Blessingway Ceremonies – Honouring Women with ritual and ceremony

Ritual for Women, Honouring Sacred Pregnancy, Birth and Motherhood

Pregnancy: Blessingway Ceremonies and Rituals

Pregnancy is a special time for a woman to be revered and honoured by her loved ones and community.  Every pregnant woman is on a unique sacred journey.  It is a time for her to know her strength, her inner wisdom and her vulnerability, to sit with the wisdom of the community, to be supported and cherished, loved and nurtured.

Belly Henna Art for a Blessingway Ceremony

Reclaiming the feminine through ritual

Ritual Celebration makes an incredible difference in a woman’s life and the life of the community.  Supporting womanhood through a strong sense of sisterhood and communally recognizing the significance of powerful events is incredibly powerful.  If a woman’s life stages are honoured and held, rights of passage become thresholds to power.  This starts with recognition of young woman’s menarche (first moon), honouring pregnancy and the postnatal period (such as closing the bones ceremonies) and then ceremony to mark the transition to menopause in the wisdom years.

I am the tree of life
root, branch and flower.
Energy flows from the center of the earth
the power of all creation.

I share the birth of every growing thing
and my opening
and each passionate urge
is a shout of joy.

(Birth Passion- Sheila Kitzinger)

The origins of the Blessingway ceremony

Blessingway Ceremonies are a Native American Navajo (Diné and Enemyway) rituals at key life stages to promote harmony and balance in the individual and community.  For pregnancy, a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood is celebrated and honoured with song and ritual.  Such ritual was tribal life, deeply ingrained, passed down from culture to culture, generation to generation and woman to woman.  The ceremony honours the cosmos herself, the elements, nature and spirit.  It offered an opportunity to explore the challenges and joys that awaited.  Such traditions have parallels all over the world.

Her modern counterpart is the baby shower, which emphasizes the baby’s gender (gender reveal parties), gifts and games.  Fun, but commercialized and not especially woman centered or nourishing.  A ritualised ceremony is in recognition of the sacred nature of new life and unconditional love and is now moving fast into the ‘conscious community’ of yoginis and women’s circles and beyond.

‘Blessings’ painted by Veronica Petrie

“The transition from Maiden to Mother is immense, it is a Rite of Passage. It is one of the greatest thresholds you will ever cross. Be brave my sisters, if you are being called to the great calling of becoming a Mother. It is truly a gift that will herald you into your fullness and you will blossom more than you could ever imagine. Yes, it is not easy, but you have all that it takes.”

Suzanne Zephyr Blake, Wild Mother Queen, Mother of Kaileb

Ideas for the Blessingway Ceremony

Before the ceremony day

  • Plan to gather the women (for 2-4+ hours) who form a meaningful part of the pregnant woman’s life, planning a private and safe space. Include the midwife or doula supporting the woman if possible.  (they are the ‘sisters’)
  • Ask sisters to assist by bringing your choice of:

A written note for a Blessing Box, An object for a centerpiece, A special bead for a bracelet or necklace, A beautiful flower for a floral crown, A gift for to include in a care package, A plate of healthy, nourishing food to share

On the ceremony day

  • Create a calming space with an altar of abundance, flower decorations, pillows, candles, sage, palo santo etc
  • Use a bowl of rose water for sisters to wash feet with on arrival, washing away any burdens being carried or fears that they may have of pregnancy/birth so sisters can be completely in the spirit of giving and supporting unconditionally.

Shopping list and preparations

  • Flowers, Fruits, Grains, Statues etc. for decorations
  • Candles and cleansing herbs (sage) or appropriate scents
  • Objects for an altar space, gifts of nature (shells, feathers), fruits and grains and symbols of abundance

Blessingway Ritual Overview and Ideas

  • Introduction/opening

Welcome the woman, seat her in her throne of comfortable pillows, offer drinks, make her comfortable

Sit in circle, open the circle, call the directions & ancestors

  • Air – East 2) South/Fire 3) West/Water 4) North/Earth 5) Above and Below

The women each introduce themselves (in their matrilineal line) and how they came to be in the mother to be’s life and describing the mother with love

“I am Jo, daughter of Christine, Granddaughter of Hilda, Great-granddaughter of Lilian, mother of Caesar and Ananda….”

