Does researching an historical novel sound like a dull task? I have found it to be anything but tedious. Today’s gem is going to be about henna and women’s monthly cycles—amazing what you can find out. History is anything but stuffy and boring.
According to Leviticus 15, physical separation of women was required during menstruation (or abnormal uterine bleeding or the seven or fourteen days immediately postpartum) from physical contact or from certain activities in which they would normally engage at other times.
In all Semetic ancient cultures, menstrual blood was considered unclean. Women thought they were impure during their menstrual cycles because malevolent spirits prevented them from conceiving during that time. When they were free of blood, they prepared henna and went to the hammam (bath or steam bath) for purification. As the henna stain darkened, women felt most blessed, most protected, and were regarded as most desirable with her dark henna stains.
Modern-day medical analysis show that women’s highest percentage of conception coincided with the brightest henna stains–which Semitic women associated with great protection, great purity, and great desirability.
For more information on this fascinating topic,
Menstruation and Henna, Pollution and Purification”, by Catherine Cartwright-Jones