On Tuesday my cousin (and maid-of-honor) started texting about the wedding. Our conversation went a bit like this:
Her: You sound so tired, it’s a lot of work, but it will be worth it.
Me: Yeah, the party will be awesome. But it’s not like anything is really going to change.
Her: But it’s two souls becoming one through Gods will and holy matrimony! It changes everything!
Me: Wait, what?
I think that this conversation really highlights the biggest problem I’ve had talking to my family. We see things fundamentally differently. As far as I’m concerned, my marriage to my fiancé won’t change a whole lot. We already live together, have a mortgage, and have 2 pit bulls. We’ll be adding a few insurance and phone bills, and that (as far as I can foresee) is about the extent of the changes to our mundane life. I’ll even be keeping my last name. We have discussed the sticky topics: money, politics, kids, and monogamy. We’ve been handfasted for 2 years, and been May Royals (what a wild ride that was). I’d say we’re pretty on top of it. Marriage is magickal and legal ceremony, but it’s not the fantastic cure all or fix all that my cousin seems to think that it is. If anything, I think it’s an initiation. To what, I’m not quite sure. I’ll let you know when I do.
One of the women in my coven once said “there are three types of initiations: ones that will never happen, ones that jump start what needs to happen, and ones that reaffirm what have already happened.” I’d like to believe that when we do get married it’s the third type. After all, we have already bound ourselves to each other on our own; though I wouldn’t be opposed to it being the second. It probably is a little bit of both. And I’m totally ok with that. But it’s something that we do as humans, the ceremony itself is not a crucible that changes how or why a relationship works.
Which circles around, kind of, to my original point. We see things differently, and it impacts how we think about the sacred ceremonies that shape the cycles of our lives. My cousin (and a majority of my family) see marriage as something that comes from and is created by the Divine. I see it as something that comes from and is created by us. Our union comes from us choosing to be bound to each other, and from us creating and maintaining a loving relationship. We can certainly ask the Divine to bless it, I know I certainly will be appealing to the gods for them to do so; but this is not something that comes from them.
I think that’s where a lot of communication problems come from. We as Pagans, particularly Pagans who are Wiccan or have a Wiccan flavor to their practice, are told “if you cannot find me within, you will not find me without”. But our Christian families aren’t told that, they tend to be told “accept Jesus into your heart”. For them, the Divine is outside them in a way that Pagans can’t really understand (even the hard polytheists like myself). For us, the Divine is fluid, in and around us in a way that our Christian families can’t really understand. The first step though is to remember that the gods are known by a thousand, thousand names, and that each god has dozens of specialized epithets; but that their charge to us can easily be summed up.
All acts of Love and Pleasure; Strength and Kindness; Mirth and Reverence are ritual. All acts. If we remember this, we can remember that our families still love us, we have moments of happiness and pleasure with them, they help keep us strong, they are kind when we need support, that we share moments of mirth, and this brings us a reverence of what the relationship with our families can be. And that right there is the Divine at work, with in and with out.