Hamish Guerrini on Modern Ritual

Hamish Guerrini: white rabbit, wedding bard and celebrant. Hamish explains how he uses ritual and innovation, creating magical spaces within weddings and festivals.

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By Ace Volkers

Ritual is a very important part of my life, in an entirely non spiritual sense. There’s something about framework, tradition and process that have the ability to pull me more entirely into the present. That level of focus and care is a way of being that feels like something more than just bouncing from one sensation to the next. And when those frameworks, traditions and processes are amplified and acted out in a group setting, I find that a heightened ability to connect with others and sense of euphoria normally ensues.

Role play and costume form an important part of the rituals of my summers. When my husband and I were planning our wedding last year I began by focussing on the components of those rituals, equally the symbols of our relationship. It was then that it occurred to me that ritual had always been an important part of our relationship. So many of our best adventures had been highly ceremonial. I think we got to know each other by creating the rites of our own personal belief system together, our way of being in the world with one another.

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It made perfect sense for Hamish Guerrini to marry us. Many a summer had we spent twirling around in our field-worthy regalia at the heart of his Glastonbury wonderland. I still get goosebumps when I think about the magic that he spun for us. I could go on and on, but luckily I don’t have to, because here we have Hamish Guerrini himself, in an exclusive for Bane + Antidote on the topic of ‘Modern Ritual’.

Visit Hamish’s website to learn more about his incredible work.

Tell us what you do Hamish.

I perform wedding ceremonies for couples who don’t want a church wedding, and want something alternative to a civil ceremony. My ceremonies are light, straightforward and often quite short. I recognise the need for depth and gravitas and try to hold the space with respect, but I also inject a good helping of humour to soften the corners!

What is your philosophy?

My philosophy is very much of the perennial type, embracing all religions in the belief that we all came from one place and we are all returning to that place.

How did you first become a celebrant?Phalex_0232

It was kind of by accident. I helped the mighty Druid master Ivan Macbeth construct the White Stones of Hascombe. It’s the biggest stone circle to have been constructed using the old methods since 3000 BC. My job was to entertain the 100 strong workforce and keep the spirits up with  amusing and uplifting songs! At the end of the year long process I wrote an Inauguration Ballad, then Ivan Macbeth honoured me by naming me Bardic Druid at a summer sunrise ceremony in the middle of Stonehenge. Being a Bardic Druid allows me to write poems, songs and perform ceremonies like weddings and namings.

Why do you do what you do?

I am a strong believer in the institution of marriage as a force for good in the world, and I enjoy helping couples realise their dreams.

Are all the couples you marry spiritual?

Everyone has differing spiritual thresholds. I have incorporated Catholic, Buddhist and even atheist elements into ceremonies. This diversity is not always for the couple themselves, but also for close relatives who might otherwise feel excluded or weirded out by ‘fluffy new age clap trap’!

What is ritual to you?

Ritual is the framing of a ceremony, it’s a hanger on which the deeper content is hung. I was raised by Jesuits and Benedictines who know a thing or two about ritual and I still love to go to Latin Mass and Benediction for the sheer intensity of the form and beauty of the chanting.

Phalex_0444Tell us about the importance of ritual in wedding ceremonies.

There is need for focus and theatre in any social gathering. It has a containing effect and sets people at their ease, especially when it is explained that there will be a clear beginning, middle and end.

How important is the wedding ceremony for the quality of the celebration that follows?

The ceremony sets the tone for the entire day. I bring the family and friends together, and try invoke in them the spirit of generosity and love for the two people in their midst, who are about to embark on the greatest of adventures. The most important part of the whole ceremony is the collective agreement that everyone present is gathered, not only to witness the promises made, but also to give their own vow to support and encourage the couple in sticking to their promises, come what may. It is the instigation of a new tribe.

Is there a ritual that you always use to marry people?

