Our Big Fat Witchy Sufi Lesbian Legal Wedding

Today is my and Kyeli’s 10th anniversary!

As of today, Kyeli and I have been married for 10 years! In celebration of our tenth anniversary, today I’m sharing the story of our most recent wedding (the legal one on October 18th, 2014), including the ceremony, our vows, and all that good stuff.

We get married fairly often.

This was our 3rd public wedding ceremony. Our first wedding was exactly ten years ago (in 2005), when we were part of the triad. Our second wedding was in 2009, to celebrate my and Kyeli’s marriage as just the two of us. We’ve had one or two private ceremonies as well.

1 wedding altar

Our intent for this wedding was threefold:

  1. to make it legal
  2. to recognize our commitment to each other as spiritual partners
  3. to choose each other as we are now, with our eyes wide open, wholeheartedly.

2 preceremony dorking around

Spiritual partnership

“Spiritual partner” is a term I learned from the book Spiritual Partnership by Gary Zukav. I couldn’t stand this book. It was written in 2011, but feels like the 1970s. However, I love the concept of spiritual partnership, and this book named it for me.

A spiritual partnership can be a committed romantic relationship, or it can be any two or more people who commit to treating each other as equals working together wholeheartedly toward spiritual growth.

In most relationships, there’s give and take. There’s compromise. There’s working out how to get my needs met while you get your needs met. This is normal and good. Spiritual partnership changes the game. Instead of give and take, it’s now surrender and trust.

It’s a little creepy, because it looks a lot like codependence from the outside. It’s hard to tell the difference between collapse and surrender unless you’re in it. You could say “I will give you everything” out of desperation and collapse, or you could say “I will give you everything” out of wholehearted surrender and harnessed empowerment.

Honestly, it can even be hard to tell the difference between collapse and surrender when you are in it. (Been there, done that.)

Spiritual partnership is about switching from “How can you make me happy?” to “How can we help each other grow?” It’s about stopping taking things personally and instead taking each conflict as a learning opportunity. It’s about letting go of keeping track, and surrendering to love.

Like our friend Jonathan quoted during our ceremony,

Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

“You owe me.”

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights up the whole sky.

-Hafiz

Spiritual partnership requires wholeheartedness. I can give, and give, and give, but if I’m feeling resentful or bitter about giving, then I’m in the tit-for-tat model instead of spiritual partnership – I’m acting as though I’m in a regular partnership of mutual exchange, trying to get my needs met.

Actually, resentment itself isn’t even a problem, it’s what I do with it. When I feel resentful, do I blame Kyeli? Do I blame the Universe? Do I blame myself for feeling this way? Do I get stuck in feeling like a victim? Or do I take the resentment, feel it fully, acknowledge it, and work through it in an empowered and wholehearted way? That’s the way of the spiritual partner.

Eyes wide open

The year of the wedding, Kyeli went from being able to walk normally to being in a wheelchair most of the time. She can’t drive. She can’t help out around the house as much. She can’t do a lot of the things she used to be able to do.

It’s been a huge shift in our relationship, as Kyeli struggles with independence and empowerment and I struggle with taking on more responsibility – a degree of responsibility that I don’t really want, and that I sure as heck didn’t sign up for.

The biggest thing that helps me remember to be wholehearted – to not get mired in resentment – is to choose Kyeli, as she is now, with my eyes wide open. “I didn’t sign up for this” is one of my Yellow Alert Thoughts. It’s a signal that I’m not feeling wholehearted, and a reminder to choose. There are only two wholehearted options:

  1. choose what is
  2. choose to change it

And look at all these tempting things that are not on the list:

  • wish it were different
  • complain about it
  • avoid it
  • slog through it resentfully
  • procrastinate
  • pretend everything is fine
  • raise one’s fist to the heavens and rail, “I didn’t sign up for this!”

Either choose what is, or choose to change it. Those are the only two wholehearted options.

4 We are married

In my marriage with Kyeli, that means: either choose Kyeli as she is now, or choose to change our relationship – which would mean divorce, or some other drastic relationship shift. “Slog through my marriage resentfully” and “pretend everything is fine” are not wholehearted options.

So we had a sacred ceremony in which we each vowed, “I choose you as you are now.” This vow anchors my wholeheartedness in my mind, in my heart, in my soul, and in my bones. It makes it easier to remember whenever I forget.

And ohhhhh yes I forget. I forget in small ways, when Kyeli drops something on the floor and asks me if I could please pick it up, and I think to myself, “Damn it! This is the sixth time today! Why do you keep dropping shit?!”

