For those who haven’t been following this blog, let me introduce it a little. I am currently blogging my 21st novel that has the working title Daemon. The novel is about Aksinya, a sorceress, who, to save her family from the Bolsheviks, called and contracted the demon, Asmodeus. Her family was murdered anyway, and she fled with the demon from Russia to Austria.
Father Dobrushin and Aksinya have decided to marry so that they can be rid of the demon. This is the beginning of the Orthodox marriage ceremony...
Properly accoutered for his role to administer a sacrament, he lit the incense and prepared the altar. All the while, Aksinya and Dobrushin waited in the Narthex.
The scent of the incense came first to Aksinya. She breathed it in. Her heart was full. She felt nothing but joy. Perhaps it was impossible for her to feel apprehension anymore. Still, the crucifix between her breasts did not burn, and she felt no pain in her body. She was excited and filled with desire, but that didn’t seem to bother her at all.
Finally, Matushka Ekaterina entered the narthex. She placed Aksinya on the left and Dobrushin on the right. Then she asked, “Dobrushin, do you have the rings?”
Dobrushin searched in the pockets of his vest and brought out a box. He placed this in Ekaterina’s outstretched hands. Aksinya watched wide-eyed. Ekaterina noticed. She opened the box for her, and Aksinya saw two simple bands, one silver and one gold. Aksinya sighed, she clasped more tightly to Dobrushin’s arm. Ekaterina took the box with the rings into the sanctuary and stepped to the altar, the Holy Table. Through the Holy Doors of the sanctuary, Aksinya saw Father Makar take the rings from the box and place them on the altar. He picked up the censer. From the Christ candle, Ekaterina lit two small candles then she led Father Makar back to the Holy Doors where Aksinya and Dobrushin waited.
Father Makar entered the narthex and came first to Dobrushin. He made the sign of the cross once on Dobrushin’s forehead, then on Aksinya’s forehead. He repeated the sign a second and then a third time on their foreheads. Ekaterina handed the lighted candles to Father Makar and he gave one to Dobrushin and one to Aksinya.
Father Makar turned and censed the sanctuary in the sign of the cross. He stepped through the doors and continued to cense in the shape of a cross at each step. Dobrushin stepped behind Father Makar and Aksinya still on his arm came with him. Behind them followed Ekaterina.
I debated whether to give you the whole of the chapter and the whole of the marriage ceremony. I decided that the imagery was too important to leave out. This is a piece of history that may never be found in this kind of source again. I do this in many of my novels. I will admit that I did condense the Orthodox Mass in Hestia, but that was at the advice of one of my prepub readers. I like to include the entirety of documents and historical information. That is part of my style and part of the way I ensure historical accuracy.
Father Makar is ready to begin the ceremony. He prepares the altar. Then I give you Aksinya's impression of the scene. This is an important part of the scene setting for the marriage. Through Aksinya, I show you many important points. First, the smells of the place. Second, her joy. Third, her lack of pain (her reconciliation with God). Fourth, her excitement and desire. It is a proper desire now--she feels no guilt.
Ekaterina places Aksinya and Dobrushin then asks for the rings. Do you notice, Aksinya didn't expect for there to be rings. She likely knew there should be rings, but Dobrushin has prepared. He has a ring for her and a ring for him. Ekaterina shows the rings to Aksinya. Aksinya's response is to cling more tightly to Dobrushin--this has become a metaphor for her love and acceptance of him.
The next step is the blessing of the rings. Ekaterina gets the candles, and she and Father Makar come to the Narthex. We see the events in the marriage ceremony. We begin outside the Nave with the blessing of the bride and groom. Then they are given candles to enter. They enter the nave with the censer blessing each step. Aksinya still clings to Dobrushin. Tomorrow, at the altar.