Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers -strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. [Barbara Katz]
I wanted to write this post today, the day of my Blessingway (or Mother Blessing - there are different words for it which can be confusing - I talk about this further below), while the memories are still vivid and my heart is still full of love, gratitude and appreciation for the wonderful ladies in my life who shared this special day with me.
What is a Blessingway?
Pregnancy is a powerful time in a woman's life that deserves great respect. A Blessingway is a traditional old Navajo (Native American) gathering that focuses on preparing the mother emotionally and spiritually for childbirth and motherhood.
I use the term 'Mother Blessing' out of respect for the Navajo tradition, particularly having read this
I think we can respectfully learn from such indigenous cultures and seek to understand these traditional ceremonies, while also acknowledging the culture from which they originate. We can seek to make the ceremony deeply personal to us, within the context of its original purpose. Referring to my Blessing as a Mother Blessing was part of this process for me. I will refer to it as Mother Blessing from this point.
Why have a Blessingway?
There is a great power in bringing women together in a circle and I felt that power today when the energy and focus was on me and my baby. I could really feel the strength the ladies offered in their presence, words and offerings to take me on my journey to birth my second baby and to enter motherhood again.
As Lucy Pearce comments in her fabulous book, Moon Time, pregnancy and birth are such enormous milestones in any woman's life yet we tend to hardly acknowledge them. So often in our culture we celebrate big events with gifts. While such gifts are received with gratitude, I feel they are often given out of obligation or absent of real thought and intention. What I have really loved about my Mother Blessing is that the tokens and gifts offered by my circle were small but the gift of full presence, time and energy from each and every one of the ladies who held the space for me was incredibly powerful.
In today's culture, how often do we give one another full support and love? The ladies today pledged to walk alongside me in this transitional step into motherhood, for a second time, and their words of support and just being with me is bigger than any physical gift I can imagine.
The words of encouragement from my amazing friends were so beautiful. I thought maybe my friends would think it was a bit 'hippy' or weird but it just felt so natural with a group of women coming together to be open and supportive of one another - the way it should be.
As my friends arrived, they were greeted with homemade banana cake and a nourishing blend of mother blend tea of chamomile, rose petals and fennel.
The wonderful host, Melonie Syrett opened the scared space and connected us with the intention to honour and nourish me as I step forward into motherhood once again.
We then made a physical connecting thread with red wool which each of my friends wove around their wrists while connecting with our female lineage who were called upon to walk alongside me in this journey.
I asked each of the ladies to bring a bead, or thread a piece of ribbon, onto a necklace which will serve as my birthing necklace. Each friend took their turn to thread the bead/ribbon and say a few words about how they know me and anything else they wished to say. Some very thoughtful and heartfelt words were said. One friend read a poem from the fabulous book, Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur, and another poem by Dai'Sha Sharese which was just beautiful.
The picture above shows a charm of a tree which was brought by one my very good friends. She said it was symbolic of me having deep roots while at the same time reaching for the stars. How lovely. The other charm represents family - my little family of 3, soon to be 4, is the most important thing to me so this is a beautiful charm to have on my necklace while I am in labour.
Foot massage and touch
The ladies then nurtured me with a foot massage of chamomile and rose petals, while others massaged my hands and others plaited my hair. Other ladies made a beautiful crown of fresh flowers for me. In our modern culture, being nurtured in this way is largely absent, yet it is one of our most essential needs as humans.
Gathering of home cooked food made with love
We stopped to share lunch where each of my wonderful friends had brought an offering of home cooked food for the circle to share. Without any clear division of responsibilities, all the ladies worked together as a team to heat the dishes, arrange it on the table in serving dishes and then clear the dishes. It was amazing to see everyone come together and reminded me of the long forgotten village of support new mothers are so sorely lacking. I felt hope today that we can come together and build this village.
The wonderful Melonie who hosted my Mother Blessing chose the following flowers for their symbolic meaning:
Willow - creativity, fertility, female rights of passage, inspiration, emotion, love, protection and healing.
Daffodils - rebirth, resurrection, renewal and new beginnings.
Carnations - protection, strength, healing and achieving balance.
I bought each friend who attended a beeswax candle. We agreed that they would each light a candle in my honour, as soon as they hear that labour has begun.
We sang together at the end which I think everyone enjoyed once they got started. I sensed my friends were a little reticent to sing initially but they all seemed to embrace it. The first song was 'I Sing Her praises' by Andrea Geitz and the final song was I'm Gonna Lift My Sister Up which was such an uplifting song. I loved it so much.
How to plan a Mother Blessing
I would recommend reading the following books:
The Blessingway by Veronika Robinson. I love this book - so many great ideas.
Moon Time by Lucy Pearce. There is only a small section on Mother Blessings but I feel the book gives a good overall context to ceremonies for women including red tents.
I sent an email around to all of the guests setting out an outline of what they could expect at my Mother Blessing - nobody had been to one previously and most people were not familiar with it. I arranged for Melonie Syrett to host the Mother Blessing which was the best decision. You could always have a close friend or family member do this but I feel the choice of who you choose to host it is important as it sets the tone for the whole ceremony. A huge thank you to Melonie Syrett for organising and hosting the Mother Blessing which was full of ancient wisdom and sacred rituals honouring Mother Earth and our female lineages. Melonie lives in the South East of England and can be found here www.meloniesyrett.org. She has such a great, loving energy and so much passion for honouring women.
I feel so connected to the ladies who came today and the women who came before them. I feel it is so important to hold the space to mark these important stages of our life as women. I am embracing a major transitional stage for me and my family but I feel so loved and ready for it thanks to my tribe today.
The beautiful photos above were taken by my talented friend who has a great Instagram account @misconvention where you can check out more of her beautiful shots. I am very grateful for my friend taking the time to take these photos and capture the special moments.