I have been ‘blessing’ my children since the day they were born. Even now I make the sign of the cross with my thumb on their foreheads when they are sleeping. I have no formal ‘accreditation’ to do this other than motherhood – and for me that is the only accreditation I require and the greatest accreditation on earth.
My blessings have always consistently come with the sentiments – be safe, be happy and healthy, dream and live to the fullest. There are other thoughts that I put out, unique for each child or for the moment in time. Regardless, my point is, I bless my children. It has always been important because I have always felt like their protector and guide. But I have always been discreet if not shy – who am I to bless and what will they think. Given that I blessed them when they were sleeping no one needed to know. Then when they left for university I would send my blessings to the sky, make the sign of the cross with my thumb on a virtual image of their forehead. My kids now know I do this and they know it comes from a place of love. I am no longer shy nor seeking anyone’s approval – I have decided it is my ‘right’, it is a ‘spiritual rite’ among the four of us and it is most certainly a family ritual.
While Mariah and I were away we attended a series of blessings and I have found it very interesting. Admitedly these were not for the faint of heart and will potentially cause some readers to raise their eyebrows. When we travel we experience everything that a culture or country has to offer – and so these interactions were one of the offerings. Some things felt very natural, some were surreal and some caused us to be a bit skeptical.
The first blessing was in Chiang Mai from a Native American woman named White Star who decided 5 years ago to relocate to South East Asia with her husband Robert (who would later be our tour guide when we visited Ubud.) and their son. Before leaving for South East Asia my friend Carolyne said Mariah and I had to see White Star during our travels so we made this interaction a priority and in fact designed the first leg or our trip around connecting to her. In addition to blessing us, White Star also talked about past lives, our future, our health and well being and that of our loved ones. Mariah and I both left feeling uplifted and a little surprised at how much White Star knew about us and our future. Not sure how you would describe White Star’s talents – I think I would say psychic, shaman, wise native woman.
The second blessing was from two Buddhist Monks in Cambodia. Mariah and I sat in sarongs on a stoop of one of the temples as one of the Monks chanted and poured what felt like saucepans of water on each of us. Once over the initial shock, we both thought of our greater family and prayed in accordance with our own beliefs that everyone is happy and healthy. Post this blessing we changed and made an offering to the senior Monk who offered another blessing as he tied red yarn bracelets around our wrists. We are to wear these bracelets until they fall off. Many locals noticed them on our wrists and would point and say Good Luck when they saw them reinforcing to us that we need to pay these symbols respect. The two of us were ‘participants’ in these blessings tried to understand the meaning and significance but learning more from the response of others who commented on the bracelets or were aware that we had attended the blessing. These rites are cherished by the locals and so as a result we felt honoured to have had the privilege to receive the blessings.
The third blessing/treatment was in Bali with a Medicine Dr. Jakorta Rai (very much like Ketuk from Eat, Pray, Love). We individually sat in front of Jakorta while he rubbed our heads and diagnosed any issues or challenges. Then we layed on a mat and he provided some Eastern medicine treatments – akin to reflexology. Everything is very open and in the public and so you actually see and feel the difference Jakorta is making to all sees – and honestly he is making a difference. While the pictures make this interaction look odd (according to Western thinking), this was actually a great interaction. When you are in Jakorta’s presence you feel his wisdom. This truly felt like an excerpt from Eat, Pray, Love.
The fourth blessing/treatment arose from the spontaneous opportunity to meet a Balinese Healer who was treating White Star. On this day, Robert (White Star’s husband as noted above) was taking us on a tour of Ubud and White Star was home in bed recovering from a stint in the hospital. Still feeling ill and in a way that seemed mental/spiritual, White Star had asked the Balinese Healer to visit her at home and given that we were now close she suggested we also have the rare opportunity to meet the Healer and receive a blessing. When we arrived, the healer was well into her treatment of White Star and we were invited to watch some of the healing ceremony. The ceremony was a blend of prayer, chants, lyric song, forceful hand movements and then very lyrical motions and dance. When the healer was finished with her treatment of White Star she offered us a ‘blessing’. She hugged me and chatted with me for a moment then quickly diagnosed my strength and disciplined focus and proposed I relax a little before punching me in the stomach (?!) to make her point and then hugging me and telling me she loved me and everything would be great. Her connection to Mariah was extremely loving and gentle as though she was mesmorized. She noted the strong connection between Mariah and I, Mariah’s indomitable spirit and her undoubted success in whatever she chooses to do. We were then blessed with a sprinkle of holy water and a lyrical Balinese prayer. Admitedly this whole interaction was overwhelming for the two of us and we just sat silently trying to process everything we had just witnessed and experienced.
Our fourth blessing was with the High Water Priestess. This 29 year old woman who at the age of 20 went into an unexplained coma and awoke with a special calling is renown in Bali. The fact that we were in her presence was a big deal. After a ceremonial prayer where she turned plain water into holy water, the Priestess addressed us, chanted and prayed while pouring water on us. The water was poured on our heads several times while we stood in prayer and then we washed our faces with it as she continued to pour and then had a taste. Cleansed with the water and prayer we were blessed. Similar to the Monk blessings we knew this was a significant privilege however equally similar we felt somewhat detached by the lack of understanding.
Our final blessing was in Ubud with a local who we met through our villa – the husband of one of the staff at the villa – Made who offered to be our tour guide for the day. Made took a special liking to Mariah and I and took us to a place in the mountainous jungle where the locals go to cleanse, pray and bless themselves with the holy waters that spring from the mountains. This was a trip highlight because we were actively engaged in the process – we were praying and blessing ourselves. (This is the picture that is featured)
Having experienced all of these blessings, there were some common and uncommon threads. In all cases these healers, blessors are people of unique distinction and devotion in their communities. For us to even have had the privilege of meeting them is a great gift. While the Monk and High Water Priestess blessings were special and we felt somewhat detached. With White Star, the Medicine Dr and the Healer there were individual conversations and so these learnings and blessings felt very personal and intimate. The one however, that lifted our spirits the most was the one with all the locals where we made offerings, blessed ourselves in the fresh mountain water and prayed. There was a liveliness, a community spirit, people were praying but also talking and laughing and hugging. There were families and children – we felt blessed to be among them and they even laughed at us as we responded to the coldness and strength of the mountain water.
Needless to say Mariah and I had many conversations post all of these interactions. Our religious/belief system skepticism crept in at times, perhaps some ignorance but in all cases a sense that what we had experienced was to be respected because while we were learning, others had strong devotions. In addition, just as our questioning of religious leaders has caused us to redefine our own beliefs at home it also applied as we met leaders throughout our travels. And it made even more sense to us as to why the blessing or interactions that had the greatest impact were the ones where we were engaged on equal footing with those who were sharing wisdom. Bottomline, everyone is human – even spiritual leaders and elders and the ones who embraced this versus preached/prayed over us were the ones we connected to.
My “Mom” blessings now seem normal and equally as powerful as some of the ones we received and our beliefs, closest to Buddhist thinking than anything else, mean we are constantly learning (aka seeking enlightenment) all the while striving to be good people ~ simple actually.
Blessings to you. XO