Mother Rising – The Blessingway Journey Into Motherhood by Yana Courtlund, Barb Lucker and Donna Miller Watelet

Read this book if:  you want to explore alternative ways to prepare you for motherhood (other than a baby shower).  Instead of baby gifts, friends will gather to prepare you mentally.  If you like the summary, you can support the author by purchasing a copy here.

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-3-02-05-pm

“When blessingway rituals become a Western tradition, birth outcomes will change” – Pam England, Author of Birthing from Within

“How we welcome our children into the world reflects our highest hopes and dreams for them”

– Carroll Dunham, Mamatoto: A Celebration of Birth

Ritual Outline Examples at www.blessignwaybook.com

 

Chapter 1 – Creating New Traditions

The circle is an ancient and universal symbol of community, unity, and feminine power. 

A blessingway is a special ceremony designed to acknowledge, honor and celebrate a woman’s journey into motherhood. Different from a baby shower, a blessingway’s main goal is to provide a loving place where an expectant mother can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches childbirth and motherhood. Surrounded by the most important women in her life, she will gain a sense of power, confidence, and support that will help her before, during, and after the birth of her child.

 

The idea is to tap into the vibrant energy of the collective feminine spirit to deepen friendships, build communities, feed spirits and revitalize our culture. Adoption, foster parenting and marriage/union with someone with a child are all pathways to motherhood that can be celebrated with a Blessingway.

 

Birth is a key life passage for women, but modern culture has lost touch with birth’s profound impact on the expectant mother. A blessingway helps a woman to prepare mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the work of birthing, and it opens her to her instinctive abilities. The rituals presented below draw upon rich traditions of many cultures, including the earth-based ways of the Native American culture; some may seem associated with witches or witchcraft, but scholars have learned that many wise women, midwives and healers were labeled ‘witches’ in the past as a tactic to undermine their authority. Keep an open mind as you explore ideas presented in this book, recognizing the value and knowledge of our ancestors is central to our coming into our own full power as women.

 

There is great power in sitting in a circle. When we sit facing each other, we open ourselves up and work together instead of alone. At the center of the circle is the Source, however we define it: Spirit, God, Goddess, love, Mother Nature.

 

No right or wrong way to create a Blessingway. Can be held for any woman, regardless of religion or spiritual path.

 

Chapter 2 – Planning a Blessing way

The Maori Koru symbolizes new beginnings, life, growth, and harmony.

 

It is a universal principle that when we give, we also receive and the value of what we stand to receive by coming together and creating this sacred event is beyond measure. When we choose to invest our time in this way, we are choosing to invest in ourselves.

 

Getting Started:

  • Talk to mother about any fears/concern/what she may need support with/expectations about her upcoming birth/feelings on becoming a mother in order to design a blessingway ritual that truly meets her needs.
    • How is she feeling physically/emotionally
    • Where is she having the baby? Who will attend the birth?
    • Does she have any concerns about giving birth?
    • Does she have any concerns about becoming a mother?
    • Will she stay at home or return to work?
    • Is her family supportive of her birthing and parenting choices?
    • What are some of her favorite things to do (dance, sing, yoga etc.)?
    • What kind of spiritual practice does she have?
    • What kind of music does she like?
    • Does she have any allergies or sensitivities to foods, flowers, scents etc.?
    • Where would she like to have her blessingway held?
    • Whom would she like to invite?
    • Does she feel the potential guests will be able to support her birthing and parenting choices? (Very important)
    • If she’s familiar with blessingway’s, is there any specific element that she’d like to have included in her ritual?
  • Mom should not know exactly what is going to take place so she can focus on the experience not her expectations
  • During a Blessingway, women tend to connect on a deeper level than one might initially suspect; be sure to include the women whom the mother-to-be feels have the capacity to open (and stretch) themselves and when designing the blessingway, choose ritual elements that have the potential to touch them deeply. Every woman who attends the blessingway will be changed in some way as a result of the experience.
  • Coed blessingways are a very different event, as male energy is unlike female energy.
  • Best location is home of woman for the energy that will be generated that day will be tremendous and linger long after the guests have departed. Privacy is important; husbands and boyfriends can take children on a special outing.
  • A blessingway is often a new experience for a guest, so a one-on-one conversation with each woman can help her overcome any fear of the unknown and gain a sense of what to expect. May want to go over:
    • Ritual details
    • What to Wear
    • Potluck/ Food
  • One or 2 woman can easily assume all responsibilities; 1 person should be primary blessingway facilitator. Can delegate tasks for invitations, music, food, photos, supplies and post blessingway follow-up tasks (meal deliveries etc.).
  • Phone trees for birth announcement/ labor candles to light in support of mother to be when she has gone into labor

 

 Chapter 3 – Designing Your Ritual

Sesaa Woruban is a West African Adinkra symbol that means “I transform my life”

 

  • Stage 1 Beginning: Create a ritual space that looks and feels special. Form a circle. Call in presence of divine.
  • Stage 2 Shifting: State blessingway’s purpose. Introduce each other. Help mother to be let go of any negative beliefs/fears.
  • Stage 3 Focusing: Honor, pamper, adorn mother to be. Tell encouraging stories.
  • Stage 4 Completing: Send good intentions to world. Weave a web to maintain connection with one another beyond the day of the ritual. Thank divine powers and open circle.
  • Stage 5 Feasting: Share food to ground; shifting from sacred space back to social space.

 

Create a Theme: Ex. Bonding w baby, developing successful nursing relationship;

 

Example of ritual outline: Welcome/Introductions > Casting Circle: Clarity Prayer > Stating Purpose > Meditation “Waves: A Birth Visualization” by Carl Jones > Summoning the Four Directions > Introducing Goddesses > Summoning Demeter > Sharing Altar Items > Releasing Fears > Break > Honoring and Pampering Mama (hair brushing, herbal footbath, shoulder massage) > Gifts > Candle Blessing > Weaving a Web > Releasing the Four Directions and the Goddess Demeter > Closing: An African Prayer > Opening the Circle > Feast (More Ritual Outline Examples at www.blessignwaybook.com)

 

  • The more women involved the better, so look for a way to include everyone. Guests may show interest in leading a certain activity, but if not, consider the skills and talents the participants have to offer. Can approach them ahead of time or invite them in the moment to read a passage etc.
  • Singing/Dancing good to implement; mindfully chosen recorded music great.
  • Chant Suggestions
    • Casting a Circle: “River of Birds”, “Earth My Body”
    • Calling the Diving: “Grandmother Song”, “Isis, Astarte, Diana”
    • Connecting: “Ancient Mother”, “Mother I Feel You”, “We All Come from the Goddess”, “Place of Power (Anne Hill)”
    • Weaving a Web: “Spiraling into the Center”, “We Are the Flow”
    • Releasing: “Rise with the Fire”, “Fire, Fire, Fire – Cynthia R. Crossen”
    • Raising Energy: “Wearing My Long Win Feathers”; “We Are a Circle”
    • Opening a Circle: “We Are a Circle within a Circle”, “May the Circle Be Open”, “May the Long Time Sun”
  • Best to plan ceremony free from time constraints; can last 3-6 hrs, depending on how many ritual aspects included

 

Chapter 4 – Ritual Stage 1: Beginning

The Native American Medicine Wheel, or Wheel of Life, symbolizes all creation.

