Many religions include rituals that are performed after the birth of a child. In most cases, these celebrations take the form of naming and dedication ceremonies. Most in the United States are familiar with the concept of christening, a ceremony in which a baby is sprinkled with water and his or her name is publicly declared. Similarly, some Wiccans elect to commemorate the arrival of their baby in a blessing or naming ceremony. It's one possible way that new parents invite family and friends to welcome the little one into the world.
However, this commemoration typically differs from the rites of Abrahamic faiths in both purpose and philosophy. Most parents do not see this event as obligating their child to a particular spiritual path, as they believe infants cannot make such as choice. Additionally, since there is no concept of “original sin” among Wiccans, there is nothing from which to “cleanse” the baby.
Order of Ceremonies
Wiccan rituals are uniquely crafted and customized, according to the spiritual practices of the individual or family. Because of this, the order of ceremony to welcome a newborn can differ widely among Wiccans. Some suggestions can be found online, such as one version offered by interfaith minister Reverend M. Allyson Szabo on the Patchwork Interfaith Ministries website. Other books, which serve as ceremonial and ritual guides, may contain other possibilities.
The typical common elements in any celebration involve a declaration of the child’s name and some sort of blessing rite. It can be as simplistic or involved as the family in question desires. While some opt to give their child both a secular and spiritual name, others decide to simply stick with naming and blessing him or her. Along with this declaration and dedication, some parents may use this commemoration as an opportunity to reveal who they’ve chosen as godparents.
Sharing the Child****’s Name
One of the primary purposes of a baby blessing or naming celebration is to share the appellation that the parents have chosen for their little one. Much care is usually exercised in making their selections, with attention often paid to cultural and spiritual significance as well as translated meaning. The declaration of the baby’s name can happen at any point in the ceremony. Some prefer to reveal it before any blessing rites occur, while other do so after any elements, forces or deities have been invoked.
Blessing the Baby
Some baby blessings include an altar for clergy to conduct rituals as well as to hold any candles, incense or figurines representing gods and goddesses. Depending on the priest or priestess, implements such as a chalice of wine and a vial of virgin olive oil might be also incorporated. The liturgy might rely on invoking the elements—earth, air, fire and water—with physical objects to represent them on the altar, such as a bird’s feather for air or a small pile of salt for earth. Some also integrate a call to the quarters, which might be four cardinal directions, angels or deities, in the rites. Each quarter is associated with a meaning, symbol or power that is specifically named during the proceedings.
The arrival of a new baby is a joyful event that most families want to share. Some Wiccans opt for a baby blessing ceremony to bestow good wishes upon the child, inviting family and friends to join them. These celebrations, typically customized to reflect the unique beliefs of the parents, may involve a priest or priestess serving as a celebrant to conduct the rituals and bless the child. Finally, these rites do not serve to compel the child into a religious way of life, but rather to help him or her receive a good start in life as well as imbue the event with spiritual meaning.