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#1 of 37 Old 05-12-2008, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey mamas,

I'm throwing a Blessingway next Sunday for two of my very dear friends who are both due at the end of the month. I have the "Blessingways" book by Shari Maser and the "Mother Rising" book by Yana Cortlund, Barb Lucke, and Donna ****** Watelet. I really like the ideas in both books.

But, I just wanted to see if any of you have had Blessingways or been to one? If so, what were some of the neatest parts? I want to make it really special, and I don't want to only do stuff from the books.

I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Sadie
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#2 of 37 Old 05-12-2008, 02:01 PM
 
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i've already gone way in depth in how i feel on this in another thread so i won't start here...but please take a look at the link and at least just consider another name for what you are doing.
congratulations on your baby, and i hope your celebration goes well.
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#3 of 37 Old 05-12-2008, 03:52 PM
 
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my friends just threw a mothers blessing for me last month.

it was an awesome time of love and female energy. No gifts, no games.

Everyone brought a dish to share, they decorated my belly cast, they each wrote something inspirational, or something for us on a piece of brightly colored fabric and they they sewed the fabric on ribbon to hang like tibetan prayer flags in my birthing space.

they braded a long rope out of two red strings and one blue (symbolizing the vessels of the umbilical cord) and we all stood in a circle and wrapped the string around each wish, said something as we cut it and tied it on. Everyone is wearing it until I give birth.

(its been three weeks and all are still wearing it!)

It was a beautiful day.

Other ideas I have seen are to have everyone bring a votive with a word of inspiration on it that you light when you go into labor.

or to send everyone home with a votive that they light when you go into labor.

I had a ceremony for my friend and we all brought a bead with personal significance that we strung for her to wear or meditate with during labor.

HTH!

~jen~ )O( mama to k 07/05 o 5/08 and c 12/09
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#4 of 37 Old 05-12-2008, 03:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
i've already gone way in depth in how i feel on this in another thread so i won't start here...but please take a look at the link and at least just consider another name for what you are doing.
congratulations on your baby, and i hope your celebration goes well.

Im pretty sure that she is not pregnant, she said it was for her friends.

~jen~ )O( mama to k 07/05 o 5/08 and c 12/09
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#5 of 37 Old 05-12-2008, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sorry to have used that term.

I didn't think I needed to go into the whole history and origin here before asking my question. One of the books I have on the subject which is in mass publication is called "Blessingways" so that's why I used the term.

Yes, I am aware of the origin, and although I am not a Dine medicine woman, I didn't think that using this word to describe something with such positive intentions as a "mother blessing" would be such a sin. I don't see how its any different than Americans who practice asana and call it "yoga". We don't have too many people from India telling us we can't call what we do in America "yoga". For the most part, they're appreciating the fact that we want to become better people and supporting our growth. That's all we wanted for the mother blessing. We didn't mean to step on anyone's toes! We just wanted a way to celebrate the transformation into motherhood without all the commericalism and "stuff" that normally takes place in a baby centered shower.

Sadie
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#6 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 12:50 AM
 
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well, america didn't go to india and then destroy entire groups of people, outlaw their languages, force them to leave their lands, steal their children, forbid them (even to this day in some cases) to practice their religious ceremonies, diminish their numbers to almost nothing, place them on reservations in some of the most godforsaken places in the US, feed them government food and provide them with alcohol that made them have severe health problems (the average life expectency for some one on certain rez's is 46 years old), basically try and sweep them under the rug, name sporting teams after them with incredibly racist mascots and cheers, sterilize them with out consent,(In 1975 alone, some 25,000 Native American women were permanently sterilized--many after being coerced, misinformed, or threatened.) provide them with sub par health care, allow them to live in total squalor in areas that are classified as "national disasters" .
so, i guess that's why i see a big difference between the way that yoga came to america and how the ripping off of native traditions came to the average american...
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#7 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 12:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Sadie Lake View Post
I didn't think I needed to go into the whole history and origin here before asking my question.

you should always be aware of the origin and history of any ritual or tradition you plan on using.
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#8 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 01:29 AM
 
