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Celebrating Womanhood (as seen on Rockstar Birth Blog)

5 ways to acknowledge and celebrate the end of your pregnancy journey, and graciously enter the next phase of Womanhood. 

5 ways to acknowledge and celebrate the end of your pregnancy journey, and graciously enter the next phase of Womanhood. 

Have you felt a pang of grief that comes with knowing you are at the end of your childbearning journey? Have you been looking for a way to honour this time as you transition into the next life phase?

Throughout our lifetime we experience very specific phases and stages that mark significant events including menstruation, motherhood, menopause and preparation for death.

These stages of womanhood often referred to as archetypes of the maiden (girl who has bled), the mother (woman who has birthed a child or is birthing creative offerings), Maga (perimenopausal woman) and the crone/wise woman (preparing for the end of life) can be a beautiful way of deepening our understanding these phases and the many transitions we experience throughout our life. These archetypes symbolise the importance of celebrating and acknowledging each stage and the unique events emotions we may experience at each one. To a large extent we have lost many of the traditional ways of acknowledging our womanhood. Menstruation is treated with disgust and the power of our bleeding commercialised and pathologised. Our periods are to be hidden and washed away with chemicals, childbirth is medicalised and treated as an illness and menopause is something to be ashamed of. We must never admit to going grey or getting wrinkles.

Additionally, we are cyclic beings and we, along with all other living creatures, beings and plants move through a cycle of birth, bud, bloom, decay, death and rebirth. With every rebirth there is a death and grief. When we honour that grief is a very natural and vital part of this life. Unfortunately grief is also suppressed and we are made to feel  ashamed when it rears its head as a part of the processing of any change. When we reclaim both grief a vital part of living, as well as honouring these transitions as powerful, meaningful and sacred parts of life to be celebrated, we can fully embrace all of the magic and power they have to offer. Along with this realisation comes acceptance and understanding of the full capacity of everything that is womanhood in all its glory.

After pondering these phases, and after having worked with childbearing women, I felt that something was missing. In the ‘Mother’ phase there is quite a lot of emphasis on pregnancy and early mothering, but often once the magic of pregnancy and birth have passed many women are still throwing themselves fully (if not more) into motherhood. However there is a void of celebrations and acknowledgements of this continued phase of life beyond the birthing. Pregnancy and birth are just the beginning and throughout our motherhood phase we continue to birth creating offerings beyond human children. The real challenges (and often when we need our circle of women and their sacrifices and gifts to be acknowledged most) happens well after we have given birth.

One of the biggest challenges during this phase is that of making a conscious (or sometimes forced) decision that childbearing has come to an end; that one’s family is complete. While many women and their families are content with this decision, others go through a grieving process. They feel torn between the desire to complete their family and an internal battle about what it means for their identity as a woman, as a mother, as a partner and as a working or stay at home mum to decide not to bear another child from their womb. It can be a roller coaster of emotions and one that women tend to process quietly and alone.

The women I have spoken to about this transition often feel guilty for feeling this way, that they are being silly. Many have fears about where they stand in society or as a woman, especially if they have sacrificed careers or other parts of their life to mothering, perhaps for many, many years. If they are no longer bearing children they feel that they won’t know what they will do with their life, where they will fit or know who they are if they’re not pregnant and parenting small children. This is a grieving process and one that should be acknowledged and validated. I strongly encourage women in this transition to take some time to refill themselves, re centre and reflect on themselves as a woman, separate to their other roles (mother, partner, career). Consider things that make them happy and remind them of who they are in their essence. Who they were before they had children. There is still so much left to live and learn about oneself. This is just the beginning; to love and give back to yourself even more.

What is most important is to acknowledge the feelings. They are not silly or shameful. Acknowledge the grief and the confusion being felt. Acknowledge that this feels scary but also that these feelings are all signs that we are standing on the threshold of a transition into something new and exciting. With any transition come grief and joy. While joy is often glorified, grief needs to also be honoured as a vital part of the process.

5 ways you could use to honour process of this transition include.

