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What is a Mother Blessing?

Rachel O'Reilly

The first time I went to a mother blessing, I was so sweetly surprised at how soulful the experience was. In a sea of back-to-back baby showers where the day is spent playing silly games (that, let’s be real- who actually enjoys!?) and oooing and ahhing over material items gifted to the unborn baby, this newfound ritual was such a welcome departure from the traditional baby shower.

Now let me assure you, I’ll take any excuse to hang out with girlfriends and sip on socially acceptable alcoholic beverages before noon, but the point is this: Perhaps the most powerful and profound rite of passage in a woman’s life is becoming a mother, and the ceremony that honors this event has the ability to reflect this. 

Okay, but what exactly IS a mother blessing?

A mother blessing is a ritual inspired by an ancient Navajo tradition called a blessingway in which women of the tribe would come together to pamper and nourish the mama while offering words of wisdom, building her confidence and celebrating her ascendance into motherhood.

What happens at a mother blessing?

Women will gather in a circle and the host (or other appointed person) opens the ceremony by introducing themselves, offering a little orientation, and then setting the mood by leading the group in a quick meditation or anything that feels comfortable. Guests will take turns going around the circle sharing whatever they have prepared for the occasion. Examples of readings include, but are not limited to: Words of encouragement, advice on motherhood, sharing a positive birth story, a piece of wisdom, reading a poem that speaks to the event... the possibilities are endless!

Rituals + Enrichments

There are several rituals that can occur around the circle in whatever order works for the group. Here are some favorites:

  • Reading of something you wrote, piece of wisdom, or poem: This can be anything that you feel connected with, whether you wrote it or someone else did. It's nice to have at least part of your message written down so mama-to-be can save it, but can also just be free flow from your heart.

  • Birthing necklace: Ask guests to bring a bead to be strung into a necklace for Mama to wear during labor. This necklace symbolizes all of the positive energy and support of her tribe. Usually the bead will have some relevant significance. For example, a turquoise stone has healing powers that protect, balance, and instill inner peace. A shell might serve to symbolize the parallels between the rhythm of waves and the coming and going contractions during labor. Encourage guests to get creative! Side note: In my experience, I’ve found that actually stringing the necklace during the circle isn’t a great idea because the string can get tangled easily. I suggest passing a little bowl around to collect the beads instead. This way, you’re able to curate the order of the beads, too.

  • Feather mobile: In lieu of the birthing necklace, have guests bring a feather and make a mobile with your collection. There are lots of great ideas on Pinterest!

  • Aromatherapy foot bath: Pamper mama by giving her an aromatherapy foot massage with lavender oil and fresh flower petals.

  • Flower crown: Have a flower crown made for your guest of honor! This is one of our favorite traditions. If you live in the Bay Area, Katie of Eothen will make your dreams come true.

  • Nourishing foods: Prepare a board with delicious seasonal fruits and offer it to Mama. The delicious snack symbolizes fertility and will look beautiful. 

  • Henna: Hire a henna artist to give your guest of honor and guests henna tattoos. This is an ancient ritual that has transcended throughout many cultures, and is often used in preparation for rite of passage ceremonies.

Parting words

Shortly after I attended my first mother blessing, my dear friend became pregnant and I offered to host a blessing circles for her. She agreed (a bit reluctantly, to be honest) fearing I might lead them into super granola, hippy-dippy territory she wasn’t sure she could navigate. But here’s the thing; Mother Blessings can (and should!) be designed in alignment with whatever the mama feels comfortable with!

Just because you don’t feel a gravitational pull toward burning a smudge stick to clear the air doesn’t mean you should abandon the whole idea. I promise you that some really sweet, soulful magic stuff happens in these circles regardless of which rituals you decide to perform. After the blessing, I was approached by several attendees who wholeheartedly thanked me, a couple with tears in their eyes, for leading them through the experience. Suffice it to say that since then, many of the women present at that Mother Blessing have become mothers and all have asked for a blessing ceremony of their own. Mother Blessings create a wonderful, cathartic opportunity to express deep, nurturing support for someone you deeply love.

Interested? Explore more tips on hosting a mother blessing.