Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Give My Hand to You With All My Heart...

"I give my hand to you with all my heart. I can't wait to live my life with you; I can't wait to start..." Shania Twain

Friday, June 17th 2011
     Friday dawned partly sunny and warm. Les and I rose at 6 am and drove to Kamiak, hiking the Butte in the early dawn light to find the right place for our ceremony. We planned to do this on Wednesday but Les had fallen ill and it rained all week! I left my cares with the Goddess knowing that the days beforehand and the ritual of our wedding would unfold as She saw fit.
     We marked the spot by creating a circle out of fallen wood and tree branches, with a natural portal in the East between two small trees, for people to enter the circle. We hiked back down and headed for breakfast.
     People were starting to roll into town for our nuptials. Sparky and her room mate Mary arrived from Portland, Oregon the afternoon before and commenced to bleach and then tint Mary's hair a lovely deep blue. Mary looked hot!
    Jesse, Ben, Michael, Matthew and Connor arrived Friday morning. I started preparing the rehearsal dinner with Jesse's help and then we all drove to Moscow, Idaho to Swan Family Ink for a piercing and tattoos!
     I've always wanted my nose pierced to wear a tiny diamond chip. I decided my wedding was the appropriate event to mark with a piercing and it was done before I could change my mind! It is somewhat of a shock to one's mind when one realizes a needle has just pierced one's flesh.
     Some might ask why I would choose to have something painful done to mark such a joyous occasion. The pain passes quickly and endorphins kick in. It is a ritual for me that mirrors the courage it took to make the trek through the painful parts of life to arrive at a moment of divine joy such as my wedding day to my soul mate. This piercing reminds me of the journey and the destination.
     The needle was quickly and expertly withdrawn and replaced with a small sparkling chip on a pigtail stud which corkscrews into the piercing, holding it in place.
     Jesse, Sparky, and me all agreed upon the same tattoo to mark the fact that we all were born in Alaska, and we are related to one another; we chose to have them located on different parts of our bodies as a recognition that our lives are diverging in wildly different directions. Spark asked me to choose the image. I settled on a cluster of forget-me-nots--the Alaska State flower.
     Mine was placed on my chest across my cleavage; Jesse's was placed across the top of her foot, and Sparky had hers tattooed across her upper back. Mary joined the club and got her first tattoo on her left bicep! 
     Les and I got back home first and I resumed prepping food for the evening's dinner. People were rolling in now, from far and near.

Adelina Gonzales
Adelina  Gonzales
     My dear friend from my University days arrived with flowers and hugs. Adelina and I met at Eastern Washington University in 1990. Both of us were single parents and full time students. Our friendship grew quickly as we became involved in University activities and campus politics, living next door to one another in campus family housing. 
     I was hired as the H.O.M.E. (Helping Ourselves Means Education) Program Coordinator--a program which evolved from representing a small handful of low income single parent women on campus, to representing 56.5% of the student body--all of whom were older returning, non-traditional students--most with families of one sort or another, and whose needs as students were not being met by the University community due to ignorance of their issues.  
    Adelina ran for student body president and I helped with her campaign. She was elected as the first woman, first single parent, and first Chicano student in the school's 110 year history.
     Up to that point the student body government had been comprised solely of young, traditional sorority and fraternity students--who happened to be a minority on the EWU campus--yet they controlled a $125,000 budget and made decisions regarding expenditures which usually benefited their small clique instead of the majority student body. We were known across campus by those whose rule we opposed as the tiny trouble twins!
      Our friendship continued to grow over the years as Adelina began working as a union labor organizer, eventually settling in with SEIU--Service Employees International Union, bargaining for the rights of hospital and medical workers.
  Meanwhile and I finished up two years as a Federal VISTA volunteer (Volunteers In Service to America) working at the most poverty stricken elementary school in Spokane where I created the state's first neighborhood/school site council, a before and after school on site day care program, and an after school enrichment program overseen by EWU education students who fulfilled their practicum requirements by working in my program. After my two years of service I went to work for Spokane Public Radio. 
    In 1991 Adelina and I were introduced to the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess located in Madison, Wisconsin. We enrolled in CELLA--a Thealogical training program for women witches, expanding our knowledge and experience of The Goddess and the Craft. We became part of the CELLA PNW circle and met with a core of other women from California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and British Columbia throughout each year for six years to grow as witches and learn to serve our communities as Priestesses of the Goddess.
     Adelina continually encourages and supports me in my personal growth. I am grateful she reached out to me at University and continues to be a loving and supportive force to be reckoned with in my life.

