If you want to have an ancient Celtic wedding you need three things. Two people to agree to marry each other and a druid.
Finding two people to marry each other is achievable. Locating a druid is a bit of a puzzle. No druids are listed in the yellow pages.
You further complicate the wedding ceremony if the two people who are to be married are members of religions that believe they are dead right and the other is dead wrong.
On occasion, guests from bickering religions carry hatchets to weddings to keep the other sinners in line. Often the wedding invitees spill one another’s blood.
Take a Mormon and a Catholic. It’s like mixing fire and oil. Both believe the other is wrong and if you put them together for five minutes they will either convert each other or kill each other.
This may be the reason that the Pope did not make an appearance at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and that the president of the LDS church does not have the keys to the Vatican. There are some other reasons too but that’s not what this story is about…it’s about two people who loved each other and were married by a druid.
As you may have guessed, one of the people getting married was a Mormon (well, a jack Jill Mormon) and the other was a Catholic (well, one who has missed his share of Lents).
And the Druid? That was me.
My wife, Kate, and I flew to Denver last weekend where I performed the ceremony. I’m not an ordained minister anymore but that doesn’t matter because anyone (probably even a gopher) can marry people in John Denver Country.
As druid weddings go, I think I did a pretty good job.
The groom was James Edward Heath, a hard-core Irishman who loves Celtic traditions.
The bride, Cheryllynn Batchelor, who looked sensational in her wedding gown, comes from a family of Mormons.
The bride and groom chose to be married in a century old stone and log fort complete with a buffalo head over the fireplace. In keeping with druid custom they were united in a Caim circle. They and their families lit sacred candles.
They invited a Scottish piper to play. (And play magnificently he did.)
Apparently the Mormon Bishop who might have performed the ceremony did not feel the Celtic-buffalo head-write your own vows-bagpipe-druid-mistletoe wedding was quite in keeping with the concepts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After all, druids were into Pagan rituals. Of course the Christians borrowed a fair share of pagan rituals, Easter for example, and probably more of Christmas than good Christians want to admit. (Hint: think mistletoe.)
Cheryllynn’s parents, good LDS folks, wanted someone from their church to officiate. Since I was once a Mormon Missionary and have been best man many times at LDS weddings, I volunteered to stand in for the druid and help tie the knot for the couple that has been dating for about two decades.
Cherlyllynn and Jim really did “tie the knot.” Handfasting is an ancient Irish (Brehon) law in which the bride and groom have their wrists bound together. Handfasting is considered a trifle pagan and some Christians take a dim view of it. But at the end of the ceremony everyone applauded.
The bride’s parents were fine sports about the union although the bride’s father confided in me that this would probably be the last Druid wedding he attended.
There were a couple of elderly LDS church folks there who told me that the ceremony seemed weird to them. They favored me with some serious frowns. I thought about what Mark Twain said — “There’s nothing I admire more than the serene assurance of a Christian with four aces.”
As I said, the bride was sensational and the happiest I’ve seen her in two decades.
Jim told me that his new bride was better than an angel from heaven. The man was delirious with joy — and why not? Up until his marriage, his favorite holiday was St. Patrick’s Day. And now that’s his and his bride’s anniversary.
I’m pleased to report not a single drop of blood was spilled by dissenting religious followers who attended the Druid Ceremony in Colorado’s mountains. As the Druid-in-charge I would have stopped any bickering with a six-foot broad sword that someone had thoughtfully placed on the altar.
Now that Jim and Cher are married, it’s time to wish them the best of luck with this old Irish proverb:
May you have Walls for the Wind
And roof for the rain
And drinks beside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
And your love near you,
And all that your heart may desire