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Ward Churchill (Creek/Cherokee Metis) Fantasies of the Master Race, l992
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"This process of white dabbling in American Indian spiritual rituals represents the ultimate absorption. Native American spirituality becomes a commodity in the Euroamerican market place, to be bought and sold alongside other "New Age" items."
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#9 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 01:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Sadie Lake View Post

I didn't think I needed to go into the whole history and origin here before asking my question. One of the books I have on the subject which is in mass publication is called "Blessingways" so that's why I used the term.
The author is not NA

Nor are the authors of the Mothers Rising book NA

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#10 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 01:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by abimommy View Post
Neither of the authors of that book are NA.
word.
hi abimommy!
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#11 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 01:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
word.
hi abimommy!


You quoted me before I edited.

A Blessingway is a religious ceremony of the Dine people. It isn't appropriate to create ceremonies and give them that name anymore than it would be appropriate for me to have a 13th birthday party for my child and call it a Bar Mitzvah.

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#12 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 01:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by abimommy View Post
The author is not NA

Nor are the authors of the Mothers Rising book NA
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Originally Posted by abimommy View Post


You quoted me before I edited.
i'm too fast for you....
now i will post it again and again, i say:
WORD.
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#13 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 02:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Bellymama, you are totally right in how dispicable it is that the founders of this country treated these people this way.

Like I said before, I did not intend to "rip off" the integrity of their ceremony by calling it that. Call it ignorance, but I had all of the best intentions.

So, with that... do any of you have suguestions neat ways to honor a mother in a special, spiritual ceremony, as opposed to a totally shallow and commericial baby shower? That's really all I was asking. I just want to honor my two beautiful, wonderful friends in this time of transition.

Sadie
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#14 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 02:46 AM
 
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Bellymama, you are totally right in how dispicable it is that the founders of this country treated these people this way.

Like I said before, I did not intend to "rip off" the integrity of their ceremony by calling it that. Call it ignorance, but I had all of the best intentions.

So, with that... do any of you have suguestions neat ways to honor a mother in a special, spiritual ceremony, as opposed to a totally shallow and commericial baby shower? That's really all I was asking. I just want to honor my two beautiful, wonderful friends in this time of transition.

Sadie
I think people are calling it a "Mother's Blessing"

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#15 of 37 Old 05-13-2008, 12:50 PM
 
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I think people are calling it a "Mother's Blessing"
yes.
i went to one and my friend had her feet soaked in a little pool with flowers in it, and someone brushed her hair, and someone gave her a massage...i think that we did the birth necklace too, where everyone brought a bead for a necklace that she would wear during labor (although, during labor, usually that shit gets ripped right off! )
that was pretty nice. it just got a little uncomfortable when the sage smudging and meaningless chanting part happened. but the first part seemed really nice, to just indulge the pregnant mama.
i got henna done at my baby shower, and a friend also got me a pedicure and manicure, that i got done at a later date, which ruled.

i personally don't think that just because you call it a baby shower it has to be shallow and commercial,yk? i called mine a baby shower, and it was totally awesome, and meaninful and it made me feel beautiful and celebrated and awesome. the baby shower is a part of american culture...we should celebrate our own cultures, and make adjustments to the traditions that are already there for us to make them more meaninful to us.
anyway, i hope your celebration turns out awesome.
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#16 of 37 Old 05-14-2008, 12:25 AM
 
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For my friends Blessingway we tied wishes to a "tree" that we made out of a branch spray painted white and planted in a pretty pot. We wrote them on pretty papers. It was pretty. Also, we did the votive candle thing (one of those floaty rose shape candles in a dish) and made bracelets for everyone at the same time we made the birth necklace.

The idea may have come from an AN tradition, but it has changed and evolved and is now something completely dif. and beautiful in it's own way. It's filled with good wishes, prayers, and love for the coming babe and ties the friends and family together tighter with the mother. I will never stop having Blessingways!

