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I attended my first birth blessing two years ago, and was deeply touched by the beauty, ritual, and connection this event inspired.  In one afternoon, our mothers' (and toddlers') group moved from friends to sisters, as our wonderful facilitator brought us together in a ceremonial celebration of motherhood and birth.

Our experience began with making a sacred space for the mother to be, Karla Gormley.  We created a lovely "throne" for her with a billowing pink canopy hanging above her chair.  Taking special care to make her sitting space both lovely and comfy, we tucked roses into the folds of the canopy and put soft cushions in her chair.

Next, our facilitator had us gather in a circle around Karla.  She called each of us forward to choose items from her basket to add to a bowl, which would soon be filled with hot water from a kettle to make a warm foot bath.  We selected items such as tiny pink rosebuds, lavender buds, raspberry leaves and essential oils and added them to the bowl as we also added in our positive intentions for her pending birth.  An older child helped to pour the water, and we all watched as the herbs steeped into a healing brew.  Karla carefully lowered her weary feet into the soothing bath, letting loose a tremendous sigh.  She confessed it was the first time she'd relaxed, rested her feet, and focused on her the immediate coming of her second child.

Later, we took turns washing Karla's feet and massaging her hands with soothing oils.  As we moved in to physically offer our support, we took turns verbalizing a blessing or affirmation for Karla and her spirit.   "Remember the healing power of laughter and humor..."  "Ask for help and we will come..."

We knew she faced a great challenge with giving birth, and then returning home to parent two small children.  Inspired by the connection created by the ceremony and Karla's vulnerability, we promised to serve as her sisters in motherhood and to help her through the challenges.  Everyone was wiping away tears by the time the last blessing was offered.  To lighten our spirits, we then feasted on treats the mothers brought to share and watched as Karla opened a few gifts.

I left thinking, "Wow... Women have supported each other like this for centuries, but I've never been part of a ritual or stopped to ready myself for such a huge rite of passage..."  I wanted more!

Karla also wanted more and felt inspired to give back some of the nourishing female support she's received in various forums over the years.  This mom-preneur took her vision and created a business service to do just this with:  "In Harmony Goddess Traditions".


Building on her massage therapist skills and partnering with friend, Jo-alle, who is an herbalist, Karla created a party provider service to help plan, organize, and facilitate events designed to bring nature, sisterhood, and ritual back into our lives.

In Harmony offered its first party last Saturday, engaging a group of women in a fun, affirming, "women's night out."  I ventured out to the hills of Napa for this party - my first time to seek out another ritualistic experience since Karla's blessing two years ago.  I walked into a candle lit yurt and smiled at several other women who were strangers to me. Although I am shy, I found myself quickly relaxing.  The room was covered in flowers, silks, and candles and soft chimes played in the background.  Jo-alle and Karla met each of us with warmth and smiles, and set an easy tone for the evening.

Our ritual then began with what Karla and Jo-alle called "adornment."  We took colorful sarongs and flower head wreaths and helped each other drape on the lovely accessories.  We giggled while Jo-alle reminded us that women have been helping to make each other feel beautiful for thousands of years.  We stood up a little straighter and felt a little sassier as we recalled that age old power of women to be beguiling.  Then we laughed some more as Karla doused us in glitter.

Feeling lovely and positive, we then took a quiet moment to draw a paper scroll with an affirmation from a lovely bowl.  Each woman read her selected affirmation aloud, pausing to reflect on its meaning and to share a bit about our current lives.  Again, I felt drawn to these women who were able to be deep and personal.  It's not everyday I get to be vulnerable with other people, but I think I need more often!

Later, we sang songs, including my personal favorite - an old Celtic tune "Deep Peace".  While we joined our voices, Karla and Jo-alle moved around the circle and gave us hand massages.  The massage oil had rose and vanilla essences, and smelled wonderful.  I closed my eyes and tried to savor the small massage on my hands - these mama hands are usually busy providing nurturing for others! 


The ladies chatted easily, sharing stories that came to mind about woman's issues.  One woman talked about how she read an entire novel earlier that day:  The Blood of Flowers.  She connected the characters in the book to the woman in the room as she talked about the way women used to use candles, fragrances, and adornment as part of creating a personal inner power and beauty.  As Karla and Jo-alle then worked to draw henna symbols on our hands, this woman spoke of how the Iranian women in the Blood of Flowers also used henna to decorate their bodies in preparation for their wedding nights.  Others chimed in with stories of other cultures using henna as we each received our own temporary tattoos. 

We ended the evening with "light feasting" on decadent cheeses and desserts.  Jo-alle brought strawberries dipped in Belgian dark chocolate (sold in bulk at Trader Joes!)  infused with ground lavender and rose petals, which everyone heartily devoured.  We felt indulgent and sated as we ended the evening by chatting. 



As I walked around the room getting to know the women, I discovered that we all came from very different backgrounds.  One woman is a home schooling mom who runs Napa Valley Apothecary.  Another was Karla's midwife from Pacha Mamma Midwifery.  Another woman, a student at Napa's Culinary Institute heard the word "goddess" and eagerly came to in search of a group of woman celebrating womanhood.  (She was formerly a founding member of the Goddess Temple of Orange County.)  While we were all very different, we were united by womanhood and the need to get back some of the nourishing we often give out to our loved ones...

Again, I found myself wanting more!  I'm not sure when I will next call upon Karla, Jo-alle and In Harmony to help me feel nourished, but I am sure a future birthday, women's night, or other opportunity will come.  When it does, I'll call In Harmony to help me connect with my circle of women and support my own divine feminine!


2 comments

  1. In Harmony Goddess Traditions // April 23, 2010 at 2:50 PM  

    We want to thank Holly and Sono-ma for being at our debut party and writing such a lovely, sensitive article! It was such a pleasure to have you with us! Thank you so much!!

    Also, I would like to invote Sono-ma readers to visit In Harmony Goddess Traditions web site and check out our new updated 'Party Page' at: http://www.inharmonygoddesstraditions.com/p/about.html
    We have updated our party services and pricing and if you dont' see what you have in mind, please feel free to contact us at goddesstraditions@gmail.com as I'm sure we can create something to suit you desires.
    In Love and Harmony,
    Minnow & Jo-alle

  2. Sono-Ma: Holly White-Wolfe // April 26, 2010 at 7:23 AM  

    Minnow and Jo-alle - you ladies are wonderful! I'm already dreaming up a
    Girls Nite for later this summer. Thanks!
    _____

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