What is a Blessingway Ceremony? I hear you all cry…..
Photo: Christine Chrisman
A blessingway or mother’s blessing* is a wonderful alternative to a traditional ‘baby shower’ that is held for a woman approaching birth. A baby shower tends to focus on the baby – presents of the baby and games centred around the baby, whereas the Blessingway is all about the mother to be. It literally blesses the way for the mother to be ready for childbirth.
Traditionally, the mother would invite her closest female family and friends, choosing people who offer her friendship, wisdom and trust to participate in a beautiful and meaningful ceremony to help her prepare for the birth. You can invite friends to bring a plate of food and/or a gift if you like, but the ritualistic ceremony is the central focus of the blessingway.
* Sometimes a blessing way is called a mother’s blessing out of respect for the Navajo people, who have a ceremony called a blessingway on which the modern ceremony is based. Because the modern ceremony does not adhere to the exact rites of the Navajo ceremony they do not always approve of the term being used.
History of Blessingways
Blessingways are traditional to the First American Navajo who mark the transition a woman makes when she moves into motherhood. It is a time when she is nurtured and honoured by the other women in her community. The Blessingway Ceremony acknowledges the commitment and energy involved in being a mother and gives her a time where all the energy is available for her to receive. This ceremony can be given to a woman each time she has a child, as with each child comes a new level of commitment.
To make the most of the ceremony the mother to be should allow herself to receive all the positive female energy being offered to her.
The blessingway is also a great way for the mother to prepare for the birth. This is an opportunity for the women to share their experiences and for the mother to express any fears or worries she may have within a safe and sacred setting, receiving much needed support.
Here are some ideas to help you create your special day:
You can choose as many rituals as you like, keeping in mind the length of the ceremony. Choose a ritual that would best suit your group of ladies
Each woman is asked to bring a bead for a blessing necklace. At some time during the ceremony a bowl is handed around the circle and each woman gives her bead and a blessing for mother and baby – this can be in the form of a wish; a poem; a lyric or a word. At the end of the ceremony one of the women threads the beads together and gives the necklace to the mother to have with her during the birth. This helps the mother to be connected to all her women friends and draw on that strength when she is giving birth. People who are unable to attend the ceremony can still participate by sending their bead and their blessing for another friend or the celebrant to read out on their behalf.
Binding of the wrists
You will need a reel of wool or fine thread. The colour is usually Red to represent Blood. This is bound around each woman’s left wrist by the woman who sits to the left of her, as each woman binds the thread on the other woman’s wrist she says ‘from women we were born into this circle, from women we were born unto this earth’. This ritual is symbolic of the thread that connects us all as women. It also keeps each woman tuned into the birthing mother as she leads up to her time and reminds them to send her positive, loving energy as they all see their red string every morning until the baby is born. Once each guest has delivered her helpful post-natal task for the birthing mother, i.e.: cooking a dinner; picking up older kids from school; offering to do the washing, etc…. the red string can be removed.
A candle is lit and passed to each woman in the circle. As they hold the candle they share their blessings for the mother to be and her baby. An alternative to this is that the women can tie a second piece of string around a candle that the mother then lights during the birth.
Massaging the Mother
Take along some lush, pregnancy friendly, massage oils and be sure to give her the full treatment with as many women as possible joining in. Brush her hair, give her a facial, whatever indulgence she wants.
Flowers are symbolic of natures’ abundance and beauty just as a woman is when she is pregnant. Ask all the women to bring flowers and create a beautiful crown for the mother to be to wear during the ceremony.
A kit is usually the easiest way to ensure success with a belly casting. You can either do your cast in private and then have it at the Blessingway Circle as a group activity to decorate. Alternatively, you can create the Belly cast as part of your blessing way ceremony. Here are a few links where you can purchase the DIY kits: (please note, I haven’t used these products or purchased from these companies before, I have just made the google search a little easier for you)
Flags are a beautiful way to create a lasting memory of a blessing way ritual. Each guest is given a piece of fabric of equal size to decorate. You will need fabric pens, sewing materials, fabric scraps and more so your guests can create a unque prayer flag specifically for you and your baby. You can also purchase ready made bunting to use if you are a little sewing machine challenged.
Post Birth Support
On the day of the Blessingway Ceremony have a close friend take the names and contact details of each woman present to be put on a ‘support roster’ for bringing meals after the birth. Each woman brings one meal (ensuring the ingredients are breastfeeding friendly) to the new mother and helps out in any way she can when she drops it off – e.g. dishwashing, clothes washing etc… This support is invaluable for the new mum at a big transition time in her life.
If you are interested in booking a Blessingway Ceremony or would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me.
You came to the relationship as whole people, with your own identities and a purpose in life. Share your happiness, look forward to everything you’ll do together, make choices and decisions together, feel better about everything when your partner walks in the room, and miss them when they’ve gone – but honour your individuality. Keep your interests and hobbies, maintain friendships with your friends and continue to bring new life to your relationship.
Why I Married You
As you know yourself, know your marriage – why do you love each other, what do you need, what have you learned to give and take in this relationship? People will offer their advice, telling you when to buy a house, or when your should have children, or if you only did “this” then your marriage would be different/better/more like theirs. But remember, they don’t know your marriage like you do. They don’t know your partner like you do.
We love differently
People can love each other equally and show it very differently. A person of words can be married to a person of action, but as long as each person knows that they are loved the best way their partner knows how, then all can be right with the world. Be open, be understanding, be accepting and be loved.
Small amounts of honest communication all the time, even when you can’t be together is far more effective than absent communication all the time – even when you’re in the same room! So talk often, share your ideas and your dreams and the funny thing that happened at work today
Listening is the most underrated and unused tool in communication. Learn to listen as much as you wish to be heard. You might do this now, but life will get noisy. Make a point of switching off and focusing everything on the person talking. Listening is not just making eye contact and waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can have your turn to say something. That’s just hearing – and sometimes it’s not even that!
I once read that if you talk but don’t listen, you are only ever hearing the things you already know, but if you listen, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to learn something new. How romantic to be constantly learning new things about the person you love.
Bring it up
Even if you are sure what is in your loved one’s heart, never think you know what’s in their mind. Don’t let something go just to avoid disagreeing. Give each other a chance to be understanding and allow yourself to be surprised.
When stuff happens that won’t matter in a year from now, do your best to treat it with humour. Humour heals, humour binds, humour relieves everything in the world and makes life easier. It lightens the mood and It also improves your facial expression.
When you do get upset with each other, start conversations with these words: “I’m having trouble with something, but I think you can help.” It’s amazing how responsive people can be when they are invited to help you, rather than defend themselves.
The most important thing, what will help you live within the hearts of each other, as well as in the same house, is this:
If it’s happy, if it’s loving, if you mean it…
You make me happy.
I appreciate you.
I love you.
I’m glad I married you.
I would do it all again!
And that’s when you contact me again to renew your vows……. in fact, why wait 30 years?