This is also the first child for both of us that will be raised with pagan values since birth.
What is fun is that there are so many interesting pagan traditions for pregnancy and birth. Creating a birth altar, having a blessingway, burying your placenta under a tree, or a naming ceremony are a few different ways to celebrate the new life you are expecting.
Birth altars can be created anywhere in the house. These can be especially helpful if you are birthing at home. They can be your center or power, your visual reminder of your goal, and your source of calm. Fill your birth altar with lots of baby items, rattles, stuffed animals, ultrasound pictures, pictures of your family, and baby-related stones and herbs. Meditating at your birth altar regularly will make it a sacred place and a center of power.
Blessingways are a Native American tradition. They celebrate and honor the woman becoming a mother. Similar to a baby shower, these are planned by someone close to the mother. The planner typically invites other women who are close to or who have been influential in the mother’s life. http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/blessingway.html has a lot of ideas for a blessingway. My favorites are:
- Beads: Have each woman invited (and even those too far away to attend) bring/send a bead for the mother. The beads should be specifically picked out with the mother in mind. These beads are then strung into a necklace or bracelet for the mother to wear during labor. These beads will be a reminder of the support she has around her. They can empower her and give her strength and peace.
- Hair brushing and feet washing: The group of women brushes the mother’s hair and washes her feet in warm water. Who doesn’t like having their hair brushed, right? It is soothing and a great bonding activity. I also feel it’s symbolic of the gentle, nurturing ways of mothers.
As I read the many ideas for the blessingway, I got hormonally teary-eyed to think of the support and caring these ideas would bring to a mother-to-be.
Many cultures utilize placenta burial such as the Maori of New Zealand, Indonesians, the Ibo of Nigeria, and Samoans. Burying the placenta symbolizes the connection between humans and the Earth. In Euro-pagan traditions, the placenta is buried under a tree. Trees are sacred to pagans and in connection with the God and Goddess, the symbology goes that a boy’s placenta is buried under a nut tree and a girl’s under a fruit tree. The placenta nourishes the tree and helps it grow tall and strong. It is the hope that the life of the child will also be strong and healthy.
A naming ceremony is a formal ritual in which you introduce your new child to the community and give them their name. A naming ceremony is also called a Wiccaning or a saining. This can be for their legal name, but you can also use it to give the child their second or Wiccan name. Pagans and non-pagans alike can attend, but you may want to give the non-pagans a heads-up if they don’t know what they’re in for. Invoking spirits or saying blessings can be surprising to someone who has never seen it done before. As with most rituals, it is preferable to do this outside, but if you can’t then make sure you have enough space for everyone inside. At the ceremony you can share the birth story, background of the name choosing, and anything else meaningful about the child and your family. The parents can also take this time to formally dedicate or bind themselves to the child as well as name the guardians or god-parents of that child.
I can’t wait to bond with my baby and use these new (to us) traditions and ceremonies. For my son, we had the traditional baby shower, but nothing that bonded me to my son like these traditions would. This is yet another reason I’m drawn to Wicca – I have never had the experience that celebrates and honors mothers like this.