Mehendi/Henna, Belly Casting & Blessingways

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Photography by Holly Malashewsky

Mehendi 

Henna is a small bush that produces a red dye that has been used cosmetically and medicinally for over 9,000 years. 

Many countries including Morocco and India have traditions of applying henna during the third trimester of pregnancy. Henna is believed to protect and bless the mother and child from any evil or malicious spirits that may be near during delivery. 

The red coloring of the dye and protective images used in the patterns guard against the evil eye and are thought to protect the pair during the child’s difficult passage into this world. Special attention is given to the hands and especially the feet as they are considered to be vulnerable connections to the world. 

As henna is being incorporated into modern culture, new traditions are being created. One new way women are using henna is to decorate the belly during pregnancy. This is a wonderful way to celebrate the body’s physical changes during pregnancy and embrace this special time. Baby showers, blessingways and henna parties can be combined into a day of pampering and relaxation for the new expectant mom, her friends, and family. 

Designs usually last 7-10 days, depending on body chemistry, how long the paste was allowed to soak in, and location on the body. Henna always lasts longest on the hands and feet, less on the torso where skin is thinner. It is very important to keep in mind that natural henna stains a reddish brown color and needs to soak on the skin 4-8 hours. The color will be a light orange at first and darken to a richer shade over 2 days. 

Belly Casting

Pregnancy is a very special, yet fleeting time in a woman’s life and memories fade quickly. A photo or video just can’t capture the exciting transformation a mom undergoes during pregnancy. 

A belly cast is usually made 4 to 6 weeks before a mom’s due date, but you can also make multiple belly casts to capture the miraculous changes in mom’s body throughout her pregnancy. 

Many couples enjoy making a belly cast together, providing dad with a unique bonding experience with both mom and baby. Other’s throw belly casting parties and invite their friends to help make or decorate their casts. It makes a unique baby shower gift, or just as a gift of support and excitement. 

Blessingways 

Blessingway ceremonies create a sacred and safe environment where a mother-to-be can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches birthing and mothering. Surrounded by the most important women in her life, she gains a sense of power, confidence, and support that will help her rise to motherhood. 

Birth is a key life passage for women. But modern culture has become preoccupied with the arrival of the baby-to-be and has lost touch with birth’s profound impact on the expectant mother. While our most common birth preparations focus on getting women physically ready to give birth, the blessingway ceremony helps a woman to prepare mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the work of birthing, and it opens her to her instinctive abilities, which will guide her as she steps into the role of mother. 

A blessingway can be held for any woman, whether she is a member of a specific religion, someone who follows her own spiritual path, or someone who claims no faith or spiritual practice at all. It is a ceremony that can be designed to provide a deeply meaningful and transformational experience for a mother-to-be while honoring her personal belief system. 

There are many ways that women can connect to the work of a blessingway. Some will make this connection through their sense of self, some through their relationship with God or Spirit, and some through their friendships with other women. 

Photography by Holly Malashewsky

Please contact me to help you plan your blessingway, cast your belly or decorate it with beautiful mehendi.