I was happy to be able to attend this year's henna gathering in Connecticut and I thoroughly enjoyed it. During the day, we attended classes teaching all sorts of fun stuff from design, technique and history. After hours you can find the artists sharing henna with each other, which is a really wonderful way for everyone to get to know each other and learn from each other. I did not get to participate as much I would have in this aspect of the gathering because I had my kids with me, but I found a few spaces in between to take some photos these talented creative henna'ing hands of the henna gathering. Thank you to all of the artists for sharing :) I am looking forward to watching how the new knowledge I have unfolds in my henna work.
Meet Jenna. Jenna has been a gardener at Coral Bay Organic Gardens in St. John for the last two years, where she has fallen in love with plants. Gardening is a creative art, and like other arts, can be done in countless ways. It is a clear give and take. You feed the plants nutrition and love, and they grow to give love and nutrition back. The more you give, the more you receive. There is much wisdom to be learned from plants. I spent a summer as a plant lady around Boston and was fascinated with the insights about life that would reveal themselves naturally to me throughout my days. Working with plants is grounding, fulfilling, peaceful, and inspiring work. It is powerful to get to know a place by digging your hands in its earth, and empowering to eat the food you grow. I believe one of the best things we can do on earth at this point in time is to figure out ways to heal the dirt, and live in balance with nature, through the practice of growing organic food in a sustainable way.
Coral Bay Organic Gardens are a real gem of St. John. They have been growing food there for 20 years, and also sell supplies to get your own garden growing. They were started by the husband and wife team of Hugo and Josephine, who specialize in growing greens, which are a food high in nutrient density, and can add a good dose of iron, magnesium, and calcium to your diet. My personal favorites of their crops are the (best I've ever had) arugula and the delightful sunflower sprouts. They also grow fruits and vegetables, as well as a variety of fresh herbs for your cooking pleasure. You can purchase them at the garden center in coral bay and at starfish market in Cruz bay, or enjoy them at one of many restaurants around the island.
We decided to do a design based off an embroidered panel by the Shibipo people in the Peruvian Amazon. They are a culture who has a rich tradition in plant medicines and are carriers of a song pattern tradition. Life is a song and everything can be sung. They weave and paint their healing songs into cloths. The cloth then carries that healing energy to those who look at it. Jenna and I bonded over our love for Peru, which is what inspired this choice in henna designs for her palm. It was the first time I have ever drawn one of their patterns. Every time I try a different style, it is like learning a new rhythm and can take a few times to learn its flow, but then as I internalize the pattern, it flows more naturally. I like this idea that everything has a pattern, whether it is sung or painted, or lived, or felt. To hear one of their songs, check out this video.
I once took a plant spirit medicine class, which introduced me to the idea that each plant has a spirit and that it is the spirit of the plant that heals us. Through meditations, one can connect directly with the spirit of the plant, who will teach you how it can heal you (rather than reading it from a book or learning it on an intellectual level). The healing power of plants is something we may take for granted in our modern world, but has existed all over the world in endless ways. I have been interested in this idea in regards to the henna plant and is another reason I love henna! It has long been regarded as containing Baraka (divine blessings) in Morocco, which carries joy and luck into the lives of people to whom it is applied. The experience of being henna'd is wonderfully relaxing, which allows people to open up, that is the first step in the healing process. It is also inspiring, which instigates positive action in our lives! I will be interested to learn more about the healing powers of henna as I grow with this plant and its traditions.
Meet holly. Holly's creative hands are healing hands. I am inspired by all of the creative ways to heal. I think healing is an amazing and high form of art. Healing energy is in abundance all around us all the time and healers are conduits of this energy. There are many different ways to be a channel; many different modalities of healing. I look forward to exploring some of the ways in this creative hand project over the course of this year.
When Holly discovered energy healing along her own journey in wellness, it changed her life and has inspired her to want to share it with others. She spent four years studying at the Barbara Brennan school of healing, where she learned to heal herself, and in the process, became a healer. Barbara Brennan was a NASA physicist who also has the ability to see people's energy bodies, which allowed her to develop her technique of healing. She uses a combination of hands-on healing techniques, body-oriented psychotherapy, high sense perception, channeling, creative arts and meditation, to aid in the healing of her clients.
