Belly cast by Julie Keon
A Blessingway is a wonderful alternative to the traditional 'baby shower' that is held for a woman approaching birth. It is a tradition we hold close in our community ~ A time we gather around our expectant friend to honor, nurture and celebrate. I can recall first experiencing this when I was a girl and was given the opportunity to be present at my mother's blessingway for her seventh baby. I enjoyed feeling a part of the sacred gathering of women, uniting to offer support and love to my mother. Many years later my mother was present at my blessing way for my first child...and the circle continues ~ as do the blessings.
A Blessingway is based on a ancient Navajo tradition but has been embraced by a wide range of people, looking for a meaningful way to celebrate both pregnancy and the impending birth. The Navajo have a saying, "whatever happens here on Earth must first be dreamed", and that's what a Blessingway does. It is a ceremony (or the "dream") that is a prelude to a major life event (and, as we know, motherhood in all of it's stages is a pretty life-altering event).
In creating blessingways for each other, we women reach outside of ourselves and weave a web of community: a living breathing web of women who are blessing, teaching, and supporting one another-and as a result, we help to give birth to each other's children.
We as women, receive a great deal by coming together in this way. We can raise energy and strength, or provide comfort and support. We can help one another let go of the past, live fully in the present, and embrace the mystery of the future. We learn to honor each other as well as ourselves, and we tap into the vibrant power of being a woman. By connecting on this level, we gain the power to deepen our friendships, build our communities and feed our spirits.
The Blessingway tradition varies from woman to woman, but the basic format is as follows: The pregnant woman invites(or a friend does the inviting) women important to her, to attend (friends and/or relatives.)Usually the attendees are limited to women, but this is the mothers choice. Guests are generally asked to bring any or all of the following: a “ gift from the heart” ( poem, song, or handmade gift) a candle, a bead, and a potluck dish.
Here are some ideas that you can include in your special day as you create your own, personal ‘ Blessing Way’
* Bead Ceremony – 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. 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 gives the mother to be a connection to all her women friends when she is birthing.
* Binding of the wrists – The woman running the ritual brings a real of wool or fine thread. 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 women tuned into the birthing mother as she leads up to her time. When she goes into labour, all women in her circle are contacted through the phone tree and each woman breaks the thread and sends a blessing for an easy birth. This circle of women can then be contacted once the baby is born and be invited to support the mother in practical way that allow a new mother to relax and bond with her baby, which is her priority right now.
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* Flowers – Flowers are symbolic of natures’ abundance and beauty just as a woman is when she is in her full pregnant bloom. Be sure to ask all women to bring flowers and create a beautiful alter with them. A flower crown is a beautiful thing to have for the mother.
* Singing – The singing of songs to celebrate woman, pregnancy and birth is a beautiful way to honour and share at a blessing way. Each women may bring a song or poem or instrument to play, or you may have a talented friend who can lead the group in song.* Post Birth Support – On the day of the Blessing Way 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 breast feeding friendly) to the new mother and helps out in any way she can when she drops it off – eg dishwashing, clothes washing etc… This support is invaluable for the new mum at a big transition time in her life.
* blessing basket - A basket decorated and filled with pretty notepapers, each of which have a character trait or other "hope" listed it on it that the expectant mother is wanting for her birth or family transitions. Each woman at the Blessing Way picks a notepaper, and that is *her* thing to pray about. Take the notepaper home and put it where it is easily seen and pray for that. (in what way prayer is relative to you.
* Belly Cast - look for someone in your area that does belly casting and offer that as a gift. If you live in the Ottawa Valley check out my friend Julie' s professional and stunning belly casts. I am fortunate to have a cast she did for me when I was pregnant with my youngest. It is a treasure to me, reminding my of the miracle of my body and the deliciousness of big bountiful belly!
Photo by Konrad Scherer
* Henna Body Art Kit - you can pamper the mother in a unique way. Using wonderful temporary tattoo art on her belly (and wherever she would like) to celebrate her pregnancy and growing tummy. For several mothers, this is a powerful visual aid during labour as she can focus on her own strength as she watches her tummy, as well as the wonderful bonds she has with those who celebrated her pregnancy with her.
* Keeping the flame - Each woman chooses a votive candle ( or one she has brought) and each lights her candle in turn, gifting an attribute or quality she would like to share for the woman when she is in labor, ie “ i wish for you.. peace.. strength..the ability to surrender to all possible outcomes, etc” All sit for a moment in silence contemplating the circle of candlelight. These candles can then return home with the women and be re-lit when the mother goes into labor.
* Sharing your connection - a time when everyone present has the opportunity to share about their connection with the guest of honor ~ how you met, what you love about them, why they are important in your life...it can be a touching time filled with laughter, tenderness and tears. To bring closure to the circle, all of the women can surround the mama and lay on hands of love.
and finally the...
The true beauty and gift of of it, is that each participant leaves feeling blessed. It reminds women that all of us are sacred and all of us are able to bless and be blessed.
Awaiting our sweet Solana Fae...
Welcoming our Solana Fae...
From belly into this world ~ we honor the the gift of each child born and the incredible journey of motherhood.
celebrating those big, beautiful, bountiful bellies!!!