We were honored to host Davis County’s Positive Birth Group for March 2017. For this, we presented about Mother Blessings. Here is a recap of the presentation:
Unlike a traditional baby shower where the focus is on gifts for the baby, a Mother Blessing is a mother-centered shower to nurture the pregnant woman. The woman’s closest friends and family gather in love to build up her mind, body, and soul in preparation for her journey into motherhood. The hope of a Mother Blessing is that the pregnant woman leaves filled with love, strength, confidence, and belief in the ability of her body to birth her baby.
“Blessingway” is often the term used in connection with a gathering honoring the pregnant woman. The term Mother Blessing should be used instead, out of respect for the Navajo traditions. The term ‘Blessingway’ refers to a sacred Navajo blessing ceremony that is used to ensure good luck and prosperity.
There is no right or wrong way to host a Mother Blessing. If close friends and family live out of town, there are still several ceremonies you can do at the Blessing with a gift that can be mailed.
Typically for a Mother Blessing there are five stages: beginning, shifting, focusing, completing, and feasting.
Stage 1 Beginning: Create a space that looks and feels special. Guests need to become centered and ready to participate in a sacred ceremony for the mother, usually forming a circle to create a feeling of support.
You can begin the Blessing by cleansing and purifying. Cleansing and purifying helps everyone to shift their focus to the gathering. Some examples of cleansing and purifying are smudging, rose water purification, and salt water purification.
Smudging is where you burn various dried herbs to create a smoke that is used to help center and purify the guests physically, spiritually, and emotionally, carrying away any unwanted energy.
Both rose water or salt water can be used to cleans and purify. Ask each guest to dip their hands into the rose water and release any unwanted thoughts or energy before returning to the circle. If you want to use salt water, sprinkle some around the room to clear away old memories and energies. Have the guests say aloud:
“May these waters from the West renew and ready this space for the important work we will do here today.”
Now ask each guest to sprinkle some salt water on herself while letting go of any negative thoughts or energies. All the guests should remain standing until the circle is cast.
Next you will cast the circle. The circle is a safe confidential space you create allowing the women to open themselves to each other. There are two ways to cast the circle, praying together or defining the circle. Any form of prayer is fine, but one way you can do this is to hold hands and say together:
“Let us form this circle with clear thoughts, wise words, and kinds hearts.”
If you want to define the circle instead, you can carry a lit smudge stick or sprinkle salt water while going around the circle. When you are back at your starting point, announce that the circle has been cast.
Stage 2 Shifting: This is where you state the purpose, intent, or theme of the mother blessing such as: bonding with baby, successful nursing relationship, first boy or girl child in the family, achieving a successful VBAC, creating family unity, etc. You state the purpose so that everyone knows what you are trying to accomplish by holding this blessing.
After the purpose has been stated you then go around the circle and introduce yourselves so that no one is a stranger to one another. After introductions have been done it is time to connect with one another and your collective feminine spirit. Sharing food or drink is one way to connect. Meditation is another way. You can have silent meditation, music meditation or a birth story visualization. For the visualization, ask the mother to write down her ideal birth ahead of time so you can read it for the group. Lead the group through the birth story visualization to support and help manifest the mother’s ideal birth.
Next, you want the guests to be present to the purpose by releasing their fears or any distractions. One way to do this is by holding a fear release Burning Ritual. For this ritual you can make an herbal mixture that you will throw into the fire with your fear, distraction, or something that you would like to let go of. Each guest writes down their fear, then, starting with the mother, take your piece of paper with your written fear and a bit of the herbal mixture and throw it into the fire. After everyone who wants to participate has had a turn, you can end the ritual by saying:
“By burning these things, we release our fears, expectations, and distractions to the four winds. May we now be free to focus our minds and hearts upon the present moment.”
Another way to release fears is to have a Worry Jar Ritual. Be sure that the jar has a lid to effectively contain all the fears. Pass the jar around and have each woman read (if they want to) their written fear then have them fold and place it inside the jar. The paper in the Worry Jar should be disposed of after the Blessing is over. You can do this by burying the papers or by burning them and then burying or scattering the ashes.
Stage 3 Focusing: This is where you honor and pamper the mother and give gifts that will help her on her journey.
