During the recent few years, everything Viking has become more popular than ever. And while I think this is great, some of us are still struggling to get used to what best can be described as that feeling you would get if you’ve anchored in that secred, secluded bay you thought only you knew about, when suddenly a bunch of cabin cruisers full of loud people arrive. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that we are now seeing what I like to call a Second Viking Age. It’s just that sometimes I wish people could consider the fact that some of us have been living the Norse way of life for decades, long before it became fashionable. That said, 99% of you are perfectly understanding and respectful. But there is always that 1% who has a need to “educate” other people and to discredit their efforts. I…
Last night I enjoyed time with my OC Pagan Meetup. I sat between my fiancé, Chris, and his cousin. His cousin is a big scary looking tattooed guy, but he’s actually a devoted family member. He’s also the reason Chris and I met. He brought Chris to Meetup when he started to attend again after a 5 year absence.
The three of us were talking about the upcoming Christmas holiday plans. They have a very close family and there are plans for Christmas eve, Christmas morning and Christmas night. I’m really not used to that. After my mom died in 1991 we didn’t really have a lot of “family” holiday celebration since it’s just me and Dad. I did for a short while after I found my birth mother, but she lives far away out of state now so that makes things a wee bit difficult. And though the idea of a “white Christmas” sounds appealing, flying to where she now lives, in the dead of winter, does not.
While we were chatting I asked Chris’s cousin if he’d received the invitation for the engagement party. This led to a conversation about the family and reservations they have about our wedding. Turns out a few are concerned we would make them oath to a God different than their Christian one. They were concerned we’d make them participate in a way they would not be comfortable with. His cousin explained to them it wouldn’t be anything like that, but as they have no real experience with Paganism and the various practices it seems perhaps that all they know could be the crap they may have seen in movies and on TV.
Knowing how sarcastic his cousin can be I gave him permission to tell his family they didn’t have to do anything other than help us clean all the blood up after the ritual. I was JOKING, but I was then informed that some family members might not think it was a joke.
Here’s what I don’t understand… would they feel this same fear if they were invited to a Jewish or Hindu wedding? Would they actually be concerned that they’d be expected to convert or pledge to a deity they don’t believe in? Probably not. So why wouldn’t they believe and trust their own family (Chris and his cousin) when they say it’s a wedding and not a mass ritual to convert? How could they not believe these men? These sons/nephews/grandsons – men they’ve raised and known their whole lives. They know the kind of men they truly are, and would ensure their loved ones wouldn’t be made to do anything that would upset or hurt them. Why are they so afraid?
Wiccans, and frankly most Pagans, don’t proselytize. You will never find us knocking on your door at 8am on the weekend asking if you’ve heard the word of Odin, Pan, Hecate, or Isis. Not going to happen! If that was part of our religious practice I think I would’ve quit early on. I used to do door to door sales as a kid and HATED it. I’ve also never felt it was my job to sell non-Pagans on converting to my religion. If you’re interested and want to talk about it, we can. If you want to learn I’ll gladly help, but it’s not my job to convert you from your current religion into a practicing Pagan.
Chris’s cousin suggested having conversations with the family to help put them at ease. I will gladly explain that all we want from them during the ceremony is their love and support. I had already planned to write out a program for them to follow along during the ceremony. I was hoping that once they meet many from the bridal party they’d learn that even the bridal party isn’t comprised entirely of Pagans. My maid of honor is Catholic, she’s one of my best friends and I’ve known her since high school. One of my cousins is a bridesmaid and also a Catholic. A couple more of the people we’ve asked to be in the bridal party are Buddhists and Christians.
Chris’s cousin explained if the family felt we’d be asking them to do something they were uncomfortable with they will skip our wedding ceremony and go to the reception instead. “They” include certain close family members of Chris; people I know that mean a lot to him. This made me a little sad to think they’d do such a thing to Chris. The whole reason we’re holding a big wedding later on is for our families and friends to witness our ceremony and celebrate with us. So the fact that they even considered skipping attending as an option hurt a little.
But here’s an interesting perspective… Chris and I were invited to his aunt and uncle’s home for one of the dinners around Christmas. They’re very devout Christians. Chris’s cousin wanted to make sure Chris warned me that they’ll be saying grace prior to dinner. His cousin was concerned it might upset me. I kind of laughed. Of course not, it’s their home. Knowing it’s a Christian household I didn’t immediately assume they’d want to convert me. Why? Because thus far they haven’t shown me to be anything other than kind and gracious people who might be very devout in their spiritual beliefs, but so far I haven’t seen them push that on others.
So, I wonder, why then would they assume Chris would allow that to happen to them at his own wedding?
I feel relatively confident that as we talk more with them about all the wedding plans and once they meet the bridal party they’ll be more at ease.
Unfortunately, in the end because of drama, certain family members were were removed from the wedding party and/or not invited to the wedding. That was my husband’s choice, not mine, but I supported his decision.
It’s a shame things weren’t able to be worked out prior to our big wedding. Many of the attendees expressed much delight about our wedding, stating it was the most memorable and fun wedding they had ever been to.
I worked very hard to weave together a wedding ceremony that involved a mixture of ancient Norse, Asatru, and modern Paganism traditions, songs, toasts, swordplay; with just a touch of geek.
What matters the most is that we were surrounded by people who love us and support our happiness.
Covenant is an electronic band from Helsingborg, Sweden. Their music comprises a mixture between synthpop and electronic body music (EBM).