 

  • Create a sacred space. Ritual is opening ourselves to the presence of Spirit and in the beginning stage we make this connection.
  • Welcome & Overview
    • Ask everyone to participate – stay attentive, mindful, respectful, aware and reverent.
    • No fault/judge zone. Confidentiality is key.
    • If women become emotional, let them be as it is a release process.
  • Cleansing & Purification – to shift focus to the gathering.
    • 3 ways before circle formed:
      • Smudging – Use dried herbs/incense to cleanse/smudge room – carrying any unwanted energy, emotions or distractions up into the ether where it can be transformed. Everyone stands until everyone is finished process and until the circle has been cast.
        • Herbs can be placed in bowl loosely or bundled together for burning.
        • Sage bundles popular (AKA smudge stick). Burn until glows red, then blow out and allow smoking. Smudge fragrance over front and back of each woman, and make sure to include her head, hands and feet.
      • Rose Water Purification
        • Dip hands into water sprinkled with fresh rose petals and release any thoughts, memories, or energies you don’t want in the circle
      • Salt Water Purification
        • Sea Salt dissolved into a bowl of water can be sprinkled around room and on each woman with intention of clearing away old memories and energies.
      • Casting the Circle – to create a secure and confidential place/open up to spirits
        • Say A Prayer –Hold hands and becoming still, lead women to say “Let us form this circle with clear thoughts, wise words and kind hearts”. Can guide woman to touch foreheads on “clear thoughts” lips on “wise words”, and palm over hearts on “kind hearts”. Announce circle has been cast when completed and invite women to be seated.
          • Prayer for Clarity” Shea Darian’s book Seven Times the Sun.
        • Physically Define Circle – lit smudge stick or sprinkle salt water while moving clockwise around the circle (just outside of women).
      • Opening to the Divine – invocation (reminder of oneness of God of Spirit) and evocation (act of calling on Divine to be present or watch over us – can even invite those not physically present such as new big brothers or sisters).
        • Important to reflect the mother-to-be’s understanding of the Divine (as well as her guests, when possible). If not spiritual, use inspiring ancestor etc.
      • Working with the Four Directions/Quarters – East, South, West, North
        • Hold powerful, guiding and protective energies
        • Essential part of Native American Medicine Wheel and Wiccan Magick Circle
        • Elemental, Color, and Season Correspondence
          • Native American Tradition
            • East – fire, yellow, spring
            • South – earth, red, summer
            • West – water, black, autumn
            • North – air, white, winter
          • Wiccan Tradition
            • East – air, yellow, spring
            • South – fire, red, summer
            • West – water, blue, autumn
            • North – earth, green, winter
          • East – air; spirit of balance, greatness and humility. Brings gifts of illumination and great vision. Time of spring and new life. Gentle, strong winds reveal love and creation to circle
          • South – fire; encompasses passion, adventure and discovery. Lessons of humor, innocence, trust and appreciation. Time of summer and harvest. Teaches circle how to walk with courage and fiery determination in the way of growth and balance.
          • West – water. Offers us gracefulness, gentleness, honesty, adaptability and calmness. Soothing presence allows peace to fill our hearts. Guides us to places of great depths hard to define. Time of autumn and maturity. Circle discovers all that life has to offer and what it takes for us to be all we can
          • North – earth- solid and sturdy. Essence of wisdom, truth, and unfolding trust and wonder. Brings us to land of surrender and to quiet, rejuvenating places. Time of winter and ancestors. Gives circle strength; it is sacred ground, firm under our feet.
        • Creating Alters for Four Directions – separate alter for each direction outside or as part of circle – on tables if participants on chairs or on ground if seated
          • Candles on each altar
          • East Altar: air symbols include empty bowl, bells, chimes, feathers, eggs, fans, incense, pinwheels, kites, books, musical instruments, images or objects in the form of the sky, birds, dragonflies or butterflies. Season: spring. Candle color: Yellow
          • South Altar: fire symbols include lit candles, chile peppers, hot sauce or salsa and images or objects of sun, lions, dragons, coyotes, lizards, geckos or armadillos. Season: summer. Candle: Red
          • West Altar: water symbols include a bowl of water, shells, sand, water smoothed stones or sea glass, seaweed, driftwood, pitchers, cups, lachrymatory (vial that holds tears), images of ocean, mermaids, fish, sea creatures, dolphins, whales, salmon, starfish, sand dollars, black bears or ravens. Season: autumn. Candle: black or blue
          • North Altar: earth symbols include bowl of dirt, rocks, crystals, minerals, salt, stones, metals, mother earth images, plants, flowers, leaves, trees, food, grains, fruits, vegetables, images of large land animals, bears, white owls, turtles. Season: Winter. Candle: White or green.
        • Calling Four Directions – have participants face direction. Begin with East, then South, West and North.
          • Birth inspired summons – “We welcome the spirit of the East, who brings the breath of new life and gives relief from difficult laboring energy. Please be with us today. We welcome the spirit of the South, who inspires fiery determination and prompts a baby’s first cry. Please be with us today. We welcome the spirit of the West, who calms the waters of a baby’s uterine home and ensures the plentiful breast. Please be with us today. We welcome the spirit of the North, who comes from the land of quiet rejuvenating spaces to tell tales of surrender and of our ancestors. Please be with us today”
          • Element inspired summons – “Blessed be this gathering of the gifts of the East: communication of the heart, mind, and body; fresh beginnings with each rising of the sun; the knowledge of the growth found in sharing silences. Blessed be this gathering with the gifts of the South: warmth of hearth and home; the heat of the heart’s passion; the light to illuminate the darkest of times. Blessed be this gathering with the gifts of the West: the lakes deep commitments; the rivers swift excitement; the seas breadth of knowing. Blessed be this gathering with the gifts of the North: firm foundation on which to build; fertile fields to enrich our lives; a stable home to which we may always return”
          • Circle Inspired Summons – “We beckon to the East, bringer of first light. Send your driving winds to carry away from this circle what does not belong here. Open this place for the communion of heart, mind and soul that is your promise with each new rising of the sun. And to the south, whose power is the sun, high in the sky. Cleansing fire, burn away what has no place here. Make way for this circles heart to become its hearth so our passions are free to grow and glow bright here within it. And to the West, governor of the all-encompassing sea. Wash clean this circle to make way for our dreams and feelings to flow freely, so we may find rich and fertile ground upon which to grow. And to the North, teacher of surrender, death, change and of the dark place of womb time. Release what holds us back from becoming vessels for your wintry white purity and make this circle a firm foundation upon which to stand and to build today:
        • Releasing Four Directions – in order they were summoned – North, West, South, East. Thank and blow out candles
          • Birth inspired release – “Spirit of the North, we thank you for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please remain with (name of mother to be) to give her the ability to surrender to her changing role as she births her baby. Spirit of the West, we thank you for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please remain with (name) to facilitate her rapid physical healing after the birth of her child. Spirit of the South, we thank you for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please remain with (name) to give her all the courage

She will need to birth her child. Spirit of the East, we thank you for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please remain with (name) so the burdens of mothering will become light as a feather.”

