Blessingway Ceremony- how to create one.
Before my first child was born, a traditional baby shower was thrown for me. It was wonderful, and a good friend organised it and surprised me with gifts for my unborn child, people 'oohed and aahed' at the perfectly package matching sets of baby grows, the over sized teddies, and the neat designer dresses and bonnets, but something was amiss, I wasn't in the least bit prepared mentally for the birth of my child. I wanted to chat to my mother and grandmother about how I was raised, I wanted tips on how to wear my baby in a sling, how to deal with lack of sleep, how to prepare my body. There were a mountain of questions, but also I felt the deep need to feel surrounded by a nurturing and supportive group of woman, to assist me through this tremendous transition.
What is a Blessingway?
A Blessingway is a name for an ceremony which is intended to honor the journey that a woman makes into motherhood. The Blessingway originated from the Navajo ( Native American Tribe), and has been translated into ceremonies that can also honour a woman's journey into marriage.
The beauty of such a ceremony, is that it soothes and nurtures this rite of passage that into womanhood. So the focus is more on the metal, spiritual and emotional preparation, and not on gifts and unnecessary materialistic sentiments. Most of all... It is great fun!
Traditionally, a Blessingway would be conducted and organised by the elder/grandmother, and other female family members and close friends would attend. Strong roots are formed by including young and old, and traditions can be passed on to young mothers, which these days can be incredibly empowering in our technocratic age.
Create a sacred and safe place
Before you embark on a Blessingway, you may want to ask a close female relative of friend to organise it for you. A good friend of mine asked me to organise her Blessingway, and it was such an honor
Chose a location that you are comfortable with, normally this would be the mother-to-be's home, but you could chose a sacred outdoor space such as a beautiful park, beach, or woods to hold the ceremony in. Bear in mind that that you will need to feel as safe an secure as possible. If you chose to have a massage, belly art, of foot bathing ritual, you may not want unsuspecting members of the public getting an 'eye full' no matter how beautiful you will look.
I had my Blessingway at home, and so I could decorate the front room with candles, flowers and incense to make me feel comfortable and relaxed.
What rituals are involved?
Fortunately I was able to read the Blessingway guide which has an extensive range of ideas for rituals. Some are quite formal, and others not.
You can make up your own relaxed activities which may include, lighting a candle, reading some poetry, making a charm necklace,or dream catcher, or having a massage. It is entirely up to you, the important thing is that you the mother remains relaxed and happy.
Fun Activities for your Blessingway
For my own Blessingway, chose a simple format of gathering the women in my life that I love and admire, and sitting in a circle. We said a prayer, and shared our feminine ancestry by saying ' I am Jo Granddaughter of Betty, Daughter of Dian, Sister of Sarah,and mother of India' this was beautiful, and grounding for the group of women.
Below are a list of activities that were done at my own Blessingway
- Allow guests to write their hopes and dreams for you and your unborn child, and place those notes in a treasure jar.
- Lay out a selection of beautiful beads, and ask each guest to chose a bead, and make a wish whilst threading it onto a thread. Each guest will do this, and at the end you will have a beautiful necklace/charm bracelet. I worn mine around my neck whilst giving birth.
- Lighting a candle, I chose red candles to represent feminine energy. I gave out a candle to each woman, and asked them to light it on the evening of my child's birth.
- Angel Helpers: Friends and family, pledge to help with certain tasks after the baby is born such as; clean your home, cook you a hot meal, take care of your other children, do a food shop for you etc. These pledges came in extremely handy after my second daughter was born.
- Play relaxing music, and have some henna belly art done on your belly ( it is most relaxing)
- Foot rub/ rose foot bath- for those who do like having their feet touched!
- Make some floral head wreaths. I loved this activity the most, and everyone secretly wants to look like a fairy.
- Eat some yummy grub. Stop regularly for nibbles and drinkies, ask people to bring a dish with them.
- For mine and a friends Blessingway, we had a birth goddess style cake made, and it was fun sending home our friends with goodie bags ( I can't recall who got the boobs though!)
- Allow guests to draw a picture, or write a note in a journal or scrapbook, you'll be surprised how creative people can be if you leave them with some crayons and watercolour paint.
Keep it simple
Remember to keep it fun and relaxing, there are no right or wrong ways to conduct a Blessingway. Focus on the Mother-to-be and her unborn child, and the beauty and empowerment she we feel from this, will assist her in the glorious right of passage that is motherhood.
Creating a Belly Cast
A belly cast is a beautiful keep-sake, and can be decorated and painted as part of your Blessingway ceremony. I prepared my cast with the help of my husband a week before my Blessingway, so it had plenty of time to set and dry. Below are instructions for how I personally created mine.
Materials I used:
- Plaster of Paris strips
- Cling film
- Fine grade sandpaper
- Bowl of warm water
- Old sheet to cover area around you
- White acrylic (base layer )
- Mixed colour acrylic paints
- silk flowers
- You will need help for this part. Make sure you are really comfortable, and you will need to allow an hour to for someone to apply the strips. I would recommend that you don't lie flat on your back, instead sit in a reclined position, so you don't put too much pressure on your back.
- Decide weather you want to include your breasts in the cast or just your belly.
- Gently wrap and cover all the areas you wish to cast with cling-film, which will make the cast easy to remove when it is finished.
- Begin with wetting strips by dipping them into some water until each strip is fully covered. You'll find that after the first few strips, you will get used the consistency of water that is required.Lay from top of cast area to the bottom. Aim to lay your strips in the same direction.
- Be bold, and add several layers, it will make the cast much stronger, and it will last longer.
- As you begin with layer 2, add a loop of strong twine, or wire to the very top of the cast. This will mean that you can hang to dry when completed, and later use that hook to hang cast on a wall.
- You will notice that the strips overhang certain areas, and it may not look to pleasing! Don't worry, when it is completely dry, you can give the cast a lovely neat curve by cutting around the outside with scissors.
- Depending on the temperature of your house, or weather outside you will need to allow a few hours for the cast to dry (on your belly)
- When the top layer begins to dry, then you can take off the cast and hang it in a well ventilated and preferably warm area, and allow it to dry completely. This could take a few days.
- Cut around edge of cast, and smooth out any jagged bits by gently sanding them with a fine grade sand-paper.
- Paint a base layer of white.
- Wait until the Blessingway, and get all the girls to write on it, and decorate in which ever way you please.