Marking the moments of intense joy in our lives has been a tradition for most of human history. Welcoming ceremonies when our children are born, baptisms, baby showers, weddings, festivals, birthday parties, etc. are just a few of the celebrations that have stood the test of time.
For many families who are welcoming a new child into their world, the tradition of the blessingway is making a resurgence. Taking its roots in native American culture, a blessingway is a gathering of close family and friends, a day of celebrating a new mother, and the creation of a circle of loved ones who will help to bring a child into the world in peace and joy.
Blessingways can consist of simple rituals, or elaborate celebrations. The creation of a birth altar, hand sewn bunting, belly casting, dancing, breaking of bread are just a few ways that women will gather to celebrate this transformative time.
One of the most beautiful traditions of a blessingway is the adorning of the mother and her baby. Whether for beauty or protection, henna can be a powerful gift for any woman.
Henna holds varying meaning for many, from a symbol of something that we want to become, to something that we may need in the present moment, to an image that we hold sacred. Whatever the image, it is a beautiful part of any blessingway.
I first met Angela Nelson a few years back, and her work in our community creating a cooperative nature tribe has been featured in Rhythm of the Home in the past.
One of the things that I never knew until recently, was that Angela was also one of the most gifted artists I have ever met. Her drawings are inspiring, and her talent something most of us will only wish for, but her medium is only on the human body, and only in the form of henna.
Angela has a passion for pregnancy and birth, and she has a genuine connection to the blessingway that is powerful to witness. Her ability to sit a new mother down, bare skinned, and have her emerge with a unique and gorgeous creation upon her belly is transforming, both for the mother herself, and those around her.
In her words :
The Art of Mehndi belongs in a female domain and has a very spiritual connection between the woman who apply henna, to the bodies being designed, to the woman whom have faithfully passed down the intricate designs. ( The Art of Mehndi, By, Sumita Batra)
When I apply henna I feel such a sense of calm that I can get lost in the art. I have been doing henna on and off for many years for fun with friends but I feel it is time to start doing it for a business but keeping all the fun that goes with it.
When Bernadette and I began Rhythm of the Home in 2007, we had women like Angela in mind. Women who would take their individualized talents, passions, and dreams and bring them out into their communities, further expanding their power and potential. That is what real community is all about.
Of course, it is not only a blessingway and a new baby that henna is used for, but for so many other moments in our lives as well. From a child’s birthday, an exciting night out with friends, a wedding, a moment that we want to mark, a personal achievement, a needed reminder.
While I was interviewing Angela, another woman remarked that “henna for her held a symbol of something yet to come, something that she was working towards”. It was a reminder of what she needed in the coming moments ahead, and a way for her to not only mark the arrival of that time, but also to celebrate and open to it fully.
We are only afforded the sacred moments in our lives once, and celebrating them is of the utmost importance. Giving them meaning and a sense of sacredness is imperative to allowing them to be transformative. Something as small as applying henna can seem insignificant, but sharing it with the intention for honoring the moment, it can be a beautiful reminder of what this life is all about.
Heather Fontenot, co-editor and publisher of Rhythm of The Home, lives with her family on the Front Range of Northern Colorado. As a writer, doula, and yoga teacher, Heather has a passion for natural and creative living, and spends as much of her time outdoors as possible. She loves to knit, sew, garden, photograph, read and cook for her three sweet little ones. She writes the blog Shivaya Naturals, where she chronicles her life as a mother, artist, and gluten-free baker. Heather’s first book, Naturally Fun Parties for Kids was released in March of 2012. She is currently hard at work on her second book for Rhythm of the Home.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.