The Salt Covenant

As I continue to write about rituals, customs and ideas for weddings from diverse backgrounds and traditions – today I’d like to explore the Salt Covenant. There are many ways this very essential element can be used. The Sand Ceremony and the Salt Covenant or Salt Ceremony are performed in much the same way but the meaning is quite different.

A couple performs the ritual.

Exploring both the religious and historical aspects of this ritual, salt is important in the Bible and in ancient Middle-Eastern culture. In the biblical era, before and around the time of Jesus, it is thought that men carried a pouch of salt on their belts. When two men wanted to make a promise or contract, each would take some salt from his pouch and sprinkle it in the other man’s pouch. They then stated the terms of their agreement and shook their salt pouches, mingling the grains of salt. Shaking the salt pouches reminded them that this promise or covenant could not be broken, because it would no longer be possible separate the grains of salt. Fantastic symbolism! So it is with a wedding. In blending the salt together you symbolize your union and the impossibility of separation. It represents the everlasting and irrevocable agreement.

As in ancient times, entering into a covenant of salt is not done lightly – it is an important and meaningful experience. I’ve also learned that in that same era newborn babies were rubbed with salt to express the desire that when they grow up they will say what they mean, and mean what they say. In a marriage commitment you are also promising to keep your word.

You may use the salt as a personal covenant and as a covenant with God, becoming one with Him. We can find many references to salt in the Bible and they clearly refer to the bond it represents. I’m not a biblical scholar but here a few references and what I think they mean.

Mark (9:50) said: “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with each other.” This means that goodwill “seasons” positive relationships between people. It is a reference to the covenant of salt because it shows how trust builds friendship and compassion.

And in Matthew 5:13, Jesus refers to his disciples as ‘the salt of the earth,’ perhaps asking them to “preserve” his teachings and to be true to their words, and that they are good and trustworthy.

There are other meanings and symbolism for the salt as well. Because salt is a most basic spice, and brings out flavors, we can think about how marriage makes life more flavorful, too. But we can also think about the salt of tears, and how they reminds us that life might be difficult at times and we must learn to cope with life’s struggles. Salt is an element that is indispensable to life. Its in our bodies and the waters of the oceans and made the development of civilization possible through its powers to preserve food.

To perform a Salt Covenant ceremony simply have two glasses filled with equal amounts of salt are placed on the altar and then each partner pours the salt into a single container simultaneously. You may also do this with children, parents or in other ways, creating a Family Salt Ceremony.

There is a ceramic egg-like container you find for sale that is sometimes used for this ritual. It’s beautiful, but it’s not necessary. In fact, it could be quite nice to use something personal from your families, heirloom bowls, salt shakers, even grandmom’s spoons. Use your fingers, pour the bowls or use spoons. It all works!

A cute little kit you can get to use for a salt ritual.

In the Salt Ceremony when the salt is blended together it becomes one. In the Sand Ceremony using different colors of sand you will still see each person’s individuality even after pouring it all together. There is a clear difference in meaning and each has its own power and beauty.

Couple pouring salt: photo credit: Eddie Bojorquez, Studio 512  THANK YOU!

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