What is a Blessing Way celebration and where does the tradition come from?
A Blessing Way is a rite of passage from the state of woman to that of mother – it has its roots in the traditions of the Navajo Indians of North America. Surrounded by her friends, her sisters, her mother, and any other women close to her heart, the mother-to-be gets to have a special moment created just for her, with symbolic activities and care.
The idea is to surround her with love and warmth. To fill her up with positive energy for childbirth.
How is this celebration different from the baby shower, another popular event?
The baby shower is centered around the baby, childcare equipment, and fun games, like customising onesies or drinking a baby bottle as fast as possible. There are things to eat and it can sometimes get noisy and full of excitement. It’s a lot of fun, but the baby shower doesn’t take into account the major changes and intense emotions brought about by pregnancy and childbirth.
The Blessing Way ritual focuses on the mother, femininity, and support.
Practically speaking, how is the celebration organised?
The mother chooses a moment in her eighth month of pregnancy to gather her group of women in an intimate setting. Prior to the date, the participants use their talents and inspiration to create various activities: sewing, cooking, singing, decorating, etc. They coordinate their efforts between themselves or with the help of a ‘mistress of ceremonies’, such as a doula.
When the day comes, the mother delights for three hours in the surprises and rituals that were prepared for her and is surrounded with the kindness and loving care of the participants. All the women are gathered in a circle. Each one gets a turn to talk.
The mother is massaged, she wears a flower crown, she receives sweet words and offers of help and support for when the baby is there… She is the queen bee!
Are men excluded?
Yes and no. It is first and foremost a women’s circle, where all need to be able to speak and listen without reserve, and in connection with the intimate feminine.
The father, the godfather and/or the children can join the group when the circle ends and the snacks get served. Also, the father can be invited to participate by writing a word of encouragement and love to his sweetheart.
How do you explain the success of Blessing Ways?
By the lack of sacred moments in our modern lives. We long to live powerful moments that allow us to reflect and to engrave in ourselves the important passages of life.
By the need to gather in a time when we often feel lonely, when families are broken up. Finally, does a mother really need to receive fifteen funny baby bodies decorated by her friends, or does she need to feel more supported and filled with oxytocin?
5 examples of ritual activities
- An altar
In the centre of the circle stands a small altar of flowers and candles, creating a gentle and warm atmosphere. Each participant is invited to place an object that is symbolic for her: a photo, an element of nature, a precious stone, a poem, etc. Objects that can support the mother during childbirth.
This ritual consists in gathering one candle per participant on a tray. Each woman engraves a word of encouragement on it. If the mother gives birth at home, these candles can be lit during the birth. If she goes to the hospital, the participants will light their candles at home as soon as the mother goes into labour.
- A necklace
Each woman brings one or more carefully chosen pearls that, when put together, will make up a bracelet or necklace, a lucky charm that the mother-to-be can wear during the birth. As the pearls are strung onto the necklace, the women share a few words, an intention or a happy moment.
Music (a song chosen by the mother, for example) is an integral part of the Blessing Way, sometimes sparking off powerful emotions. And if some women in the group are musicians or like to sing, they can compose or improvise a little melody, which they hum gently to the baby with the others.
The mother and her group of women sit in a circle. They wrap a cotton or wool thread around their wrists, which joins them all together. This link symbolizes their union, their support and their connection to the mother-to-be. Then, the thread is cut and each one ties her piece of the thread around her wrist, like a bracelet.
Who offers this service in English in Belgium?
Doula Nadège De Bonte organises Blessing Ways, as well as massages and rituals (Rebozo) around all stages of parenthood. Blessing Ways can be organised at your home, or anywhere else you wish in Brussels, Walloon Brabant or the Namur region. Follow Nadège on Facebook or Instagram and reach out to her directly to organise a Blessing Way for yourself or someone close to you via:
Tel: + 32 475 41 30 42