Breathing deeply, reclining comfortably on my throne of cushions I gazed down at my friend adorning my full moon belly with henna. It was swollen with baby, just like my feet, hands, and eyes were; yet in this space I felt luxuriously supported and comfortable. We smiled enjoying the silence together as she worked. Earlier, I had spoken to the group about my fears of not knowing how to take care of my baby when she arrived. This ritual was designed to support me in “feeling my way through the darkness” into the labyrinth of motherhood. Finally my friend spoke, “I will tell you what my mother told me before my daughter was born, and my grandmother told her, and my great-grandmother told my grandmother; love the Hell out of your daughter, and the rest will take care of itself.” Tears stung in my eyes as I drew in this fierce wisdom. The words settled deep into my bones, and I knew they were true. I was already wildly in love with my little one, and I knew she would tell me what she needed.
This scene illustrates one of my favorite memories from my own Blessingway (also called Mother Blessing) planned and implemented by Joy. Through my work with the Triangle Holistic Birth Collective http://triangleholisticbirth.com/, I am honored to also offer Blessingway rituals to expectant mothers. The Blessingway ceremony is an occasion to celebrate the expectant mother and her family for the spiritual journey they are undertaking. This contrasts acutely to the modern baby shower, which focuses on “buying things for the baby,” rather than responding to the emotional needs of the mother. Every Blessingway is unique and is tailored to celebrate and support the mother’s inner journey. Ritual, story, art, drama, and symbol all speak to us on a deep level in a way that ordinary conversation cannot. The Blessingway is a beautiful gift for new mothers, and also to celebrate the expansion of a family that has already given birth to their first child. In some Blessingway rituals the mother chooses for the older sister or husband to be included, supporting them as they expand into new roles. The possibilities are endless!
The accompanying image is of a hand colored labyrinth Joy gave me to represent my journey through birth. The green candle was gifted to me during the ceremony as well, with thread tied around it from each participant, the fibers filled with love and support.