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Blessingways or other rituals - Page 3

post #41 of 69
I had a blessingway for my second child and it was awesome! I have also attended one given by a local birth attendant and as a doula I have just started doing 'group' blessingways for pregnant women in a stretch and relaxation class. All three are different. I don't have time to write now, but I will add my stories/ideas when I find a minute as we did/do some stuff not mentioned here and there are some songs and poems etc.

Jen
post #42 of 69
Thread Starter 

Welcome to the thread, Jen!

Funny, I just heard yesterday of someone doing group blessingways ... so I really hope to hear more from you when you have the chance.

I think there must be just about as many ways to do blessingways as there are women on the planet ... it's just that many of us have used the same resources to plan them and therefore lots of them look alike. But opening the concept up wider, allowing women to create formats that work FOR THEM ... that's what I want to do.

I hope you'll find the time to write your stories soon ... but as a mama, I know that doesn't always happen too quickly. It's 5:30 a.m. here now, and this may be the only time I get online all day, when my boys are fast asleep upstairs!

Luci
post #43 of 69
It's so hard to find time to write a long message these days, but this topic is very close to my heart so here is my best brief version...

My blessingway was made up of about 6 of my closest girl friends. My friend/doula partner did it for me about 10 days before I had my baby. We had an altar set up with: the four elements represented, a flower to represent blooming fertility and easy opening at the right time, a goddess figure to represent women around the world and throughout the ages who have given birth and to remind us that as I gave birth so would other women at that moment around the world, and there were three candles (white to represent a woman's virginal innocent years, red to represent a woman's fertile sexual years, and black to represent each woman's time as a wise woman in service to the community). We had each guest bring something for the altar (they chose from the list), that was their "gift" to the night. We sat in a circle, and went around ending with me. Each woman saged themselves, and stated their lineage (i.e. I am Jen, daughter of Linda, grand-daughter of Toby etc.) to remind us that we each come from a long line of women, mothers before us, then each person told about how they knew me and what I meant to them. It was very emotional, we all cried!! Then I picked a rock from a bunch that someone had brought. This would be my "birth rock". We passed around the rock and each person infused it with all the negative energy they were carrying and then the rock was placed in a bowl of salt water to be clensed. Each person then wrote down their negative thoughts and feelings privately on a piece of paper (about anything at all) to clense themselves and the room. These thoughts were not shared and were burned. It was very effective for everyone! The rock was then dried and passed around again. This time every infused it with postive thoughts and blessings for the birth and baby. Then everyone privately wrote down blessings for the birth and baby on a piece of paper which were collected and saved for me and my dh to share later (I actually read them after the birth and will put them in ds's baby book). I was then given a cornmeal foot massage to recoginize the journay I was undertaking and an appropriate Navajo poem was read. Then we wove the circle with yarn and each person cut off a braclet to wear until I had the baby. We had dinner afterwards. It was awesome! I felt so good afterwards and so supported. I felt that I and my baby were ready and that my house was ready. Less than two weeks later I had a wonderful home waterbirth by candlelight and firelight with music playing and my dh and first ds by my side.

The group blessingway is an adaptation. It was weird because the women are strangers and they are all pregnant (as opposed to the usual situation where one woman is pregnant and the other guests are her close friends). It did seem to go over very well and I plan on doing it again soon.