Existing alongside the physical body are the emotional, the spiritual, and the energy bodies. There are seven major chakras (spinning energy centers) in the body whose job it is to distribute the energy and keep it flowing. A healthy person is one whose energy flows throughout the body unimpeded! When the flow becomes blocked, it manifests as dis-ease. We are born clear, with an unimpeded flow, but over time, when we get hurt or experience intense fear, we develop defense mechanisms to cope, which create blocks in our energy field. Most of the time this hurt is passed on over generations. Our energy blocks get in the way of living our lives as our true self, allowing our core essence to shine.
The unfolding movement of human consciousness and its path of healing inspires me on a personal and group level. We have the ability to heal ourselves, change the way we live our lives, and reprogram our cellular make up, changing the patterns in our DNA, which we pass on to our children. By healing ourselves, we can literally change history! As a mom of two small children, I think about this a lot. I am conscious enough to be aware of the patterns which I am passing on unconsciously (because I am tired and don't know another way), and on the other aware that my children are blank slates and full of potential and deserving of the best I can give them, but it takes a lot of work to find a new way. That is where having the help of a trained healer can be really helpful.
I had the pleasure of receiving a session from Holly in Cruz Bay last week. We talked for about a half hour about my history and an issue that has been coming up for me lately and I wanted to work on. Then i lay, fully clothed, on the healing table while Holly balanced my chakras and charged my energy body by placing her hands over my body, starting at the feet and working her way up to my head. It was a wonderfully relaxing experience, and when I got off the table, I felt a sense of peace. We sat back down and she gave me a few more insights regarding my issue and also some homework to help further my progress. I felt something shifting in my perception of my issue and am looking forward to doing more sessions with her in the future.
Holly sees people in Cruz Bay. Check out her website Wave Healing here to contact her and book a session. She offers discounts for locals. To learn more about this school of healing, check out this insightful interview with Barbara Brennan.
For Holly's henna design on her palms, I used a Moroccan Fessi style heart in the center of her palms to represent the loving healing energy that flows through the palms of her hands. I worked off a photo from Henna Lounge, but have also enjoyed the abundant resource of THE book on Moroccan henna called "Moor: A Henna Atlas of Morroco" by Lisa "Kenzi" Butterworth and Nic Tharpa Cartier. I love the idea of our hands being an extension of our hearts and the idea of creating with love, which inspired this design.
Meet Lauren. Lauren plays the guitar. She also has an ama(aaa)zing voice. She has been singing since she was a little girl in church, and took up the guitar when she started playing solo gigs around St. John in 2005. Her husband, Bo, is also a great musician. Together they make a beautiful team both in music and in life. They are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and they also have an adorable little girl who can be seen on the mic from time to time. Their music is infused with this love and when you are in its presence, it seeps into your being and warms your soul.
I henna'd up Lauren's hands with a design representing the sound waves she creates with her fingers. I modeled them after Japanese styled ocean waves and music staff lines with some clefs in there. We took some photos with my phone at Maho beach and a couple days later at my house with an audience of adorable little people.&nbsp;
You can hear Lauren's beautiful music around St. John. Check out Lauren and Bo's website to hear samples of their music and find out where you can catch them playing next. They can also be booked for events. Their heartwarming vibes are a perfect mood setting for a wedding. Currently on Thursdays, you can find me henna'ing to the music of Lauren and Bo at Skinny Legs in Coral Bay from 5:30-7:30pm. I will be there through Easter, with the exception of two weeks when I will be heading to a henna conference in New England (yay!) The Thursdays I will be there this season are: March 6, 13, and 20. and April 10, 17, and 24th. Come on down for some henna infused with the sounds of Lauren and BO! They will be there every Thursday from 6-9 through the season.
The inspiration for this henna project is creativity, and this includes the wonderful world of healing arts. There is no shortage of creative ways that people can heal each other, and I look forward to exploring some of these ways throughout this year of henna'ing.
Meet Vicki. She is my first pair of healing hands I have Henna'd for this project. She is a massage therapist at Caneel Bay here in St. John, who specializes in structural integration, also known As Rolfing. This technique optimizes the body's relationship to gravity by working with the body's connective tissue to release bound muscles.