  • Element inspired release – “this gathering is blessed with the gifts of the North. We give thanks for the firm foundation we find beneath us and to the stable home to which we may return. Our lives are enriched by these gifts. We release you with our thanks. This gathering is blessed with the gifts of the West. We give thanks for the wonder and excitement we have shared today, for the refreshing cleansing we received by releasing what we no longer need, and for the deep commitments we have made. We release you with our thanks. This gathering is blessed with the gifts of the South. We give thanks for the warmth we feel for one another, which has created a new, sacred circle – a safe place for the heat of our hearths passion – and your light that does indeed brighten the darkest of times. We release you with our thanks. This gathering is blessed with the gifts of the East. We give thanks for the communication of the heart, mind, and body made possible here today and for our new knowledge of the growth found in sharing silences. We have made fresh beginnings today as individuals and as a circle. We release you with our thanks”
  • Circle inspired release – “We give thanks for the gifts of the North, for surrender, for death that allows change, and for the dark, quiet place of the womb time, where peace and wintry white purity allow for clarity. Thank you for making our sacred circle a firm foundation to stand up on today. We give thanks for the gifts of the West, whose all-encompassing sea indeed washed clean our circle and made way for our dreams and feelings to flow, so we in turn could grow. For this we are thankful. To the South, whose power is the sun, high in the sky, we give thanks. Your cleansing fire burned away what had no place here and made way for the circles heart to become its hearth. Our passions are free to grow and glow bright and hot. We are grateful for your incredible blessings. And we are thankful for the bright and beautiful gifts of the East, whose driving winds carried away from our circle that which did not belong here. Your promise of first light with the rising of the sun helped open us. We give thanks that our circle is now a place for the wonderful communion of our hearts, our minds and our souls”
  • Working with God, Goddess or Spirit – connect us to a power greater than ourselves
    • “As women, we know (the goddess) because we are she. Each woman, no matter how powerless she might feel, is a cell within her vast form, an embodiment of her essence” – Jalaja Bonheim – Aphrodite’s Daughters
    • Creating Altars for God, Goddess, or Spirit- located in middle of circle, contains variety of sacred symbols and a focal point for women. Pillar candle (sometimes called Spirit or Goddess candle), statue of specific goddess, images of pregnant women, found objects symbolizing Mother Earth and personal items. Vase of fresh flowers.
      • Mother Earth altar: Great for those with deep connection to nature. Often represented by Greed goddess Gaia. Nature based altar with abundance of fruits, flowers, nuts, seeds and other earth treasures.
      • Mother within altar: inner wisdom of mother to be. The place within us that knows how to give birth to, how to care for, and how to guide our children. Place of higher selves. Support idea that all we need to learn how to access knowledge and wisdom we already carry within us. Request that guests loan or gift personal symbols that speak of inner wisdom, strength and our nurturing capacity as women.
      • Pregnancy and birth altar: images of pregnancy, nursing and motherhood. Powers of strength, courage and healing upon which mother to be will need to draw during her upcoming labor
      • Mother/female ancestor altar: photos, cherished gifts and items that symbolize relationship with lineage
      • Guests “in spirit” altar: important people in expectant mom’s life who couldn’t attend.
      • Family or siblings altar: mother to be’s husband, partner or other children. Can be a great focal mom for her.
    • Calling God, Goddess, or Spirit- light pillar candle on altar
      • Calling upon God: “We open our hearts to the presence of God here today. O Holy One, may you guide our hearts and minds to the highest understanding of you, of love, so your loving inspiration may bless the purpose of our gathering. And may this gathering bring (mother) a wealth of strength, peace, and joy to bless her way as she labors and mothers her children. Amen”
      • Calling upon Goddess: (Demeter, Devi, Kuan Yin) symbolic personification of quality we have within ourselves “We invite the Goddess to join us today. She is earth herself, her body reflecting mountains and valleys, fields and rivers. Her palpable sensuality is a celebration for physical existence. She represents the waves of primordial waters from which all life and consciousness arise. The great Goddess is woman’s faceless, egoless, primal self. She is peaceful in her body and her truly miraculous power – as woman, as earth – to create life”
        • May want to write informational summons. Ex for Demeter “Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain, is said to be the most nourishing of all the mother goddesses. When the Romans adopted the myth of the gods, thy renamed Demeter “Ceres” from whose name the word “Cereal” is derived. Along with her nurturing characteristics, Demeter’s true essence is the bond she holds with her daughter, Persephone. Demeter brings forth the fruits of the earth and facilitates the changing of the seasons. According to legend, when Demeter becomes separated from Persephone, the land becomes barren and we experience winter. But when reunited, spring arrives, and Demeter once again allows things to grow. Demeter, we request your presence. Please be with us today.”
        • Can also sing more lyrical summons “O Mother Demeter, come, gather us in your nurturing bosom; whisper to us soft joys of pregnancy. Bonded to you we are, your daughters. Nourish us, raise us, and share with us your awe of this mother-to-be. O patient, caring Mother, come, return to us from shadowed lands beneath the reaches of the olive tree. Hear us now we are, your daughters. Leave your well of sorrow; remove your darkened cloak of grief. O Mother Demeter, come now; wake and tend your gardens for they have slept the winter long. Your sustenance we are, your daughters. Your everlasting love a gift, we wish to learn your song:
        • Summoning Mother Earth “Today we call upon the divine essence of Mother Earth. Within her, she holds all the wisdom of the world. Her harvest represents our abundance and fertility. Her very nature is the source of mothering and nurturing that we each carry within us. With the lighting of this candle, we invoke her spirit. Oh great Mother Earth, please be with us today”
        • Additional Ways of Opening to the Divine: archangels, saints, animals, ancestors, friends, family members of mother to be’s older children

 

Chapter 5 – Ritual Stage 2: Shifting

The Celtic Spiral of Life symbolizes the oneness found in our connection with earth, with self and with the Divine.

 

By this point in the ritual, we will have created a sacred space, cleared away our cares and formed our safe container. All energies we wish to have present have been summoned and the women are ready to go. So now is time to shift into realm of circle consciousness. Being by becoming quiet and centered in ourselves. We become present to our purpose by stating our intentions. After coming into full awareness, we make a shift, tapping first into our collective feminine spirit and then into the mother-to-be’s needs.

 

  • Stating the Purpose – to ensure everyone, including Spirit, knows what trying to accomplish – what mother would like help/support with. Recap ritual guidelines. Each guest plays vital role, so empower everyone by reaffirming the importance of their presence and value of their contributions.
    • Ex: “We’ve gather here today to acknowledge, honor and celebrate (name)’s journey into motherhood. In this sacred space we’ve so lovingly created, we will help “name” clear her path to motherhood by supporting her as she releases her fears, worries, and anything else that may stand in the way of her fully embracing the coming of her (first, third etc) child. By our coming together, we will also weave a web of support for (name), pledging our care and our willingness to provide for her throughout the weeks to come.” “A blessingway is a sacred, Spirit-guided ritual. In light of this, we ask that everyone stay mindful, flexible, and speak consciously. We also ask that everyone stay present during the ritual, focusing your attention on (name) and sending her your love and support while she is doing her work. We all have a lot going on in our lives, so if at any time you find that you become distracted by your own thoughts and feelings, please acknowledge them – but then put them away somewhere safe, so you can stay fully present for (name). You can use your breath to carry these thoughts and feelings way, or energetically send them down into the ground, into the arms of Mother Earth for safekeepings. The Grandmother Jar on the North altar is another safe place where you can energetically stow things away. “ “A blessingway has the power to evoke very deep emotions. Should “name” or anyone in the circle become emotional, we ask that you not touch her nor offer her a tissue, unless she asks for it. Though well intended these offerings of comfort may actually shut down a wonderful release process. (Name)’s blessingway is a no-fault ritual, so please do not be concerned if you’ve never been to a blessingway before. In this safe and sacred circle, all contributions will be honored. We do request that you maintain a thoughtful and reverent attitude, and that whatever you hear in this circle remains here. Confidentiality is key to creating safety for everyone today.” “Our circle has been cast and is now closed. However, if you find you must leave the circle to take care of personal needs during our ritual, please feel free to do so. We just ask that you leave and return quietly. If anyone needs to leave the blessingway before it’s over, we also ask that you leave quietly, observing ritual silence. Thank you for joining us.
    • Introducing Participants: After circle has been cast, guidelines repeated and purpose stated, time to unite women who will be working together in the ritual. Include personal introductions so no women are strangers. Have everyone tells their favorite smells, childhood idols, or what they wanted to be when they grew up. Or have everyone introduce herself by her matrilineal heritage- “I am Barbara, daughter of Joanne, granddaughter of Lillian, great granddaughter of Lillian”. If they can’t remember that far back, have them cite their female relations “I am Yana, mother of Claire and Lyra, sister of Marah, daughter of Kathleen, granddaughter of Claire and Julie” Or have mothers introduce herself by her connection with the mother to be! Or by the symbolic item they brought today to be placed on the central altar.
    • (Set tone of reverence) – may need to elaborate on why each piece of ritual is necessary and important. Also introduce any woman about to lead a particular segment to set tone and keep ritual flowing.
    • Connecting – share food/drink. Eating from a common pot, pulling off a chunk of cornbread or sharing a cup of special tea – all accomplishes a shift in energy. Eating is very grounding and it can be a helpful thing to do when transitions are being made. A cup of tea together can be an extremely mindful, meditative and connective process. Meditation another way to form connections.
      • Silent Meditation: Guide circle to relax, get comfortable, and close eyes. Lead to focus on gentle rhythm of their breath. Invite them to open themselves up to the group and to feel themselves a part of it, letting the feelings and sensations of the experience flow through them. Pause for a while. When ending, guide them to slowly reopen their eyes and bring awareness to the room.
      • Music Meditation – Guide them to listen to the sound of a heartbeat, drum, piece of beautiful music or a song with meaningful and reflective words.
      • Birth story visualization – ask mother to write down her imagined birth story ahead of time, so you can read it aloud. Ask all to visualize the story playing out to support and help manifest the mother’s vision.
      • Can also create your own. Example “ Sit or lie in a comfortable position, and bring your attention to your breath. Stay aware of your breath as it moves in and out of your body. With each exhalation, feel your body relax and your thoughts let go. If thoughts or concerns do rise, surrender them and allow them to dissipate with your breath. Be aware of any physical tension in your body; breathe right into that spot, allowing your breath to massage and release any remaining tension. Keeping your focus on your breath and consciously remaining relaxed and open. Bring all your attention within. Now, imagine yourself on a beach – a beautiful, white-sand beach laden with shells. It is warm and the water is softly lapping the sand, creating a soothing lullaby. You walk slowly down the beach in awe of Mother Earth’s gifts, the beauty of the shells scattered all over the beach. You eye fixes on one such treasure. You bend down and pick up an amazing shell and hold it in your hand. With reverence for its beauty, perfection and grace, your eyes close and you begin to dream. In this dream your shell begins to grow; it grows larger and larger until it is much larger than you. You circle the shell noticing with great awe the beauty reflected in its colors and textures – you are taken aback by its wholeness, as if it could in fact hold all the answers of the world. As you walk further around the shell, you reach its entrance, which is now big enough for you to step into. The interior colors are vibrant, warm, and soft; the texture as smooth as silk. As you enter the shell, you immediately feel warm and safe. Reverence overcomes you as you realize you are entering a sacred sanctuary. You walk with great awareness deep into the shell – aware of each footstep you take on the shell’s smooth interior. The deeper you walk, the more present and aware you are. Your breath is effortless, deep, and consistent, reminding you of the sound of the lapping waters outsides the shell: a comforting, soothing lullaby connecting you to Spirit. As you spiral deeper and deeper inside the shell, you feel more and more relaxed. Worries and fears drop away with each step. Now (name) become aware that the comfort, safety and love – the sense of connection you are experiencing – must be just how your baby feels being cradled in your womb. Warm, nourished, nurtured. The sound of a mother’s heartbeat and breath are all that is, and all that is needed. After spiraling deeper and deeper, you reach the innermost chamber, the very center of the shell…
    • Releasing Fears (or anything else that might distract you, cloud your efforts, or block your intentions). Usually one of the most powerful parts of a blessingway ritual. Encourage to release fears aloud, though allow to release silently if that’s more comfortable for them. Helpful to ask participant who has experienced it before to go first.
      • Burning Ritual: dramatic and effective way to release fear; can be done indoors if you have a fireplace or create a smokeless flame. Need fire and fear-releasing herbs to pass around the circle. Beginning with mother, invite each woman to: Take a pinch of herbs, approach fire, state fear/expectation/distraction, drop herbs into flame and return to seat. Can go around circle as many times as want. Smokeless flame – place clean tuna can in fireproof bowl. Set bowl on trivet to protect surface. Fill can half to ¾ full of Epsom salt. Pour in rubbing alcohol just to cover salts. Light mixture carefully. May need to relight several times. If flame completely out, carefully pour a little more alcohol over salt and herbs and relight carefully. For outdoor burning ritual, arrange to have someone go start fire ahead of time. Release wood, small sticks, branches, wood shims, pine cones, sprays of dried herbs, pink of herb mixture, slips of paper of written fears, or small nontoxic symbolic objects that will burn easily. End with “By burning these things, we release our fears, expectations and distractions to the four winds. May we now be free to focus our minds and hearts upon the present moment”
      • Worry Jar Ritual: AKA God Jar, Goddess Jar, Grandmother Jar. Container of any kind. Should have a lid. Give everyone several slips of paper and a pen to write down fears and worries. Pass jar around circle and invite each woman to read (in turn) one of her fears aloud, then fold and place in jar. Continue until all fears placed in jar. Usually takes more time than burning ritual. Bits of paper in jar should be disposed of after blessingway is over (unless plan to revisit). Can bury in ground or burn them and then bury ashes.
      • (Fear-Releasing Herb Mix): Lavender, fennel, chamomile, rose petals, clove, parsley, sage rosemary, and thyme are thought to carry cleansing, protective, healing, wishful and loving energies.