Ritual ideas – chosen according the individual woman

  • A thread of a chosen colour (red?) is wrapped around each sister’s wrist in turn forming a circle. The threads are then cut and tied by a partner (symbolize the umbilical cord of the baby connected to the mother). The bracelets will remain on until the baby safely arrives

    A thread of sisterhood, interconnectivity and support

  • Each sister ties a thread onto the honoured woman’s wrist whilst their own words of support and intention are internally called
  • Stringing a necklace of beads each brought by different sisters for the mother to wear in labor in the same way

    A necklace of beads of support

  • A large ‘birthing’ candle is lit for the pregnant woman and each sister lights their own small candle while affirming a word of strength to her sister.  These candles are taken home and lit again when the mother has sent out the message that she is in labour.

    A candle to be lit by each sister when the mother is in labour

  • a candle is lit and then passed around the circle. Each sister offers a word they wish for the mother like ‘strength or ‘endurance’ and when the candle reaches the Mother, she blows it out and it can be re-lit by her when she begins her labour
  • letters to the baby that tell him or her all about their Mum
  • Facing fear by writing fears on papers that are ritually burnt
  • Reading and sharing of empowering poems and sacred words by sisters
  • Pampering and adorning the mother to be

The mother is seated in her own throne

Each sister worships her in the form of divine unconditional love.  She can:

  • style her hair, adorn her with floral crowns
  • paint a henna belly tattoo
  • offer shoulder massage, hand massage, foot massage etc with flowers
  • Offer scripture, music and text from any religious or spiritual tradition as suits the mother
  • Offer blessings and gifts (birthing prayer flags, jewelry, candles for labour, post birth herbs, a nursing box with things to support her whilst she feeds her baby)
  • Offer beautiful delicious nutritious snacks for her to eat

Closing the circle

Dedications and calling the directions.

Sharing from each woman

Woman chooses a tarot card from a pack

Sharing of nutritious food

 

Traditional Navajo elements

The altar space

 

A white stone and candle or sun symbol(fire) for the East, A blue stone and bowl of water(water) for the South, A yellow stone and feather or incense(air) for the West. 

A black stone and leaves(earth) for the North. If outside Cornmeal is scattered around the circle.  If inside a bowl of Cornmeal can be set in the center.  A small cloth covered table is set up near the mother for gifts and ceremonial tools.
The Mother-to-be sits in the Northern direction and her midwife and/or doula and/or myself to the East


Opening intention Setting

Today we gather in gratitude.  We are grateful for the new life we are about to welcome into this world.  We are grateful for the presence of (the mother) in our lives.  We also gather in preparation.  We intend to prepare (the mother) giving her strength, support and clarity in Mind, Body and Soul for herself, for her birthing and for her baby.  We start by preparing ourselves with saging, clearing out the clutter that attaches to us through our thoughts and throughout the day.

Today we acknowledge, honor, and celebrate (the mother’s) journey into Motherhood. In this sacred space we will help (the mother) clear her path to Motherhood by supporting her as she releases her fears worries and anything else that might be standing in her way of her fully embracing the coming of her child. By our coming together, we will weave a web of support for (the mother) pledging our care and our willingness to provide for her throughout the weeks to come.

Navajo chant from their Blessingway Ceremony

From the heart of Earth, by means of yellow pollen
Blessing is extended.
Blessing is extended.
On top of a pollen floor may I there in blessing give birth!
With long life-happiness surrounding me
May I in blessing give birth!
May I quickly give birth!
In blessing may I arise again, in blessing may I recover,  

Blessing of the Mother


May your feet ground you to the earth.  Roots to give you a strong foundation, so that you have the strength needed to birth your baby. (anoint feet with water or oil}

May your hands be soft, so that your body may relax and do its job to birth your baby. {anoint hands with water or oil.}

May your heart be filled with love, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.  So that you may give these to yourself, while healing from birthing your baby. {anoint chest with water or oil}

May your intuition guide you in labor and in raising a child.  You are the divine feminine.  Childbirth and motherhood are an ancient act ingrained into our DNA.  May you listen to your instinct and see things as they truly are. {anoint brow with water or oil}

May you honor the connection between body, mind and spirit. May you connect the human experience of birthing your babe with the spiritual experience of welcoming new life into this world. {anoint crown with water or oil.}

Books About Blessingways

Yana Cortlund Barb Lucke and Donna Miller Watelet,

Sheri Maser

 

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