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Birth Spiral Chakra Blessing

Birth spiralFebruary 2014 015.
Energy
feel it spin throughout your body.
Beginning in your core,
unfolding, unfolding, spiraling upward into a peak
and release
Every part of you opening
making space
making room
for this new little one.
Calling the child forth into your waiting arms
your waiting family
your waiting heart.
Enlivened
alive
fully engaged and embodied
in the current of labor.
It builds
it pulses
it rolls
it rocks
it peaks
it crests.
These waves of power.
They are you.
You are doing it.
You ARE it.
This is energy, this power, this unfolding might of creation.
It’s you.
Your body
your power
your birth
your baby.

February 2014 003

Let the sparkles of these chakra colors remind you to bring your whole self to your labor. To walk the spiral path, to dive in, to embrace, to unfold, and to become: Mother.

Root (red):

Where baby came into being and now will be welcomed. Source of creation. Gateway for baby and life.

Sacrum (orange):

Where baby has sheltered within a cradle of bone. Pelvic bowl that rocks the child. Make way. February 2014 007

Solar Plexus (yellow):

Where you take deep breaths, carried on the waves, following your rhythm.

Heart (green):

Where your love bursts forth and you discover what it is like to be endless.

Throat (blue):

Where you roar your birth song. Welcome your baby with your voice, your cry of greeting. Your cry of triumph. Your cry of fulfillment.

 Brow (indigo):

Where you let your mind go, where you release, and give, and surrender to the creative, nameless, raw pulsing energy of birth.

Crown (violet):

Where you draw in the wisdom of the ancestors. The power of the Divine Feminine. The ocean of mother love that has gone before you and that surrounds you even now as you work.

Draw it in, draw it up, draw it down. And know, without a doubt, that you can do it. You can walk this path. You can rise to the occasion. You can respond with strength to whatever is asked of you. All the surprises, all the mystery, all the twists and turns and unexpected places. You carry the wisdom within you to let it flow.

February 2014 012

New Baby Ritual (Plus Maruti Beads Review!)

July 2013 014One of my good friends recently had her family’s eighth baby. I’ve had mother blessing ceremonies for her with past babies and I meant to do so for this baby as well, but our unexpected trip to California occurred right at the time we should have been having the blessingway. Last week, I had the chance to visit her and to meet her new baby. I decided to put together a mini-welcome-new-baby-ritual and have it with just us by the river. I called it a “blessingway in a bag” and I included some tea, candles, and bindis in the bag, so that her family could have the complete ceremony themselves on their own if they wanted to do so. Several months ago, I also received a beautiful box of Maruti Beads to review. They’ve been sitting by the computer waiting for a special occasion and this was finally it! I made a pretty necklace for my friend to honor her family’s “tree of life” and I included one of the gorgeous Maruti beads (more pictures to follow).

July 2013 043 At the river, we didn’t actually do the full ceremony that I’ve included below—I’d written it up as a complete ritual that could be done with a group, as needed/wanted—instead, I just read my friend the poems and gave her my gifts 🙂

Ceremony of Welcome for a New Baby

*Opening reading:

Wonder of Wonders

Wonder of wonders,
life is beginning
fragile as blossom,
strong as the earth.
Shaped in a person,
love has new meaning,
parents and people
sing at their birth.
Now with rejoicing,
make celebration;
joy full of promise,
laughter through tears,
naming and blessing
bring dedication,
humble in purpose
over the years.
–Singing the Living Tradition (UU Hymnal)

*Baby name is announced!

 A Prayer for One Who Comes to Choose This Life

May she know the welcome
of open arms and hearts

May she know she is loved
by many and by one

May she know the circle of friendship that gives July 2013 013
and receives love in all its forms

May she know and be known
in the heart of another

May she know the heart
that is this earth
reach for the stars and
call it home

And in the end
may she find everything
in her heart
and her heart
in everything.

(by Danelia Wild in Sisters Singing)

*Gifts, Beads, Blessings…
A good idea is for each guest to bring a special bead and add it to a necklace/mobile for the baby–as each person places their bead, they offer a wish or blessing for the baby.