Bill Marlow and Sara Edlin-Marlowe
     The next folks to arrive were Bill Marlowe and his wife Sara Edlin-Marlowe. Sara was employed at Spokane Public Radio as the Morning Edition host when I began working there in 1995. We bonded tightly over the course of five years, watching each other's backs, supporting one another at work and in our personal lives.
Sara Edlin-Marlowe
     Sara practiced a form of Buddhism for many years and is now allied strongly with the Unitarian Universalist church.
     She teaches Tai-Chi, and uses her immense experience in radio and her MFA in Theatre with an emphasis on directing to coach newly hired television newscasters on diction and on-air presence; she also directs theater for the local community, and teaches drama as an adjunct professor at Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC). 
     She writes and acts in one woman plays about the lives of Georgia O'Keefe, Sacagawea, and other notable women. Sara travels thither and yon across Washington and Idaho to perform her plays with underwriting from the WA and ID Humanities Commission.
     In her salad days Sara was a struggling New York actor who scored a part in the movie The Godfather and knew young Bobby De Niro before he encountered fame and fortune. 
Bill Marlowe
    Bill Marlowe is the Chair of the Drama Department at SFCC. He has directed one of the premier community theaters in the U.S. and across the nation extensively, acted in many high profile productions and worked as an equity Stage Manager on the New York stage. Bill also appeared in a movie with Antonio Banderas, LL Cool J and Sam Elliott.
      Between them, Bill and Sara have many decades of experience and fabulous stories about it all. They worked with Haley Joel Osmond and his parents before Haley was a star--they know and have worked with many fine stage and movie actors over the years--both American and British.
     Bill's direction of the Spartan Student Theatre at SFCC is legendary. His students produce some the best acted Shakespearean dramas in the Inland Northwest. 
     Married over twenty five years, Sara and Bill are wild, imaginative, witty and wonderful people who have folded me into their lives and hearts for which I am deeply thankful. 

Karen Barron
Karen Barron
     My most recent friendship to take root was with Karen. We met at Hospice Volunteer Training back in September 2009 and bonded quickly. Her husband Jim is retired from WSU and they are road gypsies much of the year.  
     Karen is a wonderful friend--smart, loyal, fierce in her convictions with an East Coast brusqueness that overlies a huge, warm heart and fabulous sense of humor.
     She is unusually gifted at seeing the whimsy in art and makes some wonderful pop art pieces of her own out of pottery. She introduced me to Kamiak Butte and trekking poles.
     Karen is a planner extraordinaire who prodded me throughout the months leading up to the wedding. Without her input we would not have had the ceremony we did.

Reverend Patti and Steve McRaven
Patti & Steve
     Patti and Steve's story appeared previously in this blog. Patti is empowered by the State to make our Wiccan hand fasting a legally recognized and binding wedding ceremony. Her husband Steve was walking me up the trail and handing me over to Dear Sir.
     Richly blessed by such friends as these, their threads embroider the tapestry of my life and make it shine with love.

