Closing the Bones

Last night I returned home from two days of workshops in Cambridge with the wonderful Sophie Messager.  I felt drained and tired, but also calm and peaceful.  I felt reflective and a little bit emotional (still)….

When I sat down to write this, I had planned to write about both of the workshops I attended (Mindful Rebozo for Doulas & Birthworkers and Closing the Bones).  But I feel my experience of yesterday’s Closing the Bones workshop needs a blog of its own. 

Closing the bones is a treatment offered to postnatal women.  The technique itself originates from Ecuador and Sophie has trained in this traditional massage with a midwife who is from Ecuador.  Rocio still resides there and Sophie has received teaching from her over several years. 

Physically, closing the bones helps to realign the hips, pelvis and spine following the birth of a baby and it is thought that much of the hip and lower back issues many women in our society experience is from the lack of closing the bones post birth (my own pelvis didn’t realign correctly postnatally leading to a great deal of issues that could have been prevented had I known to have my bones closed).  However, closing the bones also offers an energy healing and provides space for the mother to feel nurtured and to release emotions associated with the birth and motherhood.

After we had learned the techniques and practiced on each other, we were invited to take closing the bones a step further and participate in a mother blessing ceremony. The mother receiving lay down on 5 rebozos and these were wrapped around her and held in place one at a time.  Some words were then spoken and each rebozo was then tucked and we laid hands on the mother, silently giving thanks or honouring her with our thoughts.  After this we sang and meditated before laying a blanket over and laying hands on her again her until it felt “right” to slowly uncover her and open the rebozos.

On paper, it doesn’t sound much but it was, quite simply, the most perfect, beautiful and sacred ceremony I have ever witnessed, never mind participated in. 

The emotional floodgate that opened within me felt enormous.  I cried.  A lot.  I’m not someone who tends to cry much and I definitely don’t cry in front of others, but I cried.  It felt like the release of so much powerful emotion and I feel that it is still coming out.  Even now, the following day.  I am now 4 and a half years postpartum and I am almost 6 years on from a miscarriage.  I believed I had fully debriefed the birth of my son and my miscarriage.  Psychologically I had.  But I had never fully released the emotions.  I had never experienced the nurturing and the giving thanks to my body that I witnessed in the ceremony.

Like many postnatal women, I have a love / hate relationship with my body.  I am grateful I was able to conceive, grow, birth and then nurture a baby.  BUT, our culture doesn’t allow me to acknowledge that amazing thing my body did (we all share memes on social media, but I still don’t feel our society truly honours me).  Our culture wants us “back to normal” as soon as possible.  Back in our jeans, back at work, running the home.  There’s no celebration of what we just did.  There’s no babymoon.  There’s no nurturing and giving thanks to the woman whose body brought new life into the world.  There’s no honouring her rite of passage.  Honouring of her new normal.  I cried for all of this too. 

I honestly don’t believe my tears were just for me and my journey.  They were tears for all of us.  For each of us not receiving these blessings from our sisters, because this is a forgotten ritual tradition.

I feel blessed and humbled to have learned the tradition of closing the bones and the new mother blessing ceremony and I look forward to offering these to the women I serve.  But I don’t want to stop there.  Honouring the centre of our feminine energy is for all women.  Those who have never conceived, those who didn’t get to hold their babies in their arms, those who didn’t get to take their babies home and those whose babies didn’t stay with them long.  It’s a ceremony for all women.  A celebration of the femininity of all of us.

Helen Discombe