I had a wonderful time getting to know Vicki and hearing her story while I doodled up her hands with a gulf style henna design. It was her first time getting henna, and she said that it was a tribute to her hands, that have been working hard all of these years.
Vicki has been massaging people as long as she can remember. This path was a clear calling that became her life's work. She is happy and grateful that her work is an offering and also a service to others. It is always inspiring to meet people who are doing what they love!
The art of henna is a healing art in its own playful subtle way, and I love it for that. The henna plant is considered to carry divine blessings of joy and luck in its essence (with or without a beautiful design), that soaks into your life through your skin. The artist, like a healer, also is a channel of energy. Before I start henna'ing someone, I like to take a moment to breathe and center and connect to a higher force to bring into their life a little bit of positive energy through their henna experience.
While writing this, I found myself going on many a thought adventure regarding the relationship and interchangeability of healing and art, and decided I could spend a lot of time writing about that, but what it all boils down to is LIFE IS ART! It is how we live our lives and what kind of energy we want to channel that underlies all forms of creativity and healing in the world. We can all be healers and we can all be artists if we so choose!!!
"There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground" (rumi)
My friend Chris came to visit last week and I Henna'd some magic slippers on her feet. Slippers are a common theme in bridal henna designs of India and Morocco and they are especially fun to henna on barefoot beach feet. Because this project is inspired by creativity, I decided to henna Chris's feet. She is a traveling girl and has made a creative lifestyle out of her love of traveling for many years, so I thought it would be fun to henna some traveling shoes for her. The design is based on Moroccan Fessi style henna and then I personalized them by adding symbols from Chris's earth walk within the design.
Traveling is a way to leave our routine behind, open ourselves to new possibilities, to feel free, and to discover ourselves. There is always an outward journey and an inward journey. Symbols are relative to each of our personal beliefs, cultures and experiences, and are common in henna as well. People paint symbols onto the body to bring the energy of symbols into their lives. It was interesting to hear which symbols Chris chose to represent her path through life thus far.
The om symbol stands for the first sound of the universe, and represents music for Chris, which is one of her passions that she carries with her everywhere she goes. The symbol comes from India, where Chris and I both had our first big independent backpacking trip together after we graduated from college. The elephant represents wildlife and her time Kenya, studying at a school for wildlife while in college, where giraffes could be seen walking by in the distance during class. The guitar represents Chris's instrument of choice, and her time living in Seville, Spain, the birthplace of flamenco, where she learned to speak Spanish.
Mountains are Chris's favorite landscape. She loves the simplicity of hiking up them and being rewarded with views at the top. Chris and I hiked around the Annapurna circuit in Nepal for 3 weeks, which still maintains a top spot as one of coolest things I've ever done. The photo to the left is from that adventure. Chris is on the left, our friend, and travelling companion Christin in the middle, and I on the right. The Annapurna ciruit is one of the most walked paths in the world, and is shared by pilgrims, locals and tourists. Our feet carried us all the way through villages starting in tropical climate zones up into snowy landscapes and over the highest pass in the world. They braved some storms including infected ankles and extra toes, but ultimately carried us all the way home.
Chris spent years leading camping tours across North America, where she guided people on countless hikes in America's beautiful nature preserves. In this job, she met the love of her life, Pete, which was a pivotal moment (all paths lead to now). During their time off from leading tours, they traveled far and wide. They became engaged in the mountains of Guatemala and hiked through the mountains of Patagonia in Argentina on their honeymoon, and are also connected through their love of mountains.
There are four Mayan glyphs that represent herself, husband, and their two little girls. They feel connected to the Mayan symbols because they not only traveled extensively through Mayan country while they were single, but also got engaged in Guatemala and then returned to Mayan county of Mexico to get married. The tree represents Chris's passion for plants, a love that kept returning to her through her travels. Now, Chris is studying horticulture while raising her children in Brooklyn, but still gets out for some traveling on road trips and coming to the Caribbean to kick back and escape the winter of New York. The St. John petroglyph represents the here and now. This is the third time chris has visited me here. I love that she is my traveling friend, a soul sister, and a friend who visits.
The earth represents, of course, our magnificent planet. Chris loves the earth's variety of wild landscapes. and the feet represent her own two feet, which she loves that can carry her anywhere.
