When I meet with a Couple, I ask dozens of questions. What are their hobbies and interests? Do they like to cook? Garden? Do they connect with their cultural roots? Is there a place they consider sacred? I use their answers to write their love story, a key element in their ceremony. Sometimes, their answers inspire me to create a new wedding ritual — like this one about the magical properties of trees. That was the case with Laurie and Alan.
Here are two excerpts from their love story:
“Laurie grew up in Maine, surrounded by dense forest. She and her sisters loved to run in the woods, play in a tree house, swing from a rope, listen to the birds.” ….
“Anyone who has watched shows on the Nature Channel knows that in many species the male will build a nest and use it to attract a mate. Alan’s home was in a quiet, rural area. It bordered a forest. He hoped she wouldn’t find it too remote.”
You guessed it. Laurie was delighted! Their mutual love of the forest inspired the wedding ritual “Gifts from the Trees.” I’ve included it here, along with stage direction so you can get an idea of how it played out.
Thanks to my friendship with the owner of a local tree service, I provided the wood. The type of wood, and therefore the associated ceremony gift, depends on what’s available. I adjust the ritual accordingly.
THE RITUAL: Gifts from the Trees
For as long as couples have gotten married, friends and family have shown their support by giving gifts. Couples today might receive anything from crystal to camping equipment. In honor of how much [Bride] and [Groom] enjoy being in nature and what an important part the outdoors plays in their careers, I’ve arranged for a different kind of gift. These all come from the forest. In fairy tales, the hero is always transformed once he or she enters the forest. From the trees in that magical realm, come very special gifts.
Celebrant calls for each gift. Presenter comes forward, stands facing guests while Celebrant reads message, presents wafer of wood to Bride and Groom. Celebrant gives the Presenter a lit candle to place on top of the wafer of wood and Presenter places the wood and candle on the ground in a pre-determined circle.
As an alternative, the Presenter could simply present the wood to the Couple who then place the wood in a large basket for use later in building their first fire.
ILLUMINATION – gift of the HICKORY
Not only is hickory an excellent hardwood, it’s also valued for the brightness of its flame. Some say the light of a hickory fire will bring inner illumination. Because if burns with very little smoke, Hickory is also a choice wood for those operating stills.
STRENGTH – gift of the LOCUST
Among the strongest, toughest trees on Earth, locust can withstand heat and pollution. While the crooked growth of the locust makes it unsuitable for lumber, shipbuilders of old used nails made of locust … because on contact with water the nails would swell and become hard as iron. Locust represents strength and the will to live. And its fragrant flowers draw honeybees.
FRIENDSHIP – gift of the WHITE BIRCH
If you study a grove of white birch, you’ll see they’re joined at the roots. White birch represents communication, good allies, like-minded people who are devoted through friendship.
SWEETNESS OF LIFE – gift of the MAPLE
Here in New England, we think maple and we think syrup. High in calcium and iron, the syrup has nutritional value. Native Americans view the maple as a tree that loves company. It represents family and those who enjoy helping their families
SENSITIVITY – gift of the ASH
Ash is believed to be sensitive to the vibrations of earth and all her creatures. The ash brings insight to problems in a soothing way and teaches us a mature understanding of emotions. Rumor has it that unicorns are fond of ash. To catch a glimpse of one, carry a piece of ash in your pocket or sleep with the leaves on your chest.
ABUNDANCE – gift of the WHITE OAK
Taking only one growing season to develop a generous supply of acorns, the white oak represents abundance. Myths about the oak can be found the world over. In Finland, people tell the story of an oak that grew so tall it obliterated the light of the sun, moon and stars. A creature with a golden hatchet chopped the tree until it fell, clearing the sky and spreading acorns to form the Milky Way.
LONGEVITY – gift of the RED OAK
Strong, enduring, taking two seasons to develop acorns, the red oak represents determination and longevity. The last to shed its leaves in the fall, the oak endures. Struck by lightning, the oak often survives. Centuries ago, and yesterday, people whispered, “Faerie folks are in Old Oaks.” Carry an acorn and know you are part of a legacy.
Use these gifts for your first fire of the season. Remember the love that accompanies each of them.
Your comments are always welcome. Thanks for reading.