THE MOTHER BLESSING
When a woman chooses to step onto the path of motherhood for the first, second or sixth time, a remarkable transition begins, weaving one chapter of life to the next. During this time it is important to create intentional ceremonies to honor this powerful shift: rituals that honor and support a woman's physical, emotional and spiritual growth alongside her growing child.
WHAT IS A MOTHER BLESSING?
A mother blessing is a ceremonial day of ritual designed to honor, nurture and shower the mother-to-be (or be again) with loving care before her baby arrives.
Surrounded by her closest female friends and family members, she enjoys a sumptuous day of pampering and care, including a floral foot bath, cornmeal foot scrub and flower crown.
She is acknowledged by each of her guests with their words of support, affirmation, wisdom and prayer. The group completes the day with a cord binding ritual, candle gift, nourishing feast and relaxation.
The Mother Blessing ritual is inspired by the traditional Dine Navajo ritual of a Blessing Way, which was utilized for the purpose of honoring many different transitions in First Nation culture, including motherhood.
In respect of this cultural traditional, we do not call this ceremony a Blessing Way, but a Mother Blessing. According to Mystic Mamma, “A Blessing Way was traditionally a Navajo Ritual created to spiritually support and empower the new mother for her journey of birthing and motherhood."
WHY A MOTHER BLESSING?
Motherhood is a rite of passage. It is a socially and culturally significant event whose effects ripple out into a community and beyond. Somehow, we have forgotten just how significant this experience is for most women.
In our western culture, there are only a handful of acknowledged ceremonies to mark transitions – birthdays, graduations, weddings, bat mitzvahs, funerals, anniversaries, and the baby shower. Can you think of any others?
Giving birth is a life changing event, but we do not have a ceremony to mark the significance and beauty of this transition. The baby shower is about showering the baby with things the baby will need. Up until now, we have not had a ceremony to honor the mother, to shower her with all the things she will need.
It turns out what a mother needs can’t be bought in a store – connection, sisterhood, love, rest, joy. Okay, definitely some cake!
How we mother and how we are treated during motherhood, pregnancy, birth and postpartum, ripples out into our future and the future life of our child. It sets the stage for whether our lives will be colored by fear, stress and isolation, or calm, confidence and connection.
A Mother Blessing intentionally weaves a web of loving care around the pregnant woman, imbuing her with an energy that will carry her forward into her postpartum days. The mother blessing is distinct from a baby shower in that the focus is solely on the mother. The ceremony is held with pure intention: to honor the sanctity of life in motion. We all come from mother. We all return to mother earth. When we honor the mother, we honor everything that is.
HOW TO HOST
Here are some simple steps from Mother Rising: The Blessing Way Journey into Motherhood for creating a Mother Blessing:
STAGE 1: Beginning
“We create a ritual space that looks and feels special. Guests need to become centered and ready to participate in a sacred ceremony. We form a circle to create a container of support for the mother-to-be.
STAGE 2: Shifting
“We state the Mother Blessing's purpose so we all know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and while we’re at it, we share our intention with the powers that be. Introducing ourselves helps us connect with one another. We help the mother-to-be let go of any negative beliefs or fears she may be carrying so that she can embrace all the blessings, prayers, and honor we wish to bestow upon her.
STAGE 3: Focusing
“We honor, pamper, and adorn the mother-to-be to fill her with positive and empowering energies. We tell her stories to encourage her, offer blessings to support her, and give her gifts that will help guide her on her journey.
STAGE 4: Completing
“We raise energy to affirm and charge the work we’ve done and to send our good intentions out into the world. We weave a web to maintain our connection with one another beyond the day of the ritual.
STAGE 5: Feasting
“We end our ritual by sharing food together in celebration. We eat together to ground our energy, help us shift from sacred space back to social space, and bring the work of the ritual into our everyday lives.”
“When we create Mother Blessings for each other, we women reach outside of ourselves and weave a web of community: a living breathing web of women who are blessing, teaching, and supporting one another-and as a result, we help to give birth to each other’s children.”
- CREATING THE MOTHER THRONE
Choose a place for the mother to sit during the ceremony, and place a comfortable chair with a back and a foot rest (it can just be a foot stool with a cushion on top) there for her. Cover it with cozy blankets, sheepskins, and make it very comfortable for her. You could flank her chair with candles and meaningful photographs of her lineage, if you like.
