I believe my own awareness of my unconventional connection to the Pagan community began in March of 1998. My fiancé Karyn and I were searching for a justice of the peace to officiate our wedding ceremony. We were in search of a person willing to help us to create our own ritual. As creative people, we wanted to make our own mark on the institution of marriage.
Karyn made a few phone calls to some perspective JPs; the majority of them were not even interested in hearing about what we desired. Most of them left monotone messages on our answering machine that went something like this: “…once I receive the $75.00, I’ll present you with the paperwork to make it official.” We were not registering a vehicle in the state of Massachusetts. We were pledging our love in front of God and everyone! Little did I know, with one more call we would be pledging to the Goddess as well.
Karyn found the ad for Magic Memories in the same Pioneer Valley Yellow Pages as the other numbers. Nonetheless, it appeared to be exactly what we wished. The ad read, “Specializing in Wiccan and multi-faith ceremonies.” I immediately got the feeling that this person would be willing to work with us to build something beautiful. The next afternoon, Karyn dialed the phone and left a message for Laura explaining that we were searching for someone to help us design a multi-faith wedding ceremony.
Although I cannot remember, the exact words from the tape of Laura’s return message, one phrase I will remember: “You and your fiancé are welcome to come on Sunday, for pancakes, and we can discuss…”
Without hesitation, I blurted, “She wins!”
I have a weakness for pancakes, which stems from childhood. I grew up in a household where they rarely appeared on the breakfast table. For some reason, my mother’s attempts to create the fluffy, round, circles-of-goodness confounded her like a complex chemistry experiment.
Upon hearing Laura’s message, it appeared to be the perfect opportunity to accomplish two important tasks. Plan the ceremony and sample some homemade griddle magic topped with maple syrup.
During a freak snowstorm in mid-March we climbed in the car and traveled westward to Montague meet Laura and her family. The drive out was sloppy and slushy, but time passed quickly.
When we arrived the ice was thick. Our car struggled through the ruts to get to the bottom of Laura’s driveway. It might as well have been the side of glacier. There was no way that our car would have made it up. With the help of my crutches and some support from my sidekick, Karyn, we embarked on an expedition to reach the summit of the driveway.
I can only imagine what the scene liked like to those inside the house. We used any means necessary to negotiate the frost heaves and ice. When the two of us made it to the door, Tom, Laura’s fiancé, made us feel welcome. Greeted by Laura and her family members with warm hugs and bright smiles, we entered the kitchen. It was not a typical first meeting. I felt like these people welcomed us home after years of being away.
As Karyn and I munched on pancakes, topped with syrup from maple trees right down the road. and, began our first planning session. That day, we spent hours getting to know one another. We seemed to have as many questions for Laura, as she had for us. I, for one, was curious about her Wiccan beliefs. She explained that her practice is in a harmonious relationship with nature; it reminded me of many of the themes expressed by poets and writers I enjoy and personally identify with. It is a tradition that celebrates both the God and the Goddess as parts of the same supreme creative force. To me, it made a lot of sense.
My wife-to-be was four months pregnant at the time of this meeting. She drew parallels between Karyn and me as symbols of the Lord and Lady of the Mayday festivities. Our conversation was about the future and love in bloom. In this case, the meaning was both literal and figurative. It was only natural that we include a pledge to our unborn baby in our wedding rite.
In the weeks to follow, our plans came together quickly. Karyn and I worked with Laura to put all of the final pieces of our puzzle together. The result was beautiful ritual for an intimate gathering of family and friends.. But the morning of May 2nd began with a rainstorm. Just as we thought our dream of an outdoor wedding was washed out, the rain stopped. Quickly our guests gathered outside, in the seating area. As Laura began casting a circle, the clouds parted, allowing rays of sunlight to illuminate the space. It was as if the earth and sky called upon everyone to focus on the event at hand. My mother even claims a rainbow peeked through a hole in the canopy of clouds.
Even now, there are times when we joke about how it pays to have divine forces at work especially when getting married outdoors. Laura claims not to know what she did to tip the scales in our favor that day. If anyone were to ask me: I would attribute it to the fact that anyone who attends one of Laura’s rituals knows; whatever deity or deities are in attendance they are always invited to eat with the rest of us. I firmly believe she slipped someone, somewhere a pancake or two.
Since we met, we have continued our friendship. We have made it a family tradition; to be at Laura’s place for Maypole merriment. In fact, our children instinctually dance the Maypole. I attended Laura’s memorable garden ritual in which I passionately kissed my wife over a row of squash mounds in hopes that they may prove to be fruitful at harvest time.
I look forward to these potluck and get-togethers. Any chance to come together is enough of a reason to have a great food and drink. I learned a very important fact about members of the Pagan community. The mix of people and personalities is extremely eclectic
Many thanks to those I have met for the meals and the mead. It is during these shared moments, in which I have learned perhaps one of the greatest lessons: there are many roads in which to reach a destination. By recognizing the ties that I have made to others in these times of celebration; the gifts I have realized are to numerous to count. I do not have far to look to see that I am blessed.
Magic plays a part in all of our lives. We are the ones who must recognize it when it happens.