One of the many things that tridentantifa – btw, thanks, guys, for all the traffic to my site. It really helps get my work out there — complains about in my work is my support of dowries and marriage contracts. Since I’ve already written about the importance of a dowry and/or a trousseau elsewhere (1), this article is going to tackle, very much in brief, marriage contracts. It came up today in a conversation within my household after we saw an interview in which the subject of a pre-nup arose.
There is so little available beyond 101 material that discusses how to build a functioning, sustainable community (2). The key building block of a community is the household, which ideally in a traditional community begins with the married couple (3). A marriage contract is a legally binding document, signed by all parties prior to the actual marriage, that protects the interest of each party in the event of death or divorce. It goes beyond the boundaries of a pre-nup, which usually only deals with distribution of assets between spouses in the event of a break-up, and versions of the marriage contract date back at least to the early medieval (if not farther back, because really, these things varied considerably country to country, culture to culture, class to class). One thing that it emphasizes is that marriage is not just about the individuals, but is a matter of, at its best, uniting households and families. It ensures that both parties and their assets are protected, but also extends that protection to any children too.
Now, when I got married, my husband insisted adamantly on having a pre-nup – not for his benefit, but for my own. He never wanted it to be said, as a certain nithling in the community has hinted, that he married me solely for his own material gain (4). Our marriage contract almost made his lawyer cry, because Sannion was insistent that in the event we divorce, he leave with only the goods with which he had entered our marriage and nothing more. Despite the existential pain this caused his attorney, he got his way but had we intended to have children, it would have been far more complicated. A good marriage contract carefully lays out in legally binding terms the following:
* The property, wealth, and assets with which each partner enters the marriage
* who gets what in the event of a divorce
* each partner’s will and testament (I suggest updating these every five years)
* each partner’s health care proxy and instructions in the event this is needed (do you want a DNR, do you want all life saving measures, etc.)
* who gets custody of any future children in the event of the parents’ death, and how do you want those children raised (i.e. polytheist)
* in the event of death, how are one’s assets to be divided vis-à-vis the children?
* what financial arrangements are you both making for any children’s future education, etc.?
* wergild in the event of adultery (and the right to pursue but not the obligation to do so).
Now, looking at this, you’ll see it combines a marriage contract with end of life issues, and some of the latter will be necessarily updated in an ongoing fashion. I think that the contract should partly be worked out by the couple themselves – when they are in love and want the best for each other, not later when there may be disagreements – but each family or representatives thereof should have a strong hand in working out the boundaries too (because when we are in love we are idiots and hopefully elders from one’s family will have one’s own interests at heart more than a love struck fool), and then finally it should be evaluated and witnessed by an objective party – and in the type of community we want to see, that would be a priest, elder, diviner, or some other specialist. I can’t help thinking of ancient Rome where wills and other contracts were maintained in the temple of Vesta.
As an aside, I also think a lot can be said about a person and perhaps about the marriage’s future chance of success by the care one takes in the contract. If one partner is arguing vociferously over taking care of the other partner (or future children) in event of a break up, well, maybe think twice. Also, it can highlight potential points of fracture and discord, giving the couple a chance to discuss these things and start working them out (raising future children, for instance, or how one manages one’s finances. Priorities and values become significantly highlighted during the process of writing a contract like this). Of course, I also think clear provisions should be laid out in the event of a violation of one’s marital vows (adultery) too. Better to do it all before animosity threatens and colors one’s sense of right and wrong, then at the height of justified fury (5).
The important thing to take away here is that the purpose of a marriage contract is fair protection and care of each party, and any children. Each contract is customized to the parties involved. There is no single all-encompassing format. It’s flexible, and each household is able to choose what matters to them. In the event of adultery or other violations of one’s marriage vows, having pre-set penalties may help limit violence and unchecked vindictiveness. One could even include the option to leave in the contract in the event of XYZ. This also ensures that one places a priority on maintaining one’s tradition and clean transmission of that to one’s children.
Please feel free to post questions or comments below.
- Namely, having a trousseau, if not a dowry, helps prepare the young person for eventually setting up a functional household. See my article here.
- My husband pointed out that one notable exception to this is Amber K’s book “Covencraft.” This book is really a must read for anyone who is running a religious group, even if we do disagree with her theology.
- Personally, I think the healthiest households are multi-generational and extended, but each healthy marriage is a further link in the chain of properly transmitted religious tradition and cultural norms.
- Yes, dear, I know who you are, and I’m aware of the foul, untruthful shit that you spew. Having seen your dysfunctional relationships, and the utterly disgusting way you treat your partners, despite touting yourself as some sort of super feminist, I don’t think you have any room to talk. Kindly eat a dick.