 

 

Chapter 6 – Ritual Stage 3: Focusing

Hecate’s Wheel is an ancient Greek symbol that represents the three phases of the moon (waxing, waning, full) and of womankind (maiden, mother, crone).

This stage is where we do the work specific to the gathering. Attention turns to honoring, pampering and preparing mother for journey into motherhood. To give birth, a woman must let go. For first time in life, will learn the lesson what it truly means to surrender to something greater than her. The birth process, like breathing, happens on its own. Mother must be willing to openly trust and surrender so the birth can unfold from deep within her. Women who are being pampered sometimes feel self conscious or tense, as many of use are not used to being the star of the show. Being honored, even doted on, by a room full of women can feel uncomfortable and awkward. However, such compassionate pampering as a gentle massage or the warm water of a footbath will help the mother to relax. As she surrenders to the circles loving hands, she’ll being to let go, entrusting herself to the women who envelop her and beyond, to the open arms of divine grace.

 

  • Honoring – seat mother in place of prominence set within circle. Most honoring activities will have been prepared in advance (invitation). Introduce them now and invite guests to present warm wishes.
    • Belly Casting – Create or decorate (cast needs to dry for one week). Approx. 1 hour. Need a chair, 1-2 pieces of plastic or tarps as drop cloths, scissors, 6-8 rolls of fast-drying plaster bandages (avail at craft or medical supply stores); shallow pan (9×13 works fine); petroleum jelly or earth friendly alternative to coat area to be cast; roll of paper towels for spills. Dress in old clothes; short sleeves; no jewelry. Cut plaster bandages into 6-8 inch strips. Fill pan with warm water. Try different poses to see what she likes best (and comfortable holding for ~30 min – sit, stand, lean forward, backward, twist slightly, wrap arms under belly etc). Dip plaster into warm water; wring out excess water with two fingers (don’t fold, twist or wrinkle – straighten out if do so). Put on desired area & overlap. Close to breasts and don’t leave gaps. Only halfway around sides (or won’t be able to get out!). Apply 3-5 layers. Plaster dries in 15 min. Remove carefully, wiggle out. Dry for week, then decorate if desire (can sand or coat with layer of plaster of paris; can also prime with coat of gesso and use beads, stones etc; can seal with shellac).
    • Crowning – Floral wreaths or jeweled tiaras.
    • Letters to Baby – Composed ahead of time by each guest. Tell child about his special mother. Read letters of those who couldn’t attend.
    • Inspirational storytelling – poems, prose, quotes, affirmations, songs, prayers, biblical passages or personal story relating to mother or her journey.
    • Mother-to-be can read from pregnancy journals, share letters etc. Can bring photos of existing children etc.
    • Pampering- everyone should place loving hands on mom in some way. Impossible for everyone to pamper at same time. Some can brush hair, massage shoulders, bathe feet, rub lotions, apply henna, send blessing, others share personal stories, insights, selected readings etc. Women can rotate. Can feed her.
      • Hair brushing – untangle any snarls to ensure smooth labor
        • Changing ones hairdo denotes woman’s passage from maidenhood to motherhood
        • Loose hair may be braided or put in more mature style
        • Or let hair down to symbolize letting go
      • Massage – shoulders – prepares for responsibility of motherhood. Hands prepares for physically hard work of motherhood. Feet enable her to continue on journey.
      • Footbath – honors a woman’s “own two feet” on which she will have to stand in order to care for another human being. Washes away girlhood. Bar of natural soap.
        • Chamomile, lavender, fennel seeds, lemon verbena, rose petals or buds, sage, coriander, borage, rosemary or red raspberry leaf
      • Adorning – include at least one of the following:
        • Mehndi Art: henna body painting. Traditionally practiced in India, Africa and Middle East, henna plant is believed to bring love, luck, protection and good fortune. Used for weddings, important rites of passage and times of joyous celebration. Everyone can add to one design. Can find at natural food stores.
        • Bindis: Small, self adhesive jewels. Traditionally placed in middle of forehead. Originally based on Hindu religious practice, bindins mark the spot between the eyebrows that is believed to be our gateway to the Divine (3rd eye). Avail at most East Indian grocery stores.
        • Presenting Clothing: shawl, cape, clothing for journey. Birthing gowns to be worn during labor.
        • Braiding/Beading Hair: Secured with colorful beads infused with affirmations and blessings. Weave with ribbon/dried flowers.
      • Gifts: Little monetary value, but heart centered and rich in meaning. Do this after pampering and adorning. Mother may be in dreamlike state, so have scribe to write each gifts meaning. Ask guests to be present for this. Ex: Beads, cards, letters, poems, songs, jewelry, personal items from past/present, beloved toy of guest’s child, found objects, childhood trinkets, cherished treasures, things from natures and well-loved hand me downs. Or contribute towards group gift (can make group gift). Postpartum gift: delivering prepared meals, running errands, grocery shopping, cleaning house, doing laundry, caring for pets, helping with projects, massages, photographing certain events, planning outings or activities for older children, breastfeeding support, time holding the baby, helping with birth announcements.
        • Gift Ideas: Affirmations Poster for giving birth (squat, breathe, tone, open); altar in a box (candle, small cloth, affirmation cards, small symbolic items); birth pouch (small bag –items for new mama); blessing basket (fill with eggs decorated with quotes, birth images etc; can also fill Easter eggs with these- can hide eggs for mama to find while in labor); jewelry; blessingway scrapbook; gifts from nature (esp if planting placenta); wreathe/headpiece
        • Gifts for family members: baby quilt (ask guests to each bring fabric – have accompanying scrapbook); family unity pouches (unit broken into # of family members, which is complete when family together); mobile (babies mesmerized by mobiles); nursing box for toddler sibling (distraction for when mom nursing baby); super big sibling cape; sharing/storytelling (honoring womanhood)
      • Share positive birthing experiences only
      • Instructions for making jewelry with crimp bead
      • Blessing Pledge: “Pledge to My Children” from book Celebrating Motherhood
      • Blessings Box or Basket: Similar to scrapbook
      • Candle Blessing – asks guests to bring a votive candle; lit again when mother goes into labor to offer circle’s support
      • Laying On Of Hands Blessing
      • Rose Water or Salt Water Blessing – salt is purifying; rose water symbolizes love, friendship, luck and protection. Pagan Self Blessing

