[This is a reprint of my article from the Autumn 2012 issue of SEASON MAGAZINE. I feature Princess Diana, the ultimate "goddess bride," in my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride.]
A practice from ancient cultures—that continues today in parts of the world—heralded the bride as a heroine, honoring and attending her like a queen. These intimate bridal rituals included being bathed, perfumed, painted, pierced, bejeweled, coiffed, wrapped, draped, veiled, adorned with flowers, extravagantly dressed (sometimes changing costumes several times over days- or week-long ceremonies)—and elevated to goddess stature!
For thousands of years, according to mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell, honoring the goddess was a “primordial attempt on humanity’s part to understand and live in harmony with the beauty and wonder of Creation.” Modern culture continues to be enchanted with the “goddess-like” image of the bride—is that because she is a reminder of that harmony…the continuity of life, love, and all that our hearts hold dear?
Even the origin of the word “bride” comes from the legend of the goddesses. In her book, The Ancient British Goddess, Kathy Jones explains that in Celtic ancestral wisdom, the goddess Brigit, considered the Maiden Goddess of Springtime, is also known as Bride in its Gaelic form. It makes perfect sense that our bridal traditions have their origins in the essence of spring: an abundant, life-giving time of renewal and beauty. I tell brides in my book, The Bride’s Ritual Guide: Look Inside to Find Yourself, about Bride as the goddess “who gave her name to a woman about to wed. Therefore, as a bride, you are the true namesake of a goddess!”
But a bride’s goddess legacy doesn’t stop there. Kathy Jones also includes this reference in her stories about Bride: “Bride is symbolically a horse goddess and her consort, the young god, is depicted as her groom, lavishly attending her.” Perhaps that’s a confirmation that being a bride also comes with your goddess birthright to be lovingly attended and cared for! Isn’t that what we all want in relationships—to be deeply appreciated and attended to in the most loving ways? (What woman would not want to be “honored like a goddess” at all times of her life?)
As many modern weddings became more notable for their amazing lack of intimacy—lovely to look at, but a bit formula-like and commercial—the goddess legends can be reminders how real beauty is an inside job! It’s natural for brides to want to look beautiful on their wedding day, but being “goddess-like” is putting your attention on something deeper. It takes opening your heart and sharing what you find there in all of your relationships. (It’s just naturally what a goddess would do!) Here’s a tip: Be the “goddess of love” today—then all of life, including our wedding celebrations, gets just a little bit sweeter. ~