As many of my friends prepare to welcome new babes into their arms and hearts I am (not very secretly) hoping they have a blessingway. A blessingway is a gathering for the purpose of encouraging, pampering, blessing and nurturing the mother and baby in preparation for giving birth. It is a celebration of the miracle of pregnancy and the transition into motherhood. It is a lovely alternative to the 'baby shower' without all the presents and funny games. Traditionally a part of Native American culture, the blessingway is gaining popularity among western women who seek some ceremony and meaning to the preparation for motherhood. Usually a small group of female friends or family are invited to bless the mother. I have included some of my favourite blessingway activities and ideas.
: : Introducing the mother lines ~ Each woman introduces herself and her other known mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers (I am Emma, daughter of Lynette who is the daughter of Anne, who is the daughter of Ivy etc).
: : Making of Prayer Flags ~ pieces of cloth can be drawn on or stitched and then joined together as decoration for the birth space or encouragement for the mother.
: : Sharing Blessings ~ Each woman brings a blessing (something handmade, a poem, a picture etc) to encourage the mother.
: : Pampering ~ The women offer the mother to be a foot bath, hand massage, shoulder massage, hair braiding, belly massage etc
: : Lighting candles ~ Each woman brings a candle to gift the mother for lighting during the birth of times of needing support.
: : Making a Birth Necklace/Bracelet ~ Each woman brings a special bead or beads to be made into a necklace for the mother to wear during the birth or for support.
: : Sharing Food ~ Everyone brings something nourishing to share or for the freezer/fridge of the mother.
: : Belly Painting ~ with henna or body paints to honour the beautiful pregnant belly.
: : Flower or Herb Crowns ~ These can be made from plants from the mother's garden and worn during the blessingway. Can be dried and hung in the baby room.
: : Red String Ceremony ~ A long piece of red wool is wound around each of the women's wrists binding them together. The mother cuts the wool and ties them in place as red bracelets for each of her special women. These are worn until the baby is safely born and can be cut off when first meeting the babe.
: : Nature Mobile ~ Every woman brings something from nature (a branch, a dried flower, crystals, etc.). Create a simple mobile to hang – it can grace the mamma’s birthing space and/or can be enjoyed by the new baby.
: : Anointing with Oil ~ Each woman anoints a different body as a blessings such as “I anoint your head for all of the decisions you will make in the coming years.” “I anoint your hands for all the times they will cradle your baby.” “I anoint your knees for all the times they will kneel to tend to children.” You can anoint hips (for easy birthing), breasts (for abundant milk), etc.
: : Blessing Tree ~ Branch in a pot and little blessing written on paper and tied to the branch as leaves.
The options really are endless and can be really individualised for the needs and personalities of the mother and her supporting 'tribe'. The mother can give each of her special women a candle to take home and light when she goes into labour, or when they hear the baby is safely earthside. I LOVE to get a text message - usually in the early hours of the morning to 'light your candle' and then hope and pray for a gentle and safe emergence into the world.