This morning as I work on editing issue four of The Celebrant magazine, the Sun is shining through the window spilling a puddle of delicious light across my writing desk. I’m often distracted by full-fat bumblebees in the pink and purple aquilegia just outside the window, their cute butts hanging out of the blossoms. I wonder, where has the bee has been? Where is it going, and which flowers does it prefer; and why.

 

 

The same is true of all the birds whistling nearby. Stories within stories. Worlds within worlds. Messages here, and messages there. A missive on this breeze, and lengthy correspondence on that one. What are they saying?

 

 

Life. It’s full of stories. These exchanges bond humans whether it’s confiding a deep secret with a best friend or gossiping over the garden gate; scrolling through a social-media newsfeed or flicking through a magazine or tuning into the 24-hour news channel. We’re ignited by the desire to know, to learn, to acquire facts and figures. This give and take of information is our currency.

 

A storyteller in ancient times was held in high esteem as the carrier of stories; the sacred one of community who protected memories like precious jewels.

 

Deborah and Lincoln’s ceremony at Castlerigg Stone Circle

Modern society has largely replaced the storyteller with television and Netflix and social-media newsfeeds. This has left us with a gaping hunger. A need for more. How can we be satiated if we’re not active in the story?

 

A modern-day celebrant wears many hats in his/her role: creative writer, healer, a listening ear, and a public speaker/performer. Can a storyteller encompass all those roles? Yes!

 

Rene and Chantal’s wedding ceremony, Western Australia

Unlike the one-dimensional medium of a screen which induces passivity, the storyteller’s role encourages the audience to participate in a meaningful way. True celebrancy is based on the ancient art of storytelling and encourages empathy and communication through the narrative sustained and symbolism that is displayed through imagery. As we listen to the stories we hear from our families and couples, we become holders ~ sacred vessels, if you like ~ for their memories, and our task is to share this in the role of biographical storyteller. These stories may be infused with humour, tragedy, philosophy, reflection, wisdom, challenges and healing. It’s a deeply intuitive role which requires the firm ability to not only step into another’s shoes, but to step out of them, too.

 

Mr and Mrs Walker’s wedding ceremony at Askham Hall, near Penrith, Cumbria www.askhamhall.co.uk

As any experienced celebrant will tell you, the ceremony is never about us. It is always about our client/s. Our role is one of leadership but with ego firmly left outside the door. To do this role with grace and awareness, our storytelling is done in such as way that we shine the light firmly on our family/client.

From first meeting to our final goodbye, we have carried their stories, held them close to our heart, and shared them with others. We are in a privileged role: we are celebrants.

 

Written by Veronika Robinson, editor of The Celebrant magazine.

The celebrant industry has, like the world around us during the Covid-19 response, seen seismic shifts to all that we’ve come to know and value. We may wonder if this industry, and our individual businesses, will return to normal. Ever. There’s no one who can answer that question for us.


Unless we remain vigilant of our thoughts, we may succumb to anxiety and/or depression or inertia. As part of your celebrancy training, did you learn how to keep sentry duty of debilitating and destructive patterns of thinking? If not, then this is an ideal time to become mindful of what you bring to your celebrancy practice through your daily thoughts. e.g “Oh no, all my bookings are cancelled!”, “Oh my God, other celebrants are stealing my clients!”, “Why aren’t any funeral directors calling me?” Or are your thoughts more aligned to the outcome you seek? “I am attracting my ideal clients from all around the world.” “Every day and in every way, I am open to being of service to those people who need a celebrant.” “The right clients always find me easily and effortlessly.” In short, what’s the dominant thought you hold about your celebrant practice?

 


In the face of adversity, we can crumble or we can create. And here’s the thing: only we can choose which path we’ll take. No one else can get inside our head and make those decisions for us.


In the global economic and libertarian earthquake that ruptured beneath our feet, celebrants have fallen (or been thrown) into three areas: those who are redundant (for who knows how long) from wedding and naming ceremonies; those who are at the front line as key workers and navigating the difficult and unfamiliar terrain of time-restricted, socially distant, minimal-mourner funerals; and there are those celebrants who ordinarily and comfortably straddle the terrain of all rites of passage suddenly landing on the side of key worker.


Just like the millions and millions of people who have found themselves stuck inside four walls for weeks (soon to be, months) on end, we can choose to be victims of circumstances out of our control, or, like the optimal and professional ways we work within our celebrant role, we can choose how to respond.

 

Our response within a ceremony,

and within life,

is all we have control over.

 

No matter what’s happening on the external landscape, our inner world is an area which we have the power to master.

To attune ourselves to change is to recalibrate as a celebrant. This might be a time where you go full-steam with marketing throwing out Canva posts to the wind all day long, or maybe it’s a reclaimed space to focus on your needs as a human, first, and celebrant, second, which could mean taking some quiet, slow time and administering some much-needed TLC.

