The Demented Goddess (DG): Amy, as an interfaith minister, what do you feel is the most beautiful aspect of a spiritual commitment ritual not typically present in a legal ceremony?
In my experience, the beauty and magic of any ritual lies in the inner work required whilst dreaming it into being.
The treasure reveals itself in the months leading up to the ceremony as we do the work to explore and articulate what this ritual or ceremony is all about. The joy for me as minister is walking alongside the lovers in this enquiry – holding a sacred and supportive space to be curious and honest about what marriage means to them, what it is they’re vowing to each other – and what sense do they have of what they are vowing to? This approach invites a sacred contracting in addition to any legal contracting and encourages a ceremony anchored in a truth – speaking a language of Love that reflects their unique values and beliefs. From this place, the Beauty speaks for itself, and whether following the traditional customs of a wedding ceremony or venturing into a more creative, unconventional relationship ritual – the ceremony creates a container for the lovers to be deeply witnessed and their Love to be honoured and celebrated.
DG: Are there different possibilities to approaching a love ceremony for queer, trans and non-binary gendered people than the traditional Christian marriage ceremony?
There are countless possibilities when approaching any ceremony for any human: the joy and privilege of interfaith ministry is working alongside others to craft ceremony which reflects their values and beliefs.
More and more we are seeing people of all genders and sexualities moving away from the traditional church wedding in search of a more bespoke, personalised ceremony that speaks their love language and reflects their experience of belonging. Having said that, we can’t assume all LGBTQ+ people would inherently reject the customs of a Christian marriage ceremony. For those of us raised within the conditioning of Christian countries, it’s often all we know and understand a wedding to be – and these ceremonies can also hold abundant richness and beauty. The privilege of my work is to meet people where they are, gain a true understanding of what they are longing for and support them in crafting a ceremony that can serve them and their loved ones in a way that is full of meaning and truth.
Often, we have to sit with a lot of paradox, complexity and vulnerability along the way, and this is what makes my job so immensely rewarding.
DG: If a commitment ritual or marriage, queer, straight, or to oneself, is a sacred contract, how can we tackle guilt, if we break our vows?
The topic of guilt is one helluva deep dive into the very fabric of our beliefs, philosophies and conditioning – hence it’s fiercely bespoke for each individual as is the understanding of what we each consider to be ‘holy’.
I believe the nuances of life and love to be wildly more elaborate and complex than the dualistic right/wrong or good/bad yet I know intimately the devastating crash landings we encounter, when having acted in ways that betray our own sense of who we are.
For me, the work is in the returning. The returning to the vow, time and time again. A Course in Miracles teaches us that Love is an endless act of forgiveness. Or as Sufi poet Rumi puts it: “Come, come, whoever you are. Even if you, have broken your vows, a thousand times.” So whether in relationship with others or with self, can we cultivate the awareness to know when we’ve fallen away, and find the forgiveness and desire to keep returning to what we’ve vowed. I’m pretty sure this will be a life’s work.
DG: What have you learnt from celebrating the commitment ceremonies or rituals for those with a different sexuality to yours?
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, holding wedding ceremonies hasn’t always been without complexity.
In 2015 I held a marriage ceremony for dear (hetero) friends in my homeland of Australia. At the time, Australia was still years away from legalizing same sex marriage (yes, that didn’t happen till late 2017) – and as someone in a same-sex relationship, I was marrying friends unto a law that didn’t apply to me. Did this detract from the deliriously, joyous, jubilation of the occasion – certainly not. Did it make my heart pang with irony? Big time!
Cut to Feb 2019: and here I am dreaming into my own Australian wedding to my British lady love – feeling deeply grateful. Having previously been denied the right to marry, it somehow feels even more potent and important to relish the privilege of having our relationship witnessed and celebrated by the ones we love. For me, all ceremony feels like an immensely powerful return to our ancient roots. It’s something humans have always done for each other: to gather in circle, with song and fire and food – and truly rejoice in each other and the love we find along the way.
Interfaith Minister & singer-songwriter, Amy Firth, can be contacted for ceremonies, campaigns, choirs and counselling at www.amyfirth.com.
All photos courtesy of Amy Firth.