The Rehearsal 
     The cast assembled, we caravaned in a body out to Kamiak Butte at 5:30 PM and proceeded to hike up the Pine Ridge trail to the top of the ridge. Most of these folks had never been up there; we had people ranging in age from mid 60's to age 5 months all wandering up Kamiak's pathways in the late afternoon sunshine. The trees created a cathedral effect and the evening air was scented with resinous pine and wild roses.  
     We took our time and gathered at the top--most of us out of breath except for Les, and Michael and Mathew who ran up and down the path four times! 
     Dear Sir was probably in the best shape of all of us! It took us about twenty seven minutes to climb to the ridge which I thought was brilliant given many of us had physical challenges to overcome.
     With scripts in hand we went through the ceremony with Bill Marlowe invoking the God in the character of a Southern Baptist preacher that had us all in stitches.
     Patti concluded with,"By the powers vested in me by the State of Washington I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride." 
     This was the first time Les had heard any of the service which I put together. Unknown to him, there were a few things left out of the rehearsal that would appear in the actual ritual in order to provide spontaneity and emotion. A few official words would be changed at the very end thanks to Cheri Curtis who couldn't be there in person but would be there in spirit through the final changes which were her suggestion. 
     I spent a long time thinking about Val over the past months. Les was deeply honest with me about their relationship in the things he chose to share with me. I wanted to be sure to include her in our ceremony because I know Dear Sir is a man I can trust and love due in large part to her love and influence on him.
     I also strongly believe that her soul brought Les and me together; that Val continues to look out for him and that I am blessed to be a part of her love for Les--as she is a part of my love for him. The remembrance was not mentioned at all in the rehearsal; I would include it in tomorrow's wedding ceremony.
     Soon enough our merry band wended its way back down Kamiak Butte and we caravaned back to our home for a Mexican dinner of Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, Green Chile Burritos, rice, salsa, guacamole, chips, Cadillac Margaritas, Coronas with a slice of lime, and Chocolate cream pie! 
     After eating leisurely in the lengthening rays of late evening sun I handed out baskets with items representing each element of the five sacred things to the people who were invoking them in the ritual. I gathered my things and slipped away to my friend Sandy Field's house. Les would sleep alone tonight--his last as a bachelor. I would spend it with Adelina and Sandy.

Saturday, June 18th, 2011
     I awoke to a pearly grey sky threatening rain at some point in the day. Kamiak Butte rose majestically out of the clouds and sat over the skyline outside Sandy's kitchen window! I knew as Sandy prepared a fabulous breakfast for us that people were beginning to head out for the Butte and gather at our ritual place.
     Adelina left early to meet Sparky, Les, Jesse, Ben, Michael, Karen, Sara, Bill, and Patti. As principle players they were meeting up on Kamiak at 10 am to smudge each other with sage, be anointed with rosemary oil for remembrance, and to begin anchoring the energy of the circle.
     I showered, put on my gown and dressed my hair and face, dusting my cheeks, brow bones and collar bones with a bit of sparkling fairy dust. Dear Sir was waiting for me now on the ridge.
     It was windy in the parking lot of Kamiak Park and the air was laden with moisture--a fairly rare occurrence in June here where the Palouse reaches out to meet the high deserts of Eastern Washington.
     My friends Sally and Joe Horton had gone on up to the circle. Chrisi and Keith Kincaid, Sandy Field, and Steve McRaven were waiting for me. 
     I took Steve's arm and we set off. On the way we passed several hikers who took one look at me, figured out a wedding was happening somewhere at Kamiak and wished me and Steve well! 
     As we walked along I thanked Steve for walking me up the path and handing me over to Les.
     "You and Les are cut from the same cloth--you remind me very much of
     one another. You are both good men--kind, loving, gentle. I am so happy

     you agreed to do this for me."
     Tears welled up in my eyes as Steve thanked me for the opportunity to participate and gave me a kiss and hug, telling me he was honored to walk me up and participate in our wedding.       
     We arrived at the ridge top with the rain holding off, the world a magical place cloaked in a fragile mist. Chrisi, Keith, and Sandy went on ahead to be smudged, anointed, and enter the circle.
     Suddenly it was time and we began walking Eastward towards the gathering hidden just off the path, beyond the first group of trees and an old, gnarled, fallen tree trunk.
A word between two very fine men
     Les spotted us coming through the trees and didn't take his eyes off me. Dear Sir looked gorgeous in his fitted black jeans, black leather vest laced up the sides, and white dress shirt with silver cuff links. A white rose with rosemary and lavender graced his vest. 
     Adelina smudged Steve first, then turned to me saying, "May you have joy in your lives and love in your hearts forever Jaq. You are a priestess of the Goddess and She is within you." Sparky anointed my forehead with oil, giving me a daughter's blessing from deep in her heart.
     I entered the circle and began to walk sun wise stopping to hug and kiss each person there to witness our wedding; South, West, North, and East again to turn toward Center where Les, Patti, and Steve waited for me at the altar.