An inner child meditation

An inner child meditation allows you to go back and discuss any unresolved issues with yourself, seek for deeper self-love and also forgiveness of anything you feel you need. It is a powerful way to honour and feel gratitude for all the experiences that have led you to this moment, but to also find acceptance in order to move forward to the next. There are many ways to do this; either write an inner child meditation for yourself, find one on the internet (there are guided meditations on YouTube), or you could find a practitioner who can assist you.

Fear Release ceremony

Fear release ceremonies are often incorporated as part of a mother blessing, but are very powerful as a stand-alone ceremony either alone or with others. It can be a wonderful way to release any fears that you are holding in order to feel free to move into the next phase of life. (You can purchase my DIY Fear Release for Birth and Parenthood here)

Write a letter to yourself or start a journal

Writing a letter to yourself at a particular stage in your life is similar to the inner child meditation. You can connect with your past self and past experiences to seek gratitude, forgiveness, self love, acceptance and permission to move on. You could also write to your future self about how you are feeling, what you need and what you hope to achieve/feel like at that time. With more general journaling you can connect with yourself on a deeper level about your fears, hopes, where you feel you want to go on this next journey, things you are putting into place and any other strong feelings.

Art

Art is a wonderful way to find healing. It is so individual and helps to remove any stress and anxiety while finding peace as the creativity flows freely. I personally love mandalas and their symbolism, but any form of meditative creation will be helpful to signify this stage and the coming back to one’s self. You could paint, draw, colour, make, knit, crochet; anything that will help to put you back into your creative mind and increase oxytocin. It doesn’t have to be real-life, but could purely be an organic and abstract expression of your present moment and anything coming up for you as you close the door to one phase and open another into the next.

Sisterhood

There is nothing else like being around your favourite women. For centuries women have gathered to share wisdom and hold each other. We know that when women are together oxytocin is released and we can’t help but feel amazing. Perhaps organise something with your closest and most trusted friends to help honour this stage for you. You could even organise a more formal blessing with them and have them hold your space while you release your feelings, feel connected to others and can let go. If you don’t have a close network, perhaps consider organising something for women in a similar phase. Or seek out any red-tents, retreats or gatherings happening in your area. When we have our first baby there are often a lot of mums groups for the intention of connecting women all going through a similar experience to share their journey. Unfortunately, after that time ends there are often much more limited opportunities to connect with women who are having a similar experience. You would be surprised how many other women are feeling the same as you and to connect with shared feelings and experiences could potentially leave you with life-long sisters and friends.

Moon blood or breast milk ceremony

A really beautiful and significant way to honour the end of your childbearing journey could be one that incorporates the very blood or milk that began it. You could find a special place in the garden and release some of your blood (easiest to collect with a menstrual cup) or milk back into the earth. You could do this alone, or with special people present (even your children) and incorporate any symbolic things such as poems, songs or gifts. You could also consider having a keepsake made from your milk. There are some lovely DNA keepsake jewellery creators who would be honoured to offer you this service.

Womb sealing/bone closing ceremony

Ceremonies are something that I am very passionate about and I adore being able to facilitate them for women. When I first heard of the bone closing ceremony I felt like it was exactly what I had been looking for when I started this work. It made complete sense to acknowledge the amazing work that a mum had done to bring her baby into the world. This ceremony honours the spiritual, by viewing a woman’s body during pregnancy as and open vessel, in between worlds, for souls to come through to earth. The purpose is to close the woman’s body after this momentous task and allow for healing and re-centering. Traditionally, bone closing is not necessarily to end the childbearing phase, but done after each pregnancy to close the woman’s body to being her own, and reset for the next potential pregnancy to open her again. However, it is also a wonderful way to mark the end of a woman’s childbearing journey if she is choosing to no longer be that vessel again. It is a lovely way to celebrate the transition for those who have decided (or had the choice taken out of their hands) that they will no longer bring any babies into the world, and that their body will again be purely their own. The ceremony can be tailored, but traditionally incorporates touch/massage, poems/words/music, warmth from heat bags placed on significant parts of the body, binding, meditation, a healing bath, pampering and a tuck in.

Photo credit to the amazing: Kirsten Klemasz

This blog first appeared on the Rockstar Birth Blog

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