In thinking about my handfasting, I go back over 50 years ago to a trip to Yugoslavia, into what is now Serbia.
I was a young man on my first extensive trip abroad. I stayed with Mama Lepa (Leposava Mihailovic, my sister-in-law’s mother). This was in the days of Marshal Tito, the days when people were proud of Yugoslavia.
One morning I met an old friend of Mama Lepa’s who told my fortune using beads. I remember little about it apart from the prediction that I would be married three times. I found this strange at the time and thought it nonsense. But it lead to my handfasting.
Nearly 40 years ago I married and thought no more of the prediction until I divorced in the last 5 years. It came back to me and made me wonder. Just over a week ago I married again and on the evening of our wedding day I realised that this day was being predicted all those years ago.
But that’s twice, you are thinking! I’ll get to that.
Handfasting – Who did I marry and why?
Cheta Urmila (now Urmila Phoenix) is the light of my life and my constant companion in work and travel. We love doing the same things and we have so much in common.
We love each other and, more importantly, we have a relationship of polarity. This polarity is at the core of who we are and how we are with each other. It infuses how we approach each day and how we spend time together.
We are each other’s life and joy.
We have found that since we decided to marry, last July, our relationship has become stronger and deeper. The element of private and public commitment has been an enormous boost. The wedding day itself is a culmination of this both publically and privately.
What did we do and why?
We had two wedding days, one private and one public; the balance between the two was crucial to us.
The first day we went to Stonehenge at 5am to conduct a handfasting, literally to ‘tie the knot’. This was a very personal service, there was just the two of us, in a place of phenomenal energy and power. The sun rose through the mist a new day and a new life was born for us. In the ceremony we said,
Above us are the stars.
Below and around us are the stones. .
May the Sun bring us energy by day.
May the moon softly restore us by night
May the Rain wash away our worries.
May the breeze blow new strength into our being,
And all the days of our life
May we walk gently through the world and know its’ beauty.
We are two persons, but there is only one life before us.
We go now to our future, enter into the days of your life together.
May our days be good and long upon the earth.
A happy marriage is a lifetime of falling in love!
The next day we started with the legal ceremony at the Registry Office in Ely, Cambridgeshire. This created a union in law and was, for other people when we were actually married. This was an intimate and very moving ceremony. It was simple and direct. In it we used a reading of ‘Aloneness’ by Osho,
The capacity to be alone
is the capacity to love.
It may look paradoxical to you
but it is not,
It is an existential truth.
Only those people who are capable of being alone
are capable of love,
of going in to the deepest core of the other person,
without possessing the other,
without becoming dependent on the other,
without reducing the other into a thing and
without becoming addicted with the other.
They allow the other absolute freedom
because they know
if the other leaves
they will be as happy
as they are now.
Their happiness cannot be taken by the other
because it is not given by the other.
Then why do they want to be together?
It is no more a need, it is a luxury.
They enjoy sharing,
they have so much joy
they would like to pour in to somebody.
They know how to play
their life as a solo instrument,
the solo flute player knows
how to enjoy his flute alone
and if he comes and finds
a solo tabla player,
they both will enjoy to be together
and to create a harmony
between the flute and the tabla.
Later that day we went to Ely Cathedral for a Blessing of our Marriage. This was an awe-inspiring occasion which just blew us away. The majesty and wonder of that building was such a great setting fro the last of three ceremonies. We chose it because I created the lighting for it many years ago, it’s power continued for me.
I read an extract from ‘The Dance’ by Oriah,
I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don’t jump up and shout, “Yes, this is what I want! Let’s do it!”
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.
Tell me a story of who you are,
And see who I am in the stories I am living.
Together we will remember that each of us always has a choice
And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept
the clear, healthy boundaries that help us live side by side with
each other, let us risk remembering
that we never stop silently loving those we once loved out loud.
Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places
where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead
make my heart whole again and again.
Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness
and our undeniable belonging
Dance with me in the silence
and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.
And when the sound of all the declarations
of our sincerest intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next
great inhale of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.
Don’t say, “Yes!”
Just take my hand and dance with me.
Handfasting – Thrice Married
That evening I was joking to friends about our three ceremonies, then it hit me… Thrice married…
Finally all is revealed…