Examples of Ceremonies to have at a Mother Blessing include:
Belly Casting: you can make the belly cast at the Blessing, or if it has already been made, you can have the guests decorate the belly cast, or have them write an affirmation or design.
Letters to baby about the mother. Ask each guest to write a letter to the baby. Go around the circle and have each guest read their letter aloud telling the baby about his or her special mother. These are great for out of town guests.
Affirmation Banner: Have each guest decorate a banner with an inspirational image, phrase, affirmation, or design that relates to birthing or feeling empowered (the messages can be written in person or mailed). Connect the pieces of fabric with a cord or piece of yarn, and the mother can hang it in her birthing space.
Blessing Basket: Have each guest write a blessing or affirmation for the mother on a slip of paper then place the piece of paper inside a plastic Easter egg. Pass a basket around the circle for the women to place their egg inside. Someone can then hide the eggs in the mother’s birthing space for her to find in labor when she feels like she needs some inspiration.
Bead Ceremony: Have guests send or bring a bead. The beads can be strung into a necklace or bracelet. As you string each bead, the woman who contributed it can share a blessing, thought, or simply the meaning behind why she chose the bead for the mother. The mother can then keep the beads close – during pregnancy, labor, and beyond – to remind her of the love and support from her friends and family.
PowerPoint Blessings: Especially good for friends who cannot come to an in person ceremony, gather photos of the mother (any photos will work) and put them together with special words of love and music.
Wish Tree: Create a miniature tree from a branch and plant it in a pretty pot. Have each woman write a wish for the mother using decorative paper. Tie the wishes to the tree as “leaves.”
Nature Mobile: Every woman brings something from nature (a branch, a dried flower, crystals, etc.). Create a mobile to hang – it can hang in the mother’s birthing space and can also be enjoyed later by the baby.
Anointing with Oil: Give each woman attending a slip of paper that tells them a specific body part to anoint. Women can read blessings such as “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. What ever the mother needs for her journey.
Natural Centerpiece: Ask each guest to bring a flower. Gather all of the flowers for a centerpiece or a crown; the woman can dry them and keep them.
Blanket: Ask guests to write short notes with fabric markers. Then someone can embroider over each message to keep the notes intact.
Create a Quilt: Ask each guest to bring a square for a quilt. Have a specific size in mind for each square, and let the guests know how finished to make the squares. Someone will need to finish the quilt. (Peaceful Deliveries offers this service.) The mother can hang the quilt or just have it present in her birthing space and also use it for the baby.
Henna: Another ceremony you can do is Henna. The henna plant is believed to bring love, luck, protection, and good fortune. You can have each guest add something special to the mother’s design, or have a professional come and do a belly design while leading the guests through a visualization. Raquel Alfaro does an amazing job!
River Stones: Provide each guest with a smooth river stone. Ask them to think of a word they would like the mother to have during labor. Each guest should write her word on the stone, then everyone can share why they chose their word. The mother can place the rocks in a special container and place it somewhere special in her birth space.
Stuff a Baby Blanket: Make a no-sew fleece tie blanket. Before finishing it ask the guests to write a special message to the mother and/or baby on small pieces of light colored fabric. Take pictures of all the messages, then insert them into the blanket before tying it up. The blanket can be big enough for the mother, or smaller for the baby.
Book of Mothering Wisdom: Have friends who are mothers (near and far) write some words of wisdom pertinent to labor, to being a mother or partner, or meaningful poems. One person could turn the notes into a keepsake book. Go around the circle and have each mother read her contribution before adding it to a book.
Foot bath: A foot bath honors the mother’s “own two feet” on which she will have to stand in order to care for someone else. A foot bath is recognized to wash away childhood making way for motherhood. Fill a basin full of warm water and some special herbs to make a wonderful foot bath for the mother. While her feet are soaking, the mother can be receiving a massage and have her hair brushed. You can provide a bar of soap to wash her feet and then moisturize them after they have dried.
Massage: Each guest could take a turn massaging the mother readying her for her journey into motherhood.
Braiding or beading hair: If she has long hair, guests can make tiny braids and secure the end with beads. Each guest can infuse the beads with affirmations or blessings. You can also weave ribbons or dried flowers into her hair.