*Sing Call Down a Blessing
(each person fills in a word of choice for the blank space and whole group sings each in turn. i.e. “Joy….joy before you, joy behind you…”)

Call down a blessing

Call down a blessing

Call down a blessing

Call down.

__________before you

__________behind you

__________within you

__________and around you

*Hold up/out baby or mother and baby stand in center of circle.

*Group Reading (optional: simultaneous “anointing” with elements):

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.

*And/OR

Stars give her strength
Sun turn her eyes
Moon guide her feet
Earth turning hold her
We pray for her
We sing for her
We drum for her
We pray.

–Chrystos (in Open Mind)

Back to the beads!

I received the 50 piece Maruti, Kashmiri & Lac Bead Mix. These beads are really something special! They are handmade in India and are of very high quality. Each one is like a small work of art. They are sparkly and beautiful and solid and wonderful. It is hard to decide how to use them, because they feel really special! Since my friend and her new baby are special too, they deserved one of these beautiful beads 🙂 Maruti Beads would make a wonderful, special addition to any blessingway or mother blessing ceremony.

Rites of Passage… Celebrating Real Women’s Wisdom

“Woman-to-woman help through the rites of passage that are important in every birth has significance not only for the individuals directly bellypictureinvolved, but for the whole community. The task in which the women are engaged is political. It forms the warp and weft of society.” –Sheila Kitzinger (Rediscovering Birth)

“I love and respect birth. The body is a temple, it creates its own rites, its own prayers…all we must do is listen. With the labor and birth of my daughter I went so deep down, so far into the underworld that I had to crawl my way out. I did this only by surrendering. I did this by trusting the goddess in my bones. She moved through me and has left her power in me.” ~Lea B., Fairfax, CA via Mama Birth)

Summary of Article: How do today’s women prepare for major life changes such as becoming a mother? Have our once meaningful rites of passage been trivialised, and if so at what cost? Kat Skarbek looks at ways to reclaim what we have lost.

Permission is given to publish this story on the web (thanks to Women’s Mysteries Teacher Circle e-journal).

Without wishing to appear overly dramatic, I think that our society may be in danger of becoming devoid of any important spiritually nourishing rites of passage. Women no longer seem to know how to celebrate important transitions. We have fallen into the horrible habit of treating life-changing events in trite and meaningless ways and as a result, we are cheating ourselves out of the powerful positive effects that these rites of passage can bring us.

For women, menstruation, puberty, marriage, pregnancy & birth, menopause, death – even divorce and separation, all need to be properly acknowledged when passing through these stages of life. Instead we either ignore them completely as in the case of puberty, first menses and divorce, which sends the message that they are both shameful and unworthy of celebration. Or we use the opportunity to get drunk, act like strippers and carry out questionable tasks which would make a sober person question why she would want to get married in the first place – as on your average hen night. At a friend’s baby shower recently I watched with sinking heart as one of the most important events in a woman’s life was celebrated with games involving stealing pegs from other women’s clothing the minute they unconsciously crossed their legs, guessing the baby’s weight and answering questions such as did she have ‘an inney or an outey’ bellybutton? How, I found myself asking, does this in any way prepare a woman to deal with the rigours of labour and birthing and the demands of the first year of motherhood? Why are we so seemingly unaware that our accepted celebrations offer absolutely nothing to women except a bunch of baby clothes? At standard baby showers there is no molly5wisdom shared, no loving support offered and no nourishment given (unless you count cupcakes!).

How did it come to this?

