A Blessingway: Shower the Mother-To-Be with Blessings
A Blessingway is a Navajo Ritual created to spiritually support and empower the new mother for her journey of birthing and motherhood. In recent times, this beautiful ritual has been adapted as an alternative to baby showers, where the focus tends to be more on the gifts and the baby, rather than on the mother and her experience. Support doesn't stop with the Blessingway -- mothers frequently pray for the mom each day until the baby arrives... or even light a candle when they hear she's in labor. This support can mean so much to a laboring woman.
In our culture, much of our baby mania revolves around fashion, the latest baby products and nursery design. We gather for baby showers and open gift after gift, often letting the tradition blind us to the very reason we have gathered…to shower the mother and baby with enough love and support to carry them through their relationship together. A blessing way is a spiritual alternative to a traditional babyshower.
A Blessingway creates a space to come together as a support circle for the expecting mother, and bless the way ahead for her. It is a web woven of the most trusted and cherished women in her life.
How to Hold a Blessingway:
Most of the time a Blessingway is specifically for women. You should consider your guest list carefully. Invite only those very close to the mother, or those older women that she looks up to. It may be best to work on the guest list with the mother.
Here are some ideas from Natural Birth and Baby Care on how to structure your own Blessingway ceremony:
- Start by cleansing the space for your ceremony (and the nursery) with sage.
- Prayers, poems, and blessings: a traditional way to bless somebody is to say a prayer for them, to write and/or read a poem for them, or to say or find a special blessing for them. Something of this nature is ideal for a Blessingway. You can ask each participant to bring something they've found or written to bless the mother. You can compile the prayers/poems/blessings into a small, beautiful journal or notebook for the mother. If some prayers are going to be created on the spot you could record with a small tape recorder and later transcribe them to be given to the mother.
- Every guest is asked to bring a flower that reminds them of the Mother. These flowers are used to make a simple crown, or a mandala, for the mamma which is then placed on her head at the beginning of the circle, while everyone is talking and getting acquainted. At a certain point everyone can say which flower they brought and why.
- Guests are also asked to bring an offering from nature like a small crystal, a feather, or a rock. These are offered to the Mamma and placed in a box or on a special altar plate that she can keep to remind her of everyone’s well wishes for her during the birth.
- Lighting Candles: Lighting a candle at the Blessingway is a lovely way to bring a sacred feel to the atmosphere. Or you can ask each guest to bring a candle to light during their blessing for the mother. Afterwards each guest will take her candle home and light it when she hears the mother is in labor.
- Beads: A favorite Blessingway tradition. It is so simple and anybody can do this, even if they cannot attend the Blessingway. Have each person invited bring or send a bead that they have picked for the mother. The bead should be something the guest has picked with the mother in mind. At the Blessingway string all the beads onto a cord for the mother to wear during labor. Many mothers have said that these birth beads give them strength and focus during labor. It is a powerful and tangible way to show your love and the community support that surrounds the mother.
- Belly Cast: A belly cast is a fun activity that can be done at the Blessingway. Many mothers enjoy having a belly cast done. It's a slightly messy and light-hearted activity that will bring smiles to everyone. It also gives the mother a lovely keepsake of her body full of baby. Later the mom can decorate the belly cast however she likes, or she can leave it simple and untouched.
- Belly Painting: Another fun activity is to paint the mother's belly. You can use henna paints or any non-toxic (preferably natural) body paints. The mother may have a design she would like, something of special significance. You can talk it over with the mother beforehand and decide what she would like. Henna paint may work especially well because it could last until the birth, if the mother wants.
- Washing Feet and Brushing Hair: Washing a mother's feet in warm water gently scented by essential oils is a lovely way to show support for her. Many mothers also love to have their hair brushed. This feminine activity is very soothing and empowering to the mother.
- Make "Help" Lists: Though not truly part of the ceremony, you should consider having each guest write down a meal that they are committed to bringing for the mother after her baby is born. Alternately each guest can bring a pre-made frozen meal, if the mother has space in her freezer. Each guest should also sign up for a period of housework in the days after the baby is born. You will be amazed how much this simple gift of food and time will bless the mother and her child. It is a gift given with a servant's heart, and it brings peace, love, and joy to the new family.
- You or another guest take responsibility for organizing and overseeing the help. The mother shouldn't have to do anything. At the Blessingway tell her of your plans and assure her you have it all taken care of.
Creating this sacred space of honor and blessings is something the child or mother will never outgrow. Create a meaningful passage for your next little soul. Life is about supporting one another, and what better way to start than at the beginning.
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