Sparky casting the circle
     Walking the perimeter sun wise and stopping at each direction Sparky cast the circle: 
   "By the air which is Her breath,
   By the fire of Her bright Spirit,
   By the waters of Her living womb,
   By the earth which is Her body,
   By that which is above and that
   which is below,
   This circle is cast and we are
   between the worlds.
   And what is between the worlds can change the world.
   So mote it be." 

East-"I am East, the symbol of air.  Know and remember that this is the element of life, of intelligence, and the inspiration that moves us onward. I bring to your wedding the power of mind."

South-"I am South, the symbol of fire. Know and remember that this is the element of passion, light, and energy; of the vigor which runs through our veins. I bring to your wedding the power of will."

West-"I am West, the symbol of water. Know and remember that this is the power of love, of growth, of the fruitfulness of the earth. I bring to your wedding the power of desire."

North-"I am North, the symbol of earth. Know and remember that this is the element of law, of endurance, of the understanding which cannot be shaken. I bring to your wedding the power of steadfastness."

Center-"I am center, the cauldron of life, death, and rebirth, and the well of the ancestors. Know and remember that this the power of regeneration and eternity, and I bring to your wedding the blessing of all those that have gone before you."

"I who am the beauty of the green earth
And the white moon among the stars
And the mysteries of the waters
I call upon your soul to arise
And come unto Me.
For I am the soul of Nature
That gives life to the universe.
From Me all things proceed
And unto Me they must return.
Let my worship be in the heart that rejoices
For behold—all acts of love
And pleasure are my rituals.

Let there be beauty and strength,
Power and compassion,
Honor and humility,
Mirth and reverence
Within you.
And you who seek
To know Me, know that
Your seeking and yearning
Will avail you not
Unless you know The Mystery:
For if that which you seek
You find not within yourself,
You will never find it without.
For behold, I have been with you
From the beginning,
And I am that
Which is attained
At the end of desire.
Blessed Be!"

"Lord of the colors of Day,
Untamed Awakener of Hearts,
Morning’s Son, Vine ripened Seed,
Heart’s ease and Sorrow’s end;
Sun Child, Seed Sower , Grain reborn;
Many jeweled One, Winter born King,
Wheat sheaf, Green Man, Lord of the Hunt,
Sailor of the last sea, Guardian of the gate,
Horned God, Lord of the Dance--
COME! Be here now.

Blessed be!"

Karen Barron: "Jaqueline is it true you come of your own free will and accord?"
Jaqueline: "yes, it is true I do come of my own free will and accord."
Karen Barron: "With whom do you come and whose blessings accompany you?"
Steve McRaven: "She comes with me, her brother, and is accompanied by all our blessings."
Karen Barron: "Les, take Jaqueline's hand and listen..."
Reverend Patti:
     "These two who are joined in love now have the desire to make their bond a matter of record, so that all the world and the society in which they live may witness it, and lend to them the support of their hearts and minds.
     Like stones should your love be firm. Like a star should your love be constant. Let the powers of the mind and of the intellect guide you in your marriage; let the strength of your wills bind you together, let the power of love and desire make you happy, and the strength of your dedication make you inseparable. Be independent of one another, and interdependent one to another. Be free in giving affection and warmth. Rejoice in laughter. Ever love, help, and respect each other and then know truly that you are one in the eyes of all assembled here today.

Blessed Be."


Patti: "Do you, Les, take Jaqueline to be your wife,
to be her constant friend,
her partner in life, and her true love;
To love her without reservation,
honor and respect her,
protect her from harm,
comfort her in times of distress,
and to grow with her in mind and spirit?"
Les: "I do."

Patti: "Do you, Jaqueline, take Les to be your husband,
To be his constant friend,
his partner in life, and his true love;
To love him without reservation,
honor and respect him,
protect him from harm,
comfort him in times of distress,
and to grow with him in mind and spirit?"
Jaqueline: "I do."

