Of all the rites of passage I've experienced, both formal and informal, my blessingway stands out as the most significant, and perhaps the most powerful. I was so grateful to have six of the dearest women in my life, including my mother and sister, come together to bless my journey into motherhood just 11 days, it would turn out, before I gave birth.
I specifically requested touch; birth is, if nothing else, a physical experience and I wanted to honor that in the blessingway. The woman decided to take turns massaging my belly with lavender oil while offering their blessings to my soon-to-be-born daughter.
They also included a fear release exercise from "The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book," adapted slightly by TalkBirth. One idea she suggests for a blessingway ritual is to circle around the pregnant woman holding hands and then read the following together:
You will be enough. You are strong enough.
Remember mother blessings can be anything from an intricate, scripted ceremony to a few women gathering together with the simple intention to bless the mother-to-be. One element that was particularly meaningful from my own blessingway were the readings and poems my mother, sister and oldest friend shared with me.
It wasn't until after I gave birth that I fully understood their powerful beauty and truth. I hope you treasure these words as much as I have.
The pilgrimage has always been a spiritual journey. That was the main reason Peter wanted to walk the Camino - to open himself to wisdom and guidance from the Divine.
My mother described it this way: "We are all locked in narrow views of life: whatever is in our sphere of awareness just is the way it is.
"What you hope for with pilgrimage, or with questing of any kind, is that you will get a new vision for your life - new ideas, new possibilities you hadn’t considered before."
It's Peter's story to tell but I can say it was an amazing and life-altering experience for him. And he's about to do it again. In a little less than a week he departs to walk the Camino a second time. It will be the same route (mostly), but it will certainly be a whole new pilgrimage.
Peter asked me once again to bless him before his journey, and once again the Goddess (the face of the Divine for Peter) waited until practically the last moment to offer me her words. This evening I opened to the blessing "For a New Beginning" from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by the late teacher and poet, John O'Donohue. And it is perfect.
a blessing ceremony for his pilgrimage.
Peter sees the Divine in the face of the Goddess; I knew he made this pilgrimage to open himself to her wisdom and guidance in this, his 70th year. I also knew he wanted a simple ceremony - nothing complicated or fussy...only to receive the blessings of the Goddess through me, one of her daughters (and at 9 months pregnant, fully embodying The Mother herself!).
I mulled over ideas for the ceremony during the week leading up to their visit, when I'd have to chance to see Peter off on his journey. Finally, on the morning of their arrival, the ceremony came to me fully formed and scripted. I had only to write it out and gather the supplies.
After lighting the candle, ringing the singing bowl and smudging with sage, we began:
When you will walk the pilgrim’s path
Now fully ready
To receive whatever the Goddess wills for you.
I, Hannah Grace,
Daughter of the Goddess,
Offer the Lady’s blessings for your journey.
Next, I anointed his heart, third eye and hands with oil:
On this walk, may your heart be opened once again, knowing it is safely held
in her bosom.
On this walk, may you see clearly, as if through new eyes, her world of
beauty and grace.
On this walk, may you know you are ever in her hands, and may all you touch
and feel be so blessed.
Despachos are burned rather than opened, releasing the energy and blessings back into the earth. Only I know the magic woven within its contents.
Take with you this despacho,
Made by my hand and with my prayers,
That you may walk with the blessings of those you love.
Child of the Goddess,
You are her beloved son.
From the mother you came into this world
And to her you shall return.
Every day between now and then is her gift to you.
Use them well,
And ever in her service.
We're both embarking on a journey, both physical and spiritual. When Peter returns I will have given birth to my first child. I can't wait to hear what is birthed from within him.
Poetry and Musings of an Interfaith Minister on the Journey of a Lifetime.