We had a simplified altar (did not want to offend anyone with strong religious beliefs) and we set it up and sat in a circle. I explained the Navajo origins of blessingways etc. and the siginificance of each object on the altar. We then went around the circle, stated our lineage, and each pregnant women explained the significance of their pregnancy in their lives. The words they spoke were surprisingly varied, but I knew I had them as one by one they cried through this part! Then we had them burned their negative energy on pieces of paper as above. Then we had them choose a birth rock from a bunch we had brought (this time we used rocks that had been painted with simple ruin symbols) and they clensed it in salt water and placed it in the center of the circle. Then we passed around flower wreaths and had each pregnant woman wear one to siginify a change in appearance and remind us of the change in their lives to come. Then we passed around a basket of handmade beeswax candles (all red, as they are all in their fertile stage!!) and asked them each to take one to be saved to be burned at a special time, like at the birth or on baby's first birthday. As they took a candle we had them each give a blessing to the group. Finally we had them take back their rocks explaining that the rocks had now been infused with the blessings and positive energy of the ceremony and that they could use them at the birth or as a keepsake. We then showed them the key which told them what the ruin meant on the rock they had chosen. We then read a poem to close the ceremony.

That's pretty much it. Sorry if my typing is bad, but I have only a few moments before my little nursling will wake up. Hope this helps to spread the joy!

Jen
post #44 of 69
Thread Starter 

Jen, thank you SO much!

I really appreciate your taking the time to type all this out while your babe was napping!

Both your individual b'way and the group event seem powerful in their own ways. It seems your adaptation for group use works very well, despite the lack of "significant others" (mothers, sisters, old friends) in the all-pregnant group. I imagine it being similar to the difference, in my experience, of being the only pregnant woman in a yoga class (supported by all the other wisewomen there) and taking a prenatal yoga class (surrounded by other pregnant women).

And I think using runestones and other symbols is a great addition. Did you use a standard key that explains the runestones or has someone written something that relates the rune symbols to birthing? (That might be a really helpful addition -- I only remember the runes' meaning that I often pulled ... so I don't know if all the runes would have obvious meaningful connection to laboring and mothering.)

Thanks again!

Luci
post #45 of 69
The runestones were general: health, home, happiness etc. They were based on native indian symbols. That is all I know my friend does them. When babe is sleeping again I will tell a little about a blessingway I went to that had some other parts...

Jen

P.S. sign me up for a copy of your book!!
post #46 of 69
Thread Starter 

//bumping to remind folks of the thread and questions//

Gee, Jen, I hope your baby's slept since last week! (Not that you don't have anything to do but post here! )

I just noticed that this thread got bumped to page two, and I didn't want people to forget about it ... especially some of you/us who've left saying they'd be back to tell us about something and haven't been back yet. (I'm researching!)

Sweetmama, you said something about how you'd do the ritual differently now that you belong to a group ... what would you do differently? I'd love to hear this sort of stuff, from someone who's experienced one sort of b'way and would do it differently now, given some other experience.

Earthmama, I hope you're over your cold by now! I was hoping you'd share with us the ritual you did for your daughter. Do you have time (and energy!) to write it up for us/me?

And a question for everyone reading this thread: in your experience (as opposed to answering theoretically), how important is it that my book include lots of references/input from a variety of spiritual traditions? I mean, looking around at MY circle of people who I might want to invite to a b'way for me, there are plenty of "woo-woo" folks like me, but there are also friends who are more spiritually "conservative," (i.e., my Catholic sister and SIL, my Methodist in-laws, etc.) ... but I'm not sure that other folks have as varied a circle of intimates. On the other hand, I don't know the spiritual base of everyone reading this thread, so maybe even if each of you has a circle that's pretty homogeneous/similar, if some of you are Jewish, you'll want some Jewish references, and the same for more traditionally Christian mamas, etc.

So am I asking an important question? I dunno, but I hope to get some responses, anyway!

Thanks for everyone's continued participation and interest in this thread! Your interaction with me is helping keep this book concept alive and kicking in my head!

Luci
post #47 of 69
Hey all
Sorry Luci...we have decided to move out of state so it has gotten chaotic to say the least!! My newly 2 dd is asleep as well so I will try and beat her and get this down for you!! Thanks for your patience.

To answer your question I think it is vital to offer suggestions or alternatives that honor individual religions. I think all spiritual paths could embrace this ritual and may just call it something else or use different symbols and yet still become a tradition that honors the passage into mother. We get so little support as moms but lots of critisism and unwarrented "advice". Your book will be a way for womyn to help change that and blessingways are just a first step, I think, in continuing to support mothers.