Maybe instead of limiting our use of our own language (yes like some folks over a hundred years ago did to other folks and aren't doing now. But hey, let's do it back to their children's children's children etc.) maybe the Navajo should continue to call their ceremony "Hózhó o jí" and guard that and we can have our "Blessingway" and not be made to feel guilty for something that hardly even resembles the thing it came from.

Most of the world would still be in the stone ages if everyone "respected" other's culture and was careful not to do something another culture did. Maybe we shouldn't have brain surgery because the Egyptians did it first? Maybe we should have left the lightbulb in America and closely guarded it against "appropriation"? Maybe the Catholics should storm all Voodoo and Santeria practitioners homes and rescue their saint candles from the appropriation into something so dif. from where they came from??

Separation and segregation, now we do it to ourselves and call it "respecting others culture" and act like it's a good and noble thing. It makes me angry, the "melting pot" that WAS America and helped it grow to be the country it is today so dif. from others is being frozen with this concept called "cultural appropriation" that wrongly guilts and shames us. It's designed to keep us from coming together as one in peace and understanding. How can you grow acceptance and trust between two or more peoples when one or more of them are keeping things to themselves that could help the group grow as a whole? It only breeds resentment. It keeps us separated and distrustful. I'd rather look towards a more unified future. Where all cultures are embraced and celebrated, not segregated and avoided like the plaugue for fear of being called "appropriation".
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#17 of 37 Old 05-14-2008, 03:27 AM
 
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It makes me angry, the "melting pot" that WAS America and helped it grow to be the country it is today so dif. from others is being frozen with this concept called "cultural appropriation" that wrongly guilts and shames us. .
um...before the melting pot that was america, there were already people living here, for like, thousands of years...and then, within 300-400 years, there were like, almost none of them left...
they didn't necessarily WANT to "melt pots" with other people...and you know what, the people who came and invaded their land and tricked them and lied to them didn't really want to "melt pots" either...in fact they tried really hard to make the country "grow into the country it is today" as you say, a country that didn't have any melting with any of the native tribes...because they were considered savages.
so it's all well and good to get on your soapbox and wax philosophically about the country of different minorities holding hands and melting all their pots together that you somehow think America WAS (i'm not sure when that actually was historically, this period of joyful culture sharing and learning)...but the truth of the matter is, nobody wanted to be an indian, be near an indian, be like an indian, until it became hip and groovy in the 60's and 70's to light sage and find your power animal.
so i wouldn't really say that america WAS a super cool sharing and caring melting pot. most of the fusion of cultures came begrudgingly, violently, and with much opposition.
native people are struggling to recover from what happened to them "over and hundred years ago"...they aren't museum fare, they still exists, they still are suffering from what happened to them. their numbers aren't very many. so if they feel a little protective and private about the few things they managed to salvage and keep alive after almost being snuffed out of existence completely, i don't really blame them.
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#18 of 37 Old 05-28-2008, 08:11 PM
 
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i've already gone way in depth in how i feel on this in another thread so i won't start here...but please take a look at the link and at least just consider another name for what you are doing.
congratulations on your baby, and i hope your celebration goes well.
But you did start it here... and seemingly without reading the original post that clearly states that she's throwing a blessingway for a friend.

To the OP, excellent thread and I'm grateful for the few on topic posts that are responding to it. I'm looking for similar information and would love to hear how the blessingway went for your friends.

and Sioko

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I still have both my birthing necklaces, and I love them. We've also done a lot of henna bellies. Something to pamper the mama to be is nice - tailored to what she would enjoy: foot massage, hair brushing (my friends brushed and braided my hair and gave me a flower crown that was awesome). Candles that represent something special (a trait wished for baby or labor) are nice - sometimes they're given to the mama to be or sometimes the hostess brings candles for the guests that they can take home - then an email could be sent out when mama to be goes into labor so everyone can light them. A nice touch would be to have a sign up sheet for meals after the baby is born - the food train is AWESOME!

