The Pebble Toss is another Celtic wedding tradition tied heavily into the belief of sacredness of place, honoring one’s ancestors as well and honoring or at least diverting the ire of any of the fairy folk. This is in tune with the whole ‘wishing well’ phenomena as well.
In today’s parlance, it is all about luck and wishing the happy couple good fortune and prosperity. As with the Oathing Stone, well wishes, prayers and happy hopes for the couple are placed into a stone or in some cases, just thinking them was enough while holding a small stone. Next this stone is tossed into a nearby body of water such as a river, stream, lake, a well and so forth.
These symbolic tokens would please the ancestral spirits of the place who would then also add their blessing to the couple. Sometimes other small gifts would be offered as well, such as coins, food, drink and other items.
No one knows exactly how far back this practice goes but it seems to go back into prehistory, back when giants were often thought to rule the lands and even create them, such as the Goddess Cailleach, who would carry stones in her apron and when it would inevitably tear, the stones would fall, often creating mountains or trails of boulders we now attribute to the action of glaciers. In Scotland at least, moving across the British Isles and even into Galatia in Spain, such offerings are an appeasement to her for she was considered a rather vain being who’s ire it was good not to attract.
Sometimes, such gifts were given to appease trickster spirits of the fae who might wish to bring harm to the couple or jinx their chances at having children or be prosperous.
In the more modern version of this tradition, a helper may present a tray to each person in the wedding party who will then select a stone, make their prayer or wish and then cast their stone into the well, river or lake, adding their blessing to those of the bride and the groom. Often the stones may be colorful tumbled stones or simple little river pebbles.
This tradition obviously has it’s roots with the Oathing Stones, or perhaps the other way around, or perhaps they simply coincide. Whatever the case, seeking the blessing for the happy couple from the Otherworld was a time honored practice. So many wedding traditions are centered around this, it is often hard to keep track of them all.
Weddings are a time of seeking blessings of prosperity, happiness and a strong and vital lineage for the future. This is one reason why we have weddings. It is a communal event to celebrate a joining and all that it promises for the future. We want the best that can happen for all concerned.
The Pebble Toss, like dropping pennies into a wishing well or Oathing the Stone, throwing a bouquet, tossing coins rice, or other favors to the attendees, providing a fabulous feast and gifting the less fortunate from one’s old leavings of clothes and so forth is another way to bring blessing and prosperity to the newlyweds and to their lineage for years to come.