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What is a Caim at a Scottish Wedding?

What does a Caim mean in Scottish Gaelic –Ring or Circle of protection

Caims have a specific rhyme and meter that tends to act almost mystically, focussing one’s intent, making your wedding sacred space that much more sacred.

The circle which represents wholeness, community and connection to the greater cosmos, was drawn by sword or lance around the couple. Marriage itself represents a new life. The meaning and symbolism of protective prayer within the sacred circle created by armament was essential to creating the best possible beginning for the highlander. Casting a circle around the couple signifies wholeness because the two came together to become one whole entity. Beside uniting the couple the Caim circle, with or without prayer is meant to ground you and make you one with the universe. The ring around the couple signifies wholeness and a sense of community. Because marriage is a new beginning creating a Caim means the newly weds are starting on the right foot with the God of their understanding’s/the universe’s protection surrounding them.

Marriage could also be highly political, particularly if it was between clans. Battle and treachery could come from any quarter. In the Marriage Ceremony in the Scottish Highlands, the Groom would escort his bride to the altar with his sword available and his fighting arm free, thus the tradition of the bride on his left (as most were right handed) He could defend her against attack from other suiters. This also was the original role for the Best Man to be protector of the couple while both coming and going from the ceremony.

In modern times, the sword and the cutting of the circle have disappeared. Instead what remains is the prayer and the creation of the sacred circle using petals. The caim is a prayer done in a sacred circle at the altar, made with the intention of protecting the bride and groom at the time of their marriage

Today, we recognize there are external energies all around us that can affect the spirit of our home and hearth. Worry and fear about jobs, family, politics, health and more can seem to bring a heaviness around us, yet if we remember that we are more than this, our heats can be filled with joy no matter what is presenting around us, our relationships and marriage will be that much stronger and nuturing. No matter what our spiritual or religious faith is, we may certainly be able to visualise a circle around us, our home, our partners and family, that is filled with a gold light of love, peace and prosperity.

If you choose to use the Caim for your wedding ceremony it will likely make the experience that much more dear and meaningful. No matter what your religious affiliations may be, it doesn’t hurt to feel that extra confidence that someone is watching out for you. Whether you see it as just a symbolic assurance or you genuinely believe in its protection power, the Caim symbol can encompass you and offer you protection and confidence. When evoked by a couple it can help cement unity, togetherness and that special unbreakable bond.

Caim prayers originating from the Scottish Highlands and Islands are contained in Alexander Carmichael’s collection called the Carmina Gadelica, drafted 1900

Prayer – circle me Lord, Keep protection near, and danger afar. Circle me Lord, keep light near, and darkness afar. Circle me Lord, Keep peace within, keep evil out.

Circle us Lord, or say the God of our understanding

Keep love within, keep hatred out,

Keep joy within, keep fear out,

Keep peace within, keep worry out,

Keep light within, keep darkness out,

May you stand in the circle with us, today and always.

Above Prayer Taken from St Cuthbert’s website

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