We came this day to wed Stephen and Nathalie. To those who know them, this is a wedding between the roaring fire that throws back the night for the revels of the dancers in a hundred darken groves with the wild falcon whose grace shames the sun for the glory of the sky, whose eyes see ten thousand secret things and whose joyful cry would part the clouds. Given that, there was little chance it would be other than magical.
It was the equinox, when summer waned and fall began. We hang upon the change as dawn broke, at least I assume it broke. It was hard to tell as the clouds showed us what happened when Thor chose to wring out every cloud in the sky at once. Of course it did. I was officiating a wedding for one of Loki’s beloved sons, so how could anything other than chaos herald its coming. I gave offerings to Odin because of debts owed and Thor because he is the best husband of the pantheon and usually counted on to not be a dick about big things, but I set out to make sure the copies of the vows for bride and groom wind and waterproofed, that the fire for the land taking and was well shielded, and set about making sure I had backups for everything that might be missed, lost, or broken. I am not paranoid, I have done this before.
Arriving on site, chaos was the order of the day. A great untidy, majestic chaos marked the site as fair maidens flitted like so many fairies from the deepest groves on missions of bridely urgency, groomsmen and your humble priest fetch, carried, climbed, rigged, built, stowed, moved whatever the ever more mysterious women pointed to with the sort of calm that is possessed by deep sea sailors riding the crest of a five fathom wave with a ship that is probably not going to snap in half at the trough, so just relax and enjoy it.
I lit the fires for the land taking in the lantern that had served as Fire Token for the Gathering For Life On Earth those years I had done the opening and closing rituals, and had served as hearth-fire and focus for Frigga upon her altars when our own hearth was out of reach. As we walked the ground, the wind rose and howled, and the flame in the lantern burned high and bright, but it did not bend. It stood spear straight and defiant until the wind backed off in submission and I began to get a sense that chaos may ring the event round, but its heart would be a center of calm and blessing.
The site chosen by the bride showed her own depth of vision, for the Queen of the Grove stood ancient and arrogant in her power at the fences edge, a heavy skirt of mossy roots ringed her trunk and a crown of heavy branches thick with lush leaves swept majestically over the place where bridal party and groomsmen would attend. One of my dearest friends and favourite priestesses, Violet, had attended with some of her wonderous mead, and I asked her to offer some to the Queen of the Grove for her blessings upon the occasion, and I will not lie, the hiss of the wind through the swaying branches faded to a soft and gentle whisper when she did.
The groomsmen came with the groom. Carrying the gift for the bride’s family, and his ancestral token, they stood at his side like a wall of bannermen in imperial purple and black. Stephen stood with his back to the path, his best man gripping his shoulder to keep him from turning until the bride stood at his side at last.
Scotland the Brave sounded over the glen, and a majestic sight drew every eye as Nathalie and her bridesmaids processed. She was resplendent in wild greens and black, her makeup touched with vine and flower to match the forest fey mystery of her dress, and the windings of her own skin’s markings, the tale of her own progress of craft and power. The wings upon her back seemed fitting as her beauty was otherworldly, fey, fair and also terrible in its intensity. Behind her marched a rank of shield maidens, bright gowned and fair as they attended her as fairy queens attending Freya when she leads the wild hunt.
As the bride took her place, I bid Stephen turn to face her, and when their eyes met, her beauty struck him like a hammer, and the pure elemental response from him drew such a response to him that the air between them danced with tension the axe borne by the bridesmaid could not cut.
They pledged their love, voices calm and controlled, sea deep and ringing not with passion, but with soul deep conviction. In the back, a baby cooed happily, and I think the rest of us probably wanted to as well. Gifts were given from each to the to the others parents in gratitude for the spouse they took this day. Stephen gave to Nathalie his ancestral token, shifting his duties from his mother’s hearth to the hearth they would form this day. As she vested him with the axe, he tied about her waist the keys that symbolized that they formed a new hearth this day, and that together it would be theirs to hold, build and defend.
They pledged their troth, and with trembling hands, and trembling voices, pledged to meet each challenge together. When Stephen spoke his vows, and I bid him to offer his own words to his bride, what came from a mouth so known for Loki’s easy laughter and swift jokes was nothing less than the pure and naked admission of his love. It is a testimony to the skill of her makeup artist that her face remained so heartrendingly perfect, for both their eyes were tear bright after that. I couldn’t tell you if the audience teared up as well, as my own were pretty blurry at that point as well. When she answered both perfectly with her vows, and as soul baring honestly in her simple expression of love for him. So few words to contain so much power.
I bound their hands to complete the blessing of their union, but in all honesty, I don’t think the axe could have separated their hands at that point, or their eyes. But one duty remained, and I pronounced them man and wife and bid them to kiss. It is a tossup to say which moved faster, but during the wedding feast the sound of knife on glass sounded so many times to demand a repeat performance that we established a definite eagerness in each of them to kiss at the slightest excuse.
As the feast wore on, the words from so many people told the same story. Whether first Nathalie’s friend or first Stephen’s, both told similar stories about how Nathalie or Stephen brought powerful and healing changes into their lives. Individually, each has been a powerful force in the community, bringing healing and growth where they pass. Nathalie as a direct healer, and Stephen as the laughing jester, the one from whom no pain is hidden, and to whom no pain couldn’t be shared.
That they found each other shows that wyrd may just weave some people as they deserve, for rare as it may be, each of them deserves a partner exactly as supportive as they received. Chaos ringed the event in quiet corners, stuff appearing and disappearing at random in such continual flow as to simply make you shrug and either put something out for the local fairies or flip Loki the bird for messing with all the guests at the wedding, but it was all in bright good humour.
It was a magical event in all respects, and it should surprise none that the rain began only as I drove away. It was a day brightly woven, and the beginnings of a bright future for two special people we were blessed enough to see wed beneath the Queen of the Grove on the turning of the Equinox.