bellymama - this subject seems to be a passionate one for you, so I'll ask you this question - do you have any links about Native Americans wanting people to use a different term than Blessingway? I have asked this question multiple times, but I keep getting the same answer: Google it! Um, I have and I can only find one vague reference. The defensive "Well, how would you feel? I'm not debating it! I'm just looking for links. Then there's the "Read the THREAD!" answer. I HAVE!!! Ack. I'm just looking for links. So, if you have any I would really appreciate it if you'd pass them on. TIA!
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#20 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 12:00 AM
 
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here you go...not necessarily on the Blessingway, but the general cultural appropriation that is being done to NDN "spirituality"...trust me, American Indians care about this shit:

this is my favorite, because it is a collection of some Indian Activists thoughts on the new age movements ripping off of their traditions:
http://www.sonomacountyfreepress.com...es/native.html

http://gonativeamerica.homestead.com...riation07.html
http://www.lelandra.com/comptarot/tarotindian.htm

from this link:
http://archive.uua.org/ga/ga01/2038.html
Quote:
the context in which cultural symbols and practices are expressed is extremely meaningful. "The specificity [of their use] is so complete, that visiting Native Americans do not participate in another tribe's rituals, and to do so would be perceived as foolish. "I would not even practice the rituals of my own tribe, because I am not an elder or spiritual leader." If t
his is true of her own people, then the use of these things by others who share no cultural context is seen not only as particularly foolish and inappropriate.
from this link:
http://www.quakersweat.org/appropriation.html

Quote:
" . . .the unspeakable indignity of having our most precious Lakota ceremonies and spiritual practices desecrated, mocked and abused by non-Indian "wannabes," hucksters, cultists, commercial profiteers and self-styled "New Age shamans" and their followers . . . ."
Quote:
Many people hold that cultural appropriation is wrong because by stealing an element from someone’s culture and then representing it in a different (and often shallow) context, you both damage and dishonor the culture you have taken the ritual from."
Quote:
Appropriation occurs when one party takes upon itself to uncover and absorb the practices of another culture without proper understanding, training, respect or permission."
Quote:
"Cultural Appropriation - refers to the process by which members of relatively privileged groups "raid" the culture of less powerful or marginalized groups, and removing [sic] cultural practices or artifacts from historically or culturally specific contexts.
from this link:
Quote:
http://www.legendarysurfers.com/naw/...1_archive.html
In the so-called postmodern culture of late consumer capitalism, a significant number of white affluent suburban and urban middle-aged baby-boomers complain of feeling uprooted from cultural traditions, community belonging, and spiritual meaning. The New Age movement is one such response to these feelings. New Agers romanticize an "authentic" and "traditional" Native American culture whose spirituality can save them from their own sense of malaise.....Meanwhile, their fetishization of Native American spirituality not only masks the social oppression of real Indian peoples but also perpetuates it.
from this link:
http://www.thepeoplespaths.net/articles/warlakot.htm
Quote:
While Native Nations continue the flight for religious freedom rights, "New Age" hucksters and other exploiters of Indian spirituality run rampant throughout the country, forcing Native people to take a stand against the desecration of their spiritual ways
.

Quote:
... urges people to identify instances where sacred tradition are being abused and to work toward stopping the abuse through demonstrations, boycotts, press coverage and direct intervention.
Quote:
...center for the SPIRIT (Support and Protection of Indian Religions and Indigenous Traditions), a San Francisco-based organization of Indian people committed to halting the exploitation of Native ceremonies. The Center in dedicated to protecting Indian spiritual practices and traditions and is working to raise public awareness on American Indian religious freedom issues.
Quote:
As the epidemic of exploitation and expropriation of Indian spirituality continues to spread, more Native people are taking direct action to put a stop to the "spiritual genocide" being committed by those who imitate Lakota ceremonies.
i can keep going too, if you want me to. there are tons more articles, books, websites. just let me know.
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#21 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 12:02 AM
 
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feel free to contact these people to find out more as well:

Center for Support & Protection of Indian Religions & Indigenous Traditions PHONE/FAX
510-535-0505 /


PO Box 17002
Oakland, CA 94601

Description. Center for the SPIRIT (Support and Protection of Indian Religions and Indigenous Traditions) is a nonprofit organization of American Indian people dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of American Indian spiritual practices and religious traditions. Headquartered in Oakland we have begun to systematically address the momentous problem of "New Age" exploitation and expropriation of the sacred traditions of American Indian tribes--a problem which has proliferated alarmingly in the Bay Area and throughout California in recent years. The center monitors assaults against Native American religion that occur across the country.

