Ali Heppell Candle Mothers Circle

What is a mother blessing?

The process of becoming a mother can be one of the most transformative times in a women’s life. As with birthdays, weddings and funerals it is a major life event that deserves recognition and celebration. 

Marking this moment in our lives allows us to step into the next season of life feeling revered, supported and loved. 

Mother blessings are ceremonies to bring women together in circle. They acknowledge, honour and celebrate the mother and her experience. Unlike a traditional baby shower, which tends to be more about the baby, a mother blessing is focussed on the mother as she moves through pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.

These ceremonies are safe and nourishing spaces that allow and embrace all of the excitement, gratitude, vulnerabilities, fears and worries of the mother. 

It is a powerful opportunity for the creation of pleasure, promote oxytocin release, reduce anxiety and assist in emotional and psychological healing and growth. 

I was beautifully celebrated and deeply honoured in my second pregnancy by my close friends, aunties, sisters and sisters in law and mother in law in my home where I was to give birth. 

I had spent many hours dreaming up and researching what I would like my mother blessing to be. I knew that I wanted it to be facilitated by my lovely doula Lilly from @softcentre and I trusted that Lilly would bring with her the experience and ability to hold space for me and my loved ones. I chose the playlist and organised some catering for the afternoon. We gathered in circle and as requested each of the women had prepared some wise words, poems or items to share with me that would support me as I moved through this rite of passage.

We danced together and cried together. My shoulders, hands, arms, legs and feet were lovingly and tenderly massaged.  

We undertook a fear release ritual and red thread ritual. The fear release ritual involved wiring down our fears, ripping or burning them and then scaring the words of a fear release and inner strength poem. 

In the red thread ritual we used the same red wool thread to tie around our wrists to join all the women present as sisters of support. The idea is that when separated each woman stands alone in her own power, yet knowing the support of her sisters is with her as she embarks on her personal journey of transformation. 

The red thread also symbolises our lineage of ancestors, the matriarchal line, recognising the inner and outer strengths engendered by our foremothers in pregnancy, birth and in daily life.  

My sister was a polymer clay jewellery maker at the time. She taught the group how to make a bead which would be added to a leather strap and used added to my birth altar and held throughout my labour to draw on the strength of those that made it. 

And finally we ate, had a cuppa and chatted. 

While in circle I shared a story I had come across in my preparation for the day. I described the use of saunas as places of birth in Finland in the middle ages. Finns used the community sauna as a place for rites of passage. Children were born, women underwent purification rituals before marriage and people went there to die. A sauna was a warm environment, with plenty of water and because of the smoke’s tannic acid, was also sterile. I spoke about how the smoke from the chimney would signify to the town folk that there was a birthing woman in the sauna and that allowed the village to prepare for the birth of the mother and child. 

I let the women who attended that day know that although I would not have to smoke signal from the sauna I will be asking my birth team to send a metaphorical smoke signal out to them when I went into labour. Allowing me to draw on their support from afar and for them to prepare for the birth of mother and child.

Below is quote from John Virtanen, in his book, The Finnish Sauna, which gives a personal account of this tradition.

“The people of Arima were still in bed that cold October morning while my mother lingered over her first cup of hot coffee in a crowded one-room home. Her children slept soundly in one wide bed, and Father had hardly opened his eyes. The arrival of the tenth child was imminent as Mother wrapped herself in a warm blanket and then went down a narrow, rocky footpath toward her favourite smoke sauna, lighting her way with an old lantern and feeling the frost throw her thin leather shoes. The doctor and the hospital were miles away and far beyond her reach. After a few painful minutes she found the privacy and warmth of the sauna where she would deliver her baby. The sauna was dark. She lit the handmade candle which rested on the window sill and hung the lantern on a hook by the door. The charcoaled walls had witnessed the marvel of birth before. Opposite the benches stood the large kiuas, source of the sauna’s heat, built by a master mason of natural red rocks and formed in a shell to contain over a square yard of fist-sized, blackened stones. The kiuas radiated the pleasant heat which filled the sauna, warming the walls and enveloping the benches and platform. For a long 280 days my mother carried a child in her womb, and now she allowed there blanket to slip to the floor and climbed the three steps to the platform. Once again the sauna would provide the warmth, the quiet, the peaceful though primitive environment in which to give birth. The midwife who came along washed the baby boy, and there I saw my first candlelit and cried my first sound.”

Mother blessings are tailored to you with the sole aim to fill your cup with good vibes, positivity and love. Each ceremony is as unique and magical as you are. Mother’s blessings provide you with a foundation of love, support and community as you enter into this next stage of life. Allowing you to cross the threshold with contentment, confidence and community.

What would an ideal blessing look for you?