Celebration of Birth Blog
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The Red Thread and the Power of Sisterhood
A red thread joins all the women in a circle... 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. This powerful process is part of the Blessing Way (Mother Blessing) ritual to honour a pregnant mama as she prepares to birth her baby... we will all wear the red thread and send her positive, loving thoughts whenever our gaze falls on the thread around our wrist. We continue to do this until we hear the news that the new mother has birthed her baby, only then is the thread removed.
Mother of two Sheree, shares "My mother, aunty and closest friends all sat in a circle with our wrists joined with beautiful sari silk. We tied a piece around each of our wrists, to be cut off and relase blessings when I went into labour. My heart was overflowing with love and gratitude for these beautiful women in my life, and knowing they were thinking of me and sending love every time they looked at their silk thread meant so much. I felt so empowered, held and safe in their love."
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. As we sit in circle we call on this strength of the feminine and we ask that healing flows back down the line to our grandmothers, and that it flows forward in time to our children and grandchildren we are yet to meet.
"Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother's ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month old foetus in the womb of her mother, our grandmother." 'When the Drummers were Women' Layne Redmond
The fact that we existed as an egg in the womb of our grandmother may be a confronting thought for some. Sadly, not all young women have positive or healthy female role models when growing up. A history of suppression, control or abuse in the family line can continue to carry subtle feelings of mistrust and lack of safety today. Sitting in circle, with the knowing that we are all there to support each other, goes a long way towards learning to trust again. This powerful, present-time experience of unconditional trust and support may help to reframe and heal negative family patterns.
Sitting in circle not only generates trust, it generates oxytocin as well, the hormone of labour and of love-making. Oxytocin supports the bonding process between mother and baby; it is also generated by cuddling and by close caring connection. These new bonds can, in turn, help to build new pathways to heal and rewrite the negative story of trust... the power of sisterhood comes full circle.
As part of the Sacred Birth Doula Training, the women participate in a Blessing Way ritual for themselves as they step out onto the doula path. Learning in this experiential way anchors the elements of ritual into the doula's psyche; they too can then offer this beautiful ceremony for their pregnant clients.
The term Blessing Way comes from the Navajo Native American Indian people, referring to a ritual that honours the pregnant mother as she prepares to birth her baby; I acknowledge and respect this as a Navajo tradition. I first read about this beautiful ceremony in a book called The Goddess Celebrates - An Anthology of Women's Rituals, in which midwife, Jeannine Parvati Baker shares her experience and wisdom.
I conducted my fist Blessing Way over 25 years ago for a pregnant midwife friend, I saw the beauty, power and support of the circle as the women sang to her and a beam of sunlight shone through the tree under which she lay right onto her beautiful belly, blessing mother and baby.
Anna Watts is an Australian Sacred Birth Educator, Doula Trainer, Mentor & Counsellor. Celebration of Birth offers regular Sacred Birth Doula Training for both new and experienced Doulas to explore birth as a journey of transformation and healing. Please visit the website for dates of training and details about personal Spiritual Birth sessions in person or by Skype anywhere in the world. www.celebrationofbirth.com
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