Saturday, June 14, 2008

Henna Belly and my Mother's Blessing

So here's a little blast from the past...I kept meaning to share this before, and kept forgetting...but recently I was having a discussion about Blessingways/Mother's Blessings and decided to post about mine.
A blessingway is a sacred ceremony among the Navajo. There are several, used to celebrate (and bless the way) of certain life transitions--notably birth. However, out of respect to the Navajo People, those of us who are not Navajo typically use another name for similar celebrations--and call it a "Mother's Blessing."

I had a Mother's Blessing before Bear's birth.
It was late December, so we filled the room inside with candles and lit the fireplace, making the room warm and bright.
We began by introducing ourselves in the context of our mothers, sisters, and friends "I am J__, daughter of C__, who is the daughter of A___. I am sister to K___, and sister-in-law to L___, S___, and H___" and so on (naming our mothers and maternal grandmothers, whether present or not, and also whoever was present).
Each of the attendees brought a nice (metal, glass, or wood) bead which symbolized some part of birth or motherhood, and presented them to me. (I put the beads on a bracelet to wear/hold in labor, and then later re-strung them onto a nursing necklace.)
We took a long piece of red yarn, and looped it around each of our wrists in one long web, representing the interconnectedness of all women and all mothers, and how we all support one another.
I had henna done on my belly a few days before the event. The center portion is a simple celtic knot, in remembrance of my ancestry. The flowering vines represent the growing life to come. (In the photo you can see the red string tied around my wrist.)
We shared (positive) stories about birth and motherhood--mostly from our own experiences.
We talked about the tigers in life (the things we fear) and we each wrote a personal tiger on a piece of paper and then burned it in the fire, symbolically destroying that fear.
We snacked on muffins and warm apple cider, and rather than bringing baby stuff (since I didn't need any) everyone brought items for a Nurture Basket, for my pregnancy, labor, or post-partum pampering.
At the end I presented each attendee with a little handmade angel. I had sewn them from sparkly white fabric, tied a hanging ribbon loop to each, and sprinkled lavender in them. Each was embroidered with a word such as love, joy, hope, peace, faith, strength, courage, and pray--no two were alike. I had them in a little basket, and drew them out at random to give to my guests. I suppose words like that could apply to anyone, but I know at least a few of my guests felt that the word on their angel was very fitting for them at the time.

I really enjoyed my Mother's Blessing. I would love to have them for future babies as well, although I think I would do some things differently...I would love to have one in the spring or summer, and meet outside, among the flowers. I would love to weave herb sachets and braid flowers into our hair. I think every Blessing is as unique as the mother--and the pregnancy.


katef - said...

what a gorgeous Belly!

I had a similar blessingway before the birth of my last baby and I had a gorgeous henna'd belly too. I am so excited that everyone who was at my blessigway will also be here to celebrate my boys first birthday on the weekend... I love connections like this and I don't think we have enough of them in our lives.

RunninL8 said...

Isn't it the most wonderful ceremony?!?! I'm just dying to throw one for someone! i had so wished I could have something like that, but it has been hard to come by anyone who is like-minded here in Eagle River et. al.

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