My second husband (let’s call him #2) was an interesting guy…sort of. At least he certainly wanted very badly to be interesting, so he came up with a list of things that he felt every good modern day Bohemian should enjoy. At the top of the list was being a Francophile. He’d never been to France and spoke almost no French, but that never even slowed him down. He was especially interested in Hemingway’s 1920’s Paris, along with everything else Hemingway-esque. He bought Eiffel tower memorabilia and anything with a fleur-de-lis on it, belonged to an online group of French expatriates, and sometimes wore a beret around the house while drinking red wine. Well, he drank red wine a lot…the beret was only on occasion.
Another of his interests was the Romantic poets. He frequently quoted his favorite, Lord Byron, summoning up quite the accent…the more wine involved, the more over the top the performance. In fact, #2 and I met through an online chat site that was about Literature, and his profile was actually Lord Byron’s biography. I thought it was clever, and he could also recite Warner Brothers cartoons, so I was smitten.
We had been living together for a while when #2 decided that he was interested in Wicca (aka Witchcraft or Paganism). Some of the ideas were interesting to me, and I was tired of buying French tchotchkes, so I went along with it. He bought books, tarot cards, crystals and even a tiny little cauldron. Luckily, no potions were being made, but there were a lot of pentacles, candles, smoking bundles of sage…and red wine.
After two years we started talking about getting married. I know…I shoulda known better. Apparently I was blinded by the charms of this underemployed, red wine drinkin’, witchcraft dabblin’ man. He’d never been married before and it was really important to him….so I caved. He brought up the idea of a Wiccan wedding, and I figured that it wasn’t that important to me and would make a good story, so I agreed.
We found a priestess (on Craig’s List , I think) and met with her to go over our plans. She was about 65, with stunning blue eyes and beautiful long, straight silver hair. She wore appropriately flowing purple skirts and long, dangly earrings, and had an amazingly sweet presence. I have to say that I breathed a sigh of relief…I was a little worried that she might be one of those stereotypical modern Salem witchy women from the Discovery Channel, dressed in black with ten crystals and some sort of animal foot hanging from their neck. I much preferred the softer, gentler Portland version!
We had decided to be married in our home, with only a few friends and family there. #2’s (Catholic) family was flying in from New Jersey, and my Mama and sister were coming in from South Carolina. That blend, in and of itself, would have probably been enough for most folks…but noooo, we were too interesting for that! So there was much hubbub when my future in-laws arrived on the wedding day and noted the dagger, small loaf of bread and silver goblet sitting on the small, pentacle cloth draped table at the front of the room. I heard the word “Pagan!” being tossed around under their breaths like a red hot dagger of their own, and #2’s aunt actually left the house, mumbling about the priest that she works for. (She eventually came back in, genuflecting and huffing..she needed to witness this blasphemy for herself, I guess.) My own mother was just concerned that she fully understood the whole goddess thing…I overheard the priestess assuring her that it wasn’t Aphrodite that we would be talking about.
The ceremony itself was quite sweet. The guests formed a circle and a friend cast a concentric incense circle; the priestess used a red braided cord (aka drapery tie-back) to fasten our hands in the Celtic manner, and we nervously spoke the vows we’d written. The dagger was used to ceremonially stab and then cut the bread, which we fed to each other, followed by sips of the wine, which had been blessed as it was poured into the chalice. A friend later reported to others that there had been a butter knife and a Kaiser roll involved, and that he was quite disappointed that there wasn’t a goat waiting to be brought in…but he’s weird that way.
My favorite part of the ceremony was when the hand-fasting cord was passed from guest to guest and each person spoke, giving us their blessing or best wishes. The one I remember best is when my Mama said, in her best ‘soft-spoken Southern lady at church’ voice, “I’d like to welcome #2 to myyy circle”. That moment was only topped by the pronouncement, a few minutes later, from my new mother in law…her Bronx via New Jersey accent ringing out from the dining room, “Sal-mon? But I’m not a fish eatah!”