There are many rituals surrounding birth and childhood. Here’s just a selection of some of the occasions that you might like to celebrate with some kind of formal ceremony.
Conception and Pregnancy
Many couples are now taking the time to prepare for the conception of their baby, and want to mark this with some form of ceremony to reinforce their commitment to starting a family together. This could be just between yourself and your partner or with friends and family. It could be something as simple as a meal together or something more formal. Also think about whether you would like to include others at this time – it could lead to an endless stream of being asked whether you’re expecting yet!
If you decide to put together a ritual to mark your intention to conceive or ask for blessings/support, you may want to follow this with a second ceremony when you know the baby is on its way to give thanks and ask for a blessing for the pregnancy.
There is no set format for a ritual like this, but the aim is to bless your decision to become parents and ask that everything run smoothly throughout conception and pregnancy. If you follow a nature based spirituality, you may have your own ways of honouring male and female within your spiritual path and may wish to incorporate these. You could plant a tree or shrub as a symbol of your desire to nurture new life. Whichever way you choose to honour each other is a personal choice.
We still don’t talk about miscarriage and stillbirth in our society, yet it is a problem which affects many, many couples. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say or do to support someone who’s suffered a loss. No matter how early the miscarriage, that baby was important, a new life that deserves to be mourned.
A ceremony to say ‘goodbye’ to the lost child may go some way to comfort you during this sad time.
Welcoming the new arrival
When a baby has been born, you may want to welcome them to their new life with a simple ceremony.
This is best done after mum and baby have left the hospital (if it was not a home birth), perhaps even as soon as the day you come home. There are a number of practical issues with doing a ritual in hospital. You can’t burn candles or incense in a ward, even a private one, and you are never truly alone. Most new parents find that the enormity of their new status doesn’t really impact until they walk through their front door.
As you arrive home, you may like to arrange for a welcome home by the new grandparents and any siblings the baby may have. They could give gifts to the baby, perhaps symbolising prosperity, wisdom and health.
As new parents, you could ask to be blessed by the family surrounding you, as well as whichever aspect of the Divine you work with, or you could ask someone, perhaps a grandparent, to ask on your behalf. Give thanks for the safe arrival and health of your baby. You might want to light a lantern for the baby or introduce it to a tree or shrub that you planted as part of the conception ritual.
You may also find that you’re too tired to do anything like this and that’s perfectly fine. You might want to take time out to recover from the birth. It is a big time of adjustment for everyone, so choose a time for the ceremony that’s right for you.
Many parents don’t want to baptise their baby into any formal religion, preferring to let the child decide which spiritual path is right for them, if any, when they reach adulthood. However, they still might to celebrate their naming with friends and family in a ceremony, welcoming the child into their community.
You might the naming ceremony yourself, ask your parent(s) or invite someone from your own spiritual path to do it for you; if you have no formal beliefs, you may like to ask a close friend. Alternatively, you might hire an experienced celebrant to conduct the ceremony so that you, your family and your friends are free to enjoy the day.
If you are adopting a child, you may wish to have a ceremony to welcome the child into the family and to mark the taking of the family name.
Joining as Kin
If you are blending two families, you might like to ‘join as kin’ to help cement the new family structure.