While I was in California for Passover early last month I had the pleasure and honor of being the center of a Blessingway ritual hosted by my mom.
A Blessingway, like a Baby Shower, is a rite of passage for the mother-to-be. But the significance and intentionality behind the celebration is much, much different. Rather than focusing on the baby and the gifts as in most showers, the Blessingway makes space for the mother’s community to gather around her and shower her with, well, blessings.
It’s a beautiful Navajo tradition that is quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to the traditional Baby Shower. Though I will have a shower at the end of this month thanks to the love and care of my east coast family (love you!), I thought it would be wonderful to celebrate my transition to motherhood with my maternal tribe, too. And so, my mother set about to plan a wonderfully meaningful and intimate gathering.
In early April my mother, grandmother, aunts, and close childhood friend, Molly, met at my parents’ home for the ceremony. First we rinsed our hands in rose water outside the door ritualistically cleansing ourselves and purifying the space. Upon entering, we were greeted by an array of sacred accoutrement–candles, pictures, flowers, and other significant items.
The four directions were identified along each wall with colorful altars; in the center of the room pictures of the women of my family graced the coffee table: in frames were my great grandmother and her mother as well as images of my grandmother and mother.
Led by my mom, we called in the spirits of the four directions to hold the space and invited the energy and wisdom of my lineage to be with me. As we embroidered a swaddle blanket for the baby, burned away our fears, and laughed through our tears I found myself awed and inspired by the women in my circle. What power, what grace, what divinity.
And then! They each had a role in pampering me: a foot bath, neck and head massage, henna tattooing… I definitely felt loved up.
Before we ate dinner together (a delicious meal prepared by Dad!), I opened one of the best presents I have ever received: a book of letters and blessings written by my circle to me and the baby. Gifts of wisdom, anecdotes of love, and joyful hopes for the future are inscribed on each of those pages.
It was wonderful to have this time together with my family and to feel connected and cared for as I enter this wondrous new world of parenthood.
Thank you, Mom, for crafting a truly meaningful and special ceremony, and thank you Grandma, Aunt Ronna, Aunt Debbie and Molly for participating in the ways you did. I am so grateful. xo
(And thank you, Aunt Ronna, for the pictures!)