I picked up this little book in the renowned Atlantis Bookshop in London (which fortunately for me is only 10 minutes walk from my office!). It had a section on Handfastings, so I decided to buy it as part of my research in to my own Handfasting; but I was pleasantly surprised at how much else I got out of it.
It’s worth comparing this book to the other book on Handfastings I wrote about recently, Magickal Weddings: Pagan Handfasting Tradition for Your Sacred Union by Joy Ferguson. There’s quite a few differences. For one thing, I have to say that Magickal Weddings is a much slicker presentation. Whereas Magickal Weddings is quite professionally written and printed, A Ceremony for Every Occasion feels like a bit of an amateur job; I did wince at the number of spelling and grammatical errors I spotted. What’s more, the copy I bought was really rather badly printed and bound – one of the pages had even been bound the wrong way round.
And yet, despite all this, I actually preferred this book to Magickal Weddings. It has a very personal touch and warmth and I felt Magickal Weddings lacked. What’s more, I somehow found its single chapter on Handfasting to be more useful and a better source of inspiration than the entirety of Magickal Weddings. Perhaps because I read it in the context of the other ceremonies in the book, all of which were beautifully and clearly written, in addition to their explanations. And there’s plenty in there too – not only the eight Sabbats, but also baby naming ceremonies and memorial ceremonies. I really loved the way each ceremony was written (in script form rather than prose), and the actual content of the ceremonies themselves, which all feature a lot of roles for coven/moot taking part and some lovely blessings.
I found I learned a lot about Paganism from reading this, even though it’s more of a collection of ceremonies rather than an explanatory book on the beliefs of Paganism itself. If you can get passed its rather rough-around-the-edges presentation, I think it’s worth reading.