Mingling with Love

So grateful to be easing out of lockdown and easing back into wonderful teeny tiny weddings.

🤍

At the weekend, after a year or so of planning and creating, Kirstin and Chris were married in the calm oasis of Lanrick Estate.
Like many couples Kirstin and Chris had to change their original plans quite dramatically but during that process found that they were able to reconnect with what was important to them and also what their wedding day meant to them.
We all kept a very close eye on the Scottish Government Route Map and were able to move quickly once restrictions began to lift.

With physical distancing and current restrictions adhered to the staff at Lanrick Estate prepared a beautiful space, a circle, for the ceremony.
Before the ceremony started everyone stood outside the circle and we shared a few words on the symbolism. We recognised the huge changes going on in the world and the collective energy that that was creating. What we aimed to do was step into the circle and leave the rest of world outside just for a short time while we focussed on Kirstin and Chris and their love, their declarations and their vows. We stepped into their circle with reverence aware that when we stepped out we’d all be changed in some way.

Kirstin and Chris would be walking into the world as man and wife, into the next stage of life together, there would be deepening family connections and we’d all feel a little bit more love.


And so it was.

As celebrants I’m sure we all treat our work, and relationships with, families and couples with the reverence they deserve. My favourite definition 👇🏼

rev·er·ence
definition 1:an attitude or feeling of profound respect and awe mingled with love
http://www.wordsmyth.net

Say it out loud …..

light at the end of the willow tunnel

Though we are still in lockdown here in Scotland there is a tiny wee light at the end of the tunnel with the publication of the Scottish Governments Route Map. To get to that light, to the other side of the tunnel, it is going to take quite a bit of navigation, risk assessment, good communication, empathy and kindness. Safety is a priority and this will add to worries and anxieties in regard to decision making around wedding days, guest, celebrations, ceremony choices and, even, the rituals a couple may wish to include in a ceremony. Having anxieties and worries is very much part of the normal human condition, totally normal, but they can be repetitive, with the same rhythms, cycles and patterns and this can wear you down. Of course, at the moment, all our regular worries and anxieties are amplified by the current situation, with plenty of new concerns thrown in. The discomfort I spoke of in an earlier blog is still with us all and will remain for a long, long time. It’s something I’m learning to live with and I’m sure you are too.

Worry Dolls

I was reflecting recently on what I find helpful when I am faced with increased worries or anxieties and I began to remember all the ways I used to, and still, support my daughters when they experienced stress or anxieties. One of the things I did when they were primary school age was give them Worry Dolls. The Guatemalan or Mexican dolls are confidantes of sorts. Thought to be based on a Mayan legend about a princess who received a special gift from a sun god that allowed her to solve any problem a human could worry about. The tiny dolls represent the princess. At the end of the day before bed you share your worry with the doll and then pop it under your pillow. The doll worries about your problem instead of you so you can get a good nights sleep. Perfect!
It’s actually a really tender and beautiful tradition or ritual that can be deeply soothing. It’s basically a chance to say your worries out loud – to the dolls – and in turn they, to an extent, give you the wisdom to acknowledge, and the power to eliminate, your worries.

It could be interpreted as a powerful ritual that gives you a choice. You can choose to transfer your worries, hand them over, share them. This ritual can help you realise that you have the power and choice to do that.
Externalising the problem makes it seem less intimidating and much more manageable as a result. If you share it with the doll you may then feel you can share it with your loved one, family or friends. A problem shared is a problem halved as the old proverb goes.

Guatemalan Wedding Worry Dolls

I came across a Worry Doll App recently which is so sweet. I also found some wedding worry dolls in Edinburgh recently, perfect for couples preparing and planning to get married, especially in the time of corona. I love this gang of couples. If I’m your celebrant watch out for a wee wedding worry doll couple winging their way to you soon to help voice your anxieties, share your worries and maybe even get a good nights sleep.

Craigmillar Castle

I walk through Craigmillar Castle Park regularly and I love it. The woodland paths and parkland around Craigmillar Castle are peaceful and magical with a quiet sense of the history and spirit that it is steeped in.

Craigmillar Castle

The castle itself, dating back to the early 14th century, sits radiant atop a rocky 9 metre precipice and retains the peaceful air of the rural retreat it was known as in 1560’s when Edinburgh nobility, and even Mary Queen of Scots, sought haven here.

Known as Edinburgh’s ‘other castle’ it is thought by some to be the best example of a medieval castle surviving in Scotland. The Preston family, and successive generations built, and then added onto, the Tower House until it was sold to Sir John Gilmour in the 17th century.

In this beautifully preserved, ruined stronghold we find an amalgam of architectural styles soaked in a long history.

I have visited this castle many times and my children have fond memories of exploring the many winding staircases leading to a variety of chambers and halls, clambering to the top of the tower, having birthday picnics in the grounds and running between the two yew trees that frame the entrance to the courtyard. It is thought that the trees were planted in honour of Mary, during one of her residencies.