What happened to our once vital and spiritually awakening rites of passage? The easy (and heavily feminist) answer is 500 years or more of patriarchy. Prior to this and from the earliest records of society, it has been apparent that there were very well observed, meaningful and symbolic rituals to mark just about any occasion. Rituals existed for everything from simple agricultural celebrations of the changing seasons and giving thanks for food and supplies, to complex marriage and birthing rituals that eased newlyweds into their new roles and prepared the way for women to birth with dignity and power. Women in particular carried enormous wisdom about the cyclical nature of life and shared nourishing rites of passage, which enabled them to marry in confidence and with awareness, birth without fear and to die with dignity and grace. Once patriarchy became established it began the systematic erasure (or appropriation) of many of these important rites and in particular it diminished the roles and experiences of women so that they went from being important and respected members of their communities, with power over land, name and children to women whose only role was to birth heirs and to be subservient to their men. Even in today’s changing society the roles of ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ are still considered less important than the roles of ‘career woman’ and ‘breadwinner’. We have higher rates of divorce, higher rates of birth intervention and subsequent post-natal depression and more difficult menopauses now than women experienced 50 years ago. I believe that this is directly linked to the fact that we are now expected to just ‘get on with it’ and disappear into these changes without the proper observances being made. I’m not suggesting that women to disappear into mud huts every time they bleed or to give birth in fields as we did in the tribal days, but I do think that we need to pay more attention to our needs at these powerful times of change. Menstruation is not a curse, it’s a promise of our life-giving ability to come. Menopause is not a loss of youth and sex appeal, it’s a vital gateway to the enormous power of our wisdom years. And pregnancy, birth and marriage are life-changing experiences that need to be embraced and celebrated with something more nourishing than ‘Mr December’ and his overstuffed banana hammock.

A graceful acceptance of our changing roles and an awareness of the power that these changes bring, gives us huge personal freedom. Freedom from the current obsession with youth and aging, freedom to explore our new shapes, our new lives and the possibilities they hold. Isn’t that worth exploring?

Reclaiming simple rites of passage

So how can today’s modern goddesses, and in particular mammas-to-be, prepare themselves for life’s many transitions? A good starting point is to create your own rite of passage for whatever transition you may be going through. Pregnant women could change their planned baby shower to a Mother Shower (also known as a Blessingway). Mother Showers celebrate and nurture the mother rather than focusing exclusively on the child and are a growing trend amongst women. They offer pregnant women a chance to honour their pregnancy journey, to enjoy symbolic rituals of preparation for the labour and birthing ahead and indulge in an afternoon of loving, nourishing attention from their closest friends and family. And yes, there are still cupcakes! During one of these afternoons a pregnant woman can expect to be waited on hand and foot – often quite literally. Celebrations often include some kind of pampering for the mamma-to-be such as a foot and hand massage with beautiful, pregnancy-safe essential oils. She might choose to have her belly, hands or feet hennaed as a recognition of her changing status. She might enjoy creating a beautiful ‘labour necklace’ created out of beads gifted by each woman present and blessed with all of their best wishes for a wonderful birth. These necklaces can be used as a powerful focusing tool during the darkest hours of her labour and can become a beautiful heirloom that gets passed on from mother to daughter, or even from woman to woman within her community, with each subsequent pregnancy adding more beads to the necklace.

What you can do

There are a number of meaningful activities that you could include in your celebration. You could even combine elements of a traditional baby shower with elements from a mother shower by adding in any of the following:

  • A Fear Releasing Ceremony. Writing down your fears on a piece of paper and ritually burning them can help you rid your unconscious IMG_0821mind of any impediments to an easy and positive birth.
  • Belly Casting. Creating and painting a belly cast (a 3D plaster cast of the beautiful pregnant belly) can be a wonderful meditative tool to connect you more consciously with your body and your baby.
  • Guided Meditation or Visualisations. If there is a group of you, each woman can place a loving hand on the mamma-to-be, while another guides her into a place of deep relaxation where she can communicate with her unborn child or any guides or angels she feels drawn to, in order to receive information or just reassurance.
  • Plant a Tree. Buy a beautiful fruit tree to plant in honour of your newborn. You can tie birth blessings and wishes to its branches until after the baby is born.
  • Give gifts to nurture the mind, body or soul of the mamma-to-be. Most women won’t get the opportunity to enjoy a spot of luxury once the baby is born, so instead of yet more baby clothes why not spoil the mamma with something indulgent such as a pregnancy massage, a hair appointment, a manicure or pedicure or simply some beautiful skin cream to minimise stretchmarks? You can even buy her a gift for after the birth such as a post- natal spa voucher, to give her some ‘me’ time to look forward to when she needs it most.
  • Share Birthing Stories (no horror stories please!). Poetry, singing or chanting can also be a very uplifting way of connecting with your wise inner goddess.
  • Create a Phone-Tree. When labour is established, each woman is called and lights a candle for the birthing mamma to re-create the loving circle of support present on the day and send her thoughts of courage and strength.
  • Provide Nourishing Food and Drink. Each woman present can contribute a meal to be frozen for after the birth.
  • Pledge an Act of Support for after the Birth. Each woman offers one tangible act of support for after the birth when the mother and child are getting to know one another. It can be something simple like providing a home cooked meal, offering to take care of an older child for an afternoon so that the mamma can get some rest, taking the dog for a walk or taking the newborn off her hands so the she can have a recuperative bath.
  • The Baby Moon (or a month of ‘lying in’ with the newborn) is still observed in many cultures and offers a chance for the infant and mother to really bond and get to know one another without the usual worries about cooking, cleaning and taking care of other children. I think it would be very beneficial to women to reclaim this particular tradition.

