Writing a letter to my vagina-- it’s an exercise that I do periodically and suggest…
Ceremony is an ancient ritual that humans have been practicing for millennia. For weddings, birthdays, and big events, yes. But, deeper than that, we’ve created ceremonies around life and nature itself.
In the stone age, people marked the cycles of the moon and the seasons with ceremony. They had ceremonies for hunting, rain, weather, farming, fertility, and more.
Nowadays, because we have access to everything almost immediately, we move through life at the speed of light, robbing ourselves of the space to be present, feel life’s changes, ground ourselves, and connect. And because our culture doesn’t honor slowing down and going analog, the whole idea of ceremony, time, and space for ourselves is foreign to us.
We run and work at a pace that allows us to easily gloss over and push aside the constant change and evolution happening around and to us. Because if we are being honest here, facing these changes is hard. It’s disruptive. It takes a lot of energy (and often courage) that we don’t have.
We’ve lost the magic. When we lose the magic, we also lose our connection with community; an element that’s a bedrock for a functioning society and for individual happiness.
So, here’s an idea…
Let’s reinstate the reverence of the ceremony when marking an important rite of passage, especially for the transition into motherhood. Because ceremonies allow us to fully experience life’s milestones. They give us the opportunity to connect with our elders and receive support and wisdom from them. It plants a symbolic flag in a moment of time and says, “This is happening now. And it’s important.”
What does this kind of ceremony involve?
The usual things of course: planning, intention, sometimes food and/or drink, movement, prayer, and other people. Our witnesses. (To read more about the power of witnessing each other’s matresence check out this article.)
It allows us to be seen in the place we’re in, ushered in alongside those who love us, and welcomed to adulthood, marriage, divorce, motherhood, even death. It gives us the space to be with joy, grief, reverence, confusion, and love. Our ceremonies create the outline of our lives, highlighting the peaks and valleys, the turning points in the otherwise mundane, ordinary-ness of life. Birthday parties, engagements, graduations, weddings, funerals, and puberty.
But not motherhood. Not matrescence: the sacred transition of becoming a mother.
So what has led us away from ceremony? What has disconnected us from the spiritual centers of our lives where the heart of ceremony lies?
First, the advancement of science and technology.
These two incredible components of our world value and validate things that are measurable, tangible, provable, and evidence based. And while we’re not throwing shade at science here, we love science, the hyper focus on all of the above is what disconnects us from the sacred and less tangible parts of life.
In America, a country made up of immigrants from various cultures, religions, and backgrounds, we reward and value assimilation. Leaving behind our unique customs and traditions in favor of adopting “American culture” and fitting in. And what we are talking about is a bit more intangible. You may not see it, but you certainly feel it.
This is the experience of life. And to live a life well lived, we ought to stop and allow for punctuation.
A question mark.
An exclamation point.
So again, this is our call to bring back the reverence of the ceremony when marking an important rite of passage.
I know you’re asking yourself where this is going and how you can create ceremony around your matrescence and the transition to motherhood. Look no further as I share some powerful options (of varying levels of commitment and woo woo) to share with your loved ones so they can make this happen for you and/or for you to create for someone you love.
Put Together a Care Package
Bring over or send a box that includes things like nipple cream, belly rub, peri spray, massage oil, tea, and snacks. You know we will never stop talking about hydration so a giant water bottle is also a great option. You can read more on what I recommend including in this article.
Use Said Care Package to Create Ceremony
If you’re able to visit in real life, use the contents of your care package to create a ceremony for the new mama. Make her tea and put the snack on a plate and serve it to her. Use the massage oil to rub her feet. Put on soothing music. Ask how she is. Ask if she wants to share her birth story. Listen.
Provide a Closing of The Bones Ceremony
This is a ceremony practiced in Morocco, Russia, and Mexico and can be performed by a postpartum doula or healer. Many cultures have a similar ceremony after a baby is born.
The birthing person is brought into a healing space, massaged with oil to aid in circulation and blood flow. She is wrapped in fabric to not only support her hips after they’ve widened to accommodate a baby, but to honor her body.
This ceremony is designed to bring reverence to her body, to witness all that both her body and spirit have undergone in pregnancy and birth, and to warm and heal her both energetically and physically. To bring the mother back into her body and herself after being transformed through pregnancy and childbirth.
Massage and Bind Her Belly
The ancient Javanese (from the Island Java off of Indonesia) practice of belly binding is part of the first 40 days postpartum. The mother is massaged with a healing balm and wrapped in fabric so that her entire core, 360 degrees, is supported and can heal.
This helps physically with diastasis recti and stabilizes loose ligaments from the relaxin in the body. The fabric helps close the ribs, hips, and pelvic outlet. The ceremony reminds her that she’s in recovery and needs healing. Holding her securely both physically and emotionally.
Create Your Own Ceremony
Another wonderful option I like to offer is creating your own ceremony. You can draw from other cultures, countries, and traditions. It is less important that things happen in the “right” or “perfect” way than it is that they happen.
It is time we create the time and space for us to celebrate, honor, and revere the extraordinary experience of becoming a mother.
There is no one right way to create ceremony around your Matrescence, there is only your right way. My sincerest hope is this offers a resource inspiring you to create what feels right for you.