Sunday, May 06, 2012

My daughter's child . . .

There's something mysterious, fearful, and lovely about a new baby in the nine months before he or she is born. The reality is that my dear daughter's tummy has grown over the last eight months. Now there's just about four weeks left, and yesterday, in the waxing of the full moon, her doula painted that tummy with henna in a very old ritual of blessing this new life.

I've seen henna body paintings before -- at hippie fairs, in a Turkish bath, but I'd never thought about how old the tradition is (since the late Bronze age! -- or how classic the design that Rachel selected.

Rachel, the Lotus, and the little one
The image itself of a lotus flower seems to suggest the purity and beauty of the new life that will emerge. In Egyptian culture, the blue lotus in ancient art suggests the power of rebirth. In Buddhist culture, the lotus symbolizes purity, and just as the lotus flower itself rises from the water each morning, the reaching up of spiritual enlightenment. In Hinduism, the gods sit upon an opened lotus, source of all good things that somehow come unspoiled from the murk below. Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions also use henna to mark protective symbols on hands and feet for transformative events, most popularly weddings.

A beautiful art form, intimate and spiritual, welcomes this new life.

Just for fun, read more about henna at Wiki or about Lotus Flower meanings.

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