On Rites and Rituals to Honor Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond.

Birth is a rite of passage. A blood rite. One of the greatest transformations of your life, be it your first and only birthing, or your fifth or more. Every time, it awakens new life, creates new life. The birthing of The Mother, as well as the new baby. A great Sacred Transformation.

Our culture is not big on ritual and ceremony, but for the human psyche, these are honored and celebrated events. Birth is one of the greatest rites of passages for the feminine, along side menses and menopause. Some say it is the greatest passage of all. It shall be what you choose to make it.

We don’t have a social standard for celebrating pregnancy, other than maybe the baby shower, where it’s often little more than a party for sharing the commercial care package. And that’s fine if it works for you, however as one web site states: “Modern culture has become so focused on the baby-to-be, that we’ve forgotten the mother about to be born.” From this understanding the Blessing Way ceremony was borrowed and built upon from the Navajo people.

A Blessing Way was traditionally a ritual created to spiritually support and empower the new mother for her journey of birthing and motherhood. Mother blessings can consist of many different elements, including:

  • Henna drawings: Beautiful belly art can be applied at your mother blessing and will last for one to three weeks afterward. Henna is safe, natural and gentle, and has been used in body art for thousands of years.
  • Hair garden: A wreath of colorful, fresh flowers crowns the mother-to-be, celebrating her femininity and fertility.
  • Candle garden: Each guest can choose a candle and present it to the mother-to-be.  They are lit in unison at the celebration, and then when the mother’s birthing time begins, all the candles will again be lit in ceremony to symbolize the prayers and blessings of her friends and family.
  • Weaving the web: Often done with a ball of red yarn, passing on and sharing sacred stories of birth and life, this activity symbolizes the umbilical cord that binds all of us together.
  • Herbal foot bath: Relax and pamper the mama-to-be with an herbal foot bath, fragrant salt scrub or cornmeal rub.
  • Birth bead necklace/bracelet: Each guest may present a bead or beads to the mother-to-be, with an explanation of what it symbolizes to them.  The beads will then be strung on a labor necklace, as a sort of talisman for the mother-to-be to wear during pregnancy and birth.
  • Spiritual activities: Circling round for prayers or guided meditations, releasing-fear ceremonies, or positive visualizations (optional & adaptable to any belief system).
  • Special readings: Poetry, prayers, chants, sacred scriptures, positive birth stories…whatever calls to your heart.
  • Presentation of labor/postpartum gifts to pamper and celebrate the mother instead of, or in addition to, baby items.

Additionally or separately, you can create your own unique celebration. Have fun, explore, get creative, be joyous. Celebrate this beautiful Sacred Transformation. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate life.

If you have a supportive community, family or friends, I recommend you request a ceremony and/or create one for yourself. If you’re more private, you can do something small and intimate, alone under the moon, or in a sacred location with your partner. Feel what works for you to honor this rite of passage.

Your pregnancy, your body, your transformation, you spirit is worthy of the gift of celebration. Make it special. It is. You are.

Daily ritual/practice.

Now let’s bring the Sacred into the every day. What can you do, today, every day, to create a ritual, celebrating life and your marvelous journey of birth and beyond? How can you create the daily practice to honor the Sacred Transformation that pregnancy – and then the postpartum – is for the whole woman?

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • The tea ceremony.
  • Your morning ritual.
  • Your meditation ritual.
  • Full moon walks.
  • New moon gatherings.
  • Making moon tea.
  • Burning sage or incents.
  • Make daily offerings to the Earth.
  • The drumming circle.
  • Baths, flowers, oils, foot massage.
  • The dinner ritual.
  • Create an alter.
  • Sit under a tree.
  • Lighting fragrant candles.

You know the old saying: Every day is as special as we make it. Well, every day of your pregnancy and the Sacred Return of the postpartum, is extraordinarily special. Please honor that. Honor yourself. Take a moment for yourself to honor your spirit. Use ritual as a caring, nourishing and nurturing expression for yourself.

Looking at rituals now may help you have a stronger understanding and connection to their power as you progress through birth, when turning to ritual is a normal and natural shift for the mother in the intensity of labor. We’ll look at this more later, the use of ritual in birth. For now, just enjoy today. With your own little ritual.

If you’re interested in reading more about rituals and the rites of passage throughout the women’s life, I recommend When Women Were Drummers by Layne Redmond, The Essential Handbook of Women’s Spirituality and Ritual by Barbara Walker, and The Woman’s Wheel of Life by Elizabeth Davis.

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