email@example.com – 0411 717 303 (Dally
firstname.lastname@example.org – Dally – 0411 717 303
This is possible now since the Australian Attorney General Lionel Murphy founded Civil Celebrants in 1973 – to bring dignity into the lives of non-church people through ceremonies of meaning and substance. In those days the only alternative to a church ceremony was a very anemic and humiliating “so-called” ceremony in a registry office.
So Murphy, in a revolutionary way, established the right of people to create their own marriage ceremony, which included the composition of that most important part of that ceremony – the vows. Instead of vows coming from somewhere else – God, the Church, the Government, — Murphy’s dream was that they would come from the experienced heart – from you.
But how do you do this?
The best approach I can suggest to you is a way to carefully make a compact. That is, after all, what marriage is – compact. (Don’t like the word – contract). My conviction on this insight came from a woman commentator on the BBC. She criticised the vows in the Church of England wedding ceremony because it was not a compact.
The ceremony should be the roadmap for the marriage.Often it was not a sincere agreement.
It is important that you give this compact — the words mean “a coming together to make peace”– expressed in your vows to each other – very serious thought.
Now what a well trained celebrant (or relationship educator in some cases) – will suggest to you, and help you put into good words, is this compact.
How do you go about this?
First, for an hour or so, each of you should go your separate ways!
You should sit down in a corner somewhere with a writing pad or clipboard, or at a desk ,or at the keyboard, and think carefully – then compile a shopping list of what you want the other person to promise you – your wish list of promises.
be gentle with criticism –
refuse to stonewall –
not to let anything fester
listen without trying to solve the problem
be totally loyal and faithful
Promise to give you space.
encourage fun and
to maintain a sense of humour.
Bettina Arndt interviewed 100 couples. 80 % were not happy because one party or the other denied the partner physical intimacy. This is such a distressing finding.
So you may wish to promise the other to do you best – that is what all vows are anyway – it is about attitude really – emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy.
Then you must come together and – forgive the word – marry your lists!
The compact is a road map to a happy life. No agreed roadmap should contain unresolved conflicts. Seek reputable marriage preparation counselling.
thank you, Mary, for trusting me,
and claiming me as your closest friend.
As far as I am able
I promise to treat you respectfully,
and speak to you respectfully, at all times.
I will be gentle and positive
with any criticism I consider I have to express
I will try never to cut you off,
or stonewall you in difficult moments.
I will speak frankly, but softly,
rather than let any resentment fester.
I ask you to listen to me when I need to talk,
and I promise to listen to you
when you need me as your listening friend.
I promise to be loyal and faithful to you
I promise to give you your space, when you need it
and I ask the same of you.
I will happily sustain the fun, and humour
we have experienced in our relationship.
I promise to do my best, every day,
to encourage a marriage characterised by
emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy.
Therefore, I John, call upon the persons here present,
to witness, that I take you Mary, to be my lawful wife.
The Civil Celebrant and the Diploma Course.
It is difficult to explain my position briefly but let me start by saying I totally favour the CoCa position of the Diploma being the minimum requirement for celebrancy.
In 1995 at the invitation of the AGs Department eighteen of us celebrants devised a course of three Diplomas in Celebrancy (Marriage, Funeral and General).
This International College of Celebrancy course was, and still is, rich with inspiring and motivating theory. It tracked the achievements and ideals and values of the main religions in the cultural, social and personal realm and applied these lessons to our predominantly secular cultural scene (secular spirituality if you like).
Creating the course and refining it over sixteen years.
The eighteen celebrants who, with academic advice, created our eight module course dealt with questions such as the history of ceremony, why we have ceremony, and what the psychological, social and cultural effects of ceremony are. We researched why we have a link between the unity of a ceremony and the full range of the visual and performing arts. We articulated and discussed the question of why it is better to do a good ceremony than a mediocre one in a secular context. We discussed the effects, for example, of a marriage ceremony on the conscious and unconscious mind, and how ceremonies have been created to help human beings to adjust to changes in human life.
In deepening our understanding of the celebrant role we, of course, turned to the anthropologists, sociologists, commentators and historians in the field. The pivotal but difficult book, Arnold Van Gennep’s “The Rite of Passage, of course was central. But there was also insights and inspiration in the works of Joseph Campbell, Ronald Grimes, David Oldfield (USA!), Margaret Mead, Alain de Botton and Louise Mahdi.
A Cultural Infrastructure of Ceremonies
As we studied these works we came to realise that we were blessed by Attorney-General Lionel Murphy with a pivotal, unique, innovative and challenging celebrant role. We realised we had been charged with developing a cultural infrastructure of ceremonies, which replaced the rejected supernatural infrastructure of the religions, but which expresses, transmits, and reinforces the wonderful and enriching artistic treasures and deep and evolved values we have inherited from the religious influences which have formed western society.
