An Invitation to Join the Sacred Space of a Blessingway
Goddess full of life with womb in bloom.. You are a divine force bringing forth the next generation, and that is something worthy of honoring. Creatix, growing pure love, holding space for a new life to ripen, I bow to you. Let me show you how adored you truly are.
With all my heart and Soul,
Your dear sister
Blessingway versus Baby Shower
When I had my first child, there were several baby showers held in my honor, or rather in my baby girl’s honor. Baby showers are a wonderful way for friends and family to gather together from near and far to celebrate a baby on the way. Whether in the physical or through sending gifts from afar, a celebration for the baby still snug in mommas belly is a very joyful event, especially for a first baby. But, let’s be real, usually these events happen a month or two before the babies estimated arrival date, when mamas feet, back, and hands are tired and swollen, the foods offered are often times cookies, cake loaded with sugars, salty snacks, and fruity drinks displayed in cute fun ways to show that a baby is on the way.
At the end of the baby shower, mama is ready to collapse, put her feet up and take the weight of a full womb off of her body. If she’s anything like me, she’ll eat the leftover cake for a week staying on a sugar high, and decorating the nursery into the wee hours of the night, dreaming of foot massages, neck rubs and long soaks in a deep bathtub full of roses.
The History of the Blessingway or Mother’s Blessing Ceremony
Conversely, at one point in time women would gather together to empower and support one another as they stepped into the role of bearing and raising children. This rite of passage into motherhood was tribe life, deeply ingrained, passed down from culture to culture, generation to generation, and woman to woman. In Native American tradition, (Dine Navajo to be accurate) a ceremony called a Blessingway created 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. Those who will provide a loving place where she can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches her journey into motherhood.
Preparing the Home for a Blessingway
On the day of the event the space is set as a sacred, calming and peaceful place. As each special guest arrives, they are asked to remove their shoes, so their bare feet can keep them grounded in vowing to support the guest of honor. There is also a bowl of rose water to wash away any burdens being carried or fears that they may have of pregnancy or birth as the guests who have been invited are asked to be here completely in the spirit of giving and supporting unconditionally. Warming candles flicker, soft comforting music is playing, and pillowy seating for the special closest sisters of support is arranged in a circle fashion. The food offered is healthy and nourishing, often times recipes that have been passed down from midwives and birth workers.
Ideas for the Blessingway Ceremony
The ceremony is open with a meditation or dedication explaining how it will unfold through the next couple of hours, followed by an introduction of how each woman came into the mother to be’s life. As the Guest of honor myself, I can truly attest to the indescribable feeling of love that just this very piece of the ceremony brings about. Being told by 5 to 10 women how special and important you are to them and the joy and love you bring to their lives is really something you cannot grasp until you have experienced it.
Blessingway Rituals: Beads, Candles, Belly Casts
While still gathered in a sacred circle, the blessingway flows into the rituals, things such as weaving a web of yarn around each guest’s wrist forming individual yet connected in spirit bracelets that symbolize the umbilical cord of the baby connected to the mother. The bracelet will remain until baby safely arrives, at that time it is cut to celebrate the arrival of new life. Another idea is lighting a large birthing candle for the honored woman and each sister lights their own votive candle while affirming a word of strength to her sister. These candles are only to be lit again when the mother has sent out the message that she is in labor and it is time.
This was my absolute favorite ritual, which gave me the most strength and feeling of support. Other ideas are belly casting, letters to the baby that tell him or her all about their mama, and stringing a necklace of beads each brought by different sisters for the mother to wear in labor. The list of ways to honor a woman in waiting is endless. There are numerous beautiful rituals that can take place during this facet of the ceremony, and if you are hosting, the perfect rituals for that specific woman will organically come to you, especially after doing a bit of research.
Blessingway Traditions: Birth Prayer Flags and Belly Henna
Following the rituals of the ceremony, the focus is shifted to pampering and adorning the mother to be. The mama is asked to have a seat in her “throne” so to speak. Each woman of support chooses a way to honor her, which can include brushing or styling her hair, adorning her with floral crowns, painting her belly with Henna and/or creating a beautiful plate of the nourishing food to offer to her. You can offer blessings to in the form of birthing prayer flags, jewelry, candles for labor, and messages which she can read while birthing. Also, post birth herbs or bath salts, a nursing box filled with calming and nurturing things which she can easily get to during those long feeds, or anything else you believe will help support her in this sacred time in her life. She is a queen, and her friends and family are worshiping her in the form of divine unconditional love.
As the blessing way begins to come to a close, you can feel the immense amount of love that has filled and expanded in the space and is surrounding the mother to be. A web has been woven, often new friendships are budding, and stories of recollection during past childbirth and mothering experiences are being shared. Mama to be is feeling like she’s floating on a cloud and she is now prepared for her journey into birthing and motherhood, knowing that she is held in a cradle of support.
Books About Blessingways
If you desire hosting a blessingway, or having a blessingway hosted in your honor, there are a number of resources you can turn to with beautiful advice. Two of my favorite resources are books. I highly recommend “Mother Rising-The Blessingway Journey into Motherhood” by Yana Cortlund Barb Lucke and Donna Miller Watelet, the other great book is “Blessingways- A Guide to Mother Centered Baby Showers” by Sheri Maser. Each of these give very detailed and insightful descriptions, walking one through step-by-step how to guide the ceremony.
Not only are blessingways a beautiful way to honor a mother, but is also changing the way we as humans view birth. Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that it is our purpose to bring new life to earth, this is what we do, we create love! Bringing back into the light the sacred ceremony of a blessing way, we are reopening a chapter for women, men, and families to view birth as a sacred occasion, something we are all capable of enjoying.
“This is the purpose of creative ritual – increasing balance in connection with in ourselves, with each other, the world, and with the larger rhythms and energies that bring stability and light to our lives.” -Renee Beck and Sydney Metrick, The Art of Ritual
Written by Elise Kirkpatrick, Photos by Ashley Perry Photography, Henna Art by San Diego Henna; Blessingway Invitation by Grey Lein.