The Binding

The handfasting ceremony culminates in hand binding. In the past, couples would have their hands bound together and knotted with cord. Although some witches still like to use cord, many brides and grooms today opt for satin ribbons in purple, green, and white. These are about six and a half feet in length and wound around the bride’s and groom’s clasped left hands. The expression “tying the knot” likely derives from this ritual.

The high priestess coils the ribbons, weaving them in and out of the couple’s fingers before holding their tied hands in the air for a few moments. Ethereal, angelic music plays as the pair begin to walk around the circle, displaying their joined hands and sharing their happiness with everyone. In turn, the guests shower the newlyweds with rice (contrary to popular belief, it’s a myth that raw rice will injure birds). In Pagan times rice throwing was believed to transfer the spirit of the fertile grain to the bride and groom, ensuring that they would have a prosperous harvest and a fertile union.

Once this ancient ritual has been completed, the high priestess unties the couple’s hands and pronounces them handfasted; the groom then kisses his bride. However, it doesn’t end there, because many witches love to follow tradition and jump the broom, which has been propped up against the altar. The drummers bang on their drums as the newlyweds take a running jump over this ornate broom to finalize the marriage. The British phrase “living over the brush” comes directly from this custom; it signifies a couple who have not had an official wedding ceremony but are wed in the eyes of the community. At this point everybody cheers and applauds the newlywed couple and the ceremony is over.