Ritual: WIND HORSE by Zita Christian

Chris and Jennifer had come to Buddhism as adults. They wanted their wedding to give their guests a glimpse into the beauty and serenity they'd found on the spiritual path they'd chosen. With that in mind, I created the ritual “Wind Horse.” Here is the text of the ceremony as well as stage direction so you can visualize how the ritual unfolded. The ceremony was held at St. Clements Castle in Portland, Connecticut. The video clip shows how strong the wind was that day. Zita_Arbor_Flags

If you’ve seen documentaries about climbers scaling Mount Everest, you’ve no doubt seen pictures of prayer flags – five pieces of solid colored fabric strung together, blowing in the wind. The meaning behind them is ancient and honors the individual, the family, the community, the earth.

In the Buddhist tradition, the approach to spirit is through the qualities of an enlightened mind. Among those qualities are Compassion, Fearlessness, Harmony, and Peace. Thousands of years ago, the shamans of Tibet knew that color has energy. They connected blue with sky or space, white with air or clouds, red with fire, green with water, and yellow with earth. A balance of elements was known to bring harmony to the environment.

Prayer flags were, and still are, an honored way to work with these energies. Words, prayers, and auspicious symbols are written or painted on the flags. Then, strung in traditional order, the flags are displayed with respect outside homes, across rivers and mountain passes, and in places of spiritual practice. Outside – because that’s where the wind lives. Like a horse, the wind carries the vibration of color, word, and symbol across the countryside, up the mountains, and into the clouds bringing happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter and to all those in the vicinity. The most common kind of prayer flags are called “Lung-Ta.” The words mean “Wind Horse.”

For as long as couples have gotten married, friends and family have shown their support by giving gifts. Couples today might receive anything from a kitchen blender to a crystal bowl. In much earlier times, wedding gifts symbolized qualities desired in a marriage. Today, in honor of the Buddhist Eight-Fold Path Jennifer and Christopher are walking, we will help them create a grove of prayer flags to hang at their home.

Later today, at the reception, you’ll have an opportunity to add your blessings to the flags. The key to the blessing is that it be for the benefit of all. So when you add yours, say to yourself, “May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.”

I call now for the gift of prayer flags.

Six people come down the aisle and stop before the Bride and Groom. Each person carries a bamboo pole on which is affixed five prayer flags strung in traditional order on a white satin cord.
One by one, each person gives a blessing to the couple. The others respond with “May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.” The person giving the blessing “plants” the bamboo pole in one of the two umbrella-type stands on either side of the Couple and stands to the side until all flags have been planted. When all flags have been planted, all six people return to their seats.

Person #1: May you have both longevity and good health
All: May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.

Person #2: May you have both knowledge and wisdom.
All: May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.

Person #3: May you have both prosperity and generosity.
All: May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.

Person #4: May you always be protected and have no reason to fear.
All: May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.

Person #5: May you always give and receive compassion.
All: May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.

Person #6: May your home be filled with harmony and friends.
All: May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.

Thank you, [names of the six flagbearers]

About Zita

Zita brings “Happily Ever After” to life. She is a wedding officiant, ordained interfaith minister, a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant®, playwright and multipublished romance novelist. Through Moon River Rituals, Zita creates customized ceremonies for individuals, couples, families, and communities in CT, RI, MA, and NY. She is a proud supporter of marriage equality. To see her handfasting cords, visit www.etsy.com/shop/MoonRiverRituals and www.Facebook.com/MoonRiverRituals. Zita also hosts and produces three television shows: Weddings with Zita, Page 1 and Full Bloom. Watch them on YouTube.com/ZitaTVNetwork. For information about Zita's writing, visit www.ZitaChristian.com, Yes, she wears many hats
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2 Responses to Ritual: WIND HORSE by Zita Christian

    • Thanks, MaryAnn. I know Jennifer and Chris plan to hang the flags at their home. I imagine the fabric slowly fraying over the years as the Wind Horse carries into the clouds all the blessings showered on them at the wedding. My Buddhist friend and fine artist Carol Chaput has similar flags hanging in the trees outside her second floor studio. She greets each day with their energy.

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