The Celtic Tradition of The Wedding Bell
Wedding bells are commonly used to mark marriage, but before bells, the use of other sounds as a signal or as a dispeller of negative energy has a long and rich tradition in the Celtic world. Horns made from cattle horns were used at weddings and also in battle and to terrify an enemy before the onrush. They have been used to signal chariot warfare to great extent.
Horns and perhaps also conch shells were used to summon people for announcements from the Chief or Clan leader, and for many other purposes both ceremonial and mundane. Bells are a relatively recent version that came with the Romans, who used bells to summon servants. As the lands became Christianized, the early church began to first have their missionaries bring bells and then later begin to affix larger versions of them to their churches.Even St Patrick had brought a large four sided bell with him, which still apparently rests at his shrine in Britain.
Bells have been used to mark time, announce disaster and demark the coming of new life and the departure of old life. The bell was extensively used in the times of plague to sound out times when those who had departed were to be gathered and also marking the time of curfew to help halt its spread.
The bell has been used since at least medieval times in marking the joining of couples in holy matrimony. They were believed to dispelling negative influences within a space. The sound a bell makes can cut across the flow of energy in a space and create a harmonizing effect. This has the effect of moving stuck energy and even highly charged emotional energy.
A Bell gets our attention. As couples learn to live together and to negotiate their way forward with each other, tensions naturally rise and arguments will ensue. There has come a custom wherein the couple is given a ‘wedding bell’. This wedding bell is placed somewhere prominent in the home. It is used to help end argument, reminding the couple of the original church bell, when one made the marriage commitment in front of the entire community. If the quarrel cannot be reasoned out amicably, the bell is rung loudly. The sound can purify, help shift perspectives and dispel charged emotions when newlyweds are stuck disagreement. Ringing the bell signals the end of the argument, with neither side giving in. It is supposed to create the space required for the newlyweds to get back on an even keel. It is a tool where each one must agree to its rules and use. It is a ‘time out’ in the discussion.
In contemporary settings, the wedding bell remains one of the most endearing traditions associated with matrimony. It announces to the world that the happy couple arrived and have been joined together. The sound of the bell is considered one of the most pure and worthy sounds man has ever created and therefore worthy as a transmission device to the heavens. When the bell rings, the angels are told…