OK, my dd menarche. I wanted to do a womyn's circle of womyn she had grown up with. Many have moved away and besides dd didn't feel comfortable doing this. So it ended up being just her and I and her bestfriend who had not had any celebrations or acknowledgement of moontime starting a few months earlier.
We sat together outside with a white candle in the middle for her girlhood innocence. I talked about what having a moon time meant, why I chose to refer to it as moon time and the meanings, our connection to the moon as womyn and the power of bleeding. WE talked about all the negative things the girls had heard about or felt themselves. I had them write them down and we burned them in a new red candle I lit. I told them of fears men have of womyn who bleed but don't die from generations ago and how that looks today in the way men blame anger or emotion on "that time of the month". We also talked of how womyn victimize themselves by using that as an excuse. I then gave them both red roses and sprinkled rose petals over them as I said a blessing, wishing them easy moontimes and reminding them to listen to their dreams and to remember all the womyn they are connected to now. Then I gave them bracelets I had made of moonstones and bloodstone to wear during their moontime to remind them of the responsibility that comes with bleeding. We talked about being able to get pregnant and sex and birth control and feelings. I described that feelings during moon are real and legitimate, yet moontime magnifies these feelings so that we may take this time to look inward and learn from the feelings. We even talked about being clean and being respectful of others who have to share a bathroom!! LOL
Last I gave them journals and little "kits" to have them write down their dreams at moontime and talked of how important it is to take care of ourselves and that womyn are not taught this. We are taught to take care of others above ourselves and I told them this is wrong and that i believe we must take care of ourselves first before we are "full" enough to take care of anyone else. We feel quieter and like being alone b/c this is what we need to learn and grow and rejuvinate our spirits and energies. I told them about how what we eat affects how our moontime goes and that was part of taking care of ourselves. The kit had nice skincare stuff and a small bag to keep pads discreetly in and nailpolish and bathstuff. We then said a blessing while holding hands and then I hugged them and welcomed them into womynhood with little goddess fetishes.
It was alot of me handing down values and beliefs. They had plenty to say and asked lots of questions. I wanted more older womyn to share their experiences and traditions and ways of dealing with their moons and just wisdom. My dd felt too shy to do this and i had to respect that even tho I wanted to force her:LOL

Whew, made it!!
post #48 of 69
So sorry I still have little time to write. Baby is teething this week and very needy. But a tooth actually broker through last night so hopefully we're near the end of this wave! I am still very interested in this thread and I will take the time to add a few more notes very soon! Don't give up on me! :LOL

Jen
post #49 of 69
Thread Starter 

Wow, Earthmama!

I could only hope you'll be moving to my town ... there's a condo available a few doors down from mine ... hopehopehope!

Thank you SO much for taking the time to write out your daughter's moontime ritual -- WOW! You did an incredible job, and now that my moontime's coming back after having been pregnant and breastfeeding so long, will you come do this for me?

Seriously, that's the most wonderful menarche ritual I've ever read, and I think you're a terrific mom for doing it for her, and for her friend. That's something that both of them will remember for the rest of their lives, and hopefully will have a powerful positive impact on them, too.

Man, I'm not sure I'm "up" for writing that part of this book ... you've got a TON more info for me to think about there.

But let's get the pregnancy part written first, and then we'll see. Hey, maybe you WILL move to Indiana and then we can collaborate on the next part!

(At least, since your location says "At One With Chaos," maybe your move will bring you closer to Calm, Serenity, or at least A Bit of Order!)


Gotta go!

L
post #50 of 69
Thread Starter 

Hang in there, Jen!

I can relate to the "needy" part ... last night was the first night I was only awakened TWICE for nursing -- once by each of my boys. For the previous five nights one or the other of them woke me up every 90 minutes or so .... yikes! Obviously, I didn't do alot of posting .. or much else!

