We enjoyed participating in the blessing of Anthony and Ruth’s little one Isaac in the backyard at Footscray. I hadn’t done much around placenta burial in a ritual sense and it was interesting to explore different traditions and work on the words below.
Rachael helped ‘midwife’ Isaac through a long labour and so her emotion whilst saying the words of blessing was a special and powerful highlight of the afternoon.
Dedication of Isaac Varenica
December 11, 2011
We acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the Murrun Bulluk of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation have been custodians from time immemorial.
We acknowledge their elders past and present.
We honour this history and commit ourselves to care for the land with them. May our lives be work for reconciliation with people and with the Creator Spirit.
This ritual is a time where we acknowledge the generations and our connection and dependence upon each other. Welcome to family elders present…
Water is an important symbol of this connection…
Short explanation of water in biblical and local history
(silence while water is poured for cross marking blessing later… I liked the plastic watering can from Ming Mings Bric a Brac with $2 texta price still visible…very Footscray!)
2. Welcome: Marcus
Purpose of dedication: Thanksgiving and Commitment
3.Reading; Psalm 139:13-16- Rach
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
4. Introduction of the Elements – Marcus
We are gathered here as a family, with the creatures of the earth who are waiting to receive the placenta.
The Yucatan of Mexico call the placenta “el companero“, the companion. Lots of cultures deal with placentas after the birth in ritual ways, though their reasons look to me, a modern westerner, to be superstitious and sexist.
Ritualising the disposal of the placenta hasn’t been a part of the western Judeo-Christian culture, perhaps because of the Jewish fixation with cleanliness, and the association of birth, menstruation and blood with the “unclean.” Despite what Jesus said about cleanliness, most churches have followed the Jewish lead. In recent times birth has been reclaimed as clean and wonderful.
Now it is time to claim some meaning for the disposal of the placenta. And we do this at a time when we desperately need to remind ourselves of our connection to all life.
The Judeo-Christian tradition is of some help here, beginning with a creation story which calls humans the ‘adamah’, the earth creatures.
The earth, like the womb, is our origin
The earth, like the placenta, sustains us.
At funerals we remind ourselves that we are made of dust, and return to the dust.
By burying the placenta, the birth companion, and honouring it rather than handing it over to cosmetic companies as is common practice in Australia, we remind Isaac, and everyone, of our intimate link with the earth and with all creatures who come form it and return to it.
though you don’t yet understand it, we’re here to bury your birth companion.
Once it linked you to Ruth, your sustainer,
Now it links you to the earth which sustains us all, even as it sustains the olives on which we hope will soon grow and feed us.
Once it allowed your intimate relationship with one life,
Now it speaks of your intimate relationship with all life.
May creation provide all the nutrients, faith, hope and love you need to live as one who knows where he came from, where you belong, and how to live in fidelity with this reality.
(words based largely on reflection found at ecofaith.org here)
5. Burial of Placenta
6. Commitment Ritual
Ruth and Anthony what are your hopes for Isaac:
- We hope that Isaac grows to know and follow Jesus.
- We hope that he grows up with a heart that loves and can be loved.
- We hope that he finds joy and fulfillment in the simplicity of life.
- We hope that Isaac develops an awareness of the troubles of the world and has the courage to take action.
- We hope that he develops a spirit of hospitality, mercy and generosity.
Ruth and Anthony what are your commitments to Isaac:
- We commit to creating an atmosphere where Isaac can explore faith openly.
- We commit to loving Isaac for who he is and not who we expect him to be.
- We commit to doing our best as parents even though we won’t always get it right.
- We commit to prayer and seeking advice from our community of faith and family as Isaac grows.
- We commit to standing with Isaac during failure, adversity and suffering.
7. Watering of the Tree
Grandparents first then Family and Friends
(Song: Return of the King, ipod)
8. Blessing for Isaac: Rach
Isaac. For you Jesus Christ has come and has lived; life in all its fullness. For you he endured the agony of Gethsemane and the darkness of the cross; with which we mark you now. For you he has uttered the cry, ‘It is accomplished!’ For you, he has triumphed over death; for you he prays at God’s right hand; all for you, little child, even though you do not know it.
The blessing of the God of Sarah and of Abraham
The blessing of the Son, born of Mary,
The blessing of the Spirit, who broods over us
As a mother over her children
Be with you now and forever
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.