Hearken back to a time long ago when people believed the land was the home of the ancestors. Everyone knew that the spirits of loved ones who had died now guided and protected those still walking the earth. Everyone understood that physical survival depended on spiritual connection.
A stone that came from the land bridged the worlds of here and beyond. To swear an oath with your hand on the stone forged an invisible link to your ancestors. Break your oath and you break your connection. You risk survival. If your clan knew you’d broken your vow, their support would also be in jeopardy. If you didn’t honor a commitment to your ancestors, how could you be trusted?
Times have changed. We’re a mobile society. Our ancestors are like colorful bits of beach glass from every continent, shifting in a grand kaleidoscope. Few of us have a stone from the plot of land where we were born. Still, we can feel a connection to our ancestors even if we know nothing about them. We can still feel an emotional attachment to a place even if it’s not where we were born.
Couples getting married might feel a connection to the university campus where they met, to the vineyard where they had their first date, to the hiking trail where they had their first serious argument, to the beach where they got engaged. Layer the memories and a connection that began as physical becomes emotional and, for some, spiritual. Connection. Commitment. Continuity. These qualities inspire and strengthen a couple’s marriage vows.
How do you bring those qualities into a marriage ceremony? Through ritual. I think of ritual as a visible act performed with invisible intent. Today’s couples are more open than ever to including creative rituals in their ceremony. Making their vows can take on added symbolism when made on an oathing stone.
Simple. The officiant holds the oathing stone and talks about its meaning. The officiant can continue to hold the stone for the vows, or invite grandparents or parents to come up and hold the stone. Or the couple can take turns holding the stone for each other. However it’s done, I believe the stone will absorb the vibration of the couple’s love for each other and the love of all who have gathered with them. Infused with that love, the oathing stone becomes a literal touchstone for the marriage.
The stone can also become a treasured heirloom for generations to come. Imagine the oathing stone being used at the wedding of the couple’s children…and their children…and on and on. Imagine a family member building a box for the stone, or making a quilt in which to wrap the stone., or weaving a nest of willows so the stone can be displayed in the home. Imagine the stone on the table at Thanksgiving the first time the couple hosts the holiday. Imagine the stone as part of a vow renewal ceremony.
The First Look
For couples doing a “first look” with their photographer on the wedding day, they can add a meaningful moment by anointing the stone with a drop of a wedding blessing oil, knowing the stone will be used when they make their vows.
Real Wedding Ceremony
Last fall, I officiated at a wedding in the garden of the historic Webb Dean Stevens Museum in Old Wethersfield, Connecticut. The groom is a Scotsman. To honor his Celtic heritage, I made a handfasting cord and incorporated ribbon in his Douglas clan tartan. I also painted an oathing stone with the Celtic ogham for the word “gra” meaning love. The couple had family and friends who had flown over from England for the wedding. They appreciated seeing symbols of their heritage.
Not Only for Weddings
Of course, wedding vows aren’t the only vows that can be made on an oathing stone. Are you ready to make a commitment to a creative project? Do you want to improve your health? Save money? Volunteer on a project? Start a business? Kick a bad habit? Imagine how powerful you’ll feel when you make your promise with your hand on a visible, lasting reminder of your commitment – on an oathing stone.
Real Stone Painted by a Real Artist
A real oathing stone should be made by Mother Nature. No fakes! Most of our oathing stones are painted with exquisite detail by Carol Chaput, a fine artist by profession, making each stone an heirloom that is also a true work of art. No two are exactly alike.
Spiritual, not Religious
Having a couple make their vows on an oathing stone is a beautiful way to enrich a nondenominational ceremony or add the “spiritual, not religious” feeling many of today's “unchurched” couples seek.
To know when new oathing stones are ready, follow Moon River Rituals on Facebook.