- This is, by the way, the ONLY legal document that I think should come into play with a marriage – if one has more than one spouse, work it into the contract (I don’t think polyamory is ideal, but like anything else, it can be done well or poorly, and while there is a standard norm, there are always functional exceptions to that norm). Frankly, I don’t think the government has any right at all to determine how consenting adults structure their households, so long as everyone is consenting and of legal age. Pedophiles should be burned alive. A marriage contract and later a marriage license that, in a perfect community, would be notarized at the appropriate temple are all that should be required.
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Right now, I bet some of you are asking yourselves, “what the hell is a glory box.” (the rest of you, get your minds out of the gutter. LOL). It’s an Australian term for a dowry chest or a trousseau. I grew up calling them ‘hope chests’ but I really, really like the term “glory box” the best. I had one and someone was asking me about it over the holidays so I decided to write this article.
Traditionally, a dowry chest (or glory box ^^) was a large, occasionally ornate chest in which a young girl collected items in preparation for her marriage. It could be a sign of wealth and status, though even the poorest in many places tended to have simpler ones. It belonged to the woman, and contained items to help her start her new household. In Germany, sometimes a cupboard was used instead of a chest. I’m absolutely in favor of this custom.
I’m a generation away from arranged marriage and technically, have an arranged marriage myself (I would not be against this custom at all provided the couple had the final say so on whether or not to marry. No one should be forced and I wasn’t nor were my Lithuanian grandparents.). Now I had already set up a household for many years by the time I married and I have to say, having a glory box was a godsend. I did not have to scramble to get a running house together. Obviously, I favor this not only for marriage but for a single woman setting up a household too. By the time I bought my home, I had linens, blankets, pots, pans, kitchen knives, silverware, a tea set, and two sets of dishware–you name it, most of it neatly tucked away for safekeeping while I lived in an apartment. If I had a daughter, I would absolutely get her started early putting together a trousseau and should we ever have functional polytheistic, tribal communities, I hope this custom is one that is carried over (suck it, modernists. I also support dowry and bride price – gifts from bride’s family to the groom and groom’s family to the bride). It is eminently practical. I remember when I visited Lithuanian as a teenager and met one of my cousins. Her family already had her entire wedding ensemble and a goodly portion of what she’d need to start a home tucked away for her, even though she wasn’t currently seeing anyone. It’s practical.
Of course, with the glory box, goes a knowledge of household skills: cooking, maintaining a home, sewing, basic first aid, finance and budgeting and I very much think this ought to be taught both at home and in school for both boys and girls. These are essential skills. I wish that along with Civics and Government ( and I personally think we ought to have to pass both before we’re allowed to vote just like one has to pass Drivers Ed before being allowed to drive), Home-Ec and Shop ought to be required for everyone and the former ought to include budgeting and basic finance. It’s a horrible thing to go out into the world with absolutely no idea of how to function as a competent human being. You can have all the stuff in the world but if you don’t know how to function and care for yourself and those you love, the stuff isn’t really worth much. (I can cook and handle finance and first aid like a boss but never learned to sew, something I deeply regret. I can embroider quite well and do basic repairs, quilt a little by hand, but that’s about it. I also wish I’d had more training on how to handle basic repairs around the home).
So, my friend was asking me what typically went into a trousseau. In the medieval and renaissance periods, it could involve the woman’s entire wardrobe but I don’t see the point of that today. I think it should be and remain practical (though during the renaissance, that WAS practical!). Now this isn’t meant to be compiled all at once and some things one will want to wait until closer to the point where the woman sets up a home to acquire (like a medicine kit – I’m a firm believer that one should have more than basic first aid skills as an adult) but many of these things can be acquired and tucked away from the time a girl is small. Traditionally, a young girl made many of the linens and such herself and if one can, I think that’s great. I’m a firm believer in teaching children young, giving them chores, and helping them to acquire life skills. I have very little patience with modern child rearing methods, but that’s an article for another time.
What goes into a trousseau? – this was the question my friend was most curious about so I’ll tell you what went into mine (and again, this was acquired over more than a decade. This isn’t an ‘all at once’ purchase!).
- Quilts and blankets, comforters, comforter covers
- Table cloths (I inherited some lovely ones), dish towels, bed linens, towels (I think I had two sets, though I ended up hating the color of one set—one’s tastes do change)
- Two pillows (I had four)
- Household medical kit (this I purchased as I moved to my house and I update it regularly)
- Full tool kit (I’ve continued to add to mine)
- Basic dishes (I had one regular set and was gifted with a fancy set)
- Silverware (I’d get this close to the time one is set to move either out on one’s own or into the marital home. Tastes and styles change. I inherited a set.)
