Where I come from, Italy, we do not have baby showers, in fact we don’t have wedding showers, bachelorette parties, or any of these rituals. And I confess, at first, I simply found them silly and without merit. I felt they simply where a commercial exploitation or a very intimate and sacred moment in a woman’s life. People do come together and bring gift for a new mom, usually at a baptism and at weddings, but nothing really before the actual event. Once I got over my innate European cynicism, I learned to love these rituals yet I always like to give them a twist which includes recognizing and embracing the miraculous within them. Sure, some baby shower games are cute, but why not combine something sacred and empowering for this important rite of passage.
Blessingways are rituals or ceremonies celebrating the rite of passage into motherhood. A way to fulfill a women’s spiritual needs and connect her with her community. Baby showers are a form of this ceremony, with gifts bestowed on the mother-to-be, and advice, stories and blessings exchanged between women. A Blessingway can be a simple as lighting a candle representing the light within all of us.
There are now several books available which will aid you in planning your celebration. Blessingways: A Guide to Mother-Centered Baby Showers--Celebrating Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood by Shari Maser is a wonderful introduction to the art of blessingway planning. In this great book, you will find everything from deciding whom to invite, making initiations, choosing which activities to include and more. This book is fantastic for family and friends.
Since the emphasis at a blessingway is celebrating a special and magical time in a woman’s life, there are several activities and ways to celebrate a woman’s journey to motherhood.
Here are some fun activities:
Beads: At the blessingway, string all the beads onto a cord for the mother to wear during labor. Many mothers have said that these birth beads give them strength and focus during labor. It is a powerful and tangible way to show your love and the community support that surrounds the mother.
Scrapbook: creating a scrapbook as a group that focuses on all the love and support surrounding the mother-to-be and her baby. Other blessingways have included making simple bracelets that all the women wear until the baby is born to show their support, prayers, and well wishes.
Belly paint: Another fun activity is to paint the mother’s belly. You can use henna paints or any non-toxic (preferably natural) body paints. The mother may have a design she would like, something of special significance. You can talk it over with the mother beforehand and decide what she would like. Henna paint may work especially well because it could last until the birth, if the mother wants.
Washing mother’s feet: washing a mother’s feet in warm water gently scented by essential oils is a lovely way to show support for her. Many mothers also love to have their hair brushed. This feminine activity is very soothing and empowering to the mother.
Though not truly part of the ceremony, why not have each guest write down a meal that they are committed to bringing for the mother after her baby is born. Alternately, each guest can bring a pre-made frozen meal, if the mother has space in her freezer. Each guest should also sign up for a period of housework in the days after the baby is born.
Candle Blessing Ceremony
For this ceremony you will need a quantity of unused candles, and some oils to anoint them if you like. Lavender and rose are good for anointing. Long tapers work well, as do the large candles in a jar that burn for a long time. Sitting in a circle, ask your assembled friends to take a moment to think of the blessing or protective wish that they most strongly want to send to you and your baby. Ask them to concentrate that desire into their candle. You might suggest that they hold their thought or image clearly in mind while breathing slowly in their candle three times.
Once everyone has had a chance to focus on, ask her to go around and share their wishes with the group. Raising and focusing the group energy on the blessings increase the power of the candles. Each person will bring their candle home with her to be lit as soon as labor begins or whenever else they feel the need to send you energy. Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk
Untying the Knot
In preparation for labor, have the participants loosen and brush your hair, untie any knots in your clothing. This is a very old custom for making sure that there are no physical of energy obstructions to a smooth delivery.
Meditation and Prayer
Why not bring the sacred right in with a prayer or meditation. Your inner knowing is your best ally during pregnancy and birth. Yet the stresses and challenges of the birth process often overpower the small voice of intuition. Meditations that center and ground you can help. Your desire for protection, reassurance, and blessing is strong throughout your pregnancy. Prayers for a safe childbirth can be said throughout your pregnancy, and we all know that the power of a group prayer or meditation is exponential.