I feel extremely thankful and blessed that I was able to travel as much as I have, and can thank some friends, including Chris for inspiring me to get out and go. When Chris told me that she was planning on going to India after graduation, a bell went off and I asked if I could join. That trip changed my life and inspired me to keep traveling and make art. Oftentimes, when I am henna'ing up a high school or college girl, i offer some inspiration to Take some time to travel after studying. A lot of people don't realize how easy it is. You just save your pennies, buy a ticket (and a lonely planet guidebook) and go! As Chris pointed out, sometimes, it is more expensive to stay home.
I have to say that I really loved henna'ing these personalized slippers for Chris and would love to do more of this. I am organizing a variety of symbols from around the planet for people to choose from if they ever want a pair of medicine shoes to be Henna'd on their feet, to represent where they have been on their path and what energies they want to carry into the future. look out for that on my website in the future!
One note on the henna due to babies waking in the night, our henna actually took 3 nights to complete! if you notice in some of the photos, one foot is a darker stain than the other, it is because they were henna'd on different nights. May it serve as an example of how a henna stain takes time to darken. While the darker foot is 36 hours after application, the other is 12 hours after application.
Monika has an amazing energy. It is grounding and inspiring and a joy to be around. The story of her life is rich and full of adventures around the planet, and yet she lives whole-heartedly in the present moment. Originally from Poland, her family emigrated to Brazil when she was 7, where she was introduced to the vibrant colors of the tropics. They moved around a lot, but she felt most at home in the islands south of Rio, where they built a house surrounded by nature. After she retired from a career in journalism to be more present in the lives of her children, she started painting pillows, hammocks, and panels to decorate island homes. Her business was taking off in Brazil, but crime was also on the rise, which led to a tough decision to move to the United States, where her children could grow up in a safer environment. Painting went on the back burner as she worked in real estate while living there.
After her little birds left the nest, she and her husband Jorge, who was off surfing when I visited (and just have to add was once a race car driver), moved to St. John, where they now call home. Here, they reconnected with island life and Monika started painting on fabric again. When I came to photograph her creating with her Henna'd hands, she was working on a child's sarong and a fish pillow. She uses soft, feel-good fabric for her sarongs and carefully mixes her paints so they will soak in to the fabric, rather than sit on top, which keeps the fabric soft and flowing. Her work can be found at the Full Moon Cafe in Cocolobo shopping area in Coral bay
The henna design I painted on Monika is from Amelia Dregeiwicz's dream book. I am picking every week a different design aesthetic to henna. This week I chose Amelia because she and Monika are both from Poland :) I love Amelia's style, so I was happy to try out one of her designs from her new design book, which you can purchase by messaging her on Facebook. My henna paste was made from the organic Rajasthani crop of 2013 I purchased from henna lounge. In mixing This batch, I used molasses instead of sugar for the first time, which i really enjoyed, but could have done with a bit less (1 tsp/100 g rather than 2 tsp). These photos were taken 36 hours after application.
Monika and Jorge also built an adorable rental home called "Sea Cottage" in a guava berry grove on top of Bordeaux mountain, that is fashioned with Monika's beautiful hand painted decor and carries the amazing vibration of Monika and Jorge. Check out their page on villa rental by owner and read some of the inspiring reviews from happy guests here.
Clare worked as a teacher for many years and has a fun creative soul. She is also an amazing mom and one of my role models (and a henna model), with her patient, positive, and loving attitude. She has an encouraging and firm tone of voice and way of giving directions that kids respond to. Her son, Audie, is one of my little Brian's best buddies. When they were little tiny bundles and could barely move their necks, they laid on the bed next to each other and wiggled and squealed in excitement. It is always a treat to get together with them. The other morning, we went around for a craft morning play date. Clare set the boys up with some paint and stamps to make some creations and off they went.
Being a mom is one of the most creative jobs I have ever had. It is important to stay inspired with activities to teach the kids, recipes to keep everyone fed (because they want to eat EVERY day ;), and most importantly, creative ways to react/disciplin. I find inspiration is KEY and it is connecting with other moms and sharing ideas that keeps that inspiration flowing.
My favorite part of this craft day, and most others like it, was when the kids are full of painting and run off to play, and the moms carry on crafting, drinking tea, eating snacks, and catching up on life.
