THE SACRED OCTOPUS CEREMONY
The Octopus is the animal which best represents love, as it has two hearts for loving and eight arms for hugging. It takes but one mate in its life, and is faithful to that mate to the end of its life. Therefore it is small wonder that an increasing number of people are reviving the ancient Atlantean custom of bonding and commiting themselves to each other through the Sacred Octupus Ceremony.
First, the bride and groom prepare for the ceremony through a week of meditation, salt water bathing, and the fasting. They are allowed only water to drink, and only kelp to eat. Although they remain in each other's company for the entire week, no word is spoken between them. Their attendants also participate in this purification ritual, and the needs of all are met by the close relatives of the bride and groom.
On the day of the wedding, the bride and groom are separated, then dressed in their finery. The groom is taken to a tank of Octupi, where he selects the one which best illustrates his love for his bride. He lifts the animal to his neck, and if the animal clings to him, it shows the truth of his love and the faithfullness of his heart. He then stands before the witnesses and waits for his bride.
The bride enters the room and joins the groom. They clasp hands, recite vows of trust and faithfullness to each other, and then the groom reaches up and removes the octopus from his neck. He presents the octopus to his bride, who lifts it to her own neck. Again, if the octopus clings to her, the truth of her love and the faithfullness of her heart are proven. With that, the priest of the sea announces that they are indeed and eternally married, and no tide can ever wash between them.
Afterwards, the newly married couple and their witnesses adjourn to a reception by the sea, where the wedding is celebrated with dancing and feasting. All manner of seafood is consumed by the couple: shrimp, clams, fish, and snails. Tradition states that the more types of food consumed, the richer in life and love the couple will be. One food is never found at the celebration, however: Calamari.
At the conclusion of the celebration, the octopus is set free in the sea.
Photos and text by Helen E. Davis.
Copyright 2005 Helen E. Davis.
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