Finding our way back home.

On the day that a baby is born, so too is a mother. Without properly acknowledging our changing lives in these beautiful and memorable ways, we go into motherhood unprepared for the challenges it may bring. No amount of reading can bring you the kind of self-knowledge needed to be a good mother. No amount of beautiful nursery furniture can enable you to trust in your mothering instincts when you are frightened of making a mistake with your precious little bundle. These things all take time. Reclaiming our rites of passage, no matter in how small a way, can help restore to women something vital for their spiritual and emotional wellbeing. And if you are worried that it might be boring or heavy, you needn’t. Celebrations are just that, a joyous coming together of loved ones to honour something wonderful. Keep that in mind and enjoy the many wonderful ways of celebrating this amazing and challenging time in a woman’s life. Choose the things that work for you, that you will enjoy and that will really give you the space to recognise the momentous changes that are happening and offer you some genuine support and acknowledgement of this special time.

More information about alternative pregnancy celebrations can be found in books such as Mother Rising by Yana Cortlund, Barb Lucke and Donna Miller Watelet (OK) and Blessingways, A Guide to Mother-Centred Baby Showers by Shari Maser (OK).
If published on the web please include the following contact details: Website: www.thedivinefeminine.com.au Email: info@thedivinefeminine.com.au Phone: 0439 636 958

Kat Skarbek
www.thedivinefeminine.com.au
About Kat Skarbek…
Kat Skarbek is a writer, presenter of the Shamballa Spirit Show on 3MDR 97.1FM and the Head Honcho of The Divine Feminine (www.thedivinefeminine.com.au) which specialises in creating unique and spiritually nourishing transitional celebrations and events for women. These include alternative Hen Nights and Mother Showers for pregnant women. She is a proud survivor of the first two years of motherhood and a visit from the PND Fairy.
Phone: 0439 636 958
Email: info@thedivinefeminine.com.au

Previous posts about rites of passage and women’s mysteries:

Rites of Passage Resources for Daughters & Sons

Birth as a Rite of Passage & ‘Digging Deeper’

Blessingways and the role of ritual

Blessingways / Women’s Programs

Red Tent Resources

 

Womenergy (Womanergy)

The day before my grandma died, my dad came over and said he’d coined a new word and that I could have it: Womenergy. He said he’d googled it and didn’t come up with anything. I googled it later though and there are a couple of people who have used it before, so I think my dad actually said Womanergy instead, which is still available. So, womanergy has been coined now too! 🙂 I dozed off during Alaina’s nap today and when I woke up the word was in my head and so were a bunch of other words. I channeled a bit of my inner Alice Walker and wrote:

Womenergy (Womanergy):

Feeling fierce at 37 weeks last year.

Feeling fierce at 37 weeks in 2011.