Kind Words: All guests place a hand on the mother at the same time and take turns offering her well wishes or blessings to her and/or her baby.
Candle Ceremony: Give each guest a candle and have a large candle that will go home with the pregnant woman. Light the candle of the woman standing to the left of the mother. As each guest’s candle is lit, the person can say a blessing or a few words about what she wishes for the mother. When she is finished speaking, she lights the candle of the woman standing to the left of her; it continues around the circle until it reaches the mother, who is holding the large candle. The mother can then light the large candle when she goes into labor, and the guests can light their own candles in support.
Another variation of this ceremony is to have each guest offer their wish or blessing to the mother, light their candle from the central candle (the mother’s candle), then place their candle next to the mother’s on an altar. At the end of the ceremony, extinguish the candles, then have each guest light their candle at home when the mother goes into labor.
Calling Tree: Be sure to have a calling tree or Facebook group to let each guest know when it is time for them to light their candle.
Salt Bowl Ceremony: A Salt Bowl ceremony is a practice that involves passing a large bowl of sea salt around the circle. Each guest adds their own special ingredient (essential oils, sage, finely chopped citrus peel, lavender that you picked from your home garden, honey, sugar, etc.) they also add their intentions, blessings, gratitude and prayers for the pregnant woman to co-create a large bowl of powerfully smelling sea salt. Each guest gets to take some of this salt home with them. They can bathe in the intentions and love, wash their hands with the well wishes and kind thoughts that were lovingly added, or smell and remember the love and support that you felt as each person added their selves to the bowl.
Stage 4 Completing: Before closing the ceremony you will need to raise the energy to concentrate the work that has been done, then affirm the connections that have been made with the mother and each other. Raising energy makes the intentions more real within the participants so that each guest will become charged with a power even after leaving the circle.
One way to raise energy is to have the guests hold hands while singing or chanting a powerful song. Once the energy is raised you will send the energy into the universe where it can be shared and then returned to you. One way to do this is to listen and focus on the silence. Once the energy is received back, you will need to ground the excess energy that you cannot hold so that it can be returned to Earth. One way to do this is to place your palms on the floor.
Now you can move onto closing ceremonies. One ceremony you can do is called Web Weaving. Web Weaving can help you to stay connected to the mother beyond the day of the Blessing. Have one guest wrap yarn around their wrist then throw to another guest in the circle for them to wrap yarn around their wrist. Have each guest visualize the collective blessings for the mother. Once everyone is intertwined, pull slightly to feel the strength of the connections you have just made. Then say together:
“We are the flow, we are the ebb, we are the weavers, we are the web.”
You will then help each other cut the yarn and tie it off to make a bracelet. Each guest will wear the bracelet until the mother has given birth, being reminded to send her positive energy whenever they look at it.
Before opening the circle, be sure to check with the mother to ensure her needs and desires have been met. Once your work has been completed, you may now open the circle and move to stage five. You can open the circle by stating:
“Our circle is open but remains unbroken.”
After opening the circle you can end with a prayer that acknowledges the work that has been done. There is a powerful African prayer that reads:
“Let us take care of our children, for they have a long way to go. Let us take care of our elders, for they have come a long way. Let us take care of those of us in between, for we are doing the work.”
Stage 5 Feasting: Feasting smooths the transition from a sacred space to social space of our daily lives. We bring our awareness back to our physical bodies. While everyone is eating you can pass out information such as the calling tree, Facebook groups, or even make arrangements for a Meal Train where guests sign up to bring a meal for the mother and her family after she has her baby.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to have a Mother Blessing. As long as the mother was honored and leaves filled with love, strength, confidence, and belief in the ability of her body to birth her baby, you did it right. You can take from here what you like and leave what you don’t. If you want help planning a Mother Blessing, contact us and we would be honored to help you.
We hope to see you at the next Positive Birth Group in May!
Cortlund, Yana (author), Lucke, Barb (author), Miller Watelet, Donna (author). Mother Rising. Celestial Arts, 2006.
Dionna. “30 Ideas for Mother Blessing Ceremonies.” Codename: Mama. 26 Oct. 2011. codenamemama.com/2011/10/26/mother-blessings/. Accessed 8 March 2017.