Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
From the Preggie Peggy website:
Looking for a different way to celebrate your pregnancy other than a baby shower? Then, consider a "blessingway".
A traditional Native American custom, blessingways center around the pregnant woman and her upcoming rite of passage into motherhood. This ritual doesn't include playing games and giving gifts for the baby. The idea behind the blessingway is to surround the mom-to-be with support and encouragement as she counts her days down to the birth.
Activities to plan for a blessingway:
-Create a labor bead necklace:
Ask guests to write out one wish for the mom-to-be while she is in labor and one wish for the baby at the time of the birth. After the party, string beads together to form a necklace. Each bead should represent one wish. Tip: use pink beads to represent the labor wishes and blue beads to represent the wishes for baby at birth. (Any color bead will work)
So, if you have 15 guests who participated in this activity, you should have 30 beads on the necklace. Write out the wishes in a journal or notebook for a nice keepsake. Present it to the mom-to-be. Let her know that the meaning behind this activity is that she should pack the necklace in her labor bag and pull it out when labor begins. The necklace will let her know that everyone is thinking of her and the baby at that special time. Having the necklace can be a source of positive energy and strength for her in the time she needs it most! A great activity for the mom-to-be who lives far from family and friends.
*An alternative to this activity is to have each guest bring a bead, go around the room and have each guest give their "wish" or "thought of strength" for the mom and then add their bead to the necklace.
-Create and decorate a belly mask
-Candle lighting: give candles to guests as they arrive at the party and ask them to light a candle for the mom-to-be and place it in the room. Another candle lighting that you can do is to give candles to each guest as they leave. When the mom goes into labor, contact each guest and ask them to light their candles while the mom labors. This is to send support, strenght and positive thoughts toward the mother.
-An herbal foot and hand bath for the mother.
For starters, a Blessingway is a traditional Navajo ceremony, not a "traditional Native American custom." That alone tells you "Preggie Peggy" is taking a genuine part of one Native culture and making it into something generic and unauthentic. Mentions of a bead necklace, "belly mask," positive energy, and herbal baths only reinforce this notion.
Let's see what a Blessingway really entails. From Karen Strom's Index of Native American Resources on the Internet:
As opposed to the other Navajo [Diné] Chant Ways, which are used to effect a cure of a problem, the Blessingway is used to bless the "one sung over," to ensure good luck, good health and blessings for all that pertains to them. It is sometimes referred to by English speaking Diné as being "for good hope." Blessingway ceremonies are performed for expectant mothers shortly before birth is due. Young men leaving for the armed forces will have a Blessingway given for them by their families before they leave.
So far, so good. But where did the Blessingway come from? Is it really intended for non-Navajo moms?
The Blessingway holds historical precedence over all of the other chants, being given to the Earth Surface People shortly after the Emergence into this world. It is in the Blessingway chant that the most complete account of the Navajo [Diné] origin myth is recounted including the origin of the Blessingway ceremony itself. The first Blessingway was held by the Holy People when they created mankind. They taught them both ritual and skills; Changing Woman gave them some songs.
And how do you conduct a Blessingway? By creating a necklace, lighting candles, and getting a massage?
The ceremony has the dignity of great simplicity despite the rich, complicated and beautiful ideas upon which it is based. On the first night a few songs are sung. The next day there is a ritual bath in yucca suds with songs and prayers. That night there is an all night sing. The use of both pollen and cornmeal is prominent in this ceremony. Drypaintings in the Blessingway are made of only vegetal materials (cornmeal, pollen and crushed flower petals, such as larkspur) on buckskin. The only drypaintings in which Changing Woman appears is in the Blessingway ceremony.
Hmm. Preggie Peggy may have omitted a few details. Maybe expectant moms should do a ceremony other than a Blessingway. They could call it a Blessingrite or Blessingtherapy and get the full spa treatment. Meanwhile, maybe they shouldn't pretend they're doing a real Native ceremony when they're not.
New Age mystics, healers, and ceremonies
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