A Blessing Circle is based on the traditional Navajo ceremony to celebrate important life passages, known as a Blessingway. Out of respect for the Navajo people I draw from this beautiful ceremony to create a Blessing Circle (or Mother Blessing). It’s a great alternative to the typical baby shower. Blessing Circle ceremonies can be tailored to each individual’s beliefs and ideology. The central theme remains the same, shower the birthing mother and baby with love and deep connection to other women and the earth.
Over the years I’ve been blessed to facilitate many ceremonies. When I first started, my ceremonies were very “hippie.” After attending one of my ceremonies, a Christian friend asked me if I would facilitate a Christian Blessing Ceremony for her. It was so easy to change the ceremony and it was one of the most beautiful circles I’ve ever led. We sang her favorite hymns, and each woman brought a bible verse and prayer for mother and baby which we later put into a book. Since then, I’ve facilitated ceremonies for women of many different faiths. My philosophy on the blessing circle is the same as my birth philosophy–listen to the mother.
Usually, when women contact me about organizing a Blessing Circle they are intimidated by the importance of such a momentous event. Truth is, it’s all about the love. The details of the ceremony aren’t nearly as important as the love shared between members of the circle. If you simply sat a bunch of close friends in a circle with no decorations or prepared speeches or supplies and props, there would still be tears and love and power. That’s just how it works.
So here’s what I do. Remember, this is very general and you should do what feels right.
Typically we begin the Blessing Circle by forming a circle, and welcoming mother and guests to the ceremony. We open the ceremony by burning sage (optional, of course) to clear the room and participants of negative energy or ideas about birth. Next, the mother receives a flowered crown for her head and an herbal foot bath and massage. We go around the circle and each woman strings a bead onto a necklace and offers a prayer/affirmation for the birth. This necklace can later be used as a source of strength and focus during labor. Last, we pass a roll of string around and each woman wraps it around her wrist. To close the ceremony we cut the string between each woman and they tie it into a bracelet. The women wear these bracelets until after the baby is born. After the ceremony we eat chat and have a good time!
Blessing Circles can be performed for the birthing mother alone or for her partner as well. I like to add songs to the ceremony to create positive energy, build community, and help smooth transitions between the pieces of the ceremony.
For me, the most important aspect of the Blessing Circle is that it is not outcome-focused. The focus is on giving the mother the support and love she needs to draw on her own strength to travel her birth journey, whatever it may be. We aren’t wishing for her to have a home birth or an easy birth or a natural birth or even a vaginal birth. We are helping her find her own inner strength to trust that her journey will unfold just as it should, and that she will walk the journey with grace. We remind her that we will hold her in our love during that journey.
Tips for creating a Blessing Circle:
Ask the mother what she wants.
Keep it small if you can. It’s nice for it to be intimate.
Describe the ceremony in the invitation so people know what to expect.
Bring tissues, there will be crying.