Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Mother's Blessing

I was given the honor of leading a Mother's Blessing for dear friend of mine today. Although I have experienced a Mother's Blessing, I wanted to research it further as to give everyone the best experience that I could give. In my research, I found many, many wonderful websites with readings, inspirations and ideas for holding a Mother's Blessing- but very few sites had a thorough description of everything that was done.

I took bits and pieces from many websites, in addition to personal thoughts and inspiration from the mama and put together this guide for myself to reference while leading the ceremony. Many segments are directly cut from websites, my references follow.

This image, called “Blessings” was painted by Veronica Petrie, and is available through her Etsy shop, The Painted Forest.

Scrapbook Pages
I had asked everyone ahead of time to bring a printed or written out message of inspiration or positivity to share. As the guests arrived, we had them decorate scrapbook pages for the Mama, attaching their messages to the scrapbook page.

Rock Painting
As we were waiting on more guests, we continued on the crafty route and painted smooth rocks with decorations and words of affirmation for Mama.

Once everyone was settled and had a snack, I began with an introduction to what a Mother's Blessing is, and how it differs from a baby shower.

Introduction to a Mother's Blessing
The Mother's Blessing  Ceremony, also known as The Blessingway  or Blessing Way Ceremony originates from the Navajo people.  It is a very positive ritual, affirming that a woman will have a natural and beautiful birth experience. It is a ceremony of empowerment  near the time of birthing.  Within a circle of friends in a quiet, gentle, spiritual ceremony, those attending will celebrate sisterhood, welcome a new baby to earth and honor mother, birth life and rebirth.  

"Just as a tree grows best when anchored firmly in the earth, so can a pregnant mother feel strong and capable when supported by a sisterhood of nurturing friends." -April Lussier

Sage Cleansing
If you're in a group where this would be appreciated and welcomed, this is an excellent practice. First of all, use the entire bundle to cleanse the room, or the area where you will be. Be careful of dropping hot embers if you're inside as they will burn a carpet. Start at the back of the room, walk along each wall reaching as high as you can, and then criss-cross the center of the room letting the smoke rise at its own pace. As you walk, ask that only positive energy be present, and that the group be blessed with experiences for their highest and best good. Then cleanse each person as they enter the room as described above in Personal Cleansing. Ask that they be made peaceful, and blessed with positive awareness and learning.

Personal Introductions/ Presentation of Beads
I had also asked the guests ahead of time to bring beads to contrubute to the Mama's birth necklace.
Birth beads (necklace or bracelet) can be worn throughout pregnancy and during birth to serve as a reminder to the mother-to-be of the love and support she has and the many wisdoms she will receive from so many powerful women in her life. Creating a necklace or bracelet serves as a symbol and memory of the shared experiences and strength of all the women in her life. If planned correctly, the necklace or bracelet will be a true source of comfort and worn with joy for many years.
When the guest places the bead onto the string, she recounts the story of how she is connected to the mother-to-be, how their friendship/relationship has helped and influence her, and what her wishes (blessings) or wisdoms are for the mother during her journey of motherhood.

One of the beads that I had chosen to add to Mama's necklace reminded me of this excerpt that i head heard read at another Mother's Blessing, so I read it aloud as I added my beads.

From the book Joyful Birth: A Spiritual Path to Motherhood by Susan Piver
The path of motherhood has a beginning, but no end. It’s constantly changing and constantly challenging. Along the way, we encounter our personal limits over and over. We fall in love over and over. We ride the sharp edge of hope and fear. On this path of discovery, as on any spiritual path, our pretensions are shattered, our minds are blown, and our hearts are opened. We cry, we laugh, we bumble around and make countless mistakes. Through it all, we are gently—or abruptly—poked into greater honesty, lovingkindness, and understanding. It is a truly joyful path.

The memory of [my son's] birth has become a talisman that I hold in my heart as I journey deeper and deeper into motherhood. For these moments come again in every mother’s life—the times when we are asked to walk straight into our pain and fear, and in doing so, open up to a love that is greater than anything we ever could have imagined: all life’s beauty and wonder, as well as all the ways that things can break and go wrong…Again and again, motherhood demands that we break through our limitations, that we split our hearts open to make room for something that may be more than we thought we could bear. In that sense, the labor with which we give birth is simply a rehearsal for something we mothers must do over and over: turn ourselves inside out, and then let go.

Web Of Womanhood
"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 thoughts as she approaches the moment of birth."

Using hemp (durable and works well), yarn or string, connect each woman's wrist to one another's in a circle, creating  'a web of womanhood'.  Once the cord connects everyone together, tell how it unites you all  and it represents your circle of sisters and the circle of life. You then cut the cord, leaving enough length to tie the ends into a bracelet for each woman.  Now tell them that although it appears we are separate, the bracelet reminds us as women, we are all cut from the same ball of yarn.  Suggest that the women continue to wear the bracelet until the birth, to serve as a reminder of the strength a group of women can hold for a birthing mother.

Birth Stories
We all then went around the room telling our personal birth stories. This is always quite an experience in a group of women because while there are some similarities among some experiences- ALL births are so very different.

Although a Mother's Blessing is mother centered, not baby centered, you just can not tell a Grandma or Great Grandma that they can't bring baby presents- and there is nothing wrong with that.

The mama sent everyone home with candles on candle holders she made out of salt dough clay. They are very creative! The guests have been asked to burn them while mama is in labor.

Leading this Mother's Blessing was a wonderful experience. Everyone commented on how they enjoyed the positivity and intimacy that was shared. I feel closer to the mama, and look forward to being her support person in the delivery room!

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