Dar La Bendición: invoke the divine blessing in favor of something or someone
Blessing the young is a ritual that has existed amongst our ancestors far before the colonization of our people by the catholic church. Many of our ancestors used song, smoke, herbs and water to call on Spirit, nature, and ancestors to cleanse and heal he/she who was being blessed. As well as to renew and refresh him/her inwardly to have the strength and courage to walk the way of the culture and the way of Spirit.
From as far back as I can remember, my bisabuela and abuela as well as the mamás in our familia always gave us la bendición, the act of invocating God, all of the angels, and our ancestors to bless and guide us on our journey whether we were traveling afar or off to work for the day. In essence, la bendición was a way to extol, honor and uplift us by dedicating our lives and journey to a divine purpose. It was their way of cloaking us in a protective mantle of unconditional love and spiritual strength. Rooted in their catholic faith, they always blessed us by making the sign of the cross with their index finger and thumb and touching the fingers sequentially to our forehead, lower chest and both shoulders. As more and more folks have begun to move away from religious dogma, this practice of elders blessing the young or mothers blessing their children has started to succumb to simple goodbyes and see you later. I’ve been guilty of it.
Today as we were dropping my daughter off at the airport, I was reminded by my husband to give la bendición to our daughter, a tradition also commonly practiced in the Philippines, where he is from, though slightly different. Mano Po is the act of requesting the blessings from an elder by taking the elder’s hand and letting the fingers (near the knuckles) touch the forehead.
And I did. Not because I subscribe to any religious dogma, but because la bendición is a way to honor my daughter as a sacred and divine being and continuation of our beautiful ancestors. It is the way each time my grandmother blessed me, she let me know that my existence was extraordinary, and that I was loved and venerated long before I had been born. You see, each time we are given la bendición, we are receiving all the love, the healing, the dreams, the wisdom, and the strength of Spirit and of all those who came before us. We are being sanctified by the faith and power of those who fought so we could continue to exist and thrive. It is perhaps one of the greatest acts of love.