We have come together this evening to celebrate and participate in the marriage of Timothy Patrick Morgan and Christine Marie Atkins. They are about the embark upon a grand journey, the itenerary of which is of yet unknown. But before setting forth on this adventure, they must first come to realize all that has gone into making their lifelong trip possible. They might not realize that they have all of you to thank for getting them here. It is you, their mothers, their fathers, their friends, relatives and teachers who have worked together to make them what they are today. It is you who have shaped and molded them into their present form. It is you who have led them or gone with them down life's paths.
There are some who believe that we come into this world with nothing - that the mind is a vast wasteland of nothingness, waiting . . . no, needing to be filled with sights, and sounds and experiences. If this is true, than we are nothing but what we have sensed, synthesized down into thoughts and memories. This means that it is truly you who have made them what they are. Who is to say what events have influenced their development. Any one of you could be responsible for creating the parts of them which make them love each other. But whether this is true or not, each and every one of you has influenced them in some way, and they owe you their thanks for your ultimate gift - your friendship and inspiration.
We will now take a momment and read from the works of Aleister Crowley.
Love is all virtue, since the pleasure of love is but love, and the pain of love is but love.
Love taketh no heed of that which is not and of that which is.
Absence exalteth love, and presence exalteth love.
Love moveth ever from height to height of ecstasy and faileth never.
The wings of love droop not with time, nor slacken for life or for death.
Love destroyeth self, uniting self with that which is not-self, so that Love breedeth All and None in One . . .
We are gathered here to celebrate a marriage; a profound love that will last as long as its participants do. But what is marriage? So many things have been said and written about weddings and matrimony . . . but what does this wedding mean to the bride and groom? I spoke to them earlier this evening and they described it to me this way:
In ages gone by there were men of great wisdom who searched long and hard for the answers to many of life's questions. These were men of philosophy and science, who understood in their hearts that the two disciplines were inexorably linked. And although time and modern science have found their chemistry and physics to be inaccurate at best, they have left a philosophical and symbolic legacy which is unimpeachable. These medieval and rennaissance thinkers were known as Alchemists.
It was their belief that all metals were made up pricipally of two elements, sulphur, which was described as feminine, and mercury, which was the male element. The difference between metals were the proportions of the two elements, and the conditions of their growth within the bowels of the earth. They believed gold to be the truest of metals, borne of the correct conditions and equal proportions of sulphur and mercury.
Another of their tennets was that man could recreate the conditions of the earth, and take an untrue metal, such as lead, add to it the proper amounts of sulphur and mercury, and transform it into its highest form - gold. It was this task to which the Alchemists concentrated their attention. It was soon discovered that this would not occur on its own, but that a catalyst of some sort was needed to effect the transformation. This catalyst they named the Philosophers' Stone and described it as a black stone or powder.
Later, they discovered that when the Philosophers' Stone was applied to gold, the gold was transformed into another substance - a medicine which became known as the Elixir. The Elixir was described as having many different effects. Some said that it gave the drinker eternal youth, others said it gave the Midas Touch. There were many other fantastic claims about the properties of this wonderous potion.
What does any of this have to do with marriage? You must remember that these Alchemists were philosophers as well as scientists. Many people believe that there is a wealth of hidden meaning in their formulas and recipies. The bride and groom see the quest for the Elixir as the quest for happiness in life as well as the quest for spiritual illumination, and the rest as the recipe or instructions detailing how to get there.
How do they see this in the actions of long forgotten mystics? It is their belief that marriage first of all is a process of transformation. Because of it, inside of it, and in response to it they will change most remarkably. And not necessarily or exclusively in the ways they might have hoped or imagined. For marriage is the spiritual grinding stone that will hone them to their brightest brillance. It will cause them to become not only who they wanted to be, but also the person whom they have no choice but to be. In marriage they will be reformed, for in choosing this particular person to love, they are choosing to be affected. They will be polished through the actions of each other, through the praise, critism, frustration, exictement, actions and inactions of the person they marry today.
In this regard, it is important to remember that, more than they can possibly imagine, they are unconsciously drawn to precisely that person who possesses the attributes the other needs to be affected by in order to change. These are the very qualities which, because of their capacity to irritate and inspire them, will encourage in them the very dimensions they lack, the qualities which, as they acquire them, will represent an enlargement of the soul. What this means, simply, is that in spite of themselves they will will be drawn into a process of personal evolution. Whatever is missing in their character will gradually be developed and what is remarkable about this transformation is that in the end, rather than feeling bitter, resentful, or unwilling, they will come to see the acquisition of these attributes as an exquisite refinement of their own spirits.