So take your time. I'll still be here when you get back!



L
post #51 of 69
Okay everyone is asleep (keeping my fingers crossed!!)...

At the other blessingway I went to, some of the other things included were...

Songs during the weaving of the circle with yarn
(for example a verse :
We are the weavers, we are the web,
we are the flow and we are the ebb)




Arghhh! I wrote a whole long post here and it got erased before I could post it when the boards went down last night. I am too frustrated right now, but I will re-post when I can.

Jen
post #52 of 69
Thread Starter 

Jen/ Gr8fulmom ... hope you're not still frustrated!

I HATE that, when you write up something long and detailed, and then the Computer Demons send it off into the netherworld. (Think there's a Chalk World for our lost computer writings? Now that'd be interesting.... but I digress.)

I wanted to bump this thread again, for you and for others who may still want to post here.

I've started writing the outline for the book, fleshing it out as I can. You women are really inspirational!

Luci
post #53 of 69

As close as I've come to a Blessingway...

I didn't have a Blessingway for DD, but I REALLY want one for any future children. I did have a great spiritual experience towards the end of my pregnancy though, which really strengthened me.

I signed up for a class called "Spirituality & Pregnancy" that was offered in my hospitals catalog of Childbirth prep. courses. After I had already registered my MIL told us about a birthday party for DH's grandmother (6 hours away) on the same day, but DH ended up having to work so we stayed home. It was a really rainy dreary day so I didn't want to go out but something told me to go. (This is all background for how I feel like I was "led" to this class.)

So I got to the class and the instructor, who is one of the Chaplains for the hospital (female), and I were the only ones there but we decided to go through the class anyway.

I filled out a sheet that asked:
1. As you reflect on your pregnancy and/or birth experience, whatbrings you the most joy and celebration?
2. A troubling aspect of this time has been...
3. If you to imagine your God, or a divine presence, with you at this time, what would you like to receive from this presence?
4. What spiritual challenge or gift do you think is in store for you as a parent or what challenges or gifts have you discovered since becoming a parent?
Then we discussed what I had written.

We talked about the miracle of pregnancy and birth and she read from the book Motherprayer: The Pregnant Woman's Spiritual Companion by Tikva Frymer-Kensky which I have since bought. It is a beautiful book with many prayers, poems and meditations on pregnancy and womanhood in general that the author draws from many ancient texts (and writes some of the prayers herself). (Here's a link to it: http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/bibli...1-1573220116-2)

It was a wonderful experience because at 8 months pregnant I really needed the reminder that what was happening in me was a beautiful miracle. The chance to talk about my hopes and fears in a deeper spiritual sense as opposed to the superficial, "I hope my baby has my eyes," or "I hope she sleeps a lot!" was really special and therapeutic.
post #54 of 69
I have been to 4 blessingways, mine included. All 4 were very different, but all very wonderful. THere is definitely a link created between womyn by attending a blessingway. I also intend to have a blessingway for my daughter when she has her fisrt moontime.
The other blessingways I have attended included writing down birth affirmations, giving roses to each woman and then making a vase of flowers for the mother while saying a blessing for her, lighting candles with blessings (either ones given to each woman, or each brought her own candle representing something about the mother) then take the candles home and burn them while the mother is in labor (after a phone or email tree notice). Foot baths, massages, yarn "webs" (this was very cool - we went from the mother, to each woman then back to the mother each time, then we all cut the yarn and wore bracelets. We had qute a web going!), 10 cm circles to write affirmations ar blessings on, and of course beads for a labor necklace.
My blessingway was planned in my 39th week, only because I planned on going late (my first was 42 + weeks). I went into labor the morning of my blessingway, so it was very special for me, to be in labor during my blessingway. They brought roses, and made a bouquet for me, while each woman spoke of something they respected in me. They also did a necklace for me, each woman brought a bead with a blessing for the baby, and spoke of their labors while stringing the bead. While preparing a headdress for my hair, each woman wove a small flower into the headdress, and they took turns brushing my hair. There was a central candle in a circle of friends holder and each woman was given a white candle to light off of the central candle, and a blessing for my labor was given. All the candles were blown out, and everyone took their candles home, to burn during my labor. Of course, we had lots of food!!! Leftover food was there for the mws and my dh to snack on during my long labor. It was an incredible experience.
A friend who attended my blessingway is going to incorporate a few of these things into a pg friends (traditional) baby shower.
`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤¤º°`
Peace ~ Loelle
Mama to Owen (1/12/00)
and Elise (11/5/02)
`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤¤º°`
post #55 of 69
Thread Starter 

