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Becoming an Entheos Celebrant and Solemniser

The first celebrant wedding I ever witnessed was back in 2017 in the beautiful Kippure Estate in Wicklow. I was mesmerized by how personal and relaxed the celebrant made the ceremony. It felt so real and romantic. The couple’s personalities shone through each ritual and we all left the wedding floating on air. That wedding ignited a spark in me. I wanted to provide that service, that warmth, that afterglow for couples myself.

And so began my celebrant journey. I initially trained with the IIOC online during lockdown. A course I thoroughly enjoyed as a starting point. I performed some symbolic weddings and I just knew this was the path for me. At this point I started looking into becoming a solemniser, a celebrant who can legally marry a couple. I researched many organisations, joined some of them and then left again. Something just didn’t quite fit. I began to think it was me. Why couldn’t I click with these groups? I had a very clear picture of who I wanted to be as a celebrant and the service I wanted to provide for families which didn’t include an exclusive view of any particular faith, lifestyle or belief system. I wanted to affiliate myself with a solemnising body who reflected what I believed to be important in my own life. So I left the solemnising search behind me on my pile of pipe dreams and went about my daily business.

That was until I found Entheos, earlier this year. One night, in front of the telly I decided to search celebrant training Ireland and there it was in all its glory. Entheos was founded by Karen Dempsey, aka, The Bald Priestess. A family celebrant and all round activist. ‘Entheos’ is the Greek root of the word ‘enthusiasm’ and means ‘inspired by the divine within’. A fitting name if ever for an organisation which encourages and celebrates diversity, understanding and acceptance. The bedrocks of my own belief system. Entheos Ireland was founded to serve people who have been ostracised, marginalised or otherwise left behind by traditional faith paths on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, nationality, parental/family status or any other reason. This ethos was screaming at me to read on. The Entheos website answered every doubt I had in my mind that this association was my best fit. I spoke to Karen on the phone and amid our discussion on education, pollinators and our national language, Gaeilge, we decided that Entheos was the community for me.

Under the guidance of Karen our training facilitates a safe space for myself and my colleagues to explore our own emotions and discuss the emotional perspective of each family we may come across throughout our celebrant journey. We tackle our own issues and invite open conversation about how a family’s faith, spirituality or aversion to either will mould and define their ceremony and its rituals. We are encouraged to accept everyone for who they are and are offered ways in which to provide the space for honest conversation. This is a training like nothing I have ever done before. It is neither prescriptive nor reductive, it has no written notes or templates, there are no rules or regulations other than a one hundred percent commitment to thank each and every member for their contribution to the training day and to learn as much as we can from eachother’s varied life experiences.

I started my celebrant journey as an individual but the bond I have with my fellow Entheos celebrants has helped me walk tall in the world. I have found a community of like-minded celebrants who I love meeting with to share stories and ideas. We are inclusive and open-minded, we are willing to go to great lengths to get you the ceremony and rituals you want with as much accessibility as possible for everyone present.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities Entheos Ireland has created for me. I can legally marry couples, I can help put loved ones to rest, I can welcome new family members and celebrate their milestones as they grow. And I can do all of this knowing that I have the support of a socially conscious community, who believe whole-heartedly that goodness lives within the individual.

Entheos has helped me believe in myself and my worth as a celebrant. The training I have received under Karen Dempsey has helped me to trust my inner voice and make brave decisions not only as a celebrant but in all aspects of my life. I will carry this community in my heart through every ceremony I lead. I will strive to leave every family and their guests with the afterglow I felt from my first brush with celebrancy back in Kippure Estate in 2017. And I will do all of this while representing myself in my truest form.

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