Henna Magic for New Beginnings

As many of you know I have been keeping different aspects of myself separate for a while. I am now working on moving many of my websites to blogs and now run a professional portfolio of my work at www.AnnwynAvalon.com. When I originally named my business Magic Mehndi I always had the intent of focusing on henna as a magical tool. I have always been fascinated with symbology and line art and how that translates into magic.

Lets start with a little background on me. I had my first encounter with henna at a cultural fair when I was 12. The ladies that were slinging henna that day places a squiggle blob on my hand and I was hooked! It wasn't until my late teens that I was introduced to the art of Mehndi. (Mehndi is the name for the art work produced by henna paste) I tinkered with pre-made kits that I found at the local import shop but was never satisfied with the results. Several years later I found myself living in Japan. I was really focused on dance then but managed to find a teacher close to my dance studio! I took several classes from her learning how to mix paste, sift, and create basic lines and motifs. I moved back to the states and lived in North Carolina for 3 years. During this time I got my feet wet as a professional henna artist, offering henna out of a local Yoga studio and with several private clients. When I arrived in Arizona 4 years ago I began to henna at festivals right away. It wasn't too long I was working yearly gigs at the library, SCA events and regular corporate events. Now living in Oregon I find myself very conscious of my art, what I am hennaing and on who and I look forward to making magic with Mehndi!

The beautiful back piece above is a memorial piece for this client. Her mother has just passed away and she wanted to remember her at this event. She requested water and fuchsia which reminded her of her mother. To the left is a really common design that will end up having its own blog. The Triquetra, pentagram, triskele, and goddess symbols are often requested to be incorporated into a design. Many times because it has significant meaning to the person. Finally below is a design that is influences by Moroccan henna designs. Adding a few personal elements such as the crescent moons. Henna and tattoo art is used widely in Morocco especially by the Berber women, they henna or tattoo protection symbols around their eyes, nose, mouth and ears to keep evil spirits from possessing them. They also use henna to protect from the curse of the evil eye.

For the start of 2016 I have decided to create a sigil for new beginnings. I used the Theban alphabet with some creative flow to create a power sigil. After I had charged and activated it, I decided that I really wanted to put it into a henna design. 2015 was a rough year, full of transitions and death like energy. I wanted to counteract the death of last year with a bright flaming design! I wanted there to be warmth and sunshine, new beginnings and growth expressed in a design and to start the year of right! So I thought that a Sun would perfectly represent that. I created the sun motif around the new beginnings sigil surrounding it with the power of the sun and flame. I chose to add spirals to symbolize the ever turning spiral nature, of always going back to the beginning and deepening our practice. Being a child of the Water I also wanted to represent my watery nature and the spiral shape of the nautilus. When the design was finished I knew there was one element missing, the flickering flames of the sun. So I chose to shade in a rough manner behind the sun like petals of the blooming sigil to represent the flames flickering off the sun and to ignite the sigil! This is also a perfect motif to celebrate the coming of spring and the Feast of Brigid in February.

Waking Persephone

Day 1
I arrived at Waking Persephone late, I was so excited to get there but the traffic was against me the whole way. There were 2 major accidents that put me about 30 min behind. I hate when students arrive at my class really late and I hated it even more that "I" am the student that arrived not just late but rudely late. Regardless the ladies at the front were very kind and encouraged me to sneak in to class late. I was relieved and hoped it was large enough class to sneak into, no such luck.

The Witches Cone of Power with Anaar
It was a small class and as soon as I opened the door I was on the spot. I felt like such a jerk for arriving so late but I was so grateful that Anaar was so welcoming despite my rudeness. Unfortunately I missed the first half of the class, but being well educated in Ritual and Energy Work I was able to jump right in. We raised a cone of power or what I decided was very much like circle casting in a belly dance way! Though we were focusing on an actual raising of energy. We grapevined in a circle around and around using different tones and vocals to raise the cone. We were focusing on bringing Rain, Rain to the parched lands of California. Just relocating from Arizona I was able to really tap into that parched earth energy and focus on bring rain. One thing that was particularly interesting was where the energy was focused, raised and sent. Anaar suggested that we send the energy out with through the genitals, and lymph nodes. Now this was a bit new! While I had raised and sent out energy from my root (yoni) before I had not focused on sending energy out from the lymph nodes. Anaar’s craft background comes from that of the Anderson Feri Tradition. While I am not an initiate, it seems as if many of my friends and people that I really admire are. I am vaguely acquainted with the Tradition and practices and of course I own Victor Andersons book of poems "Thorns of the Blood Rose" So I was very happy to take this class and bring some of these techniques into my own practice.

Sacred Dance with Artemis Mourat
It was such a joy to see Artie again! It has been far too long. I haven’t been to visit her in Baltimore in almost 4 years. As class was starting I found myself longing for the good old days of living in North Carolina and the long drives to Baltimore to see her and take the Turkish Intensive and Sacred Dance classes and even for the days before Japan sitting on Arties studio floor telling her how much I loved this dance and her listening to me with such love and respect. I remembered the time that we went to the Umbanda ritual and how powerful that was for me and how I still follow the advice of the medium that I saw that day. Artie has been, probably without her knowledge the most important teachers in my dance career. She is everything that I wanted to be, a warm loving person welcoming everyone to the dance community but also a powerhouse on the dance floor.
As I walked in I flagged Artie down for a hug, it was wonderful to just give her a hug and wait for class to begin. While I have taken this class before, it has been 5 years and I am a MUCH different person than I was then. I took notes like it was the first time I was in her class. The lecture was wonderful, she spoke of many different types of sacred dance and different cultures and religions groups that practice it.