Phalex_0478What I tend to do is use the ancient British Druidic form, inviting the guests to form a semi-circle surrounding the couple. Then it’s time for readings, poems and songs from friends and relatives. The rings are sent around the gathered guests in a bowl of holy water, and blessings for the couple are spoken. Then the rings are exchanged, and I often ask the couple to jump over a yew staff, which represents the two individuals jumping over the hearthstone into their new home of marriage.

Do the rituals you use to marry people come from you or from the couple?

We have meetings beforehand and discuss the couple’s life together and the elements they want to include in their ceremony. I am sometimes asked to write a poem to encapsulate their story, so quite in depth research is often needed.

Phalex_0681Have you noticed a change in the way that people use ritual over the years?

Yes. More and more people have a pick’n’mix approach to religion and spirituality. I don’t see this as a disadvantage, indeed it seems to me that mankind has been picking-and-mixing since the dawn of thought. Each religion assimilates and absorbs prior ones, bringing messages and traditions forward to suit new needs. The story of the First Council of Nicaea illustrates this well.

How can people work ritual into their everyday lives?

Work, play, coffee, pubs, music, films… They can all be undertaken ritually

Is there a place for ritual within hedonism?

I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. At the rabbit hole, a venue I run at Glastonbury Festival, there is an intricate system of initiation and revelation. It’s all a part of a ritualistic theatre setting designed to deepen the festival experience, which can easily become an empty and two-dimensional hedonistic affair. Interestingly, recent archeological research has uncovered evidence of thousands of years of crowded dancing at Stonehenge. The priest and the party have always gone hand in hand it seems.

Can parties be ritualistic in themselves?

Raves, gigs, dinner parties, weddings… They all need a framework – an ordered map of spoken and unspoken rules.

If you want Hamish to marry you, visit www.hamishguerrini.co.uk.

 






Win FREE Alternative Wedding Favours for Very Naughty Guests!

In celebration of the National Wedding Show, Faust’s Potions are giving away 100 vials of their
delicious natural hangover cures, complete with a deluxe gift wrapping set!

Bane + Antidote co-founder Nina Faust created Faust’s Potions out of a realisation that an adventurous spirit depends on physical and mental wellbeing before all else. The apothecary style cult-secret natural remedies that she created combat hangovers, jet lag and fatigue… making them perfect wedding favours for naughty, jet-set, fun loving guests… and unlike the proverbial sugared almond, one that will be very gladly received! In celebration of her stand at The National Wedding Show Nina is giving one lucky couple to chance to win Faust’s Potions wedding favours for all their guests.

Enter on Facebook via the link below, but make sure to share to increase your chances of winning… if you do your name will be counted an additional 5 times for each friend of yours that follows suit! Enlist friends and family to enter for you to increase your odd still further! Good luck…

Win Apothecary Style Wedding Favours For All Your Guests!

 

Win Apothecary Style Wedding Favours for All Your Guests!

Faust’s Potions are giving away 100* of their luxury hangover cures with a boutique gift wrapping set. Find out how to enter here.

*for couples with over 100 guests, a 25% discount on additional favours will be available.

POST-CARD RETAIL 2 copyBane + Antidote co-founder Nina Faust created Faust’s Potions out of a realisation that an adventurous spirit depends on physical and mental wellbeing before all else. The apothecary style cult-secret natural remedies that she created combat hangovers, jet lag and fatigue… making them the perfect addition to your weekend, wedding and festival SOS kits. Their triple function make them perfect wedding favours for naughty, fun loving guests, and one that will be gladly received. In celebration of her stand at The National Wedding Show Nina is giving one lucky couple to chance to win Faust’s Potions wedding favours for all their guests.

Enter via the link below, but make sure to share after you do to increase your chances of winning – for every friend of yours that enters after you share the link, your name will be entered an additional 5 times!

Win Apothecary Style Wedding Favours For All Your Guests!wedding party

 

In celebration of the National Wedding Show, Faust’s Potions are giving away 100 vials of their
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If you liked this post you might also be interested in our exclusive National Wedding Show discount and ticket offer.

The History of Wedding Favours

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Marie Antoinette was famous for her bonbonnière aplomb.

