Group Ritual to Acknowledge Miscarriage

Group Ritual to Acknowledge Miscarriage February 26, 2013

This ritual is designed as a ceremony of healing and empowerment following miscarriage. It is based on a ritual that I had following my own miscarriages in 2010.

Anyone who has experienced miscarriage and who would like to acknowledge the impact on her life is welcome. So too are those who would like to act as witnesses and keepers of sacred space for those who grieve. The simple altar is laid outdoors on the ground near an already dug hole (for planting a tree). It contains a small bowl, a feather, a stone, and a candle. Each woman has brought something symbolic of her miscarriage experience(s) as well as any fears written on a piece of paper.

We gather in a circle and placing our hands on each other’s backs, we hum in unison to unify our energies and bring us into sacred space.

Opening reading: 

Stand Still

Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you

Are not lost. Where ever you are is called HERE.

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying, HERE.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows

Where you are. You must let it find you.

–David Wagoner, in Life Prayers

For the invocation I chose the following:

 The Powers of Life—An  Elemental Chant (by Sandra Pastorius in Sisters Singing edited by Carolyn Flynn)

We are alive!
as the sound of Her sacred name.
We are alive!
as the soil of Her blessed form.
We are alive!
as the dance of Her waters flow
We are alive!
as the breath of Her restless winds
We are alive!
as the spirit of the awesome One.
We are alive!

Then, I have a few words to share about the significance of the miscarriage event:

“She’s turning her life into something sacred: Each breath a new birth. Each moment, a new chance. She bows her head, gathers her dreams from a pure, deep stream and stretches her arms toward the sky.”

(from a journal cover)

I think it is crucial to remember that miscarriage is a birth event—sometimes a very, very, very early birth event, but reproductively speaking that is what it is! Since we don’t have a better vocabulary for pregnancy loss in our culture, socioculturally speaking we tend to class it as “something else,” but in most ways it isn’t. A soul (or fertilized egg) touches down in a woman’s womb. Her hormones and all other physiological systems are impacted and feel its presence. The embryo/fetus/baby stays for a time and when it leaves her body, the uterus must contract and the cervix must open and the woman’s body must open to allow its passage. Her body, mind, emotions, and spirit are all affected (to varying degrees). In this way, miscarriage and full-term birth simply exist on a continuum of possible birth outcomes and are all birth events whether the pregnancy lasts five weeks or forty-two weeks.

Each woman has a chance to share any personal thoughts on her own experiences.

Courage Ritual:

(burn the pre-written fears)

Witnessing friends gather in circle surrounding the healing women and say:

We accept that you have fears

You are not your fears

You are now cleansed and renewed

Go forth with courage at your side.

(based on writing by Jennifer Louden and reprinted with permission)

We then plant a tulip tree to represent the hope of new possibilities after loss. Under the tulip tree, we may each bury anything that we’d like to bury related to our miscarriage experience (personally, I chose to bury the embryo from my second miscarriage as well as the hospital bracelet from when I went to the ER due to blood loss after the miscarriage-birth of my third son). Burying the embryo and planting a memorial tulip tree during a mizuko-kuyo ceremony planned by my mom and friends.

As we bury our items, we will listen to the song that I listened to many times following my miscarriages—“I’m So Glad, Trouble Don’t Last Always” from the Rise Up curriculum’s CD.

After the items are buried the circle reads aloud:

The Return (Barbara Walker, Women’s Rituals)

Celebrate the heroine, honor the heroine

Wise woman, strong woman

Life-giving woman

Woman of spirit

Woman of power

Woman of peace

All hail, all honor

Blessed be

We will open the circle with the same invocation for which we cast it.

Join hands, sing Woman Am I.

Woman am I,

spirit am I,

I am the infinite

within my soul,

I have no beginning,

and I have no end,

all this I am.

For a recording of my women’s group singing this song for a virtual mother blessing ceremony, go here.

Affirmation poster made after miscarriage ritual.


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