My hubby and I celebrated each of our babies in many ways. When I was within a week of birth for each of them (we had scheduled “Birth by Special Openings” for them), we made a belly cast. It was on Valentine’s Day for our son and early May for our daughter. We were outside on a beautiful sunny day in May with plaster and fixins’ to memorialize this amazing occasion. Over the years, I have recommended this ritual to so many mommas. It is one of the the things I made time for and cherish doing with my husband. Seeing the casts on my office wall always brings a smile to my face.
Being content with their presence, I hadn’t thought about if and when they would be painted or what that would look like until we go closer to our son turning 7, a big year of transition in a child’s development. Seven is a number of regeneration and renewal. As human beings, we are said to “re-create” ourselves every 7 years. While talking with my dear friend and teacher extraordinaire, Kim of The Abundant Seed Exchange, she suggested that the kids paint it on the early morning of their 7th birthday. If you would like to do this, which I highly recommend, here are some simple steps:
- Purchase a belly cast large enough for your hands too. This is what we used.
- Plan a date to cast your belly and celebrate. It can be with your partner, spouse, with a group of dear women friends or part of a blessing way ceremony.
- Be sure to set aside time to luxuriate in the sacred.
- Light a candle, have snacks prepared, burn sage, copal or palo santo, play meaningful music for you. Tend to the details to make it special and memorable.
- Choose a spot to hang or place your completed cast. We have ours hung up on the wall as shown in the picture. Kim’s husband created a beautiful box frame to place around each of their daughters’ casts. Find a way that has special meaning for you. This may change with the personality of your child too that you will be inspired after their birth.
On the eve of their 7th birthday:
- On the eve of your child’s 7th birthday, set out the white cast, 7 tea light candles (with more on hand), plates for the variety of colored acrylic paints you have. Have brushes set out for each color.
- Set your alarm to a time a couple of hours before sunrise the morning of your child’s 7th birthday. This can be hard as a tired and possibly sleep deprived parent but well worth it!!!!
- In the early morning of your child’s 7th birthday, wake your child from sleep. You can carry them to where you have the cast arranged.
- While sitting there together, just the 3 of you (so other siblings will be sleeping), before lighting the candles, tell the story of 7 years ago this morning was just before you held each other for the first time. Share any details you wish about your birthing story and recall the darkness in the womb and the journey you both endured during the birthing process.
- When it feels right for you, begin to light the candles for the child to see the cast before him/her and suggest beginning to paint the cast in silence and candlelight with support and witness of Mother, Father, Child present in the sacred triad.
- Let this be child directed. No correcting or suggesting colors or ways to paint or clean up or anything. If you are worried about spills, either put a cloth down the night before or set it up in a place that can be easily wiped down after the painting ritual.
- When the child is done (both of ours had a definite ending point that they stated), take a moment to acknowledge this special time in their life and that though they are in between babyhood and teen years that you will always be there for them even as they wish to explore a little further away perhaps.
- As they are painting it is likely (and desired) that the sun rises and a natural light enters in on this day of their birth!
- See if they wish to share anything about this experience for them. Keep the candles lit until they naturally go out; if they go out during the painting, replace them and let the new ones go out on their own even after the painting is complete.
- Give gratitude and share any parting sentiments.
I hope you enjoy this special ritual. It is a time I will always remember. To see the difference between our kids casts is also reflective of their individual essences and shining their lights out into this world. This is a small but meaningful gesture to encourage a connection with self and to trust themselves. It brings forth the magic of what they may have experienced in utero, at birth, or at any time up to the present…an expression of self. What a gift!!
Tell us your rituals, stories, ceremony with your children! Share your pictures of your belly casts! Love on Mamas!! And Papas!!