Welcome & THANKS, Anna and Loelle!

Anna, I've never heard of such a class, but I'd like to learn more about how and why the hospital put it together. If you're still in contact with that chaplain, I'd appreciate it if you could give her my e-mail address so I might ask her some questions. (luci@OneHotMama.zzn.com -- oh, and by the way, OneHotMama is an online store, not something, umm, unsavory! )

And Loelle, thanks for your stories, too. I guess it's good you had (another?) long labor, since you were already started when your Blessingway happened! Looking back at my labors, I'm not sure I would have appreciated guests, no matter how much I loved them ... but, also in retrospect, it may have been a good thing! (My second labor was over 30 hours!)

Not that I'm asking you to vent or feel unappreciative if you don't feel that way, but would you rather have had the b'way before you went into labor, or were you comfortable with everyone attending you while you had already begun laboring? Me, I was more the cat-in-the-closet kind of laborer.

FYI for everyone: I'm cross-posting this link to a few other forums within MDC to try to get some more input. If there's anyone you know at MDC from another forum that you think might have ideas to include here, you're welcome to cross-post or PM people, too. Thanks!

Luci
post #56 of 69
I don't even remember the Chaplain's name. (Her name isn't on any of the papers I have from the class, either.) She works for Fairview-University Medical Center (Riverside campus), though.

Here's a link to the childbirth prep class schedule....
http://www.fairview.org/classes/metr..._Pregnancy.asp

I took "Spirituality of Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting"

Hope that helps some!
post #57 of 69
I would definitely rather have had my blessingway before my labor started. Although the way it worked out, I was surrounded by womyn I cared about and who cared for me. It was a very relaxing day. I had plenty more time to labor alone, I was in labor/water broken for 60 hours.
`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤¤º°`
Peace ~ Loelle
Mama to Owen (1/12/00)
and Elise (11/5/02)
`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤¤º°`
post #58 of 69
Oh, it is so sweet to hear all these blessingway stories! Thanks for sharing them, and thanks for posting the question luci!

I'm having my blessingway on Saturday--I can't wait! I don't really know what they have planned, but it's about 8 of my closest mama friends. I'll post back after to share what we did.

I had a horrendous (seriously!) baby shower with my first pregnancy, and was completely craving a ritual this time. I'm so honored and grateful that I will be having one!
post #59 of 69
Thread Starter 

So, Mamamae, how did it go?

How was your Blessingway? Do you have any new ideas to share with us? Or if not, can you tell us how you feel/felt about the experience?

Luci
post #60 of 69
Oh, I wish I could have something like this for my next baby!

What a tremendous, awesome way to honor a mama.

I would definitely take part in an online Blessingway group!

Maybe we could set something up - like a committee - to do online ones for mamas who won't have them IRL? (Or even those who will?)

My SIL is PG and I KNOW she won't be into one.
I so badly want to give her one, but DH said she'd NEVER go for it, and would be a big about it. (She's not spiritual in the least!)

Do you think that Christians can incorporate our faith into a Blessingway? I do! DH disagrees since it seems very Pagan in form, but I think the blessings could just as easily be prayers and Bible verses, don't you?
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