“Here, under my heart
till it’s time for us to meet…”
–Erica Mann Jong (33)
Edward Searl is a Unitarian minister and the editor of Bless This Child: A Treasury of Poems, Quotations and Readings to Celebrate Birth. He writes that the collection, “gives voice to the many hopes and wishes that accompany the arrival of a new child.” (vii)
These prayers, poems, and meditations are “culled from antiquity and from our contemporary world, written and spoken by parents, priests, and poets — the famous and the unknown.” (vii-viii) The sources range widely, from the scriptures of world religions to secular musings.
“The child has come forth out of the great womb of the earth. The child has come forth to stand with star dust in his hair, with the rush of planets in his blood…”
— Kenneth Patton (11)
Since the sources are spiritually diverse, some will be more appealing to Pagans than others, but there is much here that reflects Pagan theology and ethics. Bless This Child might be an especially good resource for someone planning a baby welcoming ceremony that will include loved ones who might not be very comfortable with Pagan ritual.
“Sun, Moon, Stars, all you that move in the heavens, hear us!
Into your midst has come a new life.
Make his path smooth, that he may reach the brow of the first hill!”
–Omaha Prayer (103)
Searl’s other books cover topics such as coming of age, marriage, death, and altar-building.
“Spirit of life, watch my child when I cannot. Encircle her with love, protect her from a world which has become cynical.”
— Elizabeth Tarbox (113)
Note: All quotes in green are excerpts from poems and prayers in Bless This Child and can be found on the page listed in parentheses.
Edward Searl, ed. Bless This Child: A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, And Readings to Celebrate Birth. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2006.
Sarah Whedon teaches in the Department of Theology and Religious History at Cherry Hill Seminary and is the founding editor of Pagan Families: Resources for Pagan Pregnancy and Birth. Sarah’s teaching, research, and advocacy work center around topics of spirituality, feminism, and reproduction. She makes her home in San Francisco with her partner and their children.