What is a Blessingway Ceremony?
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 with presents for 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.
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 nature's 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.
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 would like to know more about a Blessingway Ceremony - speak to a TCN Celebrant
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