- A couple of cooking pots of varying sizes
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing spoons, spatula, whisker, a good set of mixing bowls
- A good-sized cast iron pan
- Bread pans (this is all assuming one knows how to cook. I really do think both boys and girls should by the time they leave home).
- Basic set of glasses and cups
- Crock pot
- casserole dish — i inherited a couple.
- I had a rice cooker gifted to me when I moved into my home and I have to say: OMG this thing is amazing. Get one. Lol
- Tea set (teapot, sugar and cream bowls, tray, now I’d include an electric kettle. These things are awesome)
- A good apron
- Salt and pepper shakers, a butter dish
- A good sewing kit (I’ve continued to add to mine as I learn new skills, use up the threads, etc.)
- Any heirloom jewelry (this was a traditional part of a trousseau. I had a few pieces when I set up my home)
- A good recipe book or box containing family recipes and enough to get you started cooking for yourself and your family (when my brother married, his wife wanted to be a housewife but hadn’t had much experience cooking. I took index cards, hand wrote all my favorite recipes and filled up a recipe box for her. That was one of my wedding gifts).
- Hand mixer
- A good set of kitchen knives (at least a butcher knife and a paring knife. I mostly use my butcher knife for everything – I took some cooking classes when younger and that’s what the chef suggested and it works for me—but it’s nice to have a utility knife, a paring knife, a bread knife, etc. too. I’ve not included weapons here, because frankly, I think every householder should know how to defend him/herself and should have at least a hunting knife and a shotgun in the home as a matter of course).
- Money. If one is encouraged to tuck away part of one’s allowance, holiday monies from the time one is young, and a tiny part of one’s salary as a teen and adult, this takes care of itself. A money market account or CD, as well as a bit of cash tucked away in the chest itself (always good to have a bit of cash on hand, but not too much: money should be put to work for a person. Keeping too much at home means it’s not earning interest) is an incredibly useful part of a glory box. It becomes an emergency fund. Tuck it away and forget about it. This, by the way, is why I think most weddings are insane. Why on earth spend thousands of dollars on a one-day ceremony when that money could be put in a CD and the married couple start their lives solvent? Wedding/engagement rings and honey moons are awesome – it’s the only parts of the wedding nonsense I’d keep, but a wedding dress that costs upwards of five thousand dollars, expensive reception, crazy ceremony…it’s financial lunacy. (Of course, I also favor a marriage contract as part of the marriage negotiations…). I think part of a good trousseau is a savings account and a bit of cash carefully tucked away, money that belongs to the woman only – as an emergency fund, as padding, as a nest egg, as whatever it needs to be used for. It gives one options. I wish I’d been better at doing this as a young person. This is one it took me awhile and no small degree of pain to learn.
The first three items, if one is handy with a needle can be made by the girl herself. I didn’t have those skills (I can make pillow cases, pillows granted, basic nine-patch quilts. I could probably do an afghan if I had to – I don’t enjoy crochet. At the time I moved into my home though, I didn’t have those skills, only basic embroidery). I always think home-made items are best. I don’t think quality in commercial items is necessarily what it used to be and I’d much rather have something hand-made than commercially bought. It shows both skill and industry.
Also, obviously not all of this fit into a hope chest. The larger items were kept in boxes in my closet. I still considered them part of the trousseau though. I suppose these days, wedding showers are supposed to provide some of this stuff, but really, why not prepare to be a competent, functional adult ahead of time? (And no, mine was never as fancy as the chests pictured here — i wish!. It was a large Lane Cedar Chest).
There, that’s my fluff post for the day. I’m off to do some academic crap and also to prepare for a day of rituals on New Year’s Eve. Have a good holiday, folks. I wish you all well.
The other day, I posted this documentary on facebook with the comment that I wish our communities were as committed to intergenerational longevity and growth as the Jewish communities depicted in this documentary seem to be. Part of that, I noted, indeed one of the most crucial parts, is firmly being unwilling to marry outside one’s faith and being absolutely committed to raising one’s children within one’s faith. The inevitable pushback to these ideas never ceases to amaze me. Yet, it’s the only way that any type of sustainable restoration is going to happen. This is one of the reasons I think it’s so important that we establish in-person, geographically distinct communities where we can practice our traditions and raise our children in ways that reinforce our religious and cultural values. Religion doesn’t happen without culture and right now, we’re all living and working in a post-modern culture deeply antagonistic toward the very idea of Gods and devotion and especially toward challenging the status quo in the way that true restoration would do.
