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The Blessingway : a woman's birth ritual



Graduation date: 1997This study examines participants' perceptions of the significant messages and\ud meanings communicated to them through the ceremony of the Blessingway (a ritual titled\ud after the Navajo Blessingway), a contemporary women's birth ritual performed by\ud midwives. A narrative approach was used for data gathering based on Fisher's rationale\ud that meaning emerges through narrative. Fifteen women participated in open-ended\ud interviews. Thirteen of the women identified themselves as midwifes. Four major themes\ud emerged from the data: (1) interconnectivity, (2) care, (3) change, and (4) power. The\ud results of the study show the Blessingway's role in communicating a group's care during a\ud time of transformation, usually birth. Adoption, marriage, and entry into midwifery were\ud also mentioned in the study as occasions for a Blessingway ritual. During a Blessingway,\ud many levels of relationship intersect and emphasize the "web of connectedness" the\ud women consider part of their lives. The continuous, multidimensional, and overlapping\ud nature of interconnectivity defines the places of connection highlighted during the\ud Blessingway ceremony. The sense of connectedness generates bonds of care--cohesion,\ud nurturance and safety--and provides a "cocoon-like" environment. Once nurtured and\ud protected, the women feel the support of their community. The women then resolve and\ud transform the contradictions and ambiguities of their liminal state, acknowledge their value\ud of self, recognize their own power, the power of their community, the power of the circle\ud of women and the power of the archetypal woman

Year: 1996
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Provided by: ScholarsArchive@OSU
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