 

 

Chapter 7 – Ritual Stage 4: Completing

The Japanese heraldic emblem Seed of the Universe is a symbol of potential energy.

 

Need to raise energy to concentrate the work done in the circle so that it may be sent out to ether in full force. Affirm connection with mother-to-be as well as each other so connections go beyond blessingway. Thank any energies that participated.

  • Raising Energy/ Working With Energy – have participants hold hands while: sing/chant powerful song; hum/tone (together) to raise energetic vibration; visualize/imagine collective blessings, wishes, prayers, intentions and affirmations forming a sphere or column of light; move together – hold hands and circle altar while steadily increasing your space
  • This concentrated energy is sent out into the universe, where it is shared and empowered by all that is, and then returned to you.   Choose one of following to send out energy: Listen and focus on the silence; feel the memory or vibration of the sound you created as it resonates within you; visualize the sphere or column of light you have imagined traveling upward; stop your movement, then raise your hands to the sky.
  • When you receive the energy back, you need to ground it so any excess energy the circle cannot hold will be returned to the earth. Choose one of the following to return the energy: lay down or place your palms on the floor; consume a small portion of food; perform any action that serves to reconnect you to the physical or earth plane
  • Guiding Energy Effectively- Someone in charge: Build energy slowly (chanting, visualizing, moving); bring the energy to a peak, then stop swiftly (have them lift their arms to the sky while holding hands in a big swooping action); release the energy (free hands from each other and reach even higher, palms open, to send the energy up and outward to be shared. Wait a few moments); Receive the energy back; ground excess energy
  • Weaving a Web: of wool yarn – choose a color that supports ritual’s work, such as red to symbolize life blood. Take ball of yarn and wrap around wrist several times, then pass to another (not too tight). Wrap around Goddess candle last, while connected to women. When web completed, stand to see how tight of connection formed. Recite Shekhinah Mountainwater’s chant: “We are the flow, we are the ebb, we are the weavers, we are the web”
  • Closing and Giving Thanks: Thank who you invited (including spirits). Can request divine remain present with mama or entire circle. Ensure mama’s needs have been met.
  • This is the purpose of creative ritual – increasing balance and connection within ourselves, with each other, the world, and with the larger rhythms and energies that bring stability and light to your lives – The Art of Ritual
  • Opening the Circle: “Let us take care of our children, for they have a long way to go. Let us take care of our elders, for they have come a long way. Let us take care of those of us in between, for we are doing the work.”  Can use “May the Circle Be Open” or “Long Time Sun”. Walk counterclockwise around circle and sweep away outline by walking clockwise.

 

Chapter 8 – Ritual Stage 5: Feasting

The mandala is a powerful symbol of the universe used by many cultures. Its name is comprised from the root word manda (essence) and the suffix la (container).

 

Important to include a feast; smoothes transition from sacred space back to social space of our daily lives and fills our body with any excess energy left over. The simplest foods – bread, cheese, fruit – often taste exquisite. Good time to give thanks not just to food and friendships– to the energy everyone put in organizing and participating. Can pass out phone tree, labor candles, string mom’s blessingway bracelet. Share favorite recipes. Mother’s Blessing Tea – red raspberry leaf, chamomile, rose petals, cinnamon stick etc

 

Chapter 9 – Leading a Blessingway

A sacred geometric symbol, the universal flower of Life shows the connectedness of all things and the oneness of life.

 

  • Getting Ready: Make an outline including time estimates, names of women leading each section, any instructions etc.
  • Rehearse at least once prior to the day; invite all leading. Make sure music is long enough and work out any breaks and include smooth transitions. Read guided meditations entirely.
  • Guided Meditations: Speak slowly and steady. Relax circle before; take deep breaths. Pause in parts to let them experience the journey.
  • Preparing Site: Make ritual area look special. Mother seated in prominent position. TV tray tables great for 4 alters. Clear space by smudging before to release old energies (walking in counterclockwise direction while ringing bells or smudging). Can do before or when women are there. Walk in clockwise direction while blessing with prayers, sprinkling water, or ringing bells. If at mothers houses, come before and clean so mother has to do as little as possible. Be prepared so not hectic as guests arrive.
  • Preparing Yourself: Center yourself before. Breathe deeply, quiet your mind and open yourself wide so energy of Spirit may flow freely through you. Other leaders arrive early as well. Ask all to speak slowly and speak at volume everyone is able to hear. “We can become skilled at allowing the world in, taking its secrets to heart, and finding power outside of ourselves” – Thomas Moore, The Education of the Heart
  • Connect to Spirit: Sit in circle around unlit candle. Say prayer of own or read invocation aloud then light candle “God/Goddess/Spirit, with the lighting of this candle we ask that you be with us today as we help prepare (mother to be) for her journey to motherhood. Please let us act as conduits for your work, and may everything we do and say at this blessingway be inspired by you”
  • Put away concerns/distractions: Write them down and place in covered container
  • Meditate: 5-10 min for silent, guided or music meditation. Focus on breath to become centered and relaxed
  • Determine focal point: For strength, guidance etc during ceremony
  • Let go: Remain in conscious contact with Spirit and allow divine plan to unfold
  • Guiding the Blessingway
    • Circle: Maintain circle’s safety and integrity. Ask women to limit coming and going and maintain ritual silence anytime any one needs to leave circle. Pitcher of water available as well as snacks.
    • Setting Tone: Instead of just announcing next activity, give each a full introduction more sincere and nurturing Ex: The pathway to birth is a journey of a lifetime. We have gathered today to help prepare Donna to make this journey. If everyone will move in closer to Donna, we can begin. Donna, we will be brushing your hair to untangle any snarls and to straighten out anything that’s left undone, in order to ensure a smooth labor. We will be massaging your shoulders to help prepare you for bearing the responsibilities of motherhood. We will massage your hands to ready them for the physically hard work of motherhood. And we will bather your feet to soothe them and clear the way for a peaceful journey” Have more experienced go first
    • Reading and Guiding Group Energy: Breathe and let go. Be supportive. Offer guidance. Check in.
    • Keeping Time: “Be ready to let the ritual manifest as it needs to happen…this ability to flow and ad-lib is another skill t hat takes experience, but that happens in time” – Diane Stein, Casting the Circle
    • Trusting the Process: Trust whatever is happening is happening for a reason. Far more to gain by letting go of plan than by sticking to it. Similar to birth

 

Chapter 10 – Afterthoughts

The Hope Tapu’at, or Mother and Child, symbolizes the path to emergence and spiritual rebirth.

 

The amazing energies at work during a blessingway ritual are both powerful and transformative. By the end of the ritual, the mother-to-be is in a state or readiness for birthing and mothering, which the blessingway circle’s initiatory nature has helped her attain.

 

Liminal Limbo– span of time from blessingway to birth and postpartum stage is a critical time where mother to be needs circle’s continued support. May feel she has stepped into liminal space – a place between two different ways of life: an old way of life that she released during her ritual and a new way of life that has not yet quite begun. You can create a blessingway alter and encourage her to visit daily to keep her strong. Remind her to remember blessingway while looking at yarn bracelet. Spend time with her meditatively. Set time with her to put together blessingway scrapbook, cast belly etc. Encourage her to try “nesting”. Make her a CD of blessingway music or meditations. Encourage her to self-indulge with massage, yoga, and baths. Suggest she wear her hair down or “unknotted” to facilitate child’s coming. Tell her to release her attachment to a due date (can be 2 weeks before or after date).