The History of Wedding Favours by Bane + Antidote editor Alex Volkers, as featured on the Wasing Park Weddings Blog. Click the link to learn more about the symbolism, ritual, gratitude and care inherent in the practice.

How to Choose the Best Wedding Favours

Wedding favours have the potential to surprise and delight your guests. Get this important part of your wedding reception right and your guests will leave feeling loved up and tickled pink. Get it wrong and you’ll adding to the ever growing trash pile of worthless tack in the sky.

glowsticks Image courtesy of Bespoke Bride.

While there may be many definitive lists of wedding favour ideas around, such as the most creative wedding favour ideas or the best eco wedding favour ideas, when deciding what to put on the tables at your wedding the best starting point is to put yourself in the shoes of your guests. When you do, a few obvious rules emerge:

1. All wedding favours should reflect the couple getting married. What is important to you? Whether it is health, being environmentally friendly or breaking all the rules in the book, don’t abdicate your personality when it comes to choosing your favours. Guests want to feel as if they are in a world of your creation.

2. Wedding favours should be a treat for your guests. While many couples opt for personalised wedding favours commemorating the date of their marriage etc, by the time your guests reach dinner they will have spent an entire day thinking about you. Why not make this bit about them? Something delicious, a fun activity, a conversation starter – whatever you go with, think about your friends and family and what they would like to receive.

3. Ultimately, favours should be consumable, wearable or small enough to fit into a jacket pocket or a full purse.

4. Consumable favours should complement the meal being served. Will your guests have room left for an edible treat? Perhaps a liquid favour would have more takers. Example: Faust’s Potions ‘Drink Me’ herbal hangover cure vials.

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5. Wearable favours are a sure fire way to ensure nothing gets left behind, and a great way to help your guests look fabulous. Examples: bindis, glow-sticks, or little pots of glitter.

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6. While little pots of honey are lovely in principle, they are a clunky thing to have in your back pocket. Their lifespan is also limited. If you choose to give your guests a small memento, something they could use time and time again would be of more worth. Example: handmade handkerchiefs.

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As nobody knows weddings like an experienced wedding provider we have asked Katherine Hudson, of the renowned Arabian Tent Company, for her views on choosing the best wedding favours.

Katherine

Hi Katherine! In your experience, what sort of items have you found to make the best wedding favours? 

The days of sugared almonds are long gone, and so are the days of potted jam from great aunty Mable. The best wedding favours are the ones that guests can use straight away when they sit down to dinner – ideally interactive ones to get the conversation flowing with the people they’re sitting with. Those favours that can be consumed, worn or used at that particular moment are always the best.

Are there certain types of wedding favours that tend to get left behind or ignored?

A lot of wedding favours get left behind if they’re not instantly engaging to a guest when they come across them.

Are there certain types of wedding favours that encourage guests to interact with one another?

I’m a fan of fancy dress items – silly sunglasses, moustaches, head-gear etc. They are great for creating interaction amongst the guests.

What is the cleverest wedding favour you have ever come across?

Whilst not hugely clever, probably the best (and most used) favour that I saw at a wedding was a little bottle of Tuaca (the bride and groom drank a lot of it when they first met!) – all the little bottles were empty at the end of the night as they got used for a special toast to the bride and groom.

Tuaca Bottles Tuaca Bottles by Infinity Photographic.

You can read more about Katherine’s work, as see examples of her unique wedding marquees, furniture and props on the Arabian Tent Company website.

If you’re still at a loss, consider some of the ‘definitive’ wedding favour ideas lists below but consider the above and PROCEED WITH CAUTION!

Buzzfeed Life’s 42 Wedding Favors Your Guests Will Actually Want

Popsugar’s 45 Wedding Favors Your Guests Will Actually Use

Rock My Wedding’s Favour Me

No Impact Bride’s 10 Green Wedding Favor Ideas

Real Simple’s 10 Creative Wedding Favor Ideas

Bespoke Bride’s 50 Fab Favours for Your Wedding Day