Now that we have made a sacred commitment to each other as spiritual partners, it’s easier to remember that I did sign up for this. We’re rubbing the rough edges off each other so we can become smooth enough to pass through the gate of heaven.

5 laughing

Not your mother’s mixed-faith wedding

I’m a Sufi (I had just taken hand a few days before the wedding), and Kyeli is a handmaiden of the Goddess. We wanted to honor each of our spiritual/religious paths in the ceremony, as well as the Oneness that contains them both. Keep your eye out for the Sufi and witchy elements in the ceremony.

The Participants

We invited about a dozen of our closest friends; no observers, only participants.

6 the group

The Ceremony

So without further ado, here is our wedding ceremony, including our vows, including everything except our magickal names, which we don’t share publicly. The ceremony was written by our good friend and officiant Julica Hermann, and tweaked by myself and Kyeli.

You are most welcome to use it as inspiration for your own ceremony. You are most welcome to steal it, in whole or in part. If you do, we’d love to hear about it… and see pics! (:

Pace & Kyeli’s
Big Fat Witchy Sufi Lesbian Legal Wedding Ceremony

GET HYPE

Julica: It’s time! Everybody GET HYPE for Pace and Kyeli’s wedding!!!!

Everybody: *gets hype*

[Procession! Our processional song is Melon-Glo-Mania, our mutual favorite chiptune by Mark “TDK” Knight.]

[Everybody dances, then Pace comes at the beat drop, everyone looks at her and admires her, then Kyeli comes in at the melody, everyone looks at her and admires her too. Both Pace and Kyeli begin hugging people around the circle at opposite ends, going in opposite directions, and work their way around. Fade out music.]

Invocation: Casting Circle

[Julica:]
We gather together today to bear witness to the sacred union of Pace and Kyeli.
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, in harmony with Divine Oneness, we cast circle in Her blessed presence:
by the earth that is Her body,
by the air that is Her breath,
by the fire of Her bright spirit,
by the waters of Her living womb,
by all that is above,
all that is below,
and all that spirals in-between, [step back into circle]
From my heart to your heart, the circle is cast. [with hand to heart gesture.]
[P & K:] we are between the worlds and what happens here changes us and changes all the worlds. [drop hands.]

Charlie: I invite Air to witness and bless this union of Pace and Kyeli.
Kelly: I invite Fire to witness and bless this union of Pace and Kyeli.
Ev’Yan: I invite Water to witness and bless this union of Pace and Kyeli.
Pam: I invite Earth to witness and bless this union of Pace and Kyeli.
Angela: I invite all guides, spiritual and physical, regardless of time and space, to witness and bless this union of Pace and Kyeli.
Jen: I invite all who have come before and all who shall come after to witness and bless this union of Pace and Kyeli.
Pace: I invite Aphrodite to witness and bless this union of myself and Kyeli.
Kyeli: I invite our sacred guides to witness and bless this union of myself and Pace.
Julica: We welcome and give thanks to all who have come to bear witness and bless this union of Pace and Kyeli.

SING: La ilaha ill’allah

3 nearly a fire

During the rehearsal, Kelly invoked Fire a little too well, and the house almost burned down. The wedding’s a success ’cause nobody died!

Poems

Pace reads this poem (by Eeva Kilpi) to Kyeli in Finnish, and Kyeli reads the translation to Pace in English.

Sano heti jos minä häiritsen,
hän sanoi astuessaan ovesta sisään,
niin minä lähden saman tien pois.

Sinä et ainoastaan häiritse,
minä vastasin,
sinä järkytät koko minun olemustani.
Tervetuloa.

Tell me right away if I’m disturbing you,
she said as she stepped inside my door,
and I’ll leave at once.

You not only disturb me, I said,
you shatter my entire existence.
Welcome.

[Julica:]
Yes, that is exactly how it is. That is what the commitment of marriage does to a person. When we marry someone, when we make a wholehearted commitment to another person, we are shattering our entire existence. There is some kind of weird synergistic math, where 1 + 1 does not equal 2, it equals 4,000. Your entire life is transformed in the moment of committing yourself to another person. And that transformation is renewed every time you recommit – and I mean recommit in the big moments, like today, and also in the small moments, like when your partner is making you batshit crazy, and you take a deep breath, and you say, I’m still in, I can do this.