The workshop was 2 parts the first was the lecture and the second was an actual ritual dance. It was eclectic in nature and incredibly powerful. I have been going through some of the worst emotional issues I have ever had to deal with the past few months. Things in my life have just been more than I can bear. There are many times I have checked out and I have even started working with a therapist to get past it all. However there is something to be said about the power of sacred dance and a group of women who actually want to see you succeed. There was homework for this class and I worked on it during the long drive up to Seattle. I knew I needed this class, and I knew I needed the ritual even more. I even did all my homework before class and prepared a list of things I needed to manifest in my life folded up into a little charm. The things I wanted and needed to banish were easy and those were written on a flash paper and went out of my life in a flash and pop!

The dance ritual began and we stood in a circle and we copied Arties motions as a group and later formed into a spiral dance and then a snake dance. We weaved through the gates of death, I thought that she chosen 2 of the girls based on the fact they were both wearing shirts that were ribcage and skeletons. Later I we found out it was a happy accident. They raised their hands and we went under them and as I went under seeing these white bones standing out against black cloth and dimmed lights it was as if I was descending to the underworld through the gates of death into Persephone’s domain. We spiraled and snaked through the room even more until the music changed. We charged and danced around the central flame sometimes leaping over it, and sometimes cleansing our yoni and root with the heat of the flame. Then we focused on the purge, we purged, we stomped, we screamed, and we grunted. Tears flowed down my cheeks but no sobs. The trials of the past 2 months and the spring were brought to the forefront and I surrendered them to Persephone, I called her name, whispered love and devotion and pleaded for her help and understanding. I charged my flash paper with specific names, thoughts and emotions and danced, blew my breath and later lit the flash paper and for the final time banished this from my life. We danced some more and blessed what we wanted to manifest. We danced more through the songs, raising energy, purging energy and focusing on change. The final song came and we all laid down, the feelings, purge, energy and rush of emotions caught up with me laying there in the dark. The tears fell down my cheeks, and then the sobs began, I had my cardigan close and so I threw it over my face and suffocated my sobs so not to disturb others. However this was slightly silly as there wasn’t very many dry eyes in the room and my sobs were not the loudest. I was so thankful for the sobs from behind me, I don’t know who they were from but I was so thankful that someone else was just as leaky and sobby as I was. We really worked for change in that room and many of us got what we needed. It is my hope that the work I did today will continue to manifest in my life and the lives of those that need it. I know for the first time in a long time my mind is clear, I am feeling like my heart is lighter with less burden and less worry.
After class I grabbed a new shirt and found a shell treasure over at Anaar’s table. There was also a snake necklace and mink bone earrings that I am drooling over and really wish that I could get! I also got to see the lovely Suzanne and spend some time with Deja who I have missed so much since I left Arizona. It was wonderful to see her with her beautiful mermaid hair and lovely energy.

My new shirt and shell!

Day 2 

Day 2 was a shorter day as I ended my class’s right about noon. I took Ritual E'motion with Anaar and Evoke Invoke with Tempest. Both classes were more about deliberate movement than history or spirituality. I really enjoyed these classes!

Ritual E'motion with Anaar 
Anaar spoke of setting the state with visualization to match your performance theme. So if your piece is about spiders visually landscape the stage with webs and then act as if you are moving through them. This was quite profound for me because I tend to fear the stage and feel as if I am often dancing in a giant black box. I really loved this idea and will be using visualization for stage setting in the future. We worked through several exercises in this class focusing on different exits and entrances through different visual landscapes. We then transformed ordinary pocket items, a cup, pen, crumpled paper into magical props and danced with them as well.

Evoke and Invoke with Tempest
Evoke and Invoke with Tempest was also wonderful. It was great to dance next to my friend and also amazing teacher Inanna la Fae in this workshop. Tempest was a delight to study with. Her teaching style and imagery of "wall kittens, sky bunnies, and floor ferrets" will be stuck in my head for years to come and I will always remember to pet my wall kittens when dancing! Tempest defined Evoke as "Working with elementals and similar types of energies" I noted this was like "social spirit work" she defined Invoke as "to pull into yourself, or being ridden" I made notes that this was the same as ritual possession, or hedge riding. We then worked on expressing the elements through our bodies expressing water in our hips, fire with shimmies, air with the heart and earth with the feet. She focused on foot work for quite a while. This was not a new concept to me, but it was a great reminder to pay attention to my feet, the way they are placed and how they feel on the ground. It is strange how something so simple could be profound, but it was and for that I am grateful. 

Waking Persephone was a weekend festival, as it was my first time attending and I was low on funds and energy I only selected 4 classes to take. I missed the community round table, the after party and the show, but overall it was a wonderful experience and next year I will be getting the whole pomegranate!