Or “Hail To The Domestic Goddess!”
Once a year here in the west we honor our Mothers and celebrate the sacrifices they have made for us. Many say this is a modern holiday designed by greeting card, flower and chocolate manufacturing companies for the purpose of greed and commerce. I say so what; does that mean we shouldn’t honor the Domestic Goddess in our own homes?
Pagan Metaphysics has long been associated with Goddess ‘worship’ mainly because early pagans celebrated the feminine in matriarchal societies. Figurines such as the ‘Venus of Willendor’ are a perfect example of the early reverence for fertility of a woman and her ability to give new life. This miracle of life was seen just as that, a miracle given to a woman by a deity, or a Goddess specifically. If a woman was extremely fertile she was considered to be favored by the Goddess of the people and her position was elevated within her tribal structure. Often being designated as the priestess or high chieftain of that tribal society.
When the priestess grew older and less fertile, she often chose her successor. But her singular power shifted to that of a wise woman who was always consulted when it came to decisions. Her power never fell out of favor and her contribution was never dismissed.
In these early days, favor from the High Priestess or tribal matriarch was considered to be a prize worth having. If the Priestess who was favored by the Goddess favored a particular man, his position was also elevated and the blessings from the Goddess would be passed onto him in the form of fertile fields and herds. But this favor was not simply given, men had to earn the honor of being favored.
Different tribes required different tests of courage or prowess for a male of the tribe to earn the right to lay with the priestess. Most often it would involve hunting or gathering food to provide for the tribe as a whole. The hunter who brought the largest prize from a hunt would earn the right to lay with the Priestess. The physical act of copulation would then be part of a great celebration and ritual to honor the Goddess or tribal Gods as a whole, infusing the blessing bestowed upon the High Priestess to the entire tribal unit.
Where the fertility of a woman was seen as a blessing or as the Goddess living through the woman, the strength and ability of a man to provide for the tribe was seen as the God blessing him as well. Even in the early days of humankind, they understood it took both sides to promote the success of life for the entire tribal family.
In these early times, women were at the top of societies structure and feminine energy was implemented in nearly every aspect of life.
For early pagan cultures, the Moon was often referred to as Grand Mother Moon, watching over Mother Earth and preceding Father Sun across the sky. In ancient cultures, the Moon was seen as the dominate force in the sky. It has been suggested that the common chant at full moon rituals “The Sun becomes The Moon” is based on this perspective. However there’s no evidence that ancients chanted this phrase and it’s purely a modern invention to denote the cycle of energy. It’s also an inaccurate view of how the ancients viewed the moon in relation to the sun. Today we think of the day/sun as the predominate time period and the night/moon following the day. In ancient cultures, time was governed by lunar calendars and the idea that the new day began as night time fell across the land.
These early cultures viewed the Sun as the representation of male energy and as a male God, which in the pagan world is associated with the Physical world. The Moon represented female energy and the spirit world. Some suggest the Goddess Moon was more powerful than the Sun because she had the ability to block out his light and rise both during the darkness and during the day light. An ability the Sun obviously didn’t have. Additionally she had the ability to block out his light during the day itself (during an eclipse of the Sun, partial or full), reminding him that she was the all powerful force in the world.
Sadly this empowerment of women faded and the power of the tribes shifted from matriarchal to patriarchal societies. Today women struggle all over the world for respect, dignity and equality. But sometimes it’s important to remember that it wasn’t always this way. We didn’t require special days such as Mother’s Day or Valentines Day to honor the love, sacrifices and blessings of women in our lives.
In these early cultures the blessings of motherhood were honored and celebrated as gifts from the Goddess. These early people were not entirely ignorant of the process of life. They understood that when a woman’s menstrual cycle ceased, she was with child. Now of course they didn’t understand the mechanics of this process. Which is why it seemed to them as such a miracle of life and divine favor.
When this occurred and a woman’s belly began to grow with life, the mother was honored and blessed in ritual. Often the ritual was designed to thank the Goddess for bestowing favor on the family or village as a whole. It could also be designed to ask the Goddess to bless the child with health, wisdom and the ability to contribute to the family or tribal unit once it was of proper age.
