Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Plant a Seed

Sunday I had a "Mother's Blessing." I didn't call it a Blessingway, what has become a more and more popular event these days for Mother's-to-be... Blessingways originated in part from Navajo Traditions of Honoring the new Mother for this journey/transition. Rather than drawing on these traditions, I looked into my own roots, and learned of Mother's Blessings that used to be a very common occurrence among LDS women. They were not done the same way blessings are usually done in the LDS church today - the biggest difference is that they were most often given BY women, not priesthood holders. They didn't call on priesthood authority or anything, but they did perform a very intimate woman-to-woman ritual.

I took aspects of this tradition, and added in my own personalization for the evening, and had a very beautiful, small, and intimate blessing.

BUT - there was one way any who wants to can choose to participate, still. I ended the evening by presenting those who attended with what I called a "gift of life." I gave them each a pot of soil, and two sunflower seeds (planters, not eaters). I asked everyone to wait to plant the seed until they either heard I had gone into labor, or that I've given birth.

You too can plant a seed to celebrate a new life.

Nothing is more symbolic of life than a seed. When I handed them out I told people that not every seed grows. If you plant your seed, and you get nothing, I said, please use the experience to honor those who wish to be mothers and aren't... either for lack of Father, or lack of ability. In this I especially want to honor my sister Melissa and brother Aaron who wish to be parents and would be wonderful parents, but have not yet had been blessed with a child.

Sometimes a seed will germinate, even sprout, but then not survive - even when conditions are seemingly right. If this happens, use it to honor those who lose their children young, either through miscarriage or other complications. I have a dear college friend who would have also been due in March and lost her baby. I especially wanted to honor you, Shannon, in this.

Sometimes, a seed grows and flourishes. I gave sunflowers because their seed, their potential to sprout new life again, is so readily seen. Celebrating life eternal, it's potential, it's gift.

I'm planting sunflowers today in honor of another new life... my Nephew Elijah was born this morning.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

purely sociological

Yesterday, I sat on my porch, listened to the birds, and felt the warm sun on my skin. It was holy. I don't appreciate nature often enough, and I know this because the experience felt refreshing and new.
It makes me wonder, from a purely sociological standpoint...
If man "created" religion and gods to explain things like thunderstorms and why the sun moves and why things grow in the spring, and if science has solved these mysteries, and we spend more time in buildings and air-conditioning than we do walking in the raw forest... then would man have "created" gods if we were brought into the world with the understanding of these things beforehand? Say, for instance, the world has always existed as it is now, with buildings and science books, and we were brought into consciousness, would we instinctively create gods and rituals? Why would we, if we did?

Thoughts? Comments?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Speaking of Ritual

I am soon going to go through three rituals; two relatively voluntary, and one the hugest sacred rite of passage that is the cause of the continuation of humanity itself.

The first will be a tradition Baby Shower, an American ritual which became popular soon after World War I. It is most often baby-centered, commercially acted - with accompanying "Ooooo's," and "Oohhhh's" - and silly-game enacted. I did not want a wedding shower for this reason, and I've never been comfortable being the center of attention when that attention is manifest in commercialism (in other words, getting lots of stuff). But, in this case, it makes some practical sense. We don't have much money, we don't have much baby stuff, and feeling a bit isolated from many of my friends these days - a great excuse to be surrounded by people just waiting to "Ooo" and "Ohhh" this baby that will soon move from in-belly to in-arms.

The second is becoming more popular, but still not a widespread movement... still considered a bit granola. It's unfortunate that in most all of it's manifestations, it's a revival of what used to be practiced in many cultures, including LDS culture. I am organizing a Mother's Blessing for myself, also known as a "Blessingway."

In Navajo tradition, they would perform a ceremony celebrating this rite of passage from maidenhood to motherhood, and honoring the woman for her part in increasing the tribe.

In the early days of the LDS church, women would gather before a woman was going to give birth and perform a washing and anointing specific to this same rite of passage, giving the mother strength... woman to woman, mother to mother, priestess to priestess. This was not done underground, either. It was openly discussed in Relief Society meetings, and endorsed and encouraged by Joseph Smith. During the days of women's suffrage, and even more so during the campaign for the ERA, the hierarchy in the church decided this blurred the lines too much between male-centered priesthood sanctioned activity and what was not. This empowering ritual was removed from mainstream, and very little known today. See http://www.sunstoneonline.com/magazine/searchable/Issue29.asp for more details.

I plan on orchestrating a blessing for myself; a mixture of my religious cultural heritage (LDS) and the spiritual nature of art. Again, I don't think this type of ritual is necessary, but I look forward to creating a personal ritual to speak to my soul and empower me in this life-changing, life-creating step I'm about to take.

Third, I will be giving birth. This is something that is done in every culture, in every animal, throughout this planet. This could be called a ritual, and so far the only one I can logic a justification for it being the same. This is the only ritual I can observe that happens naturally in the animal kingdom as well as humanity. It is natural, part of the original created/creative process. Of course, it does get personalized and culturalized... in the US, it becomes a medical condition - treated with hospitals, tests and scans and even surgical procedures... not to mention a bundle load of money. 1 in 4 hospital births in the US are cesarian, and the numbers are rising sharply. In Turkey, it is up around 90%. In some cultures, women are sent into "confinement" where they are kept from men, but mothered by the entire community. In some cultures, it's treated like nothing special, except for a day when the woman goes off by herself to deliver. In some, it is a huge celebration of womanhood, from early pregnancy all the way through early childhood.

Birth ritual, here I come!