Plan Your Own Blessingway
This ritual is designed for pregnant women, but it can also be used to celebrate other forms of creation: the birth of a new business, a change in life direction, or the blessing of a new home. Simply change baby articles to ones appropriate to the occasion.
Start by decorating an altar with baby items such as a toy, diaper, clothes, and possibly a bowl of coloured eggs to symbolize new life. Purify the altar with pastel candles and a baby rattle. Place an appropriate shaped gemstone as a gift to the mother at the altar (for example, emerald to prevent miscarriage). Invite women to place gifts around the altar. Then join in a circle around the altar and conduct your own ceremony, starting with an opening statement or poem. Use some of the ideas listed below to strengthen your ceremony. Go around the circle and have those in attendance say something to the mom. Follow the ceremony with food and fellowship to rejoice in the upcoming birth.
Consider using some of the following ideas to add significance and ritual to your blessingway ceremony.
- Ask visitors to bring an item symbolic of labour and birth, or an item you can use as a focal point during labour, such as shells (vulvas), flowers (opening), eggs, mother figurines, rocks (strength) and other items from nature, candles, herbs for labour, or even a rubber band (stretching).
- Sing songs of encouragement and release while dancing together in a circle or holding hands.
- Have visitors participate in belly henna or belling painting or belly casting.
- Traditionally, the midwife or doula would scrub the woman’s feet with cornmeal; other visitors can pamper the pregnant woman also – brush her hair, wash her feat, massage her hands, rub her back, or paint her toenails.
- Pass around a blank book for people to write their supportive wishes in.
- Pass around a ball of yarn, looping it around the wrists or ankles of each visitor to symbolize the connectedness of the women. At the end of the ceremony, the yarn can be cut between each woman and left on as a bracelet each can wear until after the birth.
- Have each visitor contribute to a string of beads (well wishes) for the new baby.
- Ask each visitor to provide a frozen meal donation for the new family, and perhaps write out the recipe for the meal or for another family favourite recipe.
- Ask each visitor to bring a food contribution to share during a potluck meal when the ceremony is over.
- Offer candles (to burn during your labour) or other small symbolic tokens for visitors to take home.
Sources: Birthing Magazine Spring 2004 and http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/pregnancyRitual.html