This is something that both of you already know, because that is what you have already been doing. You have been married in your hearts and in the eyes of your family and friends for nine wonderful years. And you know that a good marriage is one in which you constantly re-commit to each other. You invite that person into your heart, again and again, knowing that it will continue to shatter your individual existence.

This moment and this celebration is about reaffirming something that already is. It’s also about deepening the relationship you have created together, on two levels: the spiritual and the legal.

In this space, you are affirming the spiritual commitment you are making to each other, and to each other’s spiritual paths. You are making a promise to support each other’s ongoing development and spiritual relationship with the Divine. That is especially exciting and challenging when you don’t share the same spiritual path! This is something that you have been in the process of clarifying and discovering very recently.

So it is important and meaningful to take a moment to acknowledge that there is a deep commitment and a deep love and a deep trust that goes with the witnessing of your partner following her separate spiritual path, and trusting that she supports you in following yours.

[pause]

And then the other important aspect of this ceremony is the fact that today we are witnessing and endorsing a legal marriage, in the eyes of the state. With that acknowledgement comes a host of benefits that you have not had access to!

And so there is a little bit of bittersweet taste to this fact.

The bitter taste comes from acknowledging that it is not OK that is has taken this long, and it is not OK that many couples still do not enjoy the privileges of legal marriage because this is not yet the law of the land.

Fortunately, and here is the sweetness, we all know that the tide has turned. It is truly now just a matter of months before everyone can marry whomever they love, and it is wonderful that Oregon has seen the light, and that the people of Oregon have had the wisdom to do what is right, to support and acknowledge your deep love and commitment for each other.

Kyeli, when we were discussing and preparing this ceremony, you said the most beautiful thing to me, and I want to share it back with you and with everyone. You said: relationships cannot happen in a vacuum; relationships occur in community.

And this particular community is your group of deeply beloveds, your chosen family, the people who have seen you through thick and thin, and who will continue to support the growth and development of your relationship. These friendships, the people in this circle in this moment, have been carefully cultivated by both of you. Kyeli, you told me that you are made stronger and better and more beautiful by each relationship you have with the people in this circle. And I know I can speak for everyone and say ditto! We are all made better and stronger and more beautiful because we are friends with you Kyeli, and with you, Pace.

[pause]

And so, in this expanded circle of love, it is now time for all of you, beloveds of Kyeli and Pace, to share a blessing for their commitment to each other.

Blessings

[We went around the circle and each person shared a blessing. (Yes, we warned them beforehand.) Poems, songs, prayers, heartfelt wishes – our friends are super sweet and amazingly creative!]

[Julica:]
Well, now that you are marinating in all this love for you and your relationship, I’d be really surprised if you wouldn’t want to keep going. But! If you want to back out, this is your last chance, because I’m about to ask you if you’re serious about this. Are you ready?

Declaration of Intent and Vows

Pace, do you choose Kyeli as your sacred and lawfully wedded wife, in sickness and in health, regardless of ability, for rich or for poor, as long as you both shall live?

Pace: I do!

Kyeli, do you choose Pace as your sacred and lawfully wedded wife, in sickness and in health, regardless of ability, for rich or for poor, as long as you both shall live?

Kyeli: I do!

Kyeli, please declare your vows to Pace.

Vows

(In the vows, there are some places where it says <insert sacred name>. Kyeli and I each have a private magickal name that we only use in sacred space. I also have a Sufi name that I use for Sufi stuff. It’s Muqita and it’s (obviously) not private. So the people at the ceremony got to witness us say our sacred names, but the internet doesn’t.)

[Kyeli:]
In this sacred space, surrounded by our loved ones and in the presence of the Divine, I, Kyeli , do vow:

  1. to hold our relationship above all others, save my relationships with myself and with the Divine.
  2. to endeavor to know myself in all my parts.
  3. to be open, to talk things through as they occur, and to ask for what I need.
  4. to hold healthy physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries.
  5. to honor your physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries.
  6. to love and accept you for who you are, even as you grow and change.
  7. to speak truth to you in all things at all times, with exceptions for positive surprises and amusement value.
  8. to treat you with kindness and compassion.
  9. to be always on your team.
  10. to support you in following your own dreams as well as the dreams we share.
  11. to acknowledge and accept that you will disappoint me.
  12. that no random shoes we may come across shall bring forth the end of our relationship, be they single or in pairs.

So mote it be!

[Julica:]
Pace, please declare your vows to Kyeli.

