things make us spiritual? No, no more than hitting a piano key makes you a pianist. All these things, and more, may well be integral to our daily practice, but spirituality is about the outer experiences of our life reflecting and being congruent with our inner values.

So if we breathe in the Divine, then surely we must breathe out the Divine, too?

What are our values? Examples include: independence, adventure, family, beauty, kindness, justice, love, wisdom, truth, compassion, trust, fidelity, power, healing, leadership, knowledge, intimacy, integrity, growth, humility, dignity, food, friendship, community, creativity, etc.

Do our interactions with friends, family, colleagues and strangers mirror our inner values?

 

lilacmoon

The character Azaria shows us that everyday we are learning, and every day of our lives is an opportunity to be congruent. When our outer life truly reflects our inner values, then life has a way of flowing harmoniously. And when Fate brings unexpected life-changing events our way, we do have the spiritual tools within to ‘breathe in the Divine’. More than anything, I believe she teaches us that when we love and accept ourselves, then loving others is easy. And isn’t that at the heart of spirituality? To recognise that we are all one? All drops of the same ocean?

What does spirituality mean to you?

Love, Veronika xxxx

#my500words