Imbolc, Brigid, and the Groundhog

Earlier this week, I celebrated the solar festival of Imbolc, the feast of the Goddess Brigid, at Meg’s Inspirations, a local spiritual boutique in Manchester, CT.

The altar for Imbolc and the Goddess Brigid

Imbolc is an old, old Celtic solar festival that celebrates the fulfillment of the promise made at the Winter Solstice. Light has returned. My Irish ancestors would have celebrated Imbolc with the Goddess Brigid, also known as Bride, or Breed, and eventually as St. Bridget. In Greek mythology, this is when the Goddess Persephone lights her lamp in the Underworld and begins her journey upward. She’ll arrive in the spring. In Scandinavian countries, the festival of lights features a girl who wears a crown of candles. The girl is known today as St. Lucy. In New England, the most recognized symbol of the season is the groundhog. Continue reading

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A Colorful Way to Tie the Knot

 In the December 19 issue of Brides magazine, Whitney C. Harris writes about  wedding trends for 2017.  Industry experts from around the country affirm the growing use of bright colors in wedding palettes. I concur!

 

As a wedding officiant, my focus is on the ceremony. In addition to the bridesmaids’ dresses, bouquets, tuxes and boutonnieres, and aisle décor, consider bringing color into the ceremony itself with a handfasting cord. Continue reading

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Laura, Colin, and the Popsicles: A Real Wedding in Connecticut

Recessional of Gatsby-themed wedding

Newlyweds Laura and Colin at Gatsby-themed wedding at Farmington Gardens in CT

A couple’s love story beats at the heart of their ceremony. Here’s a brief excerpt from the story I wrote for Laura and Colin… because every couple’s story is worth telling.

~ ~ ~

The very wise Dr. Seuss once wrote about being weird and how two people who are mutually weird can fall in love. So it was with Laura and Colin. Continue reading

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A Love Worth Waiting For

The Moon was in Capricorn when Leslie and Chuck got married. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, a planet that represents age, responsibilities, delayed satisfaction, the hard lessons of life and the satisfaction that comes from learning those lessons, the restricting season of winter and the faith that spring will come again.

 

Chuck and Leslie make their vows on both an oathing stone and the Bible that belonged to Chuck's father

Chuck and Leslie make their vows on both an oathing stone and the Bible that belonged to Chuck’s father

Leslie had been widowed for 19 years. Chuck had never married. Scarred by a business betrayal and devastating loss, he focused on rebuilding his business and spent years caring for his mother until she died. They wanted their ceremony to reflect their faith and the spiritual connection that brought them together. For Chuck, that meant taking his vows on the Bible that once belonged to his father.

 

The Winter Tree oathing stone symbolized the bride's enduring faith that after 19 years of widowhood, love would come again.

The Winter Tree oathing stone symbolized the bride’s enduring faith that after 19 years of widowhood, love would come again.

 

 

Leslie wanted to take her vows on an oathing stone inscribed with a winter tree, a symbolic echo of the Garden Goddess, the business she created many years earlier to help her survive her husband’s death. Continue reading

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Talk About Wedding Rituals

 

What happens when the studio is reserved, the crew is on deck, the set is built, the food ordered for the post-show dinner has been ordered…and the guest can’t make it?  That was the situation that led to this episode of Weddings with Zita where I was both host and guest. In truth, I had almost a day’s notice so I was able to pull together an assortment of props I use in rituals for wedding ceremonies. If you’d like to know more about any of the rituals, send me an email: Zita@MoonRiverRituals.com

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TV Interview: Couples’ Empowerment with Judith O’Connor

Logo for Weddings with Zita, a show on YouTube - Zita TV Network

Logo for Weddings with Zita, a show on YouTube – Zita TV Network

On Weddings with Zita, I tell viewers they’ll be “inspired by the experts.”  Here’s the link to an interview with Connecticut wedding officiant and couples’ counselor Judith O’Connor. She’s the wise woman we all want to have as our friend. Judith works with engaged couples both before the ceremony and after the honeymoon. She suggests a dialogue that includes a special pillow.

Metal sculpture of bride and groom

Metal sculpture of bride and groom

Judith’s approach to relationships is clear and valuable. If you know a couple going through a rough patch, send them this link. Judith’s advice is eye-opening in a practical way we can all use.

 

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What Couples Don’t Know About Their Ceremony

Every couple deserves to have a ceremony that reflects who they are and why they fell in love. As a wedding officiant, my personal mission is to show couples what’s possible and help them create the ceremony of their dreams.

 

Most couples who contact me are planning a wedding for the first time. They don’t know what they don’t know. They assume a wedding ceremony must be a generic arrangement of sermons, prayers, and readings, something to be endured before the party can begin. They don’t know that their ceremony can be unique and truly personal without being affiliated with any religion and without having a single boring moment.

 

Newlywed Lindsay gets an eager greeting from English Bulldog Gotti

Newlywed Lindsay gets an eager greeting from English Bulldog Gotti

They don’t know that the right officiant is an alchemist who can take their fondness for the beach, their love of nature, their passion for animal rights, their commitment to humanity, their fascination with the cosmos – anything that inspires a broader view of themselves and the world – and transform it into the elixir that makes a ceremony spiritual. Continue reading

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OATHING STONES: For Marriage Vows and More

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? Continue reading

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HARVEST SEASON: Debt and the Power of Prosperity

In the “Old World” of my Celtic ancestors, August marked the beginning of the harvest season. Country fairs called people from the fields where they grew crops and from the open lands where they grazed herds. August heralded a time to acknowledge hard work and enjoy its rewards.

In Ireland, Lammas was the first and most popular of the harvest fairs. Young men, muscled from months of work in the fields, competed with each other by chopping logs, lifting stones, shooting arrows, and tossing bales of hay, all in an effort to impress young women. Some local authorities prohibited such physical displays. They feared the unruly youth and their visible show of strength. What if the balance of power shifted?

August was also the time when those who owned land paid their taxes and others paid rent. In some parts of Ireland, those who owed money anxiously eyed the debtors’ prison, praying to see a white glove. Should the aristocratic symbol be on view, the peasants would enjoy a grace period. They needn’t fear arrest for lack of funds to pay their debts. At least not in August. Continue reading

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The Power of Place: 3 New England Venues

An elegant mansion. A working vineyard. An historic hotel. A venue’s design, geography, purpose, and history speak volumes about the power of place. Here are three examples.

Lauren enters with her dad

Lauren enters with her dad

The Lord Thompson Manor: Dreams Come True
http://www.lordthompsonmanor.com

The historic Lord Thompson Manor in Thompson, CT, is known for its romance, aristocratic grace, service, and exquisite attention to detail.

Bride Groom and bridal party pretty in blue

Bride Groom and bridal party pretty in blue

Wedding rituals included a handfasting and parental blessing with bread

Wedding rituals included a handfasting and parental blessing with bread

Earlier this year, I was honored to officiate for Lauren and Brian. Their ceremony was held in the Manor’s garden. The box elder, stone walls and statuary speak of stability and history. A petal strewn path and chandeliers hanging from the wrought iron gazebo and from the limbs of stately trees affirm that the fairy tale wedding comes true here. I suspect husband and wife owners, Andrew and Jackie, have a magic wand.

Feel the enchantment. Continue reading

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