As I said in my last post, i learned about photoshop actions in my photography class this past week, and have been playing around with a few of them. My favorite one so far, because I am a big fan of vivid colors, is one replicating a toy camera. I applied this action to these photos because the colors of the day were calling for it. Because the action makes the colors pop, it changes the true color of the henna stain as well. For photos that represent the color of the stain accurately, check out the photos in my gallery page.
The style of the henna design is from the Persian gulf. My compliments go out to the unknown artist that created this design from which I copied. The website was in Arabic, and then didn't seem to be running when my friend offered to translate. I do love the whimsy of the bold flowers and negative space for tendrils to dance in. I look forward to doing more gulf-style henna in the future. These photos were taken 36 hours after application.
Happy New Year. This is the first entry of my 2014 Henna'd Hands project. I am very excited to start this :) The idea was born a few months ago, when I was working on building a portfolio for my new henna website. I started with some models and took photos on the beach of their hands. A couple models were yogi's, and I had been recently inspired by the work of Robert Sturman, a yoga photographer, so I took some photos of the girls doing yoga with their henna on. That inspiration next moved on to art when I henna'd the hands of a potter, Jill Hale, who I then took photos of down at Maho Bay Clayworks at Pickles, while she was making some pots . I loved watching her henna'd hands in their creative element and it inspired me to want to do more of this sort of thing.
For Christmas this year, I was gifted with an introductory DSLR camera, and a photography workshop online by my amazing parents. I have never taken photography before, but have always appreciated it and "became a photographer" when my children were born a few years ago. I still don't know what I am doing, so I just take a LOT of photos and hope for the best. My plan is to practice my henna skills and photography skills over the course of 2014 through this project. i make art to share, so please join with me as i ride the wave of learning and meet a lot of creative, inspiring people along the way :)
So, let's get started!
Meet Maya Craig.
After the sun goes down and her husband returns from work, she sneaks out of her mountainside house in the trees to the Cocolobo shopping area in Coral Bay, where she can be found making her Caribbean hook bracelets. Maya rents the studio of Sandi Stein, which is accessed from the parking lot on the side of the complex. I have never been into a jewelry studio before. It was filled with so many tools and gadgets that were cute and foreign to me. Maya makes impeccable work, as you will see in the following photos I took of her in her process.
Maya makes a variety of hook bracelets, and they are all made out of recycled silver and gold. My personal favorite is the Maho Bay Camps logo, which is, I do believe, the coolest logo I have ever seen, and of course, representing one of the most special places on the planet. For those who haven't been to Maho, it was a Dr. Seuss tree house-like complex made of a screen houses, boardwalks, and stairs, which led to white sand beaches in a turquoise bay. There were white puffy clouds over head and stars at night that the tree frogs would sing to. Good old fashioned magic! I was the henna girl there for 6 seasons, which was my favorite job ever. I used to think on my way there how lucky I was to be doing this work. Not only was it fun for me to henna people up and connect with inspiring guests, but it was gratifying when I saw how it brought a happy buzz to the vibe to the night. Henna IS a fun sort of healing and I am happy and grateful to be a carrier of this medicine. I was sad to say goodbye this summer when it closed after 37 years, but the spirit of Maho is real and still lives on in everyone who had the luck to find out about it and experience its magic (and everyone who wears a Maho hook bracelet).
One note on the photos, for those checking out the henna: I have been playing around with a few "actions" in Photoshop that alter colors in these photos as part of my fun (I somehow just discovered them), which makes the henna stain look darker than it really is in some of the photos. The true color of the henna stain can be found in the photo at the bottom of the page in the photo with all of the finished bracelets. This stain was from 36 hours after application.
Maya can be found on facebook by clicking HERE. Contact her directly to inquire about purchasing her work.