From the top of the tower you can take in wonderful views of Edinburgh’s Old Town skyline, the Pentland Hills, the Firth of Forth and over to Fife. Also you can see the area that became known as Petite France (Little France) named by locals after Mary Queen of Scots’ mainly French entourage, who would camp half a mile away in the valley below the castle when she was in residence. The fact that locals gave the area this name may highlight how frequent and lengthy her visits were.

Directly across from Craigmillar Castle you can see it’s big cousin, Edinburgh Castle. I heard a lot of stories about the Scottish Queen as a child and I still like to imagine Mary, Queen of Scots and her courtiers travelling through the then rural landscape of fields, woods and parkland between the two castles on horseback, in carriages and on foot.

This site has such a rich history yet it is the least visited tourist site in Edinburgh. This does make me sad but I also recognise that when it comes to ceremony, this tranquil, unhurried space offers such wonderful potential to couples and families. Intimate ceremony and ritual can be created which embraces the calm, quiet mood while weaving the history of the castle and the story of the couple or family together.

The Great Hall

With permission very small ceremonies or elopements could take place anywhere in the grounds but The Great Hall can host a ceremony for around 60 people. It is a majestic, yet somewhat intimate space accessed via a spiral staircase.  The hall, in all its stone and vaulted ceiling glory, can be softened with a red carpet and candlelight but today, that wasn’t needed because what caught my attention was the quality of the luminous winter light that shone into the hall.

That soft, ambrosial light that winter brings to Scotland followed us throughout our visit today just as the friendly resident cat did.

Agnostic Scotland Launch

Image courtesy of Marlene Lowe

Hello again ……. it’s been ages

Celebrant retreat on Loch Katrine

I have been so busy over the last few months continuing to work as a midwife, completing a Yoga Teacher Training, beginning to establish teaching yoga while undertaking further celebrancy training and building my Soulful Celebrant website and business.
What has also taken up a big share of my time, passion and love has been collaborating and creating Agnostic Scotland. A new not-for-profit belief body for Scotland.

My independent celebrant friends and colleagues, Onie Tibbitt and Linda Keys, and I became aware of the increasing interest in, and requests for, agnostic ceremonies. This then highlighted to us the lack of choice available to couples and families who wish to have ceremonies that are unique to them and their beliefs and values.

Linda and Onie
Tyninghame Beach

We launched Agnostic Scotland early November 2019 with an event in Edinburgh at a beautiful venue in Leith. Many friends, family and colleagues from the ceremony sector joined us to celebrate with a ceremony which included an introduction to Agnostic Scotland, a reading, a tree dressing ritual and a beautiful rendition of Hamish Henderson’s ‘Freedom Come All Ye’ and of course delicious refreshments. It was a wonderful evening. An opportunity for the three of us to draw a line between what has gone before and what is ahead and to begin to cultivate a true course for Agnostic Scotland.

For me this all feels so right. Just as my midwifery practice is underpinned by supporting choice, truly informed choice, for women and families, in my celebrancy practice I also feel strongly that families should be able to have choice and decide how to mark their own life transitions however big or small, traditional or unconventional, religious or secular.
Linda and Onie feel the same so we all got together and did something about it. We created Agnostic Scotland. Now there is an additional option for couples and families who wish to make space to celebrate, mourn, remember, declare love and use ritual to create their own ceremony.

Please browse the Agnostic Scotland website and our FAQ page to find out more about us and our ethos. Our plans for 2020 are already forming and taking shape with steering group formation and celebrant training on the agenda. You can read all about this and more on our blog.

Interested to know more about Agnosticism. Here is a recent article in The Herald inspired by Agnostic Scotland.

The Birth of Julie’s House

A Perfect Match

I found the stark reality of ‘The Ballad of Julie Cope’ very poignant.
To have the tale of a ‘fictional every-woman’ told via such large, beautiful tapestries is very powerful. With Grayson Perry’s narration of the folklore style ballad filling the gallery, you can’t help but absorb Julie’s story.

Of course, the descriptions of some of the ceremonial events in her life caught my celebrant attention. Short paragraphs highlight contrasting wedding ceremonies decades apart and the longer tale of Julie’s funeral is poetic and moving.
I won’t reveal too much here, go to see the exhibition in Edinburgh if you can. http://dovecotstudios.com

Polyester Wedding

What I will share, because I found this part of the tale magical, is the touching moment when grieving Rob ‘knows what he has to do’. Inspired by his recollections of their trip to India where they marvelled at the Taj Mahal and the love story behind the mausoleums creation, Rob decides to build a secular chapel in Julie’s memory.

Rob and Julie

And reader, the chapel does exist, it is Perry’s ‘House for Essex’, where ‘The Ballad of Julie Cope’ tapestries are housed. This is a project built as a memorial, inspired by pilgrimage chapels and shrines. A fictional chapel built for a fictional character underpinned by a narrative of love.

http://dezeen.com2012/10/02/a-house-for-essex-by-fat-and-grayson-perry/

http://living-architecture.co.uk/the-houses/a-house-for-essex/overview/