Naming ceremonies and blessings for children haven't yet become the norm for non-religious families but they're something that more and more parents are wanting to explore as a way of bringing together their community, honouring their child and nominating guardians (also sometimes called godparents or soul parents). This is the space from which Rhythmkeeper was born - a collective seeking for something to honour the stages of life in a meaningful way, without the rigidity of traditional religious ceremony.
I thought I'd share an example of a ceremony I performed recently for a family of four to demonstrate that there really are no rules or set ways of going about a ceremony like this. There is no right age or time to do it, there are no rituals or readings that must be included. It can be informal and there can even be beer! It can be tailored just to you. For Kat who is the mother of Henry and Lily in the ceremony I share below, essential oils are something she is passionate about so it made sense for her to want to include them in the ceremony. For you, it might not be and that's totally fine. It needn't be new-age or include any reference to god - it's an opportunity to get clear on your own beliefs and values and honour your child in a way that is right for your family.
Traditionally, child blessings and naming ceremonies are designed to provide children with a sense of belonging and a knowingness that they are cared for by their extended network and are a deeply loved member of this human family. Perhaps there are some traditions in your family that could be honoured, or sentimental items that could be included in the ceremony from grandparents or great grandparents who have passed. The possibilities are limitless. If you are interested in a naming ceremony for your child or a blessing for your family please get in touch.
To give you an idea of how such a ceremony could go, here is an excerpt from the ceremony I performed last month:
Friends and family gather in a circle. Celebrant, parents, and children to be blessed are a part of the circle.
"We gather today to celebrate the Hood family, to welcome Henry into the world and celebrate his safe arrival, and to celebrate the two years that Lily has had on earth and the gift that they both are. Two people don’t require children to make a family – family is a way of being, a way of caring and loving. For Marsh and Kat, their family grew with Lily's arrival, and then again with Henry's. Each child bringing their unique personality, energy, likes and dislikes, lessons and teachings.
The journey for Kat through pregnancy and birth with Lily was not without its challenges and becoming a mother was and is a transformative process. Through her pregnancy with Henry and his birth Kat began to make sense of and make peace with the complexities of Lily's arrival and becoming a mother. It seemed at this point a perfect opportunity to formally acknowledge the profound impact these two souls have had on Marsh and Kat's lives as a couple and as individuals and how grateful they are to have been entrusted with Henry and Lily."
I always begin my ceremonies with a welcome and acknowledgement of country.
A reading from Kat, followed by an anointing with oil for each child and the appointing of guardians.
I Want You To Be Happy
I want you to fill your heart with feelings of wonder and to be full of courage and hope. I want you to have the type of friendship that is a treasure, and the kind of love that is beautiful forever. I wish you contentment: the sweet, quiet, inner kind that comes around and never goes away. I want you to have hopes and have them all come true.
I want you to have a real understanding of how unique and rare you truly are. I want to remind you that the sun may disappear for a while, but it never forgets to shine. May the words you listen to say the things you need to hear and may a cheerful face lovingly look back at you when you happen to glance in your mirror. I wish you the insight to see your inner and outer beauty. I wish you sweet dreams. I want you to have times when you feel like singing and dancing and laughing out loud. I want you to be able to make your good times better and your hard times easier to handle. I wish I could find a way to tell you - in untold ways - how important you are to me. Of all the things I’ll be wishing for, wherever you are and whatever I may do, there will never be a day in my life when I won’t be wishing for the best... for you.
Lily (full name)
Born (date of birth)
Now 2 years, 3 months
Guardians: (Names of guardians)
The way the ceremony unfolds will always be guided by the age and stage of your child/ children.
Anointing the crown: “May you be watched over and guided”
Anointing the brow: “May you see your path clearly and follow your dreams.”
Anointing the throat: “May you speak truthfully and kindly.”
Anointing the heart: “May you experience the world with an open heart, loving and being loved.”
Anointing the hands: “May you reach out your hands to help others or when in need.”
Anointing the feet: “May you remember that you belong and you are safe.”
"May you walk this world blessed with happiness, good health and prosperity. May you carry with you hope wherever you go. May you have courage and ever-expanding awareness of your own needs and the needs of those around you. May you be full of gratitude for the gift of life. May you be forever blessed in all that you do."
Guardians come forward.
"Guardians take a special interest in the moral, spiritual and emotional development of a child. It takes a village to raise a child well and often, as we grow older, we look to elders outside of our parents for support and guidance. This is how we evolve into our own person. To be a guardian is a serious responsibility and a great honour. We want for Lily to be safe and to never be lacking spirit. We want her to feel supported and secure. We want her to have a childhood full of special moments and fun. We want her to draw strength and love from those around her when she is in need. I ask of you, who have been named as guardians for Lily Victoria Hood, do you vow to stay present to Lily needs as she grows, to offer support as and where needed for Marsh and Kat as they parent this child?"
Guardians: “We do.”
Do you vow to stay committed to your own personal development in order to be able to best provide wisdom, guidance and tender loving care to Lily throughout her life?”
Guardians: “We do.”
"And so it is, with the support of Alice’s parents, guardians and all of you gathered here today, that we officially name and welcome this child – Lily Victoria Hood."
Henry (full name)
Born (date of birth)
Now 4 months
Guardians: (Names of guardians)
Repeat anointing, blessing and guardian vows as above.
"And so it is, with the support of Henry's parents, guardians and all of you gathered here today, that we officially name and welcome this child – Henry Marshall Hood."
All family and friends join hands creating a circle of community.
"Little ones, born of this Earth, surrounded by love,children of the universe, one with all that lives, Lily Victoria and Henry Marshall - take these name and make them your own. Live in freedom and fullness as you travel your journey of life. We have anointed you with fragrant oil as a sign of our blessing to you this day. May you continue to bring great joy to your parents, your grandparents, family, friends, and to all those who come to know you. May it be your good fortune to play a worthy part in making this world a more beautiful place, and life more joyful for all those with whom you come in contact. We honour you this day – thank you for coming into our world."
A few words from Kat about the ceremony:
After the birth of my second child I felt like the time was right to celebrate our children and the impact that they had on our lives in a more formal way. A baptism didn’t seem like the right fit for our family and so we decided to go ahead with a naming day/family blessing. We knew that we wanted something relaxed and informal while still upholding a reverence for the ceremonial aspect of the day, and creating a spiritual space in which to celebrate our children. We wanted a fresh modern ceremony while still weaving in spirituality and a connection to Mother Nature. Anna completely supported us in this process from the beginning and helped us carve out the foundations of the ceremony. She empowered us to make it our own and to incorporate my love of essential oils to bless our children. From the initial words out of Anna’s mouth when she acknowledged the traditional owners of the land we stood on, I knew we had made the perfect choice. The ceremony was relaxed and joyous, modern and fresh but with a strong connection to the most important things in life- love, family and friends. I am SO thrilled we used Anna for our special family blessing!
All images by Amy Thomasine