In just about 6 short months Chris and I will be married. Though we decided just two months into our relationship of this decision, Chris wanted to be a bit old fashioned. He wanted to have a ring in hand before asking my father for permission for my hand in marriage. This is why we didn’t announce our engagement until four months later, in early November.
I’ve already been in wedding planning mode for over a year as two of my best friends have also gotten engaged prior to ours and both planned to wed in 2013. I will be performing the wedding ceremony for one and am the maid of honor for the other. So shifting gears and planning my own wedding, to me, wasn’t so difficult. After having helped with a number of weddings over the years I’ve come to understand what is most important for me in regards to my own wedding: our loved ones present, the ceremony just as I want it, and good food. Priorities!
After we made our engagement official and jointly announced it on Facebook (seriously, we coordinated that one), we started to put some of our plans created over the last four months into action. First order of business after the announcement was to schedule a dinner for our parents to meet.
Hahaha! Yeah, right! Trying to sync up 6 different people’s schedules isn’t as easy as you want it to be. It only took a few weeks, but we finally managed to find a date that worked for all involved.
I had a good feeling about it all. Knowing his parents, my dad and his girlfriend, I figured they’d get along well enough. Once we all gathered and each were introduced, dinner went along just fine.
I wanted to utilize the time to update Chris’ parents on our wedding plans since I knew my father was up to date on everything already. This was the moment I was a tiny bit nervous about.
To my knowledge, Chris’ mother, whom I understand to be a church-going Christian, was yet unaware that I was pagan, much less to the extent of my involvement in paganism. She’s never even asked how we met, which was at my Pagan Meetup! I had absolutely no idea how she might take the news that our wedding ceremony would be pagan.
Just a few days after our engagement announcement my father’s girlfriend, Joan, called my house and we talked for 45 minutes on perhaps the most personal level we ever had in the 10+ years they’ve been dating.
Joan is a Four Square Pentecostal. I remember hearing from my father that when they began dating they’d attended a gathering with her church friends, and if asked he was to inform them they met at the local swimming pool where Joan swims daily for exercise. They actually met at ballroom dancing classes. But for some peculiar reason this was not acceptable. I don’t really understand. To be honest, the thought of my, then, 70 year old father picking up women at the community pool sounds much more racy than meeting while ballroom dancing. Apparently, the minister at her church disapproved of dancing all together. Ballroom dancing is the gateway activity to the devil?
On our phone conversation Joan was making the suggesting that Chris and I consider having the wedding ceremony in a public park to save money. I like the idea of a Spring wedding outside, but I have very specific ideas about our ceremony that involve live steel swords and alcoholic honey mead, both of which are unacceptable at most public parks in our area. I also don’t relish the idea of random yahoos wandering about my wedding and being inconsiderate morons as I have witnessed at other weddings held in public spaces.
Joan didn’t understand as she had no reference on which to picture the ceremony. So, I proceeded to explain pieces of the overall ceremony, cautiously spoon feeding her the information as to ensure the least amount of resistance to what I was explaining.
With regards to religion, people, especially when they are in unfamiliar territory, can put up walls and might not listen to what you’re endeavoring to explain. Hence the spoon feeding.
I chose a cultural route and bypassed the theological one, for now. I figured it was easiest. One of the aspects I want to incorporate into the overall ceremony is a Norse (you know, Vikings!) tradition where we exchange keys and a sword. Chris will give me a set of keys, as though to say, “What is mine is now ours”, and by accepting them I am accepting responsibility for our family and home. I will be giving him a sword as if to say he will be responsible for protecting us and keeping us safe. There’s more in there, but I distilled it down for her since she has little to no previously known exposure to paganism.
Joan seemed to appreciate not only the tradition, but also that I took time to explain it to her. This made me realize that I’ll need to write out a program for the ceremony for attendees since many of them are not pagan.
Meanwhile, back at the Black Angus for dinner… I tried dearly to get a word into the conversation so I could update his folks about our current set of plans. (His father likes to talk.) I explained that we planned to get legally married on May 13th (our anniversary) by my coven leader since she is ordained and will also be conducting the big ceremony when we have it. So, there it was… “COVEN”. If his mother was unsure of my religious leanings before she likely isn’t any longer. I just laid it out on the table for all to see.
She didn’t flinch. In fact she was smiling because we were talking about the wedding. I began to fully realize that she has two boys and no daughters, so discussion about the wedding might be of great interest to her as she won’t get to be the “mother of the bride”. Oh!
Chris and I plan to finance our own wedding and because of budgetary concerns we decided we’ll aim for a May date for our big ceremony/reception, but under our current circumstances we might need to wait a few more months. We did a head count and we were at 200 people for the wedding. Regardless of how frugal I can be, it’ll still cost a fair penny to put together. And as I’ve already explained, having our loved ones present is one of the 3 main priorities.
Joan, again trying to be helpful, wondered why we didn’t just have a medium sized ceremony in the summer instead of two. I had to explain that May 13 was our anniversary and therefore important for Chris and I to have as our wedding date. Also, we didn’t wish to cut the guest list as it was already cut.
Our guest list could have topped 400 easily if I didn’t show some restraint. For gosh sakes, I have 53 first cousins alone! We had both created an A and B list and mine were both HUGE. I further explained that between my adoptive and birth families, my large but close circle of friends, and my coven… there it was again! “My Coven”, but she didn’t budge. His dad seemed a tiny bit perplexed though. I think he actually stopped long enough to pay attention at that moment. Hehe!
Overall, my worry was for naught. Dinner was delicious and went along fairly smoothly. Thank the gods! *exhale*
And for no real reason I’ll add this Herb Alpert song here on the end… just because! 😉