Updated: Mar 18
Photo courtesy of Becky Pink.
One of the more unusual activities offered on the Chilled Mama Weekend Retreat is a ‘Closing the bones’ ceremony.
Closing the bones is based on a Central and South American postnatal tradition of being wrapped in scarves.
The aim is to bring you back to you. To integrate the mum and the woman; the child and the adult; the past and the present. It is a powerful experience whether you have grown a baby in your body or not.
It feels like being reborn.
“The closing the bones was so, so stunning. I’m so thankful to have received this.”
The idea is that in order to conceive and grow a baby you need to open your body. To give birth you need to open your body, one way or another. And to care for that baby you open up your heart and your whole life.
Closing the bones brings you back to you. You are wrapped tightly in scarves, one around your head, one around your arms and chest, one around your hips, one around your legs and one around your feet. After awhile you are unwrapped with as much care and ceremony as you were wrapped, and are left under a blanket to rest.
"Physically it made my body feel how it used to - strong, stable joints. Made me appreciate what pregnancy has done to my body!"
The process of being wrapped and then unwrapped by other women is as important as the time you spend lying wrapped up. To receive care, instead of being the person to give it is moving.
Traditionally this is done for a woman, in the weeks or months after having a baby, but it can be done many years later too. I have trained with Ecuadorian midwife Dr Rocio Alarcon, and traditional birth keeper Nicola Goodall, to do this, including abdominal massage, which we don’t do on the retreat.
On the retreat we do it as a group ceremony, which is incredibly powerful. Each woman takes turns to be wrapped and to wrap the other women. In this way we all silently pay witness to each other’s unspoken journey to and through motherhood.
“The closing the bones ceremony was such a unique, emotional and fantastic experience.”
It is a powerful, spiritual experience. It has been my privilege to be there when grandmothers have wrapped their daughters, and sisters or best friends wrap each other. Such a special moments.
"I found it absolutely amazing and very moving too. I loved being wrapped up and feeling safe but even more so when the lovely mummies round me rested their hands on me as the beautiful poem was read it was very emotional."
This is obviously not suitable if you are pregnant. Like all the activities on the weekend retreat, it is optional. You are also welcome to watch the introduction and then decide whether to stay or not.
Closing the bones is offered on the retreat on the Sunday morning, after the forest bathing, labyrinth and fire ceremony, to prepare you to return back to your everyday life. To consolidate the experience.
The weekend retreat is planned as a journey, a journey to yourself, with yourself. Each activity is carefully selected and scheduled to take you on the next step in the Chilled Mama Retreat Process to unwind, centre yourself in the present, have time to think, be open to let go and to receive, and leave happier, more relaxed, and more you.