Closing of the Bones Ceremony - Greenville Birth & Postpartum Photography
Closing of the Bones Ceremony.
I can bet majority of you have never heard of it. I learned about it sometime last year and absolutely fell in love with the idea. I was determined to attend and document one, but I had to first to find a mother willing to participate in something so “abnormal” in our culture.
First let me define what a Closing of the Bones Ceremony is.
“Closing the Bones is a postpartum healing ceremony, which was created to nurture the mother after her passage through giving birth, and her journey into motherhood. It is a celebration, a setting of sacred space, and a way to nurture Mama & baby.
Closing the Bones is a tradition from Ecuador, where the postpartum mother is blessed, anointed, massaged and wrapped. There is a calling of her spirit back to herself as she has been a portal for carrying new life – as a Warrior woman she has stood before the birth altar and and has walked the threshold between worlds. A transformation has begun as the mother embraces new aspects of herself through this rite of passage into new stages of motherhood. The intention is to provide a space as a nurturing and supportive environment in which healing can take place on these many levels.”
- Taken from this website, this is the best description I have found.
Since postpartum is a pretty huge passion of mine, it was no surprise that when I first read about it, I was ready to set one up. It took me a bit to find a mama that I felt like would really appreciate what the whole ceremony was about, and would embrace it full force but when I did, I found THE ONE. When Alyse hired me for her birth, and I saw her power through a footling breech homebirth, and do it with such beautiful, calm, ease. I knew she was perfect.
Lucky for me Alyse’s doula Kirsten Freeman, from Three Little Birds Birth Services, offered these ceremonies. She had trained in the actual closing of the bones and was thrilled with the idea of putting one together for Alyse.
To say witnessing this ceremony changed me, would not even come close to how it left me feeling.
We all miss doting on the mother once the new baby arrives. Forgotten and not being honored for the massive journey we just went through, mothers are left on their own, often times leading to postpartum depression. Doubting their abilities and ultimately getting a really shitty start to one of the most amazing parts of our lives. This ceremony should be something ALL new mothers experience. It was so much more than the actual honoring of the mother. It showed the true meaning to “it takes a village.”
Seriously mamas. It does take a village. And we shouldn’t be left asking for one, we should expect that community to surround us in love, support and care. We should be put on a pedestal and fed warm, healing meals. Reminded daily of how fucking amazing we are. Rest. Love. Support. Healing. Honoring. Empowering. Encouraging. These should all be a part of every woman’s postpartum period. The fourth trimester is the hardest one. We need to acknowledge that.
Alyse’s Closing of the Bones Ceremony consisted of so much honor. Her evening was started with a beautiful herbal bath prepared by Kirsten. With herbs like comfrey, lavender and more, this sitz bath can help aid in healing after birth. We gave her a few peaceful moments to herself before bringing in her new infant. She nursed and bonded while myself and Ashley, of Gathered and Found Birth Photography, photographed and doted on Alyse. She was so radiant and I seriously could not stop staring at how beautiful she was with her babe. While she soaked, Kirsten started preparing a meal for her and her guests to enjoy after the ceremony.
I helped take baby Kennedy out of the bath so that Alyse could prepare for the actual closing of the bones ceremony. She entered the living room in her robe, where Kirsten laid her on a bed of blankets and rebozos in her living room floor. She placed a warm rice pack on her lower back and over her eyes. This ritual was truly magnificent to witness. Hearing the words Kirsten spoke to Alyse brought goosebumps. To see a mother honored in that way was something I needed to see and hear. Kirsten gently massaged her hands before wrapping her eyes in the first rebozo. She proceeded with crossing Alyse’s arms over her chest and wrapping her tightly with a second rebozo. Ending with a third one, where she first lifted and sifted the rebozo back and forth slowly, then wrapped it tightly around her hips. Once she was wrapped, Kirsten put pressure on Alyse’s hips, and gently massaged her pelvic bone, then her feet and legs. She spoke a few more words, then slowly unwrapped Alyse and welcomed her into her new role as a mother.
One of the amazing things about this whole ritual, as Ashley pointed out quietly while documenting, was how intently her two youngest daughters (with the exception of the newest infant) and Alyse’s mother watched the process. To see women so young enthralled with this is one huge step into our future generations honoring themselves as they should. After Alyse was unwrapped, her second oldest daughter laid across the mess of rebozos and tried wrapping herself. Kirsten quickly jumped to help her, to guide her into experiencing what her mother had experienced first hand. A memory I am sure her daughter will never forget.
Once the ceremony ended, Alyse’s guests arrived. We were all cleansed with sage and then we began the bead ceremony, in which we all brought a bead to gift to Alyse. To remind her that she always had a village ready and waiting on her. We each placed our bead(s) onto a string and read a note/spoke a few words about why we chose that particular bead. Kirsten then tied the bracelet on her arm. Before preparing plates for everyone, Kristen passed out stones and markers. We each wrote an inspiring quote, word or message on a rock and hid them around Alyse’s house, in hopes that she will find them when she most needs a reminder. Stones were hidden and plates were prepared. This is where the ceremony ended and everyone shifted into casual conversation.
The evening could not have been more perfect.
I truly hope that I can help facilitate more of these ceremonies. Like Mother Blessings, we should be honoring the mothers journey and not just the exciting birth of a new baby. I believe if we focused more on these journey’s, that in the end, we would all be in a better place.