Neolithic and Pagan Religions
Let’s start with a little background on these historic religions and paganism. Paganism stems out into three main branches:
Wicca: Also termed Pagan witchcraft. This faith focuses on the cycle of seasons and nature. Wicca focuses on ritual practices and was developed in the latter half of the 20th century.
Druidry: This involves the recreation of ancient Celtic practices, focusing on storytelling and poetry. Druidry promotes harmony, connection and a deep respect for nature.
Asatru: Think Viking Gods and traits such as courage, truth and honour. Modern day practitioners use historical, archaeological and folkloric evidence as the basis of the faith.
For Northern Europe and Celtic lands, couples to be wed would clasp hands, make oaths of loyalty to each other and were tied together by ribbon, tartan or cords. This handfasting type of ritual symbolically binds the couple together in a declaration of unity (hence to tie the knot).
Modern paganism started to grow in the mid-20th century. Those who followed the religion sought marriage rituals that had historic significance. Ceremonies can be led by an officiant, pagan clergy member or even a friend. Incorporate the exchanging of the rings, your vows and the white dress and veil (after all brides in ancient Pagan Rome wore brightly coloured veils to protect themselves from evil spirits).
These weird and wonderful places to get married in the UK, give you stone circles and henges. Take a look at the following sites. Stonehenge is of course an option but we’ve gathered a few others, guaranteed to fit your Neolithic wedding.
Located in Wiltshire this Neolithic and Bronze age ceremonial site boasts the largest stone circles in Britain. Avebury and its surroundings are UNESCO heritage sites. Free to enter, choose this spell-binding venue.
Near chipping Norton in the Cotswolds. This ancient site gives you mysterious beauty and subtle energies. The intimate location provides ultimate seclusion and endless rolling hills.
This atmospheric and dramatic site offers a stone circle and panoramic views of the mountains and Helvellyn and High Seat for the most idyllic of backdrops. The site was raised in 3000BC!
Also dating back to the Neolithic period, this area features 55 stone’s up to three metres high. A legend notes that the people of the area tried to build a church but the devil kept pulling it down.
Scotland also showcases majestic stone sites. The Ring of Brodgar, the Callanish Stones, the Easter Aquhorthies stone circle and the Standing Stones of Stennes.
What to expect at a Pagan ceremony
The ceremony starts with the blessing of the space. Whether that’s the burning of incense, ringing of bells, banging of drums, sprinkling of sacred water or tossing of flowers and herbs. These are commonly used as ways to drive out any negative energies.
A mention of the elements; earth, air, water and fire may be spoken of. Drawing on these symbolic building blocks of life and creation and attributing them to traits – earth for physicality, air for intellect, water for emotions and fire for passion.
Jumping over a broom can also be common practice. A broom in this instance symbolises a threshold – the line between the old single life and the new married life. Brooms can also symbolise the sweeping away old dirt of your past to start a fresh.
Celebrations may also feature a Maypole Dance. The tall pole comes attached with strings or ribbons and you dance or move around it winding the ribbon around the pole. For Pagans the pole signifies a tree, being dressed up and decorated. A pillar that connects heaven and earth, or like the tying of the hands is a symbol of unity and binding together.
The Legal Factors
Unfortunately in England, it is not legal to have your register signed outdoors, away from a licensed venue. With the option of having humanist weddings in England, you can actually have the legal part of your ceremony completed in a registry office, and continue to have the rest of your ceremony (vows, exchanging of the rings) outdoors.
It would be perfectly feasible to get married on stone circles such as Stonehenge (though you may have to work hard on asking permission).
In Scotland, it is completely legal to get married outdoors, in locations that are deemed acceptable and dignified. In this case, hire a celebrant to carry out the ceremony.
Getting married on an ancient stone circle, henge or standing row can be a wonderful and symbolic way to get married.