Handfasting was the old pagan ritual of marriage in the British Isles; it remained legal in Scotland all the
way up to 1939, even after Lord Harwicke's Act of 1753 declared marriages in England valid only when
performed by a clergyman. Previous to that act, common-law marriages had been quite acceptably
validated by the couple themselves simply joining their hands in the presence of witnesses. After Lord
Harwicke's Act, the Scottish border town of Gretna Green became a mecca for eloping couples who fled
there to handfast themselves in legal wedlock.
The handfasting gesture seems to have been derived from one of the ancient Indo-European images of male-female conjunction, the infinity sign, whose twin circles represent sun (male) and moon (female) cycles, one right-handed and the other left-handed as when the figure 8 is drawn with one clockwise and one counterclockwise circle. The right side of either sex was always considered the solar or male side, while the left side was lunar or female. Marriage, then, consisted of uniting the two right hands like an ordinary handshake, then the two left hands, so that the partners' arms formed the graphic cycles of "infinity" or completeness.
It is interesting to note that patriarchal society retained only the right-hand handshake in token of agreement, friendliness, or greeting. The use of "female" left hands was dropped, except for one purpose: to formalize the Morganatic marriage, which was known as "marriage of the left hand," by joining left hands only. This type of marriage was invented by the German nobility to allow men of rank to live openly with their lower-class concubines, having legally secured the "marriage" against any rights or claims on the part of the wife or children to inheritance, property, or family name. Its only real purpose was to place "the shield of protection around man in illicit relations." Two-handed handfasting still constituted a fully legal marriage in Europe, however, whether the blessing of the church was sought or not. Clergymen, of course, recommended that newlyweds attend church as soon as possible after the signing of the contract and the handfasting; but marriage had been for so many centuries ignored by the church, left under the jurisdiction of common law rather than canon law, that ecclesiastical rules on marriage were difficult to enforce. In Switzerland from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, a couple could marry each other legally just by publicly drinking together. The now-popular secular gesture of drinking through one another's linked elbows was once another way of forming the infinity sign of sexual union.
Like many other relics of paganism, the handfasting gesture was retained in children's games and traditional folk dances. Continental versions of the swing-your-partner movement call for a couple to join their hands in this same manner and whirl around each other.
-From The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects by Barbara G. Walker
Got a link you think should be listed here?? E-mail it to me please!!
1st - Sun symbols, Jewerly, Statues of Gold, Bronze, or Brass.
2nd - Moon jewerly, Moonstone, Silver, Crystal balls or any items for the home.
3rd - Books, Tarot Cards, Runes, or other magickal tools. Goddess gifts.
4th - Ritual robes, Athames, Wands, or other ritual tools.
5th - Books, Computer or software, Long distance phone cards.
6th - Flowers, Artwork, anything pleasing to the eye.
7th - Anything relating to Astrology or Botany, tools of divination.
8th - Antiques, Ritual implements, Altar statues, Crystals, Gems.
9th - this is for the coplue(s) to do only: Go shopping with your spouce(s) andchoose whatever gifts delight you.
10th - see #1 and Gold jewerly.
15th - see # 6 and Art, or throw them a party.
20th - see #2 and Silver and/or diamond jewerly.
25th - see #7 or plant a tree in honor of the sacred union.
30th - see #3 or have a party.
40th - see #4 or get the couple tickets to travel to a foreign country. (my idea, pick a country, don't let them know, then have a bunch of family and friends pool money together and pay for the plane/train tickets).
50th - see #5 or get them tickets to a foreign country and let them be immersed in the culture.