This ritual is designed as a ceremony of healing and empowerment following miscarriage. It is based on a ritual that I had following my own miscarriages in 2010.
This ritual may also be held as a private ceremony honoring one specific woman (as it was held for me), or it may be held as a group ritual in that anyone who has experienced miscarriage and who would like to acknowledge the impact on her life is welcome. Also welcome are those who would like to act as witnesses and keepers of sacred space for those who grieve.
The simple altar is laid outdoors on the ground near an already dug hole (for planting a tree or plant). This altar may be created by the woman herself, by the women together, or by the priestess prior to the gathering.
If it is a group ritual, each woman has brought something symbolic of her miscarriage experience(s) as well as any fears written on a piece of paper.
We gather in a circle and placing our hands on each other’s backs, we hum in unison to unify our energies and bring us into sacred space. (For more about this technique for casting a circle, see my past post.)
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Where ever you are is called HERE.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying, HERE.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
–David Wagoner, in Life Prayers
The Powers of Life—An Elemental Chant (by Sandra Pastorius in Sisters Singing. Slightly modified.)
We are alive!
as the sound of Her sacred name.
We are alive!
as the soil of Her blessed form.
We are alive!
as the dance of Her waters flow
We are alive!
as the breath of Her restless winds
We are alive!
Share a few words about the significance of miscarriage
I think it is crucial to remember that miscarriage is a birth event—sometimes a very, very, very early birth event, but reproductively speaking that is what it is! Since we don’t have a better vocabulary for pregnancy loss in our culture, socioculturally speaking we tend to class it as “something else,” but in most ways it isn’t. A soul (or fertilized egg) touches down in a woman’s womb. Her hormones and all other physiological systems are impacted and feel its presence. The embryo/fetus/baby stays for a time and when it leaves her body, the uterus must contract and the cervix must open and the woman’s body must open to allow its passage. Her body, mind, emotions, and spirit are all affected (to varying degrees). In this way, miscarriage and full-term birth simply exist on a continuum of possible birth outcomes and are all birth events whether the pregnancy lasts five weeks or forty-two weeks.
Each woman has a chance to share any personal thoughts on her own experiences.
“She’s turning her life into something sacred: Each breath a new birth. Each moment, a new chance. She bows her head, gathers her dreams from a pure, deep stream and stretches her arms toward the sky.”
(from a journal cover)
(burn the pre-written fears)
Witnessing friends gather in circle surrounding the healing women and say:
We accept that you have fears
You are not your fears
You are now cleansed and renewed
Go forth with courage at your side.
(based on writing by Jennifer Louden and reprinted with permission)
We chose to plant a tulip tree to represent the hope of new possibilities after loss, but you may plant anything you wish. Under the tree or plant, the woman or women may bury anything that they’d like to bury related to their miscarriage experiences (personally, I chose to bury the embryo from my second miscarriage as well as the hospital bracelet from when I went to the ER due to blood loss after the miscarriage-birth of my third son).
As we bury our items, we listened to the song that I listened to many times following my miscarriages—“I’m So Glad, Trouble Don’t Last Always” from the Rise Up curriculum’s CD. But, you may also wish to sing this “Release” song I learned at a chanting workshop. Or, you may wish to substitute something completely different depending on the comfort of your circle. For me, the “trouble don’t last always” song was incredibly personally meaningful, but it may not speak to others. For the “release” song, some women don’t find it comforting to “let go” of their babies…like it is blaming or “hurrying up” their grief process.
After the items are buried the circle reads aloud…
(Barbara Walker, Women’s Rituals)
Celebrate the heroine,
honor the heroine
Woman of spirit
Woman of power
Woman of peace
All hail, all honor
We will open the circle with the same invocation for which we cast it.
Join hands, sing Woman Am I
Woman am I,
spirit am I,
I am the infinite
within my soul,
I have no beginning,
and I have no end,
all this I am.
For a recording of my women’s group singing this song for a virtual mother blessing ceremony, go here.
You may also wish to make an affirmation poster sharing strong affirmations of healing, confidence, power, and faith for her journey forward from here.
Modifications: if you are holding this ceremony for just one woman or if you have time and space for a large group to include these elements, you may also wish to include these activities between the courage ritual and the “return” part.
Miscarriage themed gifts and support from Brigid’s Grove.
Online trainings in:
Join the Creative Spirit Circle
Membership in our Creative Spirit Circle is FREE and packed with beautiful, bountiful resources, including a free Womanrunes e-course, Womanspirit Wisdom mini-course, weekly virtual circles in our Facebook group, Red Tent resources, blessing posters and mandalas, access to Divine Imperfections sculptures at 50% off, and your monthly Creative Spirit Circle Journal filled with resources such as ceremony outlines, book recommendations, articles, sneak peeks, and special freebies.