By Janelle Boyington, RM, CPM
Throughout history humans have used ceremony to mark turning points in their lives. Ceremony can honor and acknowledge a time of change, a transition, a growth, a passing, or a rite of passage; the reasons are as plentiful as those who would choose to partake. In today’s fast paced culture, less time is taken to honor and celebrate life’s cycles and transitions.
A traditional healing ceremony of the Navajo called a Blessing Way, contains rites, songs, and prayers that focus on creation, healing, peace, and harmony. Considered to be one of the most important ceremonies is that of a young girl making the transition into womanhood. Another is that of the transition into becoming a mother. This style of ceremony has gained resonance with many people who are looking to honor these and many others of life’s transitions. Though it should not be confused as a Navajo Blessing Way, the current iteration of a Blessingway can be that which the celebrants make it. The Blessingway can be adapted to any religion or none at all.
For girls the process of becoming a young woman is often confusing and filled with questions. It is an energetic process rarely acknowledged, honored, and celebrated in our society. For expectant mothers, our society is great at giving physical “stuff” in preparation for having a baby; just think of the last baby shower you attended. But what many mamas’ need is less tangible. The experience of birth is sacred and by honoring the mother we create an atmosphere of reverence and love for her to carry with her and call upon during that time.
We need women, sisters, and mothers to share their stories, encouragement, and wisdom. The support of a circle of women gives strength to the journey. Some of the activities of a Blessingway may include symbolic gift giving in representation of a story or message from each attendee; laying of hands and proclamations of blessings to the honoree; candle lighting; a basket of blessing notes for writing messages; foot washing, hair brushing or other grooming/pampering as signs of respect; feasting and socializing joyously rounds out many gatherings.
Here is to mothers, to daughters, to women, and to all the men who support strong women. Join me over the next few articles or in person at Stillwater Healing Arts Clinic in exploring the cycles of women’s lives and the celebrations, which give them tribute.
Janelle Boyington, RM, CPM is a midwife providing homebirths, well-woman care, and lactation services; seeing clients at Stillwater Healing Arts Clinic, here in Lyons.