September 18, 2007

The Mother Blessingway Ceremony


A Mother Blessing is one form of the Navajo Blessingway ceremony. It is a ritual for the expectant mother. A Mother Blessingway is a gathering of only women who get together, tell (positive) birth stories, give the expectant mother emotional support and pamper her a bit (brush her hair, wash her feet, massage her).

The tone, content, and intent of a blessingway can vary greatly, but generally, the modern event involves songs, food, and the giving of symbolic gifts and good wishes to the mother. In less spiritual practice, a blessing way is similar to a baby shower and is held for a pregnancy other than a woman’s first.
The Blessing Way was given to the Earth Surface People shortly after their Emergence into this world. “Blessing way” is the English translation of the name of this ceremony, but it’s meaning is actually more complex than that. The actual rough translation from Navajo is, “continuing re-occurring long life in an environment of beauty and harmony.” but in the Dine culture this concept includes all that is harmonious and good in life, as opposed to disorder and all that is evil.

The Blessingway has been adapted as an alternative baby shower for spiritual moms in recent years. This is a much less commercial and a much more personal, intimate way to honor the blessed event of a birth. It is supposed to protect the mother and baby during the pregnancy, insure a safe birth, and give the baby good health and a long and meaningful life.

During Blessingway celebrations for moms-to-be, the expectant mother is really pampered by her loved ones. They may brush her hair or give her a foot massage with sacred blue corn. Poems are read and promises of aid during delivery and after the baby is born are voiced. Candles are lit and symbolic gifts are presented. In the Navajo tradition, attendees cast spells to insure a safe and harmonious life for the coming baby.

Symbolic gifts are given rather than material things. Invite friends and relatives to bring small symbolic gifts to present at the ceremony. Have them explain what the gift represents for the baby. Some examples might be a coin for wealth, an apple for health, a needle and thread for industriousness, or a plant for growth and respect of nature.

You can also ask guests to research the meaning of flowers, and then ask each guest to bring a flower representing their hopes for the baby. After guests present and explain their choice, combine all of the flowers into a single bouquet representing the support of the baby’s community.

At the end of the Blessingway ceremony, a feast is shared with the guests.

Culture and Tribal Customs
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