A Laying-On-Of-Hands Ritual – if mother past due date. Have blessingway members come over and all lay hands on belly. Select soothing, long-playing meditation music at a low level. Have mother in comfortable position on floor and support body with pillows. Invite women to share any impressions or messages the receive with the mother as they arise. Encourage mom to speak to anything that triggers a thought or emotion and offer her supportive language. Can be 20 min-1 hour. “Subconsciously, we may keep the baby inside, afraid of letting go because the minute we let go to allow a new life to enter the world, our new lives will begin too” Carroll Dunham, Mamatoto: A Celebration of Birth

Postpartum Support: Nurture her and her family, provide emotional support and encouragement, be a safe person with whom she can speak, support through hormonal ups and downs, help facilitate physical healing process, make and bring over healing ointments or teas (lavender moon’s postpartum healing compress), assist with breastfeeding, hold her baby so she can nap or shower, run errands, prepare meals, held out with household chores, provide care for her other children and pets, answer questions about basic infant care, offer parenting tips and provide resources, share personal experiences

Laying-on-of-Hands Meditations: Take one long, deep breath in. Hold that for a moment, then slowly blow it out. Now allow your breath to flow in and out at its own pace, naturally, gently and quietly. Become aware of your body. Notice any tight spots. Now imagine that you can send your breath to that spot, as if your in-breath could stretch and relax that area, and your out-breath could release any remaining tension and carry it away. Repeat this process on your own for the next few moments. Pause. Now take one more deep breath in to stretch and relax your body as a whole, then release that breath to let go of anything you don’t need.

Bring all your attention gently toward baby. See or sense the baby, warm and secure in its womb home and extend a quiet greeting. Offer the baby words or encouragement, safety and peace. When you feel complete with that, gently ask the baby whether there are concerns or fears to be cleared out of the way in order to come out and meet us, and listen openheartedly with all your senses. Everyone receives information differently – some through words, others through pictures, sounds or physical sensations. Simply accept what comes, and when you feel read, share what you’ve ben given with the mother-to-be and the circle, allowing a meditative dialogue to follow. (Gather and share impressions for as long as necessary).

Mother to be, send your baby your love and affection. Tell your baby how much you look forward to being able to hold him or her in your arms and say “See you soon!” Now, let’s all bid the baby good-bye until next we meet, gently withdrawing our attention, leaving behind our love and caring like a warm and peaceful cradle. Turn your attention to your own body as you gently withdraw your hand from mother. Take a slow, deep breath in, then slowly breath out; become more fully aware of your body seated here. When you feel fully present to yourself, slowly open you eyes to let them gradually adjust to the light in the room.

 

Moms don’t often ask for help, so extend it. Ask how meals are going, what you can get from store, laundry, dishes, if they’ve had anything to eat lately, if they are drinking enough water etc. Be mindful and try not to add stress to her already complicated life. May need outside resources such as La Leche League, postpartum doula, midwife, counselor or physician.

 

Hiring Postpartum Doula: for any help with new baby

 

Lavender Moon’s Postpartum Healing Compress: heal and soothe a new mother’s perineum after birth or treat engorged breasts: 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger root, 2 tbsp. dried comfrey root or leaf, 2 tbsp. dried plantain leaf, 2 tbsp. dried yarrow, 2 tbsp. dried St. John’s wort flowers, 8-12 cups water. Simmer fresh ginger root in water for ½ hour. Add herbs and steep on low 10 minutes. For perineum: Use small clean towel and continue for up to 20 min. Several times a day first week following birth. Can also be put in sitz bath or perineal rinse bottle when using bathroom. For engorged breasts, wrap around breast and under armpit.

 

La Leche League for breastfeeding help. Monthly meetings

 

Share this book! Every woman who does this important work contributes her discoveries to that very same pool, and in turn, that information is made available to women everywhere. Be heightening our awareness and creating conscious connections with one another, we will all gain the ability to tap into our collective feminine spirit and thereby gain access to all the knowledge and wisdom of women who have walked the path before us.

 

 

Appendix

 

3 Months Before Baby’s Due Date: Review Ch. 2: Planning a Blessingway; form planning team, meet with mother to be, set blessingway date, create guest list, choose location, send out save the date cards or emails, assign roles and responsibilities. Review Ch. 3 and 4-8. Create ritual outline and supplies list

 

1 Month Before Blessingway: Meet with planning team to finalize event details. Create and send out invitations. Visit blessingway location to assess ritual space, amenities, parking etc.

 

1 Week Before Blessingway: Review Ch. 9 – Leading. Finalize outline and schedule rehearsal

 

1 Day Before: Get everything ready. Prepare ritual site (provide housecleaning if needed). Confirm event arrival time with organizers and leaders. Pack all supplies

 

Day of: 2-3 hours before guests arrive, set stage. Arrange furniture, create altars, set up ritual supplies, arrange flowers, get familiar with music system, mix henna, set up for feat, set out snacks and drinks. Review ritual outline and supplies list.

1 Hour Before: Clear atmosphere and reset energy (if desired at this time). Prepare yourself and other leaders. Check in with everyone, and then perform the centering ritual.

 

As guests arrive, welcome them. Start playing music that will set tone. Greet everyone and tell them what to do with their things. Confirm heating or refrigeration for feast dishes. Relax, breath and have a wonderful blessingway!

 

After Ritual, assign someone to finish making any gifts – don’t make mom wait to long. Verify everyone has received copy of phone tree, labor candles, anything else. Check in with mom about postpartum meal schedule or put out sign up sheet. Ask for volunteers to stay and help clean up.

 

After Blessingway Event: Review Ch. 10 Afterthoughts. Check in with mom, make sure she has support, received gift, meals being delivered

 

Blessingway Supplies Checklist

  • Books containing readings or prayers
  • CD or cassette player
  • Cushions, chairs or backjack portable chairs
  • Matches
  • Music CDS or cassettes
  • Musical instruments
  • Pitcher of water and cups
  • Scissors
  • Small clock or wristwatch
  • Snack mix
  • Tissues
  • Water

 

Altar:

  • Candles
  • Compass
  • Fresh flowers
  • Symbolic items
  • Tablecloths
  • Tables

 

Casting or Decorating Belly:

  • Instructions
  • Shallow pan
  • Paper towels
  • Petroleum jelly or alternative
  • Plaster bandages
  • Plastic or tarps (large)
  • Scissors
  • Or: art materials and finished belly cast

 

Clearing Space:

  • Bells, rattles, or other musical instruments
  • Smudging supplies
  • Water purification supplies

 

Feasting:

  • Centerpiece or vase of flowers
  • Coffeemaker, coffee, cream/creamer, and sugar
  • Coolers
  • Garbage bags for cleanup
  • Ice
  • Music CDs or cassettes
  • Tablecloth
  • Tableware
  • Teapot and assorted teas
  • Trivets and hotpads

 

Giving Gifts:

  • Bowls or baskets (to hold gift beads and other symbolic objects)
  • Paper and pen (for scribe to record gifts)
  • Supplies for creating a collective gift

 

Making a Wreath:

  • Flowers and herbs, fresh or dried
  • Ribbons
  • Wire
  • Wreath form
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

 

Making jewelry:

  • Instructions
  • Gift beads
  • Filler beads
  • Crimp beads
  • Jewelry wire
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Scissors
  • Split rings
  • Spring ring or lobster clasp

 

Pampering:

  • Crown or special clothing
  • Fresh or dried herbs for footbath
  • Hairbrush (mother to be should bring her own)
  • Hair clips, ribbons, fasteners and/or beads
  • Massage oil or lotion
  • Mehndi kit or supplies
  • Scented bath oils
  • Soap
  • Towels
  • Tub (for soaking feet)

 

Purifying with Smudge (incense or dried herbs):

  • Bowl (for incense cones or dried herbs or for tamping out a smudge stick)
  • Feather
  • Matches
  • Smudge stick, dried herbs, or incense
  • Tin foil (to cover the bowl, or to wrap the smudge stick in when done)

 

Purifying or Blessing with Water (Rose or Salt):

  • Bowl
  • Fresh rose petals or rose oil
  • Hand towel
  • Sea salt (1 tbsp. per quart)
  • Water

 