Often felt when giving birth. Also felt at blessingways and circling with women in ceremony and rituals. Involved in the fabric of creation and breath of life. Drawn upon when nursing babies and toting toddlers. Known also as womanpower, closely related to womanspirit and the hearing of one’s “sacred roar.” That which is wild, fierce. Embedded and embodied, it may also be that which has been denied and suppressed and yet waits below her surface, its hot, holy breath igniting her. Experienced as the “invisible nets of love” that surround us, womanergy makes meals for postpartum women, hugs you when you cry, smiles in solidarity at melting down toddlers. It is the force that rises in the night to take care of sick children, that which holds hands with the dying, and stretches out arms to the grieving. It sits with laboring women, nurses the sick, heals the wounded, and nurtures the young. It dances in the moonlight. Womenergy is that which holds the space, that which bears witness, that which hears and sees one another into speech, into being, into personal power. Called upon when digging deep, trying again, and rising up. That which cannot be silenced. The heart and soul of connection. The small voice within that says, “maybe I can, I think I can, I know I can. I AM doing it. Look what I did!” Creates art, weaves words, births babies, gathers people. Thinks in circles, webs, and patterns rather than in lines and angles. Felt as action, resistance, creation, struggle, power, and inherent wisdom.

Womenergy moved humanity across continents, birthed civilization, invented agriculture, conceived of art and writing, pottery, sculpture, and drumming, painted cave walls, raised sacred stones and built Goddess temples. It rises anew during ritual, sacred song, and drumming together. It says She Is Here. I Am Here. You Are Here and We Can Do This. It speaks through women’s hands, bodies, and heartsongs. Felt in hope, in tears, in blood, and in triumph.

Womenergy is the chain of the generations, the “red thread” that binds us womb to womb across time and space to the women who have come before and those who will come after. Spinning stories, memories, and bodies, it is that force which unfolds the body of humanity from single cells, to spiraled souls, and pushes them forth into the waiting world.

Used in a sentence:

“I’m headed to the women’s circle tonight. I could really use the womenergy.” February 2013 196

“I felt like I couldn’t keep going, but then my womanergy rose up and I did it anyway.”

“Feel the womenergy in this room!”

“She said she didn’t think she could give birth after all, but then she tapped into her womanergy and kept going.”

“I hope my friends have a blessingway for me, I need to be reminded of the womenergy that surrounds me as I get ready to have this baby.”

Feel it…

Listen to it…

Know it…

In the air, in her touch, in your soul.

Rising
Potent
Embodied
Yours…

“For months I just looked at you
I wondered about all the mothers before me
if they looked at their babies the way I looked at you.
In an instant I knew what moved humankind
from continent to continent
Against all odds.”

–Michelle Singer (in We’Moon 2011 datebook)

“I believe that these circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we’re weak and sing with us when we’re strong.” –SARK, Succulent Wild Woman

There is a wild tiger in every woman’s heart. Its hot and holy breath quietly, relentlessly feeding her.” – Chameli Ardagh

Circles of women (and art)...

Guest Post: Spring Sugar Scrub Recipe

I’ve been making my own body care products for quite a few years and I enjoy sharing recipes and ideas with other women. I used to teach classes in making “salves and scrubs” and “lotions and potions” and I find it pretty empowering to take charge of your own personal care products, using only ingredients you can find readily at grocery stores and that you could actually safely eat! So, when I received a guest post submission from Michelle Pino from the spa Skana, I was happy to share it with my readers. Sugar scrubs make a nice simple handmade gift for Mother Blessings ceremonies in particular. If you attach the recipe to the jar, it makes it easy for her to refill it as needed! I also like making sea salt scrubs, for which you would just replace the sugar in this recipe with sea salt (the finer the grain the better).

Scrub Away Winter Skin Just in Time for Spring

by Michelle PinoScreen Shot 2013-02-20 at 10.25.39 AM.png

I love seeing the grass turn green, watching the flowers begin to blossom and the feeling the sun shining through the clouds. Here in central NY, sunshine is rare during the winter months, but there’s plenty to look forward to in spring in summer. However, one of the things most people don’t look forward to in the spring is revealing their dull, dry skin that his been covered up all winter.

Working at a spa in central NY, dry skin is often the focus of many of our treatments this time of year. We use a blend of natural ingredients including fresh herbs and organic products at the spa. Luckily some of the same products we use at the spa can be found right in your own home–or a quick trip to your grocery store!

