Rituals & Retreats

As I mention in “Why have a ceremony?” on theOfficiating page, it is so important in this fast-paced world to create and participate in rituals that allow us to slow down and fully experience life’s landmark moments. With some status-changing events, such as a wedding or having a child, it is also important to mindfully preparefor the change that will take place. Creating a ritual helps do that, and it also deepens the whole process and builds and reinforces community. I offer opportunities to collaborate in creating tailor-made, meaningful Transition Rituals and Retreats that both reclaim the true intent of their contemporary counterparts and also take steps to further serve the modern individual as he/she mindfully moves through life’s cycles.

I invite you to peruse the options presented here as well as to conceive of your own idea for a Ritual or Retreat. Contact me for a free consultation and we’ll begin the process of creating something unique and special for you.


“Mary creates warm, safe places everywhere.” – Maya, Brooklyn

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BRIDAL BLESSING

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A Bridal Blessing, also simply called a Women’s Retreat, is designed to be an alternative to a contemporary Bachelorette Party. It is for the bride-to-be who seeks true connection, symbolic significance, support for her choices, lasting memories, and the space and freedom to more deeply discover herself, her process, and her impending partnership. There are no real “rules” to creating a fun and rewarding Women’s Retreat — only a willingness to look outside the box, and moreover, to create and plan with the uniqueness of the bride-to-be in mind.

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I work both with brides, and their close friends, to create an afternoon, a full day, or even a whole weekend that truly honors this important transition for the celebrated woman. I am available beforehand, to help you conceive of and coordinate a retreat that will truly allow everyone to enjoy themselves and relax. I’m also available during the retreat, to lead rituals, exercises, conversation, and to keep the energy flowing.

Bridal Blessings often include:

  • communal crafting of an heirloom
  • directed conversation and exercises that openly explore partnership as well as transition into partnership
  • offerings to the bride-to-be — words, symbols, letters, memories, small and meaningful gifts 
  • a sacred, led, rite of initiation
  • preparing and eating special and significant foods
  • celebrating with music, dance, poetry, art, games, and adornment of the bride
  • being in nature

“Having a Bridal Blessing was an amazing way to celebrate with my community of friends and reflect on my transition to marriage. Because of Mary’s input and participation, my retreat was personal, reflective and spiritual – as well as unbelievably fun! Mary worked closely with my friends and me to ensure that the blessing honored me as an individual. She was full of ideas about how to best capture the energy and emotions around my transition and the weekend was so much more meaningful because of her involvement.” - Katy, Ithaca

“Having been to bachelorette parties in the past, I thought they were always set up as an excuse to go out drinking and partying with girlfriends. But at the Women’s Retreat we were given a chance to truly honor and celebrate our friend, the bride, in such unique and fun ways. I can’t remember when I’ve felt so close to my friends!” -Susana, Brooklyn

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MOTHER BLESSING

Also often called a Blessingway, a Mother Blessing is a mother-centered alternative (or sometimes complement) to the contemporary baby shower. Its existence and growing popularity acknowledge that giving birth is a sacred rite of passage full of layers and mystery, and the Blessing itself is crafted and enacted as a celebration of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.

“The Mother Blessing Mary facilitated and led for the upcoming birth of my first child was so profoundly beautiful. There was meaning and thoughtful intention behind every aspect of the blessing.” ~Shawna, Queens

              

We live in a fear-based, consumerist culture that teaches us that giving birth is a medical emergency and that trains us to prepare for motherhood by buying things. I offer an opportunity to co-create a ritual gathering that serves the true needs of an expectant mom. As a caring community for the mother-to-be, together we release fears, acknowledge strengths, affirm innate powers and capabilities, create and reinforce support structures, and celebrate birth as a glorious, blessed event.

In most Mother Blessings, all women come away feeling both personally transformed as well as more deeply connected to the circle of women present. I work both with moms-to-be and their close friends, to create a ritual that truly honors this miraculous life-cycle transition. I am available beforehand, to help you craft a unique Blessing, as well as during the retreat, to lead spiritual components, facilitate an easy flow, and maintain a safe and welcoming environment that allows everyone to be relaxed and present.

A Mother Blessing often includes:

  • ritualistic pampering, honoring, preparing, and adorning the mom-to-be
  • space for acknowledging and releasing fears
  • sharing stories, blessings, letters, wishes, and symbolic and nurturing gifts
  • co-creating birth art
  • opening to the Divine presence and the inherent birth-giving capabilities in every woman
  • an opportunity to learn about and bolster the specific choices in childbirth and hopes for parenting of the mom-to-be
  • establishing creative and practical structures for birth and post-partum support
  • a potluck feast

A Mother Blessing is great for soon-to-be adoptive moms too!

“Prior to my Mother Blessing, Mary asked me specific questions related to my process with the pregnancy and upcoming birth, and I can tell that she REALLY listened. She seemed to also listen intuitively in order to have been able to facilitate such a deeply personal and purposeful Mother Blessing ceremony. I particularly loved the element of surprise she offered within the blessing. It was both personal and unique!” ~Rebecca, Brooklyn

“Though my Mother Blessing was an event facilitated for me, every woman in attendance expressed having personally felt the benefit of the ceremony. We all walked away resonating with such beauty, strength, and warmth from the event, and my experience of surrender during the ritual carried over into my childbirth experience. I felt prepared to surrender to the unknowns in childbirth as a result of having this ceremony.  I HIGHLY recommend a Mother Blessing (Blessing Way) for every mother-to-be, and that Mary facilitate it. Thank you, Mary!” ~Goussy, Queens

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WELCOME HOME CELEBRATION FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS

The experience of adopting a child is full of its own unique wonders, curiosities, stumbling blocks, and learning opportunities and the legal process can be long, scary, and exciting. I offer an opportunity to co-create a ceremony with adoptive parents that celebrates this vitally important choice. In addition to sacredly and publicly welcoming the child into their home and their lives, the ritual often serves as a creative and meaningful beginning of a new family identity.

A Welcome Home Ceremony & Celebration can function much like a Baby Blessing(regardless of the age of the adopted child) and is also an opportunity to:

  • celebrate and integrate elements from the child’s birth culture
  • honor the newness of parenthood at its current stage
  • receive support for the new family formation as well as adoption-specific needs and issues
  • connect with other adoptive families & build and reinforce community
  • redefine familial roles including those for new siblings
  • welcome the new family member with letters, symbolic actions, and meaningful gifts

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OTHER RITUALS (DESCRIPTIONS COMING SOON!):

  • Men’s Retreats — Commemorating the End of “Bachelorhood”
  • Divorce Ritual — a Conscious Parting
  • Coming Out Ritual — Celebrating Authenticity
  • Healing Rituals — Losing a Parent, a Child, a Pet, a Job
  • Coming of Age at any Age — Empty Nest, Turning 60, Elderhood, The Final Phase
  • Endings and Beginnings — Moving, New Career, New Identity, New Chapter
  • Living Memorial — For the Terminally Ill and Aging
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