Releasing Fear (Indoor Smokeless Flame or Worry Jar):

  • Alcohol
  • Dried herbs
  • Epsom salts
  • Fireproof bowl (big enough to hold a tuna can)
  • Matches
  • Trivet or hot pad
  • Tuna can
  • Or Covered container and paper and pens

 

Releasing Fear (Outdoor Fireproof Bowl or fire pit):

  • Matches
  • Paper and pens
  • Symbolic (or other) items to be burned
  • Wood and kindling

 

Weaving a Web:

  • Ball of yarn
  • Scissors

 

Feminine Expressions of the Divine: see book or other resources for further explanations

  • Aine (Irish/Celtic): moon goddess of love, fertility and protection; protects mother and conceiving child
  • Ancestors of Mother to be:
  • Artemis (Greek): virgin goddess of moon and protectoress of childbirth and women
  • Artemis of Ephesus (Amazonian): multi breasted mother goddess bless us with fertility and protection; protects mother and child during childbirth
  • Bastet (Egyptian): goddess of love and fertility; summon for nurturing capabilities for mothering
  • Brigit (Celtic): goddess of healing, prophecy, inspiration, fire deity and patron of hearth. Summon for courage and protection
  • Ceres (Roman): goddess of bountiful harvest and growth. Blesses us with fertility and safe and successful pregnancy.
  • Changing Woman (Native American): represents cycle of life and all season
  • Damara (British): goddess of home and hearth who helps with family harmony
  • Dana (Celtic): creator goddess, great mother aspect of Creator
  • Demeter (Greek): Goddess of Earth, Mother goddess
  • Devi (Hindu): Vedic goddess, known as universal mother or great mother
  • Diana (Roman): virgin goddess of hunting and the moon, good to summon for painless childbirth
  • Diving Mother: general name for the concept of divine motherly guidance
  • Gabriel (Archangel): told Elizabeth and Mary of impending births of their sons
  • Goddess: general archetype expressing spirit of feminine divine; blesses us with intuition; good to summon for divine guidance, protection and conception
  • Hathor (Egyptian): goddess of sun, sky, newborns and the dead
  • Hera (Greek): goddess of marriage and personal power
  • Hestia (Greek): goddess of hearth and home
  • Ishtar (Mesopotamian): goddess of sexual love and fertility
  • Isis (Egyptian): moon goddess who embodies total femininity and motherhood
  • Ix Chel (Mayan): Goddess of Becoming
  • Juno (Roman): goddess of women, time and menstrual cycle
  • Kuan Yin (Chinese): goddess of compassion and protection
  • Lilith (Sumerian/Hebrew): first female according to Genesis; goddess of equality for women
  • Lucina (Swedish/Roman): goddess of light, she is first light seen after birth
  • Mami (Sumerian): mother goddess; midwife of the gods; created the earth and its beings
  • Mother Earth aka Gaia or Ea: the spiritual nature of the earth itself
  • Nut (Egyptian); goddess of the sky; mother of Isis; very protective mother goddess
  • She Who Heals (Native American): midwife, herbalist, medicine woman, spirit healer, teacher of cycles of earth walk
  • Venus of Willendorf (Ancient Mother): Paleolithic mother goddess dates back to 25000-20000 BCE; earliest known representation of woman
  • Vesta (Roman): goddess of hearth, home and strength
  • Virgin Mary: queen of heaven and the angels; gave birth to God on earth as Jesus through virgin conception
  • Yemaya (African): associated with the moon, ocean and female mysteries

 

Animal Symbolism:

  • Ant: patience, hard work
  • Antelope: action, grace
  • Bear: introspection, hibernation, deliberateness, earthly power
  • Beaver: building, planning, industriousness, energy, bravery
  • Bee: productivity, happiness when busy
  • Beetle (scarab): rebirth, resurrection
  • Blue bird: happiness, freedom
  • Buffalo: abundance, wealth
  • Bull: tenacity, strength, groundedness
  • Butterfly: transformation, lightheadedness, joy
  • Cat: nurturing, clarity of sight, dexterity, cleverness, independence
  • Crane: joy, loyalty, good luck, prosperity, purity, vitality, long life
  • Crow: sacred law, change
  • Deer: peace, gentleness, kindness, lovingness
  • Dog: loyalty, persistence, good friend
  • Dolphin: breath, inspiration
  • Dragonfly: illusions revealed, wisdom, enlightenment, transformation
  • Eagle: spirit, honesty, divine connection, the balance of spirit grounded in our everyday lives
  • Elephant: ancient memory, regal presence
  • Frog: cleansing, excitement
  • Giraffe: big picture, large heart
  • Grouse: sacred spiral of birth and rebirth
  • Hawk: messages, broad view, hunter, clarity
  • Hippo: mothering, protective presence at births
  • Horse: power – both physical and otherworldly, vision, courage, intuition
  • Hummingbird: joy, love, openheartedness, pure bliss of life
  • Lamb: innocence, new beginnings, self-sacrifice, joyful abandon
  • Lioness: assertion of the feminine, protection of the family, courage
  • Otter: balance female energy – playful and powerful
  • Owl: wisdom, cutting clarity, awareness of deception, appreciation of the beauty of the dark
  • Panther: one’s true power
  • Porcupine: innocence, protection
  • Prairie dog: community, playfulness
  • Rabbit: fertility, abundance new life, quickness, intelligence, caution, fearfulness
  • Raven: transmutation, magic, mystical change
  • Rhino: self-confidence, impatience
  • Seal: imagination, woman’s work, balance emotions
  • Snake: passion, renewal of self, transmutation
  • Spider: creation, connections, creativity
  • Squirrel: gathering, planning ahead
  • Swan: grace, evolution, potential
  • Tiger: passion, the beauty of power
  • Turkey: giving, transcending self, sacredness of life
  • Turtle: mother earth, patience, deliberateness, wisdom, peace
  • Whale: vastness, divine wisdom, ability to navigate sea of emotions
  • White buffalo: answered prayers
  • Wolf: teacher, guardian of the family

 

Color Symbolism:

  • Black: protection, rest, birth, shadows, mysteries of the subcounscious mind, magic and banishing. Absorbs negativity. Color of West Native American)
  • Blue: communication, truth, tranquility, happiness and water. Blue sea is subconscious mind, feminine, Great Mother and deep secrets. Blue sky is conscious mind, masculine and Great Father. Color of West (Wiccan)
  • Green: love, healing, prosperity, fertility, new growth and balance. Brings harmony, peace, reassurance and contentment. Color of the North (Wiccan)
  • Orange: joyful, optimistic, confident, flamboyant, warmhearted and tolerant. Represents harvest and brings sense of community
  • Purple: spirituality, truth seeking, love, honor, intuition, ancient wisdom, psychic perception, mystery and enchantment. Facilitates and strengthens connection to Divine
  • Red: love, passion, sex, fire, anger and courage. Symbol of life and creation because color of blood. Color of South (Native Am and Wiccan)
  • White: purity, innocence, cleanliness, purification, trust, protection, spiritual advancement, and openness to the realm of the divine. It contains all colors. It is virgin, pristine, and unsullied. Color of the North (N. Am)
  • Yellow: uplifting. Brings trust, attraction, communication, movement and power. Air, intellect and color of the sun. Color of East (N. Am and Wiccan)

 

Flower and Plant Symbolism: See book

 

Food Symbolism: See book; some below

Apple: health, vitality, earth magic, grounding knowledge

Banana: heroic energy, male sexuality

Avocado: beauty

Basil: protection, love, wealth, healing relationship, courage, fertility, fidelity

Beans: divination, prosperity, decision making

Bread: earth, the body, unity of spirit, kinship, sustenance, life

Cake: sweetness in life, prosperity, celebration, joyous occasions

Cauliflower: lunar and water related magic

Cherry, love, female sexuality

Chives: protection, breaking bad habits

Corn: life of the land, cycles, eternity, sustenance

Fruit: abundance, rewards, reaping harvest

Fruit, round: fertility, nourishment

Garlic: protection, healing, courage

Milk: the Goddess, energy, maternal instinct, nurturing

Olive: peace, spiritual pursuits

Pea: the Goddess, magic, love

Pear: longevity, luck

Pepper, black: cleansing, purification, protection, banishing

Pepper, white: mystical transformation

Pineapple: healing, protection, prosperity

Pomegranate: fertility, the womb; the cycle of birthed earth and reincarnation

Popcorn: lifting burdens

Raspberry: vigor, stamina, love

Rice: fertility, abundant blessings

Salt: cleansing, purification, dispelling negativity, strength, stability

Tea: friendship, insight, relaxation

Wine: spirit, blood, transcendence

 