The Motherhood Blessing
Even today many Pagan traditions celebrate and conduct blessings for motherhood and an unborn baby. These Motherhood Blessing vary based on culture and preferences. But in general this ritual is used to honor and celebrate the amazing gift of Goddess creation. It focuses on feminine energy, gift of creation, the nurturing of motherhood, the innocence of infancy and the first breath of life.
There’s no set time frame or set number of blessings that can be cited or performed during a pregnancy.
- A blessing can be bestowed more than once, during each stage of fetal development, all the way up to the time of birth.
- If a pregnancy is deemed risky or dangerous, some also perform a blessing and protection of both the baby and the mother several times throughout fetal development. This can be done once a month on the full moon for instance.
- If it’s a normal pregnancy, a blessing of divine favor, happiness, prosperity or physical health at the start of each trimester can be conducted.
- A modern practice that is becoming popular is to hold a Blessing with friends and family to enhance a Baby Shower. Especially since these are gatherings of great feminine energy.
Blessing rituals can be solitary practices, with a partner, with immediate family or in a larger group of family and friends. It really is up to the individual. But it’s a great way to honor the feminine energy of Motherhood and the Divine blessings of creation and life.
Blessings can be elaborate or simple. The following are some ideas and suggestions for creating your own personal blessing ritual.
Many cultures use art to symbolize spiritual events. Painting a pregnant stomach (with non-chemical paints) is one example. In many cultures a spiritual symbol was placed on the pregnant belly to represent motherhood. In Pagan Europe, a representation of a full moon might be used. Or the sign of the Triple Goddess might be used.
There are a variety of symbols that can be formed, do a little research or use something that already has meaning to you that represents life, motherhood, or feminine energy.
Washing the pregnant belly with warm soap and water is a method of cleansing the energy around the mother and baby. It washes away negativity, and enhances the energy of life flowing through the mother.
Biblical rituals document the washing of feet for similar reasons. This can be done for the mother, or the infant baby as well.
Energy Touch Rituals
Think of this one like rubbing the belly of Buddha for good luck. Only instead of taking energy from the belly, participants are giving their energetic blessings to the belly/baby. It involves raising a Cone of Energy in a group (this can also be done by partners only). This energy is then lovingly caressed through the hands to the pregnant belly. This is a very personal and intimate ritual, that can help the partner of the pregnant mother feel connected and energized with the developing fetus.
One nice ritual I like is the creation of a pregnancy necklace. This is typically for a group blessing, but it can be done as a solo practice as well. The idea is that each member of the group brings a wooden bead to place on a string that will become the blessing necklace. Each member recites a blessing, a prayer, poem, a song, a heartfelt statement of good wishes, whatever that person feels comfortable with. Once their blessing has been delivered, they place the bead upon the necklace. When all the beads have been added to the string, is tied and placed over the mother’s neck if this is for an unborn baby, or upon the baby if it’s a new born. Later the necklace is removed and placed on the crib where it will not become a dangerous item for the baby.
There are as many blessings of prayer to choose from. A simple search on the internet will find a variety from non-religious to spiritual and religion specific. Here are two of my favorites.
A simple blessing of pregnancy and motherhood:
GreatSpirits bless this creation within my belly,
Give me the strength and health to carry this life,
Grant me the wisdom and knowledge to nurture this baby,
Guide me with compassion and love to care for this child.
An old Celtic Blessing that has been altered slightly for my spiritual practice:
May the GreatSpirits grant you always;
a sunbeam to warm you,
a moonbeam to charm you,
Laughter to cheer you,
faithful friends near you,
and whenever you pray, the Divine to hear you.
Honoring And Respect
No matter what day of the year it is, we all need to be reminded of the sacrifices our Moms have made for us. We rarely see the work that goes into keeping the house picked up, the effort it takes to cook breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. We don’t think about the things that simply get done without our notice, such as doing the laundry, setting out our cloths or going to the grocery store so when we open the fridge there’s usually something in there. We often take for granted the work in planning a birthday celebration, helping with homework, reading the night time story or tucking us in at night. The special thoughts Moms give us when we receive a gift for no reason other than they thought you’d like this teddy bear, or CD or new game. All those little things Mom does that we take for granted until we’re older and too many times, after they’re gone and no longer there where we can say thanks.
If it takes a special day created by the greeting card, flower and chocolate manufacturing companies to remind us all of what Mom does for it, then make the most of it. Enjoy the day Mom! Thanks for all you do. We love you.
© 2012 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Spring’s Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.