One of the biggest push-backs I get on the subject of marrying within one’s faith is that the pool of viable mate-material is sadly very small and scattered. This is true. See my point above. In the facebook conversation about this documentary, someone also mentioned the sad fact that finding a “Pagan” man/woman who isn’t an “utter loon” can seem a downright impossibility. (Maybe it’s time good, devout polytheists reclaimed the word ‘Pagan,’ away from non-theists, new agers, atheists, and the terminally confused). That it is difficult does not change the fact that it is essential. It’s less of a problem when one is not planning to have children, though even there being what some Christians term ‘unequally yoked’ can be problematic; but when one plans on having children, issues of religion and religious upbringing that may not have seemed a problem when it was just the couple, quite often become a divisive issue. I’d go so far as to say that if one must marry a non-polytheist, have a pre-nup that specifically states the children will be raised polytheist. I’m a big fan of marriage contracts. So many issues can be countered by a well thought out marriage contract.
I think it also challenges us to re-evaluate what we think the purpose of marriage might be. In a tribe, a unified community with a shared tradition of piety and faith, it’s not just about the happiness of the two people involved (though that is an important factor to consider). Marriage is the building block of a healthy civilization and it ensures uninterrupted transfer of one’s tradition to the next generation. It’s there to unify houses and strengthen the community, to provide for the next generation, and to be a stabilizing force within the community. In a healthy community, I’d actually support arranged marriages (provided no one was forced. That arrangement would, of course, involve consultation with elders, diviners, senior family members, careful evaluation of compatibility, goals, working out of the dowry, etc. and the marriage contract). This is not to say that everyone must have children – far from it. Those who choose to remain happily child free have important roles to play within the community as well. I would think that even if one was not planning to have children, one would not wish to be unequally yoked to a non-polytheist if one could help it. Our generation may have no choice but I’m thinking ahead to future generations, to fully functioning communities, to the restoration of tribes and traditions and what it will be like then. Furthermore, the non-polytheist (in polytheist-monotheistic marriages) must submit to polytheism. After all, unlike monotheism, there’s nothing in polytheism that says they can’t worship their Gods but to reject the Gods wholesale is to challenge the very foundations of a community and that community is more important than individual needs and happiness.
The other issue brought up was that there are different polytheisms and then the question arises of which one gets elided. This is easy to answer: neither. There are more parallels between the various polytheisms than there are between that and secularists or monotheists. I think that within polytheism, if we look at how it was practiced in the ancient world, there was zero conflict in honoring the Gods of two different *polytheistic* traditions. Neither would have to be diluted. but there’s a huge breech between polytheism and monotheism in outlook and an even bigger one between that and secularism. It’s a question of shared worldview rather than specifically shared Gods, one of shared worldview and religious values.
That being said, when it comes to polytheism vs monotheism, all religions are not the same and frankly, we should consider our own to be the best and most necessary. They’re not interchangeable. If we are devoted to our Gods and committed to practicing our traditions for those Gods then it should, in a rightly ordered mind, be absolutely unthinkable to raise one’s children any other way.
I think the push back against these two ideas really shows us how far we still have to go in building communities and restoring our traditions. There is a necessary shift in worldview that happens when one is rooted fully within one’s polytheism. That polytheism becomes the lens through which everything else is viewed and the thing that delineates our priorities. It’s a very different way of living than what we’ve been raised with in monotheisms within a secular state. We will never have proper restoration and reconstruction until this is no longer an issue, until it will be unthinkable to either marry outside polytheism or raise our children outside of it. We struggle now because we lack intergenerational transmission of tradition, well, this is precisely how that intergenerational transmission happens: by marrying within the religions and by raising children within them. There is no other way, short of conquest and forced conversion, and I don’t think anyone wants to do that.
I’ve never ever understood this one (though it always amused me) so I’m very grateful for the insight of the Dionysian Artist for clarifying. I”m posting here with his permission.
“A note on miasma and marriage. Within the discussion of miasma people are expressing puzzlement at why being involved / witnessing a marriage causes miasma. This is really an issue with our current culture. Our view on death are extremely limited. A marriage was synonymous with a funeral, likewise was initiatory mystery tradition. Marriage, funeral and initiation were all linked. It was an act of killing off one identity and creating a new one, especially for the bride. These traditions still continue today, it’s just we forget their meaning. But they usually include name changing (in fact if we examine every traditional aspect of the modern marriage ceremony it has direct parallels with The Eleusinian Mysteries.) The Eleusinian Mysteries was itself a ‘re-enactment’ of the marriage of Kore to Haides – the death of Kore and rebirth of her as Persephone. That is why marriage causes miasma. We are witnessing the death of the maiden to become a woman.”
Thank you, Markos!