Patti ties the hand fasting cords
Patti: "Likewise, this cord is a symbol of the lives you have chosen to lead together. Up until this moment you have been separate in thought, word, and action. As these cords are tied together, your lives become intertwined. As the right hand is to the left hand, may you be forever one, sharing in all things, at home and abroad, in love and loyalty for all time to come."

Patti: "You cannot always be physically joined (Patti removes cord without untying it and lays it on the altar) therefore the exchange of rings is one of the deepest symbols of a marriage. It is a constant reminder, a shared touch between this man and this woman. The circle is a symbol of the eternal. To give a ring to someone you love is to say that your love has no beginning and no end.
     This bond I draw between you: that though you are parted in mind or in body, there will be a call in the core of you, one to the other, that nothing and no one else will answer to. By the secrets of earth and water is this bond woven -- unbreakable, irrevocable; by the laws that created fire and wind this call is set in you, in life and beyond life."
(Michael Kiddoo comes forward with the rings tied in a silk scarf and gives
them to Les)

Patti: "Les, as you slip the ring on Jaqueline’s finger, repeat after me:"
Les: I, Leslie Charles Biggs, in the name of the spirit of love which resides within us all, by the life that courses within my blood, and the love that resides within my heart take thee Jaqueline Marie Almdale to my hand, my heart, and my spirit to be my lawfully wedded wife. To desire thee and be desired by thee; to possess thee, and be possessed by thee as a token of our love. I promise to love thee wholly and completely without restraint; in sickness and in health; in plenty and in poverty; in this life and beyond where we shall meet, remember, and love again. I shall not seek to change thee in any way. I shall respect thee, thy beliefs, thy people, and thy ways as I respect myself.

Patti: "Jaqueline, as you slip the ring on Les’ finger, repeat after me:"
Jaqueline: I, Jaqueline Marie Almdale in the name of the spirit of love which resides within us alll, by the life that courses within my blood, and the love that resides within my heart take thee Leslie Charles Biggs to my hand, my heart, and my spirit to be my lawfully wedded husband. To desire thee and be desired by thee; to possess thee, and be possessed by thee as a token of our love. I promise to love thee wholly and completely without restraint; in sickness and in health; in plenty and in poverty; in this life and beyond where we shall meet, remember, and love again. I shall not seek to change thee in any way. I shall respect thee, thy beliefs, thy people, and thy ways as I respect myself.

Sara: "As a symbol of Her presence do I offer this bread which represents the Goddess. From this day and through this union Les, shall you know the Goddess through Jaqueline."
Jaqueline tears off a piece and feeds it to Les, saying:
"May you never hunger."
Les tears off a piece and feeds it to Jaqueline, saying:
"May you never hunger."

Bill: "As a symbol of His presence do I offer this wine which represents the God. From this day and through this union Jaqueline, shall you know the God through Les."

Les offers Jaqueline a sip, saying:
"May you never thirst."
Jaqueline offers Les a sip, saying:
"May you never thirst."

"I raise our cup in remembrance to Valerie Biggs.
She kept your heart and soul whole and full;
Filled with love, and joy, and passion;
And you kept hers as well.
She taught you to love truly.
I am thankful to her with all my heart for looking out for you then—and now.  
I rest assured in my belief that we three will be united someday,
For love never dies, and those who are remembered, live.
To Val." 

Patti: "By the power vested in me by the State of Washington , I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.
You may snog the witch! Blessed Be!"

The God and Goddess, and each of the five sacred things are devoked in turn:
"Thank you for keeping company with us; go if you must and stay if you will-- hail and farewell!"

Karen: (the broom was laid down in the East to close the circle.) 
“In the rituals of the once ways, from the Cymry (Kim-ree) in Wales, to the Romani whom we know of as Travelers, Tinkers, or Gypsies; to Africans brought to the Americas against their will, jumping the broom has been a ritual of love and marriage when formal, legal ceremonies were not allowed these subjugated peoples.
     Jaqueline and Les choose to jump the broom today as a sign of respect for all those who went before them, and as a sign of respect for a Witch's second most important tool—a besom or broom. Jumping the broom signifies an end to the old lives lived separately and an acknowledgement of a new life begun together." (Les and Jaqueline move around the circle widdershins, and jump the broom together standing outside the circle.)

