Last year I went to my first blessing way. It was an amazing, empowering, beautiful afternoon honoring the mama-to-be in a simple and natural way. Blessingways (or mother blessings) come from ancient Navajo traditions that celebrate a woman’s journey to motherhood. Unlike a traditional baby shower where the emphasis is on the baby (or baby ‘stuff’!) a blessing way can be a soulful, sacred space to share wisdom and stories, pamper and empower the mama to be.
A blessingway can be held in whatever space or format you wish – that’s the magic of it! Using simple and natural decorations such as fresh cut flowers, rose petals, garden-picked greenery, candles, glass jars filled with tea-lights, stones, blankets or fabrics, juicy pillows…you can set the space for magic to happen! (my friends held a special evening for me at a local beach, and I recently honored a mama-to-be in a small living room with just her family present.)
You don’t have to be all crunchy and earth-mama-y to be involved in a blessing way! Keep it as simple as you like. Life is so crazy and busy and well, crazy these days we often forget to stop, breathe and actually take time out for honoring or just being together. Don’t let your pregnant friends give birth without celebrating and honoring their amazing womanly mama-selves first – throw them a blessingway!
Decide on a space and perhaps a friend to help host the blessing way with you. Send invitations in plenty of time to allow guests to gather their ‘goodies’ to bring to the blessing way. Collaborative, heart-felt gifts from the mama-tribe will mean so much more than plastic toys and cheap bibs!
Plan a gift to be gathered or assembled at the blessing way such as:
A quilt for the baby
Collage art for the nursery wall
A special item to be placed on an ‘alter’ for the mama’s labor (i.e. a shell, candle, stone etc).
After guests arrive on the day, it is nice to gather everyone in your designated ‘space’ (with all the yummy flowers and candles and things, maybe some nice music…) in a circle to start off the blessing way. Create a flower wreath for the guest of honor to wear as a mama-crown during the blessingway (start with a length of braided fabric/yarn to be tied around her head and have guests tuck different flowers into the braids). Each guest can then in turn state their name – and who they are the daughter of/mother to, honoring the mothers everywhere (for example – “I am Emily, daughter of Jennifer, mother to Ivy, Yindi and Banjo!” it this seems silly wait until you try it – powerful stuff in a room full of women!). Alternatively, sharing how they are connected to the mama or what they love about the mama is also a nice way to begin the day.
An assortment of fun and meaningful activities can be done throughout the blessing way…
Paint the mama’s belly with body paints or henna.
Have a beautiful blank journal available with a jar of yummy pencils/crayons for guests to draw mama-art and write inspirations in.
Lighting love - offer colorful beeswax sheets and wicks for each guest to make a candle (or have each guest bring a candle to the blessingway). They can be left with the mama to light during her labor, or taken home with each individual to light and home when they hear of labor beginning.
Have a bead ceremony - prepare a bowl of colorful, beautiful beads to string into a necklace, bracelet or anklet for the expectant mama. As each bead is placed on the string, a wish can be made.
Take individual photos of each guest with the mama, a Polaroid camera would be fun!
Ask each guest to bring a square of fabric cut to a specific size to be bound into a quilt for the baby (this can be made after the blessingway, by someone who knows what they are doing!)
Give the mama a yummy foot bath. Fill a beautiful bowl with warm water and flower petals then drop scented oils or salts into the water. ‘Wash’ away fears of labor as you wash her feet.
Pamper the mama-goddess in a variety of ways – have her lie down (on her side) on a throne of pillows/sheepskins/blankets and gather the group around her. Massage her feet, her legs, her hands, brush her hair, give a scalp massage…end with all her loved ones hand touching her somewhere – sharing their energy and love to both mama and baby.
Pass around a pretty bowl and nice paper cut into leaf or heart shapes. Write wishes for the mama and keep them in the bowl.
Make a ‘labor’ massage oil – pass around a tray of essential oils and a larger bottle with a base oil (olive, avocado, almond oil etc). Guests can smell and choose an essential oil to drop into the base oil, creating a yummy, collaborative massage oil for the mama to use!
Blow hundreds of bubbles while the mama sits on her ‘throne’, and listen to a special song or piece of music.
Make delicious, nurturing foods to feast on, after all – what is a gathering without partaking in homemade yummies? All those good vibes and emotional outpouring will have your guests hungry. Keep it simple with soup/salad/bread, or a tea + cake party, or have everyone bring something they know the mama loves and do it potluck style.
Before the blessing way ends, pass around a roster (created prior to the day)– guests choosing a slot to bring a meal/do a load of laundry etc after baby is born. A pretty flower sketch with petals as the sign-up space can be hung on the mama’s fridge so she can see who will be bringing help each day (as babies tend to come in their own time – instead of dates on the roster, have the first person sign up to bring help on the first day after baby is born and so on!)
A phone tree is also a good idea to let everyone know when labor begins…so they can light their candles and send love and happy vibes at the right moment!
Giving birth is such an intense and amazing time in a woman’s life – don’t let it go by unnoticed! Even if you gather together and just do one of the activities above, share some mama-wisdom, talk, enjoy…I promise it will bring about something really special.
(Way more special than eating baby food blindfolded).
I won’t say I told you so ;)
Blessings and happiness to mothers all around!
To delve deeper into blessingway rituals, check out:
‘Mother Rising’ by Yana Cortlund, Barb Lucke & Donna Miller Watlet
‘Blessingways: A Guide to Mother-Centered Baby Showers’ By Sheri Maser