By Sunshine Tresidder
I attended my first blessingway after I had already become a mother and was apprenticing with my midwife teachers. I was deeply touched by this ceremony. It was so different compared to the baby showers I went to with my mother. Here I was in a circle of women who were all singing to a mother who was preparing for birth. We fed her with nurturing, nourishing goodness as we gathered to honor her and the nine-month journey of growing a child. We did our best to feed her spirit with strength and sustenance for the coming birth. We anointed her so she may walk fearlessly toward the initiation of Birth, a powerful rite of passage into Motherhood. Since that first inspiring experience, I've been honored to participate and facilitate countless blessingways for women all other the world who are on the sacred threshold of birth. One doesn't need to be trained or initiated to facilitate a proper blessingway but it is important to understand how to honor another woman in her ripeness as she prepares to embark on the path of service to her children. I wanted to share a few aspects from my blessingway ceremonies that can easily be recreated. The main ingredient here is love.
Create A Loving and Sacred Space. Gather the women who are closest to the mother. Suggest they bring beautiful flowers, nutritious foods, crystals and gifts to celebrate the mother to be. Create a warm loving space to honor the pregnant woman. I suggest adorning a comfortable yet supportive chair with beautiful fabric and be sure to have lots of extra pillows for additional support. As the women arrive, have them respectfully gather around the throned mama. Begin the ceremony by calling in the four directions, as a reminder of the sacred space we always reside in. Singing a simple song that can be easily taught to all present is a powerful was to join energies in setting the tone of harmony for the ceremony and for the child's life to come.
The Foot Bath. The alchemy that happens when marrying water and plants has a profound healing effect, especially when the water is infused with your love and adoration for Life. Combine flower petals and warm water. Gently and devotedly ease the Mama's feet into the water. As she soaks her feet, welcome women to bow down to her, and if they feel to massage and wash her feet, ankles and calves. She is carrying extra weight in the form of baby, placenta, liquids and increased blood volume. Loving touch can do wonders to relieve her tired and possibly swollen feet. As this is done the women are making a symbolic commitment to truly be there for the mama as she needs help, whether that means bringing her meals postpartum, coming to her home and washing dishes for her, holding the baby so she can take a shower or taking her older child for a walk. Songs and laughter are welcome as the group takes time to lighten her load. One warning to be aware of---Be sure to avoid the acupressure point known as the Sanyinjiao or Sp6, which is located three fingers' width above the inner ankle bone, called the medial malleolus. This point may cause contractions and is stimulated only when we want to encourage labor.
The Cornmeal Foot Blessing. Once finished washing and massaging, dry her feet and bring out the cornmeal. Ah, blessed cornmeal! Corn is a symbol of the fertility of the Earth. This ritual is powerful fertility magic. Traditionally, we offer the opportunity to massage the cornmeal onto a mothers feet to the woman who is next to give birth or to a woman wants to become pregnant. Gently begin massaging her feet with the cornmeal. As the gritty meal is rubbed onto her freshly clean feet, her roots are being blessed with the strength of the Earth. Wipe her feet clean of the cornmeal and share sweet words of encouragement.
Changing the Hair Style of the Mother. For this ritual, choose a woman who represents a mother figure to the pregnant woman. Ask her to begin to brush the Mama’s hair slowly and intentionally. Once her hair is glowing it is time to change her hairstyle, maybe shift the side it is parted on and then braid it. This signifies the changes that will evolve within her, as she becomes a mother. We women are transformed when we give birth. Birth is an initiation to be honored. Brush her hair lovingly, braid flowers into her hair and gift her with the beauty of the Earth. This ritual explores the process of holding space for the mother-to-be as the archetypal Grandmother energy transmits the wisdom of being comfortable with change.
The Water Blessing. Begin by offering the mother a special chalice which is lovingly filled with pure spring water (if you can collect the water yourself, even better) and ask her to pass it to the lady on her left side. The first woman who receives the chalice can open the circle by speaking a blessing for the baby directly into the water within the chalice. When she is complete in her prayer, she passes the chalice to the women next to her who imparts her own blessing and the chalice continues to move around the circle. One by one, each of the women bestow the baby with a lifelong gift. As the babe floats in the amniotic ocean within mama's belly, he or she is extremely receptive to the collective prayers being directed through the medium of water. In my own experiences during the Water Blessing, I have gifted the baby with a lifetime of laughter or other times I’ve gifted the babe with good luck or with the love of adventure. This chalice continues around until it comes back again to the Mother, her hair braided and adorned with flowers, her belly shining bright, flower petals and cornmeal between her toes. She drinks the water, every last drop. The new sweet life, surfing dolphin-like in their mother's inner sea, drinks in all the gifts and becomes infused with the blessings.
The Cord of Support. This is a sweet way to close the blessingway ritual. All that is needed is a length of colored embroidery thread or yarn. Begin by wrapping the yarn around the mama's left wrist and move in a clockwise direction, connecting the circle by wrapping the yarn around each woman’s wrist a couple of times until all connected by a circle of yarn. The yarn symbolizes a psychic umbilical cord. By creating this as a group the women are committing to honoring the commitment of support that they are offering to this mother and her growing baby. When the labor begins the group will all feel the waves of Birth moving through the thread on our wrists and can infuse mama and her baby with divine energy, strength and protection via thoughts and prayers. Explain the purpose of this ritual to the circle of women. From here, take a moment to feel the completeness of the circle, each woman looking eye to eye with the one to her left. Then pass the scissors to make the cuts and tie the thread onto each wrist as a bracelet. Tie it on tightly so it doesn't to come off while doing dishes or other activities. Even if it does come off, don't despair, just place it on your altar and know that you will still feel the shift of collective energy as labor begins and you can still direct your loving thoughts and prayers to the mother through the thread. This is the kind of magic we women can create together easily.
The Closing of the Circle. In your own unique way, give thanks to the four directions, honor the earth, the waters and the sky and attune to our connection to Source within our center. Pray authentically from your heart. Stepping out of the circle, prepare food a plate of food for the pregnant Mama, exchange presents and let the celebration unfold.
This is just a small sampling of the many of the symbolic ritual offerings that can be brought to your Blessingway ceremony. Sometimes it is an all women event and other times it includes mamas and papas so everyone gets a chance to pray for the baby and honor the Mother. This ceremony is very fluid and intuitive, just like the mothers-to-be we are honoring.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, feelings and experiences with Blessingways with our community here. Sharing inspiration is what we women do best.
Sunshine Tresidder is an amazing home birth midwife, herbalist, plant whisperer and temple priestess. She has been practicing midwifery for over twenty years; facilitating the miracle of birth around the world from Haiti to Indonesia to Peru. She incorporates massage and craniosacral therapy into her midwifery practice, which is located in a small rural community in Northern California. Sunshine is the mother of two grown sons. She is available to attend births, give workshops, trainings and facilitate blessingways. She can be contacted here.
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