Patti and all assembled:
"This circle is open but unbroken. May the peace of the Goddess go in our hearts. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!"
     Les and I stood outside the circle and greeted each witness with hugs and kisses. For some it was their first non-Christian ritual. Only three of us were Witches while two others were practicing Buddhists. Folks seemed genuinely touched by our vows and we were indeed blessed to have each person there to lend us their support, encouragement, friendship, and love. 
     We all walked leisurely back down to the car park and sallied forth to a wedding luncheon lovingly hosted and prepared by Karen and Jim Barron with help from Sally Horton, Chrisi Kincaid, and two students hired to assist.
     We chose to serve Pimm's #1 as our wedding punch. Most of the assembled Americans had never had it and everyone loved it. (Thank you Lucy!)
     Toasts were made, deeply touching our hearts. I looked around and tears sprang to my eyes in gratitude for the friends I have gathered to me over the years who were able to participate in our Wiccan Wedding Ritual and for Patti's willingness to become legally ordained in order to make our marriage legally binding while still holding fast to my spiritual beliefs. 
     I was thrilled beyond measure that my daughters, son-in-law, and grandchildren were there. I was moved in my soul to see how they accepted Dear Sir and folded Les into our family with love.
     Jesse asked me later if I felt different now that I was Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs.   
     "Yes. It feels like more."
     "You mean you feel more complete now that you are married?"
     "No--we were already complete and whole before we ever
      met. I don't really know how to explain this feeling." Not for the first time since I had met Dear Sir, I found myself without the appropriate words.
     As Les and I lay in each other's arms in the velvet dark of our wedding night we talked about the day and all the things which unfolded. He helped me find my words:
     The public acknowledgement of the depth of our love and desire for one another and the sharing of them with friends and family in attendance made our love bigger. Like all good things in life it became larger than the two of us; an unbroken circle within a circle of love spiraling out across the world...


  1. Beautiful, I feel like I was there, the way you have written this post Jaqueline, I even filled up a few times! Once again thank you for sharing,you are turning me in to a softy, I am supposed to be a tough nut boater...yea right!!


  2. Thank you Carol! And you Debbie. Boaters are like covered chocolates--hard on the outside with a soft center, yeah??! I am delighted you feel like you were there--that was my hope for those who could not attend in person.

  3. I am so thrilled and relieved your blog wasn't lost...that sure scared me when it wasn't there... and now it is again and the story and pictures and reality are soooooo incredibly fabulous. What a delight and privilege to be involved and to be able to contribute. May you both live long and prosper!!
    Also appreciated you description of me..yup, indeed :-)
    Karen B

  4. Me too! I tried hard to hold my beath those five days while Google made up its mind this was in fact my blog and they should return it to me. I'm grateful too for your friendship and love pal!

  5. thank you for sharing this wonderful and moving marriage. I have never met you but been following your story. You are made for each other thats for sure. We have a narrowboat called 'the roosters' rest'. Hopefully we will see you on the cut one day. Love & Light

  6. Wonderful!! So happy for you both :-)

    Takey Tezey Heth

    Sorry, having to post as anon, (Blogger's not playing nice with a few of us)


  7. Hi Pam,
    Thank you for following along with our love story. We'd enjoy sharing a cuppa and some boat cake with you somewhere along the cut! We will watch for NB Rooster's rest.

    Thanks for your encouragement and support. We hope to catch up with you and Dave someday as well!

  8. Jacqueline,
    I'm so happy for you both. What a wonderful way to start your new life with Dear Sir. I hope that your paperwork gets processed quickly--before September 8th. Good luck.
    Shirley from MP

  9. Thank you Shirley--we really appreciate your good thoughts and wishes on our behalf. We are plugging away at organizing the paperwork now.