Author: Tarnia Riggs
If you choose to have items to represent the 4 elements they are usually placed in their corresponding direction
Fire: South, Athame, Red Candle
Water: West, Chalice of water, Seashells
Earth: North, Pentacle, Bowl of Stones, Salt
Air: East, Incense, Wand, Feathers
Overall, the items you choose to have on your altar are up to you.
The altar should be dedicated to the Goddess and the God
A Note on Altars
An altar does not have to be a table or other man-made item, nor does it have to be indoors. In fact, given that Paganism is a Nature-oriented religion, the best place for ritual is outside in the woods or some other natural environment. You could use a large rock, a tree stump, or a mound of earth as an altar.
When creating an altar and during the consecration of it, always do what feels right at the time. You will worship your deities in your own way, and in fact, set up an altar may or may not be important to you at all. If it is important, do it your own way, so it'll be an extension of you, rather than some cold meaningless table.
One thing to consider when setting up an altar is the direction it faces. It is traditional to have your altar facing north, but if that is just not possible then you may need to place it elsewhere. Once your altar is in place, remember that it is a sacred place and should be treated with respect. Whether or not you let other people touch the items is up to you, but some people feel that sharing tools will bring negative or unknown energy to them.
How to decorate for a Pagan Ceremony
You will also probably want to set up an altar. How you set up your altar will be a personal choice, but we've included some ideas below for you:
• East-Glass candle holder with a white candle to represent Air.
• South-Brass candleholder with a red candle to represent Fire.
• West-Bowl of seashells in brine to represent Water.
• North-Bowl of stones (amethyst, turquoise, lapis) to represent Earth.
• Wine glass or goblet
• Athame or ritual knife
• Incense burner and incense
• Bowl of salt or earth
• Rose quartz
Example Dedication Ritual
Ground yourself and imagines the power of the earth entering your body through your feet. Invoke the directions by lighting the candles and inviting the Spirits of the East/Air to witness the dedication; then the South/Fire, the Spirits of the West/Water, and the Spirits of the North/Earth.
Invite the Goddess and the God to witness the dedication. Light the incense so you may use its smoke as the consecration/purification medium. Pass each tool over the smoke, then over the flame of each of the candles, in the order in which you lit them.
Next, verbally dedicate the altar and all the tools to the Goddess and the God, pledging to never use the altar or any of the tools to bring harm to another or to produce negativity in any way.
End by extinguishing the candles in the reverse order that you lit them, thanking the Goddess and the God and each of the Spirits for attending, then ground yourself again, imagining the energy flowing harmlessly back into the earth.
Where to Stand
Before your guests arrive, your celebrant should be in place at the centre of the circle at the altar. Have the bride and groom facing one another in the front of the celebrant. Attendants may stand to either side of the bride and groom.
Casting a Purification Circle
This is written for the Celebrant to purify the circle, although it is fine if the bride and groom wish to perform this ritual themselves.
Once your guests have arrived in the circle, the celebrant stands before your altar.
She lights the altar candles and circles the area in an anti-clockwise direction, lighting each quarter candle.
She picks up the broom and sweeps the circle as you walk inside it in an anti-clockwise direction.
She repeats as she sweeps
Sweep, sweep, sweep this place By Power of Air, I cleanse this space.
While doing this she feels the element of Air moving within the circle. She then returns to the altar and picks up the red candle.
She walks around the inside of the circle anti-clockwise while saying
Light, light, I light this place By Power of Fire, I cleanse this space.
She concentrates on the fire energy flowing around the circle when she returns to the altar and picks up the chalice of water. As she walks in an anti-clockwise direction inside the circle, she sprinkles the water with her fingers and says
Liquid, liquid, I wash this space By Powers of Water, I cleanse this space.
She feels the element of Water flowing around the circle and returns to the altar to pick up the bowl of earth. Walking in an anti-clockwise direction around the circle, she sprinkles the earth and says
Dirt, dirt, as I walk this place Powers of Earth, cleanse this space.
She feels the element of the earth bring her gift to the circle, returns the bowl to the altar and moves to the centre of the circle. In the Goddess position, she says
Spirit, spirit, fill this space Powers of the Divine and consecrate this space!
She feels the power if the Goddess and God enter her and the sacred space. When the energy begins to dissipate, she turns back to the altar. Laying her hands upon the altar, she says
This altar is dedicated to the Lord and Lady of light. May it serve us well.
The Ceremony Itself
Now the circle and altar are ready for the Wedding Ceremony
Blessings and merry meet. We are here today to join (bride) and (groom) together, they have asked you here to share in their joy and to declare their love for one another before you as a community.
Celebrant To the Bride
What is your desire?
To be made one with (groom)
Celebrant To Groom
What is your desire?
To be made one with (bride)
The celebrant at this time would take up a wand and sprinkle it upon the bride
Celebrant to the bride, repeat after me
I (bride), do come here of my own free will, to seek the partnership of (groom) I come with all love, honour and sincerity, wishing only to become one with him, whom I love. Always will I strive for (grooms) happiness and welfare.
The celebrant at this time would take up a wand and sprinkle it upon the groom
Celebrant to groom, repeat after me
I (groom) do come here of my own free will, to seek the partnership of (bride). I come with all love, honour and sincerity, wishing only to become one with her, whom I love. Always will I strive for (brides) happiness and welfare.
At this time the celebrant would sprinkle the rings with the wand and take them up, handing the bride's ring to the groom and the groom's ring to the bride
As the grass of the fields and the trees of the woods bend together under the pressures of the storm, so too must you both bend when the wind blows strong. But know that as quickly as the storm comes, so equally quickly may it leave. Yet will you both stand strong in each other’s strength?
As you give love, so you will receive it. As you give strength, so will you receive strength. Together you are one, apart you are nothing.
Know that no two people can be exactly alike. No more can any two people fit together, perfect in every way. There will be times when it will seem hard to give and to love. See then your reflection as in a woodland pool, when the image you see looks sad or angered and then know it is the time for you to smile and to love. It is not fire that puts out the fire. In return will the image in the pool smile and love. So change your anger for love and your tears for joy. It is no weakness to admit a wrong: more is its strength and a sign of eternal growth.
Forever love, help and respect each other. The constant circle of love you share is symbolised in these rings. Let them be a token of your friendship and the partnership you have come to celebrate on this day. When the waters are rough, let these rings remind you of the ebb and flow of life. Let them remind you of the happiness you feel at this moment, and let your memory soothe your spirit.
The bride and groom would exchange rings at this time
If there are any things that the bride and groom would wish to say to one another, this is the perfect time for such a thing.
It is with great happiness that I present you to the community as husband and wife. May you always remember the love that brought you here on this day, and may the God and Goddess bless this union.
So, Mote, It Be. You may now kiss...
After conducting your ritual or consecration, you or the celebrant must take down the circle. Return to the middle of the circle, stand in the Goddess position and say while gradually lowering your arms to your side:
The web of life is an endless circle never to die only to change form. What was begun is now complete. Welcome home these energies borne.
The circle is open, never broken.
So, Mote, It Be!
When your arms reach your waist quickly drop them to put the energy back into Earth Mother. The circle is released. You may extinguish the candles and move to your reception area.
Please note that celebrant legal authorisation and mention of husband and wife in the vows must be included to legally marry a couple. Without the authorisation and mention of husband and wife, this ceremony may be used as a good commitment same sex ceremony.