20 Sep '18
From Baby Shower to Blessing Way - Reclaiming Ritual for the Modern Mama
Thankfully, there’s been a resurgence in recent years of a traditional Navajo ritual that honors the mother-to-be and blesses her journey of birth and becoming. This ancient ritual, known as a Blessing Way, centers the mother, rather than the baby, and reminds the mother how supported she is from within and all around her. Most often, the mama-to-be invites the closest women in her life to hold this sacred circle for her. Sometimes a doula or midwife will facilitate the ritual, sometimes a dear friend. Here are five practices you can integrate to create your own modern take on this ancient ritual:
- Birthing necklace. Everyone brings a special bead for the mama-to-be. The bead is presented to the mama with a blessing - whether that’s a personal and spontaneous blessing from the heart, a poem, a prayer, a song, or a dance. Whoever can’t join in person for the blessing way can still send their bead and written or recorded blessing ahead of time to be included with the birthing necklace. The beads are collectively strung to create a necklace for the mama to wear while she is in labor. This necklace offers her a tangible reminder of all the blessings and prayers her sisterhood holds for her and gives her that extra encouragement she may need in challenging moments of her journey.
- Weaving the web + anchoring the light. A large spool of string is passed around the circle. Each sister ties a bracelet around her wrist, cuts the string, and passes it to her neighbor. The bracelets remain on everyone’s wrist until the mama goes into labor. They serve as a reminder to hold the mama in their thoughts and to send her their prayers and visions for a peaceful birth. Once the mama enters labor, each sister cuts the bracelet and offers her prayer for a smooth labor and birth. (This can also be done with candles instead of, or in addition to, bracelets. Everyone receives a candle to take home. The candles can be decorated or have a special intention written on it. When the mama goes into labor, each sister lights her candle and offers her prayer for a blessed birth.)
- Birth art. Whether it’s painting affirmation cards or grounding stones or prayer flags, creating art that the mama can place on her altar or around her home in the days and weeks leading up to birth can serve as a beautiful reminder of her strength, grace, and wisdom. These creative gifts from her tribe help her not only prepare her inner and outer landscape for a beautiful birth, but also offer her invaluable love and guidance throughout her labor.
- The mother speaks. Often times the mama holds both excitement and joy for becoming a mother as well as fear for the unknown, and even grief for all she is leaving behind in her maidenhood. Most mamas-to-be don’t have the opportunity to fully feel and express this range of emotions and experiences. Within the safe and sacred container, the sisterhood is holding for her, the mama receives the space to be heard, seen, and honored in her truth. With the guidance of the blessing way facilitator, the mama is given the gift of fully feeling and expressing what’s alive in her while being witnessed and validated by her sisters in her full spectrum journey.
- Adorning the mother. Often the yummiest part of the ritual for the mama-to-be. The mama is ideally seated in a soft and comfy chair or couch and has this time to completely relax and receive. Sisters will place a bowl of warm water, often with flower petals, salts, and/or crystals, at the mama’s feet for a good soak. Everyone will come up to the mother for a few minutes and massage her hands, feet, or shoulders, stroke her hair, whisper her words of encouragement, and shower her with flowers.
If you’re a mama or mama-to-be looking for more soulful living, sacred ritual, and sisterhood to guide you on your motherhood journey, check out Arielle’s upcoming group program Liberated Mother. To learn more, apply, and receive your exclusive Onzie discount, visit www.liberatedmother.com. Use the discount code ONZIE in the application to receive 20% off. You can always find Arielle on Instagram @ariellesaragardner and on Facebook under Arielle Gardner.
Arielle Gardner is a ceremonialist, relationship mentor, Mama Moonlodge facilitator, healing arts practitioner, yoga teacher, birth doula, gardener, mother, stepmother, and beloved partner. She is devoted to walking a path of embodiment and remembrance of her divine nature and to guiding mothers to align with their authentic divinity for the healing of humanity and Mother Earth. She holds the vision for an awakened culture and consciousness and a regenerated Earth where all of Life is honored.