 

Handfasting ceremony of Mr and Mrs Thwaites, Shap, Cumbria



Or it may be that your office needs an overhaul, accounts need updating, or you finally catch up on some ongoing professional development by mastering your creative writing skills or undertake consistent voice coaching specific to celebrancy or consider the look and feel of your website. What does it, as your shop portal, say about what you offer? What does it say about you?

 


Evolution has always been survival, not of the fittest as we’re often led to believe, but of those who can adapt. How are you adapting to these changes? Yes, it can feel absolutely harrowing to have this year’s weddings cancelled. Yes, it can be an unsettling time to wonder where your income is going to come from (either this year or next year due to accommodating the rescheduling of wedding ceremonies to 2021 and 2022). Maybe you’ve adapted to doing some blessings by Zoom or Facebook Live on the couple’s original date. Perhaps you’re finding ways to attract couples for ceremonies in 2022. Maybe this is the time you’re thinking of retraining so that you can offer ceremonies for all rites of passage.

For those at the front line, walking the precarious path of funerals, yes, you might have the work and relatively secure income, but what care are you taking of yourself? If you’re dependent on a third-party, i.e. funeral directors, you may feel that your work is based on their whim, and that can be unsettling.

Empty crematoria with seats spread metres apart, and connections with families limited to video or phone, take their toll. How are you dispelling this built-up energy? Have you made use of your celebrant-organisation’s support system? (e.g. The Association of Independent Celebrants has AOICGriefchat which its members can access for free professional counselling).

 


Maybe you’re journaling your experiences and allowing the changes to integrate through dreamwork and meditation. Perhaps you’re part of a weekly online connection with other celebrants (the AOIC is a trade body which offers members two a week: one for wedding celebrants and one for funeral celebrants). Whatever you choose, make sure it is supporting you in moving forward and not perpetuating negative beliefs.

Collectively, humanity is going through one heck of a rite of passage. When we come to the other side, incorporating those changes will need to be marked in a meaningful way. As a celebrant, are you up to the challenge? Will you offer your community a ceremony or ceremonies to help everyone take stock of the changes we’ve been through? Do you know how to do this?

If you’re consciously recalibrating as a celebrant, you’ll soon start to see rites of passage with new eyes.

There’ll be many memorials taking place for the deceased whose final goodbye was either a direct cremation or micro-funeral ceremony. Weddings and namings will initially be for just a handful of guests. In time, the larger celebrations will return. When and how this will happen is anyone’s guess.



But what of those other rites of passage? This year’s university students who were denied a graduation ceremony? Are you able to offer something for them, their friends and family? And the relationships which didn’t survive enforced togetherness day in and day out: can you create a Parting of the Ways ceremony to honour all that was good about their union, and the decision to now go their own ways? And what of those people who will take the courage to start a new business post-Corona times? Do you know how to create a meaningful ceremony for such a rite of passage?

In what ways can you be of service to your village or town or city?

 

Luke’s Naming Ceremony. Cambridge.



Recalibration might mean that you now think less about how many bookings you draw in but how much quality you can bring to each ceremony. If we can find the good that lurks beneath the torment, tragedy and trouble of these times, it may look like this: our hearts have expanded, rather than shrunk. We’ve looked in the mirror and said “You know what? I want more from this life.” And as you acknowledge that, you realise at the deepest part of your being that ‘more’ actually means less.

 

Mike and Petra’s handfasting in a stone circle at Limetree Farm, Yorkshire.


This time is calling us to be courageous, creative, consciously caring, and to listen to our intuition. The old ways no longer work. The hashtag #moderncelebrant will come to define the threshold our industry crossed as we acclimated to a new way of being. Modern means relating to the present not the past. Celebrancy has changed. And so must we. Change isn’t static. It spirals, takes steps in unexpected directions, and if we dare lean into the winds of change we can find the wings to guide us towards other horizons as we incubate new dreams.

Written by Veronika Robinson, editor of The Celebrant magazine

The Celebrant magazine covers

The Celebrant magazine covers

Welcome to The Celebrant magazine: the international journal of celebrants and ceremonies.


Launched to a global readership in September 2019, this quarterly publication is as suitable for celebrants in training as it is for industry veterans. Written by celebrants for celebrants, it is an ongoing resource covering all rites of passage, ritual development and choreography, voice awareness, the craft of script writing, business know-how, creativity, client relationships, and so much more.

 

 

 

This industry publication brings together inspiration and education from celebrants across the world, and is an invaluable form of continuing professional development.

 



Edited and published by Veronika Robinson, tutor at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training, she brings 25 years of international experience as a celebrant and ongoing passion for excellence in this field.

 



Your articles and photographs for all rites of passage, rituals, and aspects of celebrancy are warmly welcomed for the magazine and the blog.

Submission guidelines available from the editor.

Happy reading!
Veronika x