In our culture, it’s very normal and accepted to celebrate a baby’s first birthday. (And let me tell you, I was ridiculously excited to shower Baby B with love for her first lap around the sun!)
But what about celebrating the mother on the first anniversary of her venture into the wild unknown when she brought her baby earthside?
It’s not something that’s commonly celebrated in our society, but I’m gonna get on my soapbox and say it: we should all be doing our best to change that!
Women Who Run With The Wolflings
The first year of motherhood is wild, and I mean that in the best and truest sense of the word. It’s an archetypal shift that changed me in ways that I could never have anticipated, and that are still revealing themselves. It birthed a new, better, upgraded version of me.
Put simply, it’s been the most profound transition of my life… and I know I’m hardly the first to feel this way!
So why not take this opportunity — the first anniversary of birth — to celebrate the birth of the mama too?
Why not acknowledge the huge journey, transition, and growth that they’ve undergone?
And why not shower her with some divine feminine love — fill her cup, salute the sacred sacrifice (and yep, hard work) that she’s doing, adorn and adore her, and let her know that she’s doing an incredible job?
The term for this kind of celebration is a ‘First Year Ceremony’, and I was lucky enough to experience one for myself a few short weeks ago…
A Sacred Surprise (& The Best Soul Sisters Ever!)
Shortly before Baby B turned one, my beautiful soul sisters surprised me with a sacred shamanic ceremony to celebrate my first year of motherhood. It was a truly magical celebration, one that will be etched in my heart forever.
And since then, without fail, every single woman I’ve mentioned it to, or who has seen the photos or videos of our beautiful ceremony, has said one of two things:
“Oh my god, that sounds amazing, I wish I’d had that!”
“Holy heck, that sounds divine, I’ve gotta make sure I do that when it’s my turn!”
So if you’ve had one of these exact thoughts too, I’ve got you covered, beautiful!
Below, I’ve compiled a juicy, in-depth guide for planning and hosting a First Year Ceremony — whether it’s for yourself, or another mama in your life.
And by the way, if you’ve got kids who have already turned one (even if it was decades ago!), don’t think you miss out, Angel. Take these suggestions and turn them into a Second Year Ceremony, or a Tenth Year Ceremony, or heck, even a SEVENTIETH Year Ceremony — I don’t care how long you’ve been a mama for, it’s always worth celebrating!
First Things First: Invitations & Planning
Start by sending out invitations to the women in your life you wish to join your sacred celebrations. (One of my soulies took on this role after I shared with her who I would like there.)
It’s important to note that for something like this, you don’t want it too big. For me, I wanted to invite the women who had truly shown up for me during that first year. But there are no rules — do what feels right and true for you!
- Choose a date and time, and find a gorgeous space to celebrate — the outdoors can be gorgeous, though keep in mind, that you’ll be battling the elements. (And if you’re in a public space, you could have onlookers cramping your style!). A light, airy indoor space can therefore be an ideal option. For my ceremony, one of my beautiful soulies Eva offered her divine living room, which was perfect and peaceful so we could really drop deep.
- Explain in the invitation what the event is for — ‘You’re invited to celebrate X’s first year of motherhood in a divine sacred shamanic ceremony. It’s a magical, magnificent milestone and we’d truly love to have you there.’
- Ask everyone to bring along a plate of nourishing goodness (or alternatively, you might choose to get the event catered). My friends all brought along delicious plant-based yumminess, which we all feasted on after the special ceremony.
- Ask everyone to bring along something to read to the group — a quote or small reading about what it means to be a mother; an observation, acknowledgement, blessing or love note about this particular mama’s journey; or a short prayer or mantra.
- You might also like to ask them to bring along something small and symbolic from Mother Earth (the divine mother) to contribute to the altar you’ll assemble — a seed pod, a shell, a crystal, a flower, a trinket… anything they like.
Consider if there’s anything else that needs to be organised in advance — perhaps a photographer, childminding, flowers… whatever would make the day sacred and special for you.
Finally, start gathering the items you’ll need: cushions, rugs, yoga mats, candles, essential oils, paper and pens, a special candle (the ‘mother candle’) to light during the ceremony, a smudge stick, incense, palo santo, and items to create the altar (cloth, tray, symbolic items, offerings from nature, crystals, artwork, beads, etc.).