Mission. Dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of American Indian spiritual practices and religious traditions. Headquartered in Oakland we have begun to systematically address the momentous problem of "New Age" exploitation and expropriation of the sacred traditions of American Indian tribes--a problem which has proliferated alarmingly in the Bay Area and throughout California in recent years.
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#22 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 12:12 AM
 
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#23 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 12:30 AM
 
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off topic...moved to other thread
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#24 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 12:52 AM
 
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Thanks for continuously spamming off-topic. You have your thread on this already.

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#25 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 12:59 AM
 
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At a Mother Blessing I went to, the woman throwing it had a candelabra with space for 6 little candles, and she asked each of us to take a candle, say something we know about our pregnant friend that makes her a strong woman, then place the candle symbolizing that strength in the candelabra.

When she first went into labor she lit the candles.
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#26 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 01:13 AM
 
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This is interesting information, but again - its been said over and over on the other thread. I think the OP "gets it" based on her like 3rd post... I'm kinda bummed to have read through 25 posts and seen maybe *3* on the actual topic at hand - something I'm interested in (mama blessing & celebration)
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#27 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 02:00 AM
 
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First of all, I agree that we should call them something besides Blessingways if it is offensive to the Dine.
In my circle we call them Mother Blessing Ceremonies. I wouldn't call it a baby shower because thats not what it is. We really focus on the mama becoming a mother, not so much on the baby.
Here's some elements to what we like to do:
Have everyone bring a bead for the birthing bracelet/necklace
Everyone shares a meaningful thought, idea, story, poem, blessing, prayer, whatever for the mama
We give her a footbath, a hand/foot/shoulder massage, and honor her with gifts for postpartum (like herbs for a sitz bath, candles, etc)
Henna her belly or do a belly cast (can't really do both unless its a very long ceremony) and take lots of pictures!
sing
Everyone brings a frozen dish for the mama's freezer or we do a food train sign up sheet.
Make a phone tree and pass out candles so when mama goes into labor, she only has to call one person and then everyone lights a candle and says a prayer for her.
Depending on the mama and her comfort level, the ceremony can be more spiritual or more light hearted.
Other things that would be fun:
have everyone bring a gift from nature to make a mobile for baby to look at (I made one with hanging crystals over where I changed diapers)
Make a piece of artwork for the baby's room
Bellydance
Share birth stories (well the good ones anyways!)
Hope this helps! I really like the book Mother Rising for more ideas and inspiration. (except I think someone should advise them to not call it a blessingway if they come out with a second edition)
G.E.M.
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#28 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 02:09 AM
 
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I think that the term "Blessingway" is just a word...it is the actual ceremony that holds the meaning....just like you can tell someone you love them all day long but it doesn't mean anything unless you follow it with some kind of action.

It doesn't appear that the OP is trying to "copy" any Lakota ceremonies.

OP, if you want to call it a blessingway, I hope you don't feel guilty from all this...

As far as ideas, if you do want to offer gifts to the people who come...another idea besides candles is a 4" perennial plant. It might be a bit more expensive but this is what we did for my first baby shower. Everyone loved them and when they plant it and see it grow and come back each year they will think of the mother and the baby...hopefully they will say a prayer at that time.
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#29 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 03:20 AM
 
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the blessingway isn't Lakota, it's Dine. the point is, this is happening to lots of different NA traditions, not just one...and that it's a point of concern for many American Indians.
and i am not spamming, someone specifically asked me for more links, so i was providing them.
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#30 of 37 Old 05-29-2008, 11:09 AM
 
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You could specifically link them (again) to your thread and go on in more detail there. It is still off-topic because it wasn't asked for or related to the original post. Just a thought.

DS1 2-17-07 DS2 1-1-09
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