Have you got a new baby in your family that you want to be in a “smoking ceremony”?
Smoking ceremony for babies is very important for strengthening the mother and baby’s spirit and well being. It helps connect the baby to mother and grandmothers, to stay strong in culture, and is particularly important now most babies are born in hospital far away from family and country.
Waltja Directors are concerned that the knowledge about smoking ceremonies and related practices for keeping mothers and babies strong is being lost in some communities, because the ceremonies and practices are not taking place and senior women who have this knowledge have passed away. Concern about this has increased with the risk of spread of COVID. Waltja members in some communities have revived and maintained their baby smoking ceremonies and have asked Waltja to help them record this knowledge for future generations.
Enid Gallagher from Yuendumu helped Waltja to get funding from CAGES Foundation to help with these ceremonies.
“Baby Smoking has been a tradition for a long time that keeps mothers and babies strong. Elders can teach young mothers the procedure of smoking babies. It is important to keep smoking babies because as the process is happening other woman and young mothers are also learning, so they can teach and encourage women in the future.
It doesn’t happen in one language group, it happens in all language groups, because it’s been happening before, for many generations. At Waltja we want to help others as well with this baby smoking.”
Waltja will help to document the ceremony if you want to, so that knowledge is passed down to the next generation. Waltja can come out for the ceremony with your family, and take photos or make a small video. We can help with fuel and maybe transport. The photos and videos will be private just for your family unless you want to share them with other women. If women in your community want to learn how to smoke babies, we can help you to share the photos and video with them, to help them learn and help them to remember. If you want photos and video of a baby and mother smoking ceremony talk to Waltja. We’ll need a few weeks of notice to make a plan with you before we come out to your community.
Earlier this year, Waltja workers went to Yuendumu to document a baby smoking ceremony with Mickaela Lankin’s family. With help from PAW Media, we made a video and took photos, telling the story of which plants to use and how to do the smoking. We’ve also helped with baby smoking in Titjikala and Papunya. Margaret Campbell did a baby smoking ceremony in Titjikala teaching younger women about this,
Put the babies into the smoke. This helps them to grow up strong, calm and healthy. When you smoke them they get really gentle and relaxed not crying. Mums need to be smoked too, to help have lots of milk for babies.