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Friday, January 15, 2010

Baby shower! Henna! Pictures!

Okay, that was entirely too much fun.

January 9 was my first baby-shower booking, and if repeated comments are any indication, a great time was had by all.  There were about 12 people there not counting the hostess's family (who took off for a few hours so the ladies could do their thing), and I did henna on every guest except for two, and then threw a couple more samples on hostess's family members when they came back.

Here is an assortment of almost all the designs – no, wait, this is actually an assortment of happy partiers (I won't repeat the introductions from the beginning of the event, where everyone took turns telling how they met the mommy-to-be, but trust me, these are partiers):

 baby shower_2121 And here is an assortment of henna:

baby shower_2119

For some of the ladies, the henna was already starting to flake – I blame the weather – but where it has come off you can see that the stain has already begun to develop.

Since we knew the mommy design would be the most time-consuming, and because there were gifts and games and socializing and all that good stuff, we saved her "belly blessing" for last.  The other guests gradually made their way home as the evening grew dark, making for a more intimate and very relaxed gathering:

Baby shower_2131

That's Erin, who is glowing partly because of the baby and partly because of the fireplace she's sitting next to.

If you look very closely, you can see faint pink lines radiating out from the center of the design; those are just lightly sketched on with washable marker, and were the only guides I used to lay out the blessing design.  I had originally thought to start in the center and work my way outward to make a large, intricate mandala or wheel, with repeating images all the way around – something more abstract, in any case – but my intuition kicked in and this was what we got instead:

baby shower_2136 You can see where the circle I started in the center became a womb/baby instead (whose name is still being kept a secret, which is why it only says "baby" in there with him), and the rest of the image grew up around him.

And here is some blessing symbolism, for the curious:

  • Rabbits represent a "speedy" and easy delivery
  • The tree is for family, roots, and new growth
  • The surrounding circle is filled with "sprouts" for new growth
  • Birds at the top, depending on your viewpoint,  can mean being watched over by Spirit, or "bluebirds of happiness" to help protect against postpartum depression
  • Finally, I left the circle open at the bottom, partly because I didn't want to ruin the design or Erin's jeans by smearing henna on them once she stood up, and partly because most traditional birth magic includes some kind of symbolic "opening", like unbraiding the woman's hair during labor, for example.  Things need to open in order to have an easy delivery.

We had so much fun, just relaxing and chatting while I worked.  With Erin laying back in her chair, the baby rolled and kicked quite a bit; the funny thing was that you could see the tree branches moving every time he did, so that it looked like there was a breeze blowing.  Talk about bringing a picture to life!

The shower and blessing were a terrific experience for me, and since this one was hopefully the first of many to come, I treasure the memories I have from it.  Best of luck to Erin, and special thanks to our hostess, Courtney, for opening her home to us all.



  1. Very cool! If I remember correctly, I think this actually is one of the traditional uses of henna artwork!

  2. In fact, you do remember correctly - henna has been used to bless weddings, births, and other life celebrations for millenia. Did you know artifacts indicating henna use have been found as far back as 4000 BC, in present-day Turkey?