Today I headed down the mountain with my two little assistants to Maho Bay Clayworks at Pickles in Coral Bay where Jill Hale was working on some mugs with hands I recently henna'd. Jill is one of the fabulous people I befriended at this studio, which has served as an inspiring space for creating pottery and a community center on St. John for many years. It has since moved from its original location at Maho Bay camps, to its new home at Pickles. I love throwing pots with henna on my hands. They are both ancient natural art forms whose earth toned colors compliment each other so well.
under the magic tree
looking out to sea
this is what you would see!
here is my little baby sitting under the magic tree :)
i love how life unfolds.
a few years back, i made a t shirt design of a tree. it was a primitive drawing that looked like a cross section of a tree. i really enjoyed drawing the leaves and letting them flow upon each other in different shapes (i love the meditative flowing doodling part of drawing). as i drew this tree, i started to see trees differently. i have heard this phenomenon once called the Tao of drawing.. by drawing something, that something allows us to see it in a different light. its true essence reveals itself to us. later, when the shirts were printed, i showed a coworker the shirt and he saw the tree as a set of lungs. (it also said breathe underneath it, so that could have helped that imagery) but from then on, i started to think about it more and realized, wow. trees are lungs of the earth! what an amazing refection of the human body and the body of earth. life is so cool like that. trees breathe, just like our lungs, creating an exchange of air, which i knew, but now, for the first time, i could actually see that trees are lungs!
(i put see in italics because it is a special kind of seeing)
for a long while after that, my consciousness went on many different thought journeys regarding this subject. i was fascinated with the idea that i created something without thinking and then that creation revealed wisdom and understanding to me. in a similar way, i am currently in the process of switching my artistic identity from planet carolyn to "under the magic tree." i have been since thinking about trees and surfing the web on tress and was reminded how people from all over the planet have respect and worship trees. there is a lot of interesting symbolism. for example, they are both the masculine and feminine (bearing fruit). their roots grow down while their branches grow up, which means that they are a bridge that connects heaven and earth. when going into the underworld of shamanic journeying (meditations), a very common method for getting there is to find a tree, go inside and climb down through its roots (like the rabbit hole in alice in wonderland). also, in some cultures when people die, they believe the soul climbs up the tree to heaven. the human body is also like a tree. Our legs are roots, drawing energy up to flow through our bodies. to be a healthy human is to have the abundant energy that rises up from the earth flow unimpeded through our chakra system (which distributes the energy outward) in the spinal column and up through the top of the head. In India, this is called kundalini energy and is described as a coiled up snake at the bottom of our spine. the path of healing is to uncoil that snake and draw it up through the body our out through the head. hospitals use this same symbol.there are 2 snakes (masculine and feminine) climbing up the staff.
the more i think about everything, the more i see that everything is interconnected. we are all reflections of each other. this can be seen and applied on so many levels. it is inspiring and i could go on, but then this may never end!
the magic tree is my new name for my creative adventures (which is magic like the world we live in). there are many branches to this tree, to accomodate all of the mediums i like to use. the henna branch is naturally called magic tree henna, which is this website.
( And what was my point?) since i have been working on my website, i have been thinking about henna a lot lately and realized that henna is actually a magic tree! it is a very special little tree; one who's leaves you can pick and grind into a powder, mix into a paste, paint on the body and leaves a beautiful stain behind. meanwhile, it was also used as a medicine for skin ailments and cooled the body temperature down in the deserts where it grows. this is magic, no?
magic is all around us! we are magic. we can make babies (i still am amazed by that on) as well as lots of other amazing things. when was it, along the way that we stopped relating to the amazing phenomenon of LIFE on earth as magic and then call this other something magic that is a show of illusion. It hit home when a friend said once that she didn't want to lie to her daughter when she asked if the tooth fairy was real because she does not like we are passing by the magic that surrounds us all the time and trading it in for a "magic" that is not real.
I also read somewhere and loved: if you want to teach your children about magic, plant a garden!
anyway, this is where I will end this thought adventure for now :) there is a beautiful drawing of the magic henna tree! Oh what fun it is to be human:)
let us start again.
the magic tree is my favorite beach spot in st john, virgin islands, where i live with my beautiful family. my art world has been known for quite a few years as planet carolyn, i have decided to change my name since i no longer feel like an orbiting planet, but a tree growing roots and settling into the earth as i raise my kids. we live on top of the top of the island in a magical spot surrounded by bay rum trees, orchids, passionfruit and mangos. on a perfect day, we go to spend the morning under our favorite magic tree on maho beach and in the afternoon chill at home in the speckled light of the forest, drinking tea and watching hummingbirds in the mountaintop breeze.