On The Day
- Prepare the space. Atmosphere and ambience are so important, so take plenty of time to cleanse the energy in the room to lift the veil to the spiritual world. Adorn the space (don’t rush this!). Diffuse oils, arrange flowers and strew the cushions and rugs on the ground in an inviting, cosy way. Set an intention for the space while you’re decorating.
- Assemble the altar in the centre of the space — on a tray, table, cloth, whatever you choose. This is to symbolise motherhood and the divine mother in all her forms. Place the Mother Candle in the centre or in front of where the mama will sit, plus a beeswax tealight for each mama and child that you’re celebrating. (Don’t forget the matches!)
- Set up the refreshments table. Make sure there’s water and tea within easy reach.
- Finish setting the mood by pressing play on a gorgeously feminine playlist. (I recently stumbled upon this one and this album. I love them.)
When The Guests Arrive…
Sage them, then invite them to take a seat or a cushion, settle in, and get comfy.
Let The Ceremony Begin!
There are no hard and fast rules here, so do what speaks to YOU. Consider the following a menu of options that you can choose from — or get creative, ski off-piste, and come up with your own ideas!
- Open the ceremony by giving thanks to everyone for their presence, something like:
“We gather in a circle, acknowledging the women who’ve come before us, to honour this mama, X, and her beautiful baby, Z, and the huge year they’ve had together. We give thanks to all of you here for the energy, love and support you share, now and always. To all mothers everywhere and the divine mother, for all that they do and all that they are. We set the intention to shower X and Z in love and to celebrate their transformation.”
- Light the central candle and the tealights, saying the names of the mama and baby as you do so, and ask guests to add their contributions to the altar.
- Invite the mama being celebrated to sit or lie in the centre of the circle. The others gathered can then adorn her with the symbols of the divine mother (flowers, crystals, shells and more), all whilst sharing stories and sentiments about her journey over the past year.
- Pamper the mother — rub her feet, massage her hands, gently tickle her body, stroke her hair, anoint her with oils.
- Ask each guest to read the poem or passage that they brought along. (Do your best here to stay focused on the energy of the ceremony; don’t get distracted with chit-chat. There’ll be plenty of time for that later!)
- Ask each guest to share a blessing for the mother, or an acknowledgement of their journey —
When I look at you, I see…
As you journey forwards, I wish for you…
I’m so inspired by the way you…
You so effortlessly…
- Close the ceremony with a prayer, spell, or message for this mother and all mothers current and the ones still to be birthed.
Time To Feast
With the ceremony closed, it’s time for nourishment, conversation, belly laughs, and girly time. Enjoy each other’s company, relish and delight in the feminine energy, and soak up every lush moment… Beautiful, you deserve it.
Gratitude For Your Goddesses
I’m a big believer in thank you notes. They’re such a lovely way to send gratitude to the people you love and acknowledge their time, energy, love and support.
Whether you opt for a text, a card, a phone call or a carrier pigeon (!), be sure to send your love and gratitude to everyone who shared the day with you and particularly to anyone involved in the planning.
And while we’re on the topic of gratitude, there’s one more goddess I’d like to thank…
Many of these ideas were sparked by the incredible Jane Hardwicke Collings. She is one of my divine birth mentors and one of the most profound leaders in this space. (If you haven’t yet heard it, check out my conversation with her here, and feel your heart expand about a thousand times over. You can also check out more of her work here.)
Jane is a powerhouse because she made my life richer. Hence, I have so much gratitude and respect for her work. 🙏
And There You Have It!
That’s it, Angel! You’ve got everything you need to create and host a sacred ceremony for the first year of motherhood.
Now I’d love to hear from you — Have you experienced a ceremony like this? Do you have any other suggestions for us to add? And if you haven’t experienced something like this, is it now on your wishlist? Share with me below in the comments — I read every single one and I can’t wait to read yours.
Hi Mel, how beautiful- every mumma deserves this. I have 4 beautiful children and never had the privilege of this ceremony (my children range in ages from 11 to 22) however every single year when my besties children have a birthday I always send them a love note saying ‘happy birthing’ day to them and mention something I love about their mothering. Its just always something I’ve done – I will be sure to bring this beautiful, sacred practice into the lives of the new mumma’s in my life. Thank you for sharing- motherhood truly is the most magical, divine passage that should absolutely be celebrated. ❤
You are such a beautiful friend doing that honey. Don’t forget it’s not too late to have a celebration like this for yourself. It doesn’t matter what age your children are you can still do it now. I hope you do honey. xx