Blessingways for puberty, marriage, birthing and menopause are a beautiful alternative to conventional and "traditional" western debuts, hen's parties and baby showers and are a way in which we may reclaim our "women's business". Traditions that span across cultures, largely lost to western consumer-oriented society, they celebrate and honour our movement through the seasons of womanhood:
Child to Maiden
Maiden to Mother
Mother to Crone.
I attended my friend’s Birthing Blessingway for her second child today. What a sacred, moving experience.
A blending of ancient and new ritual, suited perfectly to our particular place in this world as it is today. A mixture of her woman friends, both long-standing and more recently formed connections...soul-sisters all it became apparent by afternoon’s end.
We made our circle in a small clearing by Never-Never Creek, as the large flat rock by the “Birth Canal” was already claimed by happy, frolicking tourists. Curiously, spontaneously and quite without conscious intention, the clearing was protected from the path by a tree with a vagina-like hollow at its base. The whole tree looked like a woman about to birth her child. How beautiful that the perfect space is always there when one walks in the flow of life and releases expectations of perfection, or attachment to carefully laid plans.
The circle was made, nine mothers, and a number of smaller people, crawling, running, and jumping in and out reminding us to be playful even in ritual. Any discomfort was dispelled by the discovery that our trials and tribulations of mothering are common to all. Everyone owned to being less than our own perfect (and very likely unobtainable) ideal, and yet, I saw in each of us that we are all so very conscious in our mothering of our dearly beloved little teachers.
Our mother of ceremonies led us in the ritual, beginning with the calling in of our ancestral mothers and giving the names of our children. I could feel them gather around us - transporting us into that space between the worlds - protected and nurtured - so many mothers, all the way back to the first Mother of us all. She who incarnates in every woman born, whether acknowledged or not - and links every woman as soul-sisters.
We were asked to each add a bead to a birthing necklace - and share the story of the choice. Some were exquisite, some prosaic, and some “stolen” from our own daughters stores...all have a little of our energy for our dear friend to draw on in her labouring moments. A pile was started of materials for a baby mobile - feathers, stones, sticks, seeds and shells.
Stories were told and letters read out - written with great love by those unable to make the journey, and we each gifted our friend with a word or several of her as a mother...love and light, patient, saintly, extraordinary, gentle, the list is long, I am sure at least someone said inspirational.
We were challenged to dip our fingers in a bowl of water, and to release any fears around mothering and birthing - our own and our friend’s, into the river. And finally, we each had a length of beautiful thick orange wool tied around an ankle or wrist to be worn until the babe has entered the world, and were given a candle to burn when the labouring begins.