It’s the Season of the Bindi

Photo of Brigantes Tribal dancing at Beltane at Thornborough Henge by S'ana Yates.
Photo of Brigantes Tribal dancing at Beltane at Thornborough Henge by S’ana Yates.
"Women with Upraised Arms Holding Flowers" Bindi, after my Teacher Caroleena Nericcio-Bohlman's one-sentence concept of ATS® Belly Dance
“Women with Upraised Arms Holding Flowers” Bindi, after my Teacher Caroleena Nericcio-Bohlman’s one-sentence concept of ATS® Belly Dance

It’s summer– I just returned from camping at Thornborough Henge (The Stonehenge of the North) for the Beltane Festival there.  I danced with my American Tribal Style® Belly Dance Troupe, Brigantes Tribal, during the festival which is held in the Neolithic henge every year.  Despite the freezing temperatures and crazy winds, we honoured our ancestors and the goddess of this place– Brigantia– closely tied to a much older goddess, Bride or Brigid who is the goddess of poetry, brewing, healing and smithcraft.  All are vocations I have undertaken in my life and in many ways this goddess has guided me through them all.

The Shub Niggurath Eye Bindi
The Shub Niggurath Eye Bindi

As festival season gets into full swing, and haflas (belly dance parties) start happening almost every weekend, I thought I would make some bindis!

What is a bindi?  Bindu is a sanskrit word meaning dot and is traditionally worn by Hindu women as a spiritual symbol, but the bindi has grown into a fashion statement in the countries where it was traditionally worn as a red dot of power, expertly applied.  It has also become an item of adornment across cultures.

The Hearts in Spades Bindi in Emerald
The Hearts in Spades Bindi in Emerald

The bindi’s traditional significance has many beautiful aspects– it heightens the inward gaze, and adorns the third eye chakra, which is the locus of inspiration and the place of focus in meditation.

Nothing enhances the eyes like a bindi– adding intensity and sparkle to the most expressive part of the face.  I love to wear bindis while I dance, as a beautiful adornment as well as a sign of respect and honour of the roots of my dance, many of which come from classical Indian dance.  Also, I couldn’t dance without my third eye– without spiritual connection and deep-mind instinct!  The bindi reminds me to dance from that place, the inspired soul-mind at work.

The Hare and Moon Bindi
The Hare and Moon Bindi

My bindis are inspired by dance and Pagan ritual as well as myths and legends.  They would enhance your ensemble at any Pagan celebration or handfasting!

 

The Hamsa Bindi is available in many colours to compliment your costume.
The Hamsa Bindi is available in many colours to compliment your costume.

My bindis are made with care to last through multiple wearings.  I use spirit gum to apply mine, but others use eyelash glue and it works for them.  I need something a bit more heavy duty because I can get pretty, ahem, dewy when I dance. If you choose to use spirit gum, thinly coat the back of the bindi and leave it to get tacky.  Do your eyes or lips or something and come back after several minutes have passed.  Place it directly on the skin and hold for a few seconds.  When removing the bindi be sure to clean any makeup off the back either with olive oil or vodka will also work!

The Current Version of the Mother Weaver Spider Bindi
The Current Version of the Mother Weaver Spider Bindi

Bindis are Here!

The Yeti Bindi, soon to be available in my online shops.
The Yeti Bindi, soon to be available in my online shops.

Many people have asked me to make bindis over the years, and after a costuming get-together with my American Tribal Style Belly Dance Troupe, Brigantes Tribal, I caught the bindi bug. After testing them myself, I can happily say they are dance/party ready.

IMG_9751 What is a bindi?  Bindu is a sanskrit word meaning dot and is traditionally worn by Hindu women as a spiritual symbol, but the bindi has grown into a fashion statement in the countries where it was traditionally worn as a red dot of power, expertly applied.  It has also become an item of adornment across cultures.

The bindi’s traditional significance has many beautiful aspects– it heightens the inward gaze, and adorns the third eye chakra, which is the locus of inspiration and the place of focus in meditation.

The beautiful and inspiring Kristine Adams and myself at Eastern Beats last year, both wearing bindis!
The beautiful and inspiring Kristine Adams and myself at Eastern Beats last year, both wearing bindis!

Nothing enhances the eyes like a bindi– adding intensity and sparkle to the most expressive part of the face.  I love to wear bindis while I dance, as a beautiful adornment as well as a sign of respect and honour of the roots of my dance, many of which come from classical Indian dance.  Also, I couldn’t dance without my third eye– without spiritual connection and deep-mind instinct!  The bindi reminds me to dance from that place, the inspired soul-mind at work.

My bindis are inspired by dance and Pagan ritual as well as myths and legends.  They would enhance your ensemble at any Pagan celebration or handfasting!

IMG_3437

My bindis are made with care to last through multiple wearings.  I use spirit gum to apply mine, but others use eyelash glue and it works for them.  I need something a bit more heavy duty