[Pace:]
In this sacred space, surrounded by our loved ones and in the presence of the Divine, I, Pace Muqita, do vow:

  1. to hold our relationship above all others, save my relationships with myself and with the Divine.
  2. to endeavor to know myself in all my parts.
  3. to be open, to talk things through as they occur, and to ask for what I need.
  4. to hold healthy physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries.
  5. to honor your physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries.
  6. to love and accept you for who you are, even as you grow and change.
  7. to speak truth to you in all things at all times, with exceptions for positive surprises and amusement value.
  8. to treat you with kindness and compassion.
  9. to be always on your team.
  10. to support you in following your own dreams as well as the dreams we share.
  11. to acknowledge and accept that you will disappoint me.
  12. that no random shoes we may come across shall bring forth the end of our relationship, be they single or in pairs.

So mote it be!

WE ALL SING THE RUMI CHANT

(The following two sweet things that Kyeli says to Pace and that Pace says to Kyeli were kept private until this point and not rehearsed during rehearsal, so Pace and Kyeli were hearing them for the first time during the ceremony.)

[Kyeli:]
“Pace, you are the most impressively amazing person I have ever known. In our ten years together, you have grown and changed and deepened, become more spiritual and more compassionate, more gentle and more kind, and ever more awesome. I didn’t even think it was possible! You just keep breaking the awesome meter! You impress me every single day in lots of little ways, and at least once a month in a big way. You impress me with your radiance, with your wisdom, with your wit, your pathfinding and path forging and path-sticking-to-it-ness. But most of all, more than anything, it’s your heart that gets me. Your big beautiful heart, your deep compassionate heart, your sweet sensitive heart. I am so hype about you, I am so hype about us. We’ve got this, you and me and our wild crazy meaningful life. I love you, I love you, I love you.

You, Pace <insert sacred name> Muqita, are my sacred spiritual partner. I, Kyeli <insert sacred name>, surrender to the Divine that is you.”

She kneels and prostrates herself at P’s feet. Charlie and Amanda attend. Kyeli places her hand on Pace’s heart.

[Pace:]
“Your courage shines bright like a star,
Your humor’s completely bizarre.
Your tongue like a snake,
Your heart so awake,
Still open despite every scar.

Where I am weak, you are strong.
Where I am prose, you are song.
I even enjoy
The things that annoy,
For with you is where I belong.

Your love brings me down to my knees.
Like flying a flying trapeze,
I leap. Will you catch me?
Yes, and you’ll stretch me.
Claim everything, just like the seas.

You, Kyeli <insert sacred name>, are my sacred spiritual partner. I, Pace <insert sacred name> Muqita, surrender to the Divine that is you.”

She kneels and prostrates herself at K’s feet. Jonathan and Mark attend. Pace places her hand on Kyeli’s heart.

ANOTHER ROUND OF RUMI

Legal Hype!

The signing of the document — Clayton and Holly bring a little table to the center of the circle. Amanda and Kelly step up and offer the document. We all sign.

Description of the rings

[Julica:]
May I please have the rings?

You have chosen two very different rings, but both bear the same gem – just as you are two very different people who both share the same love. May these rings be forever the symbol of the unbroken circle of your love. Love freely given has no beginning and no end. Love freely given has no giver and no receiver. May these rings remind you of the vows you have shared here today, and the love you share always.

Exchange of rings

Pace: I offer you this ring as a symbol of my love and commitment. By accepting this ring onto your finger, you accept not only my love, but also all of the bullshit that comes along with that.

Kyeli: Bring it!

Kyeli: I offer you this ring as a symbol of my love and commitment. By accepting this ring onto your finger, you accept not only my love, but also all of the bullshit that comes along with that.

Pace: Bring it!

Pronouncement

Forasmuch as Pace and Kyeli have thus pledged themselves to the Divine and to each other in the presence of this circle, by the power vested in me as a handmaiden of the Goddess, I witness and bless your commitment to each other as spiritual partners. And by the power vested in me by the state of Oregon, I now pronounce you lawfully wedded wives!

Make with the kissing!!!

[P and K make with the kissing]

7 bliss

Benediction

Please hold hands.

We give thanks to all who gave their attention and love to witness and bless this sacred union of Pace and Kyeli.

Open circle (with gesture):
from my heart to your heart, the circle is open.

Kyeli and Pace: The circle is open, but unbroken. May the blessings of the Divine go ever in our hearts.

All: Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again! *cheering and hugging*

8 fin

Photos by Kyeli Smith

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