It is this that the Alchemists were trying to say, oh so many years ago. That very few people are born into the world being instantly and forever happy. Most men alive have imperfections and inadequate proportions of their various elements, as do most women. Very few people begin life being golden; most of us are required to begin as lead and to work diligently throughout our lives to become bright and shiny. People need to be purified in order to bring out their better nature and be happy. And thus have Tim and Christine found the Philosophers' Stone, for it is marriage that catalyzes the changes and transformations that are required to become whole and complete. It is marriage which at first appears dark and dull, but once the process begins, becomes beautiful and shimmery. It is marriage which brings together the masculine and the feminine into a congreous and attractive whole.
And if the Philosophers' Stone is a symbol for marriage, then the Elixir is a symbol for enlightenment and true happiness. It is also the symbol for mental and spiritual evolution. Once the marriage is complete and their rough edges smoothed over, the Philosophers' Stone will be applied to the true metal, gold, and they will be granted the effects of the Elixir. This, of course, is the true purpose of marriage.
There is one other thing which is said about the ancient Alchemists. There are some people who believe that in addition to the goals which I have already explained to you, they worked to discover one other secret - the secret of life. It is said that they tried to create life by all sorts of bizarre and unspeakable acts. The tales of the Homonoculus, the artifical man created by the Alchemist, are well known to those who have interest in the Alchemical arts. A more familiar example might be Doctor Frankenstein in Shelley's book. In the story, the good doctor began his work while studing Alchemy at the University of Ingolstadt. But this too is symbolic. Is not marriage the state in which new life is meant to be created?
. . . do you, Christine Marie Atkins, take this man, Timothy Patrick Morgan to be your honored and cherished husband, to live with him and love him in the exalted state of marriage?
[Chris:] I do.
And do you, Timothy Patrick Morgan, take this woman, Christine Marie Atkins to be your honored and cherished wife, to live with her and love her in the exalted state of marriage?
[Tim:] I do.
[Bridge and Groom turn to face each other]
Like Orpheus you came to me,
Leading me from shadow, never looking back
By your love bringing me into the light of day
As the first touch of the sun to a rose afraid to bloom
You gave me courage, you let me grow
All that I have and all that I am I offer to you
Of heart and mind, of body and soul
Our lives and spirits joined into a whole
Transcending what we could be alone
Giving us strength, making us one
I promise to love you and believe in you
To share your hopes and dreams
To stand by your side as we build a life together
I promise to be helper, healer, and friend
And to be forever faithful and true
Accept this ring as a threefold symbol:
Of gold, for our fortunes combined
Endless, as our love's journey
And open, as the eye through which
The heart may see so clearly
Take me as your wife, my love
Let joy be our wings to lift us high
I will take you as my husband
And together we will make a world
Better than the one we know
My love for you is like the fire, consuming and ever-changing.
My love for you is like the earth, solid, sturdy, and firm.
My love for you is like a stream, energetic, bubbly, and ever flowing.
My love for you is like the air, rapturous and all-emcompassing.
Yet my love extends beyond the elements.
It is greater than who I am, and meaningless without us.
It is more powerful than our past, yet the foundation of our future.
It has brought me here today to become part of you
as you have come here to become part of me.
It has brought us both closer to our own Illumination and self-discovery.
This ring I give to you represents all that you are.
It is gold, the purest and truest of the elements,
and likewise are you as pure and as true and as valuable.
It is capped with amethyst, the gem of kings and queens,
and likewise are you a queen - beautiful and regal - and when I think of you
my thoughts are forced to compare you with Helen and Eleanor,
and find you their better.
It is covered in deliacte and intricate designs,
and likewise are you so delicate and intricate;
Moreso than I ever could have dreamed.
And with this ring, I do promise you that I shall be ever yours.
That never shall you stray from my thoughts and my dreams.
That always shall my love for you run strong within my veins,
and continue to grow in strength and intensity.
That forever shall I be by your side, in this world and the next.
And that with each passing moment I shall never regret having made these promises,
nor even consider their undoing.
Of course I will take you as my wife, my love.
For what would I be without you beside me?
What could I do in life that you would not make me do better?
Who could I be with that could make me happier?
Why would I wish to go on living alone when I could be with you?
How could I turn you away and be forever miserable?
Of course I will marry you my love,
and together we shall greet the dawn until the end of our days.
Now that you, Christine, and you, Timothy, have promised to give yourselves to one another and to love each other through your sacred vows and through the giving and recieving of these rings, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.
[Bridge and Groom kiss, then turn and face the crowd]
I now present to you, Tim and Christine Morgan.
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