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The Henna Page Journal
Renaissance Faire: A Diary
Alissa Hall
Page 1 of 6

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For those who have never heard of such a thing, Renaissance Faires, or “Ren Faires” for short, are anachronistic events where participants will dress in period costume, and basically find a good excuse to get outside (since they are almost always outdoor events), gnaw on a turkey leg like Henry the 8th, and wear an ankle length velvet cloak and not feel conspicuous. Vendor opportunities for henna artists at Ren Faires are certainly a good route to take for artists who wish to work public venues. Or so I figured, when I signed up for my first Ren henna gig, in nearby Santa Fe, N.M.

I’ve been practicing henna as early as 1997 and, as I am fond of telling folks now, I made every mistake there was to make about learning to do henna along the way. After several years spent learning, and persevering because I thought henna was just so cool, I eventually got better. While expecting my first child, I was looking into options for a morehome-based business and henna presented itself as an unexplored businessoption. Thus began my illustrious career as a henna artist in the Spring of 2001. Since then, I’ve eagerly approached the challenges of practicing henna in crowds and/or public events. It takes a little skill, and a lot of humor, to sling henna for the public. Of this, I am convinced, and it didn’t take me too terribly long to figure that out.

On the Saturday of the Ren Faire, I woke up entirely too early – just excited, I guess. Being up from 4 a.m. on the day of an event isn’t what I would’ve chosen to do, but on the good side I did go to bed early the night before, and I would have 7 hours of sleep to function on for the day. During the night, I dreamt that I kept getting calls on my cell phone to do mehndi appointments while I was running errands around town. I chose to think of it as a good omen for the day.

The winds were my biggest concern – even at 5 a.m. I could hear them blowing gustily and shaking the big trees outside our home. Spring in New Mexico means wind – lotsa wind, drive-you-batty-after-days-and-days-of-it kinds of wind. The Faire was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. On Friday, a wind advisory had been issued for most of the state and gusts in Albuquerque had averaged 30 to 50 mph. I was hoping that it might be calmer by the weekend, and I wanted to wear my hair down for the event, but instead I decided on wearing a far more practical braid.

Overall, I felt prepared for my first Ren Faire. I had packed the car the night before, and I felt I had thought of just about every contingency I could. Now, on the day itself, it was a full moon and also Beltane, both of which seemed like good omens as well. I spent the extra early hours of the day saying prayers to Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of prosperity and patroness of mehndi, as well as to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god to whom I feel a strong kinship and whom I choose to think of as my own totem as well. I’m a big believer in prayer, and I knew the challenges of the day would benefit from Their divine assistance, should it be given to this henna supplicant petitioning them with kind words and incense lit with hennaed hands.

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