I've been honored to take part in several blessing ceremonies for babies due to arrive this spring. Unlike a conventional baby shower which focuses heavily on presents and shower games, these blessing ceremonies concentrated on the expectant mother.
Called a mother blessing or Blessingway, they are rooted in Native American traditions. Blessingway rituals mark the significance of the birth process, gathering the "tribe" to honor and bless the sacred transition into motherhood.
One of my favorite rituals from the mother blessing was when we stood in a circle and wrapped our wrists with yellow yarn, offering our blessings and wishes for the birth. Then we cut the yarn connecting us and tied them into bracelets, each of us wearing ours until the baby is born.
In India, red or yellow string bracelets called mauli are worn when performing puja or attending prayer ceremonies. Worn for protection and well-being, it symbolizes goodwill when one person gives mauli to another. And just like a string tied around your finger, the bracelets are an everyday reminder of mother and baby.
Yana Cortlund, co-author of Mother Rising: The Blessingway Journey Into Motherhood, writes, "Birth is a key life passage for women. But modern culture has become preoccupied with the arrival of the baby-to-be and has lost touch with birth's profound impact on the expectant mother."
As we strive for ever more "both/and" in our society, I hope we celebrate not only the wonderful new person being born (including showering the family with gifts to help them prepare) but the important opportunity to pause: to attend to the sacred within everyday experience, and to nurture our connection to ourselves and each other.