Humble gifts of beads and handcrafted items, sharing of food and blessings, a quiet setting…all are part of a tradition for new mothers that pre-dates typical baby showers. When friends gathered for a Blessing Way in anticipation of Robin Jones Alley’s second home birth, I was honored to be invited.
The setting was the garden of Turtle Mountain Herbs owner Crystal Wilson. A table of food and drink was graciously shared, while blankets provided relaxed seating and greenery naturally provided the perfect backdrop.
The decorative focus was a Jewish-inspired sukkah constructed from branches and draped in red fabric in the Sukkot tradition that Wilson’s family observes. The Blessing Way has roots in many ancient traditions, including Native American traditions, and Wilson was sure to note that everyone was welcome, no matter what word we used for God.
Wilson started the ceremony with a traditional sage burning to “purify” the space. Meditation or prayer time was started, with specific mentions of the concerns the expectant mother had about a healthy pregnancy. Attendees were all asked to continue thinking about these concerns throughout her pregnancy.
Then, instead of spending time oohing and aahing over store-bought baby gear, the group focused on pampering Alley and giving her small, sentimental gifts. Alley’s midwife, Lisa Coomer, massaged her feet, while other women brushed her hair and massaged her hands with essential oils. Tiny beads, each given by a different attendee, would be made later into a special piece of jewelry.
The event ended with a red yarn web strung from person to person, symbolizing the connectedness of community. Each woman went home with a homemade yarn bracelet to remind her to think of the mother-to-be and remain supportive of her.
The mother’s wishes? To have a home birth that is “simple, calming and peaceful.” The host’s intentions? To take the emphasis off “things” for the baby and focus on being supportive of the mother, in turn helping make way for a baby’s healthy start in life.
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