- FLOWER CROWN CO-CREATION
Every guest is asked to bring a flower that reminds them of the Mother. These flowers are used to make a flower crown for the Mother which is then placed on her head at the beginning of the circle, while everyone is talking and getting acquainted. You can find a simple floral wire kit here. At a certain point everyone can say which flower they brought and why. It is quite special to ask the Mother's mother or sister, if present, to crown the Mother with her completed crown. The crown can also be preserved and dried as a keepsake.
- SALT + FLOWER FOOT SOAK
A vessel is filled with warm water, Epsom salts, essential oils, herbs, crystals, and other medicines. It is placed at the feet of the mother when she sits in her throne. This is a wonderful feeling for a pregnant woman! I place a bowl of flower petals on one side, and a cornmeal scrub on the other (see below)
- HEART-FELT SHARING FROM GUESTS
You can ask guests to bring a poem, prayer, song or other passage to read to the Mother, or just prepare them for sharing with the mother from the heart. They will come to the Mother's feet one by one, and share with her their love and appreciation. Have some tissues on hand! They can also scatter some flower petals into the Mother's foot bath from the bowl, if you have provided this.
- CORN MEAL FOOT SCRUB
In the Americas, corn is a sacred food that represents fertility and abundance. From one kernel of corn, a whole plant grows, bearing many ears of corn and feeding the community. A ritual corn meal foot scrub can be a wonderful addition to a Mother Blessing and is a symbolic way to "prepare the mother's feet to walk the path of motherhood."
Fill a bowl or large platter (large enough for the Mother to place her feet in) with finely ground cornmeal (masa harina). You can mix the more course cornmeal as well (corn grits, or polenta) if you like. Remove the mother's feet from the foot bath and gently pat them dry. Rub the corn meal on her feet for several minutes, before wiping them clean with hot towels.
- CORD BINDING CEREMONY
A beautiful way to close the circle is by having a spool of red yarn or thread which each woman wraps around her own wrist before passing it to the woman next to her who does the same. Once it has gone around to each woman in the circle including the Mother, some words can be spoken about the web of connectivity and support within her circle of woman friends.
Then each woman takes a turn to cut the strings of the woman next to her and help tie the yarn or string onto the wrist. Everyone ends up with a string bracelet that stays on until the mother goes into labor. Whenever her community looks at the red thread, they will think of the Mother. Perhaps send a text or make a phone call. The Mother will be in their thoughts and prayers continually leading up to the birth.
A communication system can then be set up where the Mother or Father-to-be (or other birth support person) lets one person from the community know when birth is happening, and then that person is in charge of texting or calling the rest of the women to let them know. At that point everyone can cut their bracelets off, assisting the mother in energetically releasing her baby.
Symbolically and physically, pregnancy is a time of holding within, containing and harboring, whereas birth is a time of letting go, releasing and sharing with. The cutting of the red cord assists with this process. Each woman's blessings and prayers can be immediately released to the birthing mother.
- POWER CANDLE
A power candle is a candle the Mother can take with her into labor, knowing that her community's blessings and prayers are with her. During the Mother Blessing, pass around a large glass candle and a sharpie marker. The guests can then write a word of affirmation, encouragement or positivity on the glass. This candle is lit during the Mother's labor.
- MINI POWER-CANDLES
You can pass around small candles for the guests to take home with them after the Mother Blessing. They will only light it when the Mother goes into labor, holding space for her and sending her their blessings.
- OTHER ACTIVITY IDEAS
Some other ideas for activities during the day of the Mother Blessing include indigo onesie dying, writing affirmation words on river rocks with a paint pen or sharpie, for the Mother to keep in her home, garden, altar or birthing place. Guests could also bring a bead that they feel represents the Mother, and the host can string these into a necklace for the Mother to wear during labor if she chooses.
- CLOSING FEAST
It's very important to end the ceremony with some grounding food and drink. Most celebrations and ceremonies include some form of feasting – this archetype is deep in our cellular and collective memory! Visit our Journal for ceremonial cakes and other foods to include during your Mother Blessing. You can also request that guests bring a plate of food to share. Just make sure the guests know to bring foods that are pregnancy friendly (nothing raw, no deli meats), and that they don't bring foods the Mother doesn't like! Most of all, enjoy the time together feasting and celebrating life.
11:00AM: CELEBRANT/HOST ARRIVES AT VENUE
11:30AM: SACRED SPACE & THRONE PREPARED
12:00PM: WELCOME GUESTS
12:30PM: WEAVING OF FLOWER CROWN
1PM: CEREMONY, INCLUDING GUEST SHARING & CORD BINDING
2PM: CELEBRATORY FEAST & OTHER ACTIVITIES
3PM: GIFTS + SOCIAL TIME