Gem, Stone and Shell Symbolism: See book

 

General Object Symbolism: See book

 

Herb Symbolism: See book

 

Number Symbolism:

1: independence, birth; establishes a starting point

2: balance, partnership; establishes a connection between two points

3: sacred diversity (maiden, mother, crone; father, son, holy spirit; the three graces; and so on); establishes a pattern, first group of 3 in numerology

4: security, foundation, manifestation

5: freedom, change, the chaos of creativity

6: self-harmony, generosity, reliability, second group of 3 in numerology

7: inner wisdom, birth and rebirth, magic

8: infinity, energy, personal change, authority, organization

9: service to others, endings, completion, last group of 3 in numerology

10: inner voice of reason, transition, the unformed

11: intuition, clairvoyance, spiritual healing, mastery

12: fruitfulness, durability, one full year

13: devotion, patience, convictions

 

Tree Symbolism: see book

 

Recommended Resources:

Animal Symbolism: Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews; Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power thorough the Ways of Animals by Jamie Sams and David Carson

 

Feminine Expressions of the Divine

Archangels and Ascended Masters: A Guide to Working and Healing with Divinites and Deites by Doreen Virtue

Celtic Myth and Magick: Harnessing the Power of the Gods and Goddesses by Edain McCoy

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Banker and Anne Hill

Goddesses: An Illustrated Journey into the Myths, Symbols and Rituals of the Goddess by Manuela Dunn Mascetti

The Grandmother of Time: A Women’s Book of Celebrations, Spells and Sacred Objects for Every Month of the Year by Zsusanna E. Budapest

Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot by Vicki Noble

The New Book of Goddess and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

 

Food Symbolism and Recipes

Goddess in the Kitchen by Marjorie Lapanja

A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook by Patricia Telesco

The Wicca Cookbook: Recipes, Ritual, Lore by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt

Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for all Seasons by Cait Johnson

 

 

Herbs:

All books by Rosemary Gladstar

The Star Herbal by Robert Menzies

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun Weed

 

Meditations and Visualization:

Birthing form Within by Pam England

Celebrating Motherhood by Andrea Alban Gosline

Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain

The Dance by Orian Mountain Dreamer

The Invitation by Orgian Mountain Dreamer

Mother Wit by Diane Mariechild

The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden

The Woman’s Comfort Book y Jennifer Louden

 

 

Mehndi:

The Reverend Bunny’s Secret Henna Diary

The Art of Mehndi by Sumita Batra

Medndi: The Art of Henna Body Painting by CArine Fabius

Traditional Medndi Designs: A Treasury of Henna Body Art by Dorine Van Den Beukel

 

Movement:

Sweat Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice by Gabrielle Roth

 

Musical Resources:

Books and Songbooks

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk

The Heart of the Circle: A Guide to Drumming by Holly Blue Hawkins

Rise Up Singing: The Group Singing Songbook edited by Peter Blood

Songs for Earthlings: A Green Spirituality Songbook by Julie Forest Middleton

 

Recorded Music (samples on amazon):

Adiemus – female vocals, upbeat, tribal

Bones or Trance by Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors – meditative to trance

Canyon Trilogy by R. Carlos Nakai – Native American flute

The Celtic Cradle by Jill rogoff

A Circle is Cast by Libana

Circle of Women by Alice Di Micele

Circle Round and Sing by Anne Hill

Embrace of the Essence by Deva Premal

Exotica – World Music Divas

From the Goddess/O Great Spirit by Robert Gass

In Search of Angeles

In the Arms of the Wild

Ladyslipper Music by Women

The Mask and the Mirror by Loreena McKennitt

Music to be Born By by Michkey Hart

Offerings or Sunyatat by Vas

Pacific Moon I, II, III

Putamayo Presents

Quiet Mind by Nawang Khechog

Returning or Praises for the World by Jennifer Berezen

Silent Joy by Anugama

Siren Song by Connemara

Voices on the Eastern Wing or the Vine or Nectar by Kitka

Watermark or Shepher Moons by Enya

Weaving My Ancestors Voices by Sheila Chanra

Yoga Trance Dance by Shiva Rea

 

Magazine: Mothering

 

Books: The Baby Book by Dr. Sears; Chinaberry; Everyday Blessings by Myla; Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry; Raising Your Spiritual Child by Mary Sheedy Kurchinka; The Seven Spiritual Laws of Parenting by Deepak Chopra; Spiritual Parenting by Gayle and Hugh Prather

 

Poems, Prayers and Readings:

Celebrating Motherhood by Andrea Alban Gosline (originally published as Mother’s Nature)

Circle of Stones: Woman’s Journey to Herself

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions

I Hear Your Name: Poems that nature and empower

Illuminiata by Marinennes Williamson

I Sit Listening to the Wine: Woman’s Encounter within herself by Judith duerk

Seven times the sun by shea darian

 

Postpartum support:

La Leche League

National Association of Postpartum Care Services

Books: After The Baby’s Birth…A Woman’s Way to Wellness by Robin Lim and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by LLL

 

Pregnancy and Childbirth:

Orgs: Birthing the Future, Birth Works, DONA International, Global Maternal/Child Health Association and Waterbirth International, Midwives Alliance of North America

Books: Birthing form Within; The Birth Partner, Celebrating Motherhood, Conscious Conception or Hygeia or Prenatal Yoga by Jeannine Parvati Baker; Gentle Birth Choices, Immaculate Deception II; The Natural Pregnancy Book; The Pregnancy Book; The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book; Spiritual Midwifery

 

Ritual:

The 13 Original Clan Mothers; Blessingways; Casting the Circle; Celtic Myth and Magick; The Circle is Sacred: A Medicine Book for Women; Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions; Creating Circles of Power and Magic; Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit; The Grandmother of Time: A Women’s Book of Celebrations, Sacred Objects for Every Month; Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms; The Joy of Ritual: Spiritual Recipes to Celebrate Milestones; Practicing the Presence of the Goddess; To Ride a Silver Broomstick; A Woman’s Book of Rituals and Celebrations; The Woman’s Comfort Book; The Woman’s Retreat Book; Women’s Rituals: A Sourcebook by Barbara Walter

 

Ritual Supplies:

Belly Casting – www.proudbody.com

Candles www.giftsofnaturereps.com; www.rainbowcrystal.com; www.scentsandsprays.com

Herb Farms and Bulk Herbs – www.jeansgreens.com; www.infoblvd.net/healingspirits; www.lavendermoonherbs.com; www.mountainroseherbs.com

Jewelry Making – www.beadsutdio.com; www.beadworks.com; www.firemountaingems.com

Mehndi Supplies – www.earthhenna.com; www.mehndiskinart.com

Smudge Sticks – eyeoftheday.com; www.matoska.com

Massage and Rose Essential Oils – www.escentialonline.com; www.nadaoils.com

Statuary – www.mythicimages.com; www.sacredsource.com

Symbolic Gifts – www.rainbowcrystal.com; www.lelaearthspirit.com; www.yoni.com

Yarn – www.halcyonyarn.com; www.yarnmarket.com; www.yarnia.com

Sacred Space – Alters Made Easy by Peg Streep; Home Sanctuary: Practical Ways…by Nicole Marcelis; Sacred Space by Desnise Linn; Space Clearing by Denise Linn

 

Symbolism – The Secret Language of Signs by Denise Linn; The Urban Pagan by Patricia Telesco; The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Symbols by Barbara G. Walker

 

Women’s Spirituality – Orgs: www.womanwithin.org

Books – Aphrodite’s Daughters; Casting the Circle by Diane Stein; The Circle Is Sacred by Scout Cloud Lee; The Circle of Life by Elizabeth Davis; Circle of Stones by Judith Duerk; Creating Circles of Power by Caitlin Libera; Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson; The Grandmother of Time by Zsuzsanna E. Budapest; I Sit Listening to the Wind by Judith Duerk; The Millionth Circle by Jean Shinoda Bolen; The Rings of Empowerment by Carolyn Anderson; Sacred Circles by Robin Deen Carnes; Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach; Succulent Wild Woman by Sark; The Woman’s Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden; The Woman’s Retreat Book by Jennifer Louden; A Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williamson

About The Author

Jessica