We also studied, for example, how a creative funeral ceremony aids in triggering the process of healthy grief and the maintenance of sanity and much more.
A Course in celebrancy cannot be superficial it must be transformative which means absorbing the content of a course over a suitable period. Quickie courses, beloved of capitalistic economists simply do not give a student the TIME to absorb, think and transform. Educationally, it does not work.
And as well as inspiring education there must be training and mentoring in the practical skills and actual ceremonial practice. Further additional skills such as creative writing and competent public speaking. A celebrant too must spend a great deal of time understanding the need for resources – knowing the great inheritance of poetry, music, prose, story-telling, mythology, symbolism, choreography and the visual arts – many need to acquire a feel for the beauty in these components and how to apply them appropriately in a ceremony which means something. My colleagues and I have developed this at the then Attorney-General’s invitation. (But then when we downgraded in 2003 a new era emerged which concentrated on legal trivia – most of which was wrong anyway. Hence the 6 changes of the official guidelines for celebrants.)
I stood on this hill in this small country town. It could have been any one of hundreds of country towns in Australia. I counted five churches. One could tell that they were all in disrepair, either no longer used or the numbers sadly depleted.
I asked myself what went on here. These institutions once transmitted the influences which formed our society – but they have lost their mojo, who and what is there to replace them? What cultural infrastructure do we have to replace the religio-cultural infrastructure we had here?
That was a eureka moment for me. I hope I can pass it on to you. In your hands you have this marvellous opportunity to intelligently contribute to the education and formation of the cvil celebrant of the future – hopefully part of a team of celebrants so well educated and trained that they will have a lasting positive effect on our society.
This website sets out the eight Modules, the three Diplomas, the Graduate Diploma and the opportunity to achieve the award of Master of Celebrancy. (only one of students has ever achieved this.
Dally Messenger III
What is happening? What should be happening?
It is difficult to conceive of a government program that has been more mismanaged than the Civil Celebrant Program. Now is the time to attempt to try to fix it and get it right. We have a new Attorney-General and some new and, it seems, courteous public servants. ————————————————————————————————
LEADERSHIP – we haven’t had any – we haven’t even had an attempt at genuine interest or understanding for many years. Without a vision, the people perish. Nothing good can possibly happen until people in power take a real and genuine interest.
What should happen– the Attorney General and the public servants should cease the games of the past, and the dismissals of our concerns in the past, and assist us bring quality ceremonies to the Australian people. —————————————————————————————————
NUMBERS There is an excessive number of Celebrants. 1600 was enough, 2000 would be plenty, 2500 would be excessive – but we have 10,500! Also read this blog on The Numbers
What should happen –
There should be an immediate and indefinite Moratorium on appointments, and a program of reducing numbers begun immediately. There should be balanced number of celebrants so that the public gets a sufficient and wide choice and celebrants themselves have a chance to develop and maintain skills and be given the chance to believe in what they are doing. In the first place The Attorney-General should ask every celebrant who was duped into applying on the promise of big and plentiful money, to resign. That should be the first move. There are a number of other moves after that which could be made. ———————————————————————————————————— TRAINING
–Most celebrants, in general, are badly trained in law and have virtually no training in ceremony.
What should happen – Celebrants should be trained especially well in ceremony and in law.
———————————————————————————————————— SYLLABUS AND METHOD OF TRAINING The syllabus for the training is inadequate and focussed too heavily on legal matters. Nationally Registered Training, based on the profit motive, compels the owners of RTOs to teach the least amount they can get away with, so that they can lower prices, and beat the competition. As such it is a failed and flawed system inherently and inexorably driven to lower and lower standards and thus internally programmed to self-destruct. Against all advice, previous Attorneys- General opened up to this “Nationally Registered Training”.
As well as the basic deficiency mentioned above it is, as far as resources go, a leaderless, oppressively bureaucratic, and fractured-among-the-states system. It is a system open to exploitation. The “course” for celebrants, originally two years part time at Monash University, was gradually reduced to five, four, three, and finally two days, taught mostly, for seven years after the Downgrading of 2003 by non-celebrants. There now is a “Certificate IV” but it is still in the same system subject to the same inbuilt weaknesses.
What should happen – The syllabus, which the department, with some excellent public servants, got right in 1995, was badly diminished in the Downgrading of 2003. It should be taught by celebrant/educationists with proven skills in creating and delivering ceremonies, as well as the correct legal procedures. Such courses should be independently assessed and rated by properly briefed and genuine teachers who are not part of the current self defeating system. The training of celebrants should be adequate and more than adequate. It should be aimed not just “competence” in law but in really high and professional standards in the creation of ceremonies, and with an awareness of the deep psychological and lasting good effects in the lives of individual and in the cultural infrastructure of society.