This simple DIY body scrub is the perfect way to prep for spring, tank tops, shorts, sundresses, and flip-flops! It could also be a perfect gift for a girl friend, aunt, sister, mom or co-worker this Mother’s Day.

Ingredients:

1 c. White Granulated Sugar

½ c. Almond Oil

4-6 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Combine the sugar and oil by slowly adding the oil to the sugar. You may not use all of the oil, or you may need more. You don’t want your sugar scrub to be too ‘soupy’ though!

That’s that! Apply the scrub to your skin in the shower to warm, clean skin. I don’t recommend using it on your face; however, as it may be too coarse.

A sugar scrub is easy to make and can be used any time of year! Try using different essential oils to get the perfect scent for anyone!

This inexpensive treat can be stored in a mason jar or other airtight container. Try adding some ribbon or a printable sticker if you are using the body scrub for a gift. The lucky recipient is sure to enjoy!

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 10.19.31 AM.png

Michelle Pino is the Spa Manager at Skana Spa in Verona NY. Michelle is an enthusiastic person that is passionate about her job as well as leading as healthy of a lifestyle as possible. Outside of work, you will find Michelle baking, reading or possibly crafting!

The Birthing Dance

I saw this post go by on Facebook during the week and saved it to share, because it would make a nice mother blessing poem to share with a pregnant mama:

The Birthing Dance

Come to me, My Child
Secret longing of my inner heart
Breath of spirit
Wandering the cosmos

Choosing your next lifepath
Seeking sanctuary in my womb
Visions of you stir my dreams
Your gentle essence drifting inward
Merging into matter
Coming into consciousness
Birthing into being
Your tender wisdom speaks
The ancient knowledge
of a mother’s power
Our bodies grow together
Two as one
Turning round, in birthing dance
You lead me
Opening the circle corridor
Descending into unhindered ecstasy
Into my arms

What If? Shifting the Dialogue of Birth

Sometimes at mother blessing ceremonies I share a modified version of a piece of writing by Leilah McCracken called, “Shifting the Paradigm of ‘What if?'” (I forget where I originally read it, perhaps in Hypnobabies?).

This is my re-working of McCracken’s words, with the addition of my own thoughts at the end:

Many of us think “What if?!” in fearful ways before giving birth: What if I need to transfer? What if the pain is awful? What if my uterus ruptures? What if the baby won’t come out? What if I lose control? and so on.

Let’s shift the internal dialogue and think “what if?!” in powerful ways: “What if I have the most beautiful experience of my life? What if I could actually feel a wet, moving baby on my belly—just after birth—and fall in love with that feeling forever? What if I give birth and feel pure exhilaration? What will happen if I give birth as a powerful, free woman—what will happen if I claim my right to give birth as my biology impels me to? What if I emerge victorious, free, and powerful? What if—what if my baby never feels anything in her first moments other than my body and my love? What if I push my baby out into my own hands, and pull her up, and kiss her wet head, and cry and moan and weep my joy in private, darkness and love—what if… what if this birth is the most loving, sweet and gentle moment of my life? What if I give birth with wild joy and courageous abandon? What if…

If I read this out loud to a woman, I substitute “you” for “I”—the “you” message puts her directly into that new framework of what if!

What if we become as powerful and wise as we are meant to be? What if we share our wisdom and our strength with other women? What if we act with courage and in solidarity with other women? What if we believe unshakably in the power of women to triumph and to act with courage? What if we expect birth to be beautiful? What if we trust that we can learn so much from each other? What if we trust women’s bodies and the wisdom of babies? What if we listen, really listen? What if we remember that she always has the right to define her own experience? What if we know in our hearts that all mothers love their babies? What if we act as though other women don’t need to be enlightened or “educated”? What if we believe she has the keys within herself to unlock her own steady power? We will change the way the world spins…

What if… the very future rests on our ability to engage with these what if’s?


Note: I then wrote a companion post about the flip side—the going ahead and thinking the “bad” what if’s—because I want to also acknowledge that there is power and value in experiencing and working through the so-called “negative” what if’s as well.

What if…she knows exactly what to do…