Pregnancy - The Blessingway
A Blessingway ceremony is a way to celebrate the the changes that unfold during a woman's pregnancy and encourages friends and family members to nurture the pregnant mother, creating love and positive energy which will follow her throughout her pregnancy. Baby showers focus primarily on things for the baby, whereas a Blessingway ceremony focuses on the needs of the pregnant mother. Milestone and changes in a woman's life such as; menstruation, marriage, pregnancy, birth, menopause and divorce can also be celebrated with a Blessingway ceremony an old Navajo tradition.
Rituals such as smudging, lighting beeswax candles, incense and essential oils will prepare her sacred birthing space, creating lasting memories that will help her focus on her Babymoon, usually a 30 days period where parents spend quiet time bonding with their newborn baby. A Blessingway is a wonderful way to prepare for a homebirth, helping her get her home ready for the most incredible journey into motherhood. If possible, including the pregnant mother in the planning of her Blessingway celebration is best. Letting her choose which rituals she feels the most comfortable with, and helping compile the guest list makes the event a more personal experience and gears it towards her needs. Unlike a baby shower, keeping the gathering to an intimate number of guests helps ensure a more positive energy on this personal journey.
For my Blessingway ceremony, celebrating my pregnancy and the upcoming birth of my child, we invited 10 women to participate. This is how my evening unfolded; My friends who had planned my Blessingway arrived early to assit with set up and began my ceremony by smudging my home with sage. We walked throughout my home with a beautiful bound bouquet of sage that was lit to release a gently smoke that prepared my home for the upcoming birth of my 9th child. It's important to make sure the invitations go out with enough notice, giving the guests time to prepare their thoughts, create or gather beads will help the Blessingway unfold into a unique, and memorable experience for all who participate, especially the mother. Make sure you explain the origins of The Blessingway" in your invitations and describe how it is celebrated and why. Each Blessingway is unique and should be planned with the mothers desires and needs in mind.
After all the guests had arrived, together each woman lite a candle from a handmade beeswax candle referred to as "The Mother Candle", to this day my mother candle sits in my garden at the foot of a meditating Buddha statue. The lighting of each candle symbolized their connection to me during my journey through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood once again. My friends shared prayers, mantras, and special thoughts which created a positive energy that united us all. Each of my friends took a candle home, which they lit when I when my labour began.
Soon after we had a red thread ceremony where a red string was used to bind the group, symbolizing the circle of friendship and the incredible bond we shared. The string was divided into lengths to fit wrists and ankles which were worn by my friends for the duration of my pregnancy. Once again the string represents the connection these women had to me, the the mother! The bracelets remind the women of the pregnant mother, sending positive energy her way. As a practicing Buddhist, I really appreciated the symbolism and the connection to this Buddhist tradition.
"Buddhists have a tradition of tying a piece of red string around the neck or wrists of a pregnant woman's family as a way of keeping vigil for the birth. The string is a daily reminder to hold the woman in their prayers as she approaches the moment of motherhood."
With cups of tea, and treats in hand we gathered in a circle in my living room. My friends presented me with a journal, which has become an incredible keepsake of my Blessingway! Guests received a blank page from my journal to create their own entry. Peoplewere encouraged to have them ready before the event, or bring it with them the night of the Blessingway. The pages were presented to me during a circle where we shared poetry, and personal thoughts. Here are some ideas for journal page entries, many of these were included in my journal: photos, stories, poetry, inspirational quotes, sketches, drawings, reflections, artwork, and a letter to the mother.
Seven gifts were choosen for this Blessingway ceremony. My guests were asked to bring the following; A non-toxic Bead, no plastic as it will eventually become a nursing necklace that will be handled by my baby, a stone or rock, and a perennial from their garden. The beads that were collected were strung to create a nursing necklace for the me and my baby. The stones and statues become a wonderful addition to my garden, creating an everlasting memory, "A Blessingway Garden".
The above were the first three of the seven gifts presented to me. The remainder of the gifts were unique and thoughtful. Encourage your guests to choose gifts for the mother rather than for the baby. Some suggestions are; cards, wind chimes, handmade crafts such as soap, oils, knit or crochet and/or sewn items, candles and poetry. Don't forget, you can use space in your journal entry to describe why you chose your particular gifts.
A nursing necklace is usually created after the Blessingsway in order to be sure all friend and family member who wish to participate, that might be too far away to attend the ceremony in person has an opportinuty to include their beads, and made sure the mother gets it in time for the labour and birth. I received mine at my Blessingway, it was and still is a beautiful reminder of the evening, and surrounded me with positive thoughts and energy during my labour and birth of my son.
Tip: As a fun activity at a dear friend's Blessingway, we had a belly dancer come and teach us some belly dancing moves that are recommended during labour.
"In it's primitive form, belly dancing was a form a worshiping the ancient earth mother goddess. It was a childbirth ritual; the dance mimes giving birth. The basic movements of the abdomen are similar to the natural childbirth methods touted by Fernand Lamaze."
A Blessingway is a gift and a treasured memory of a mother's journey through pregnancy and birth, if you have the to know a pregnant woman consider Blessing The Way and celebrating her journey with a Blessingway.
Blessingways: A Guide To Mother-centered Baby Showers - Celebrating Pregnancy, Birth, And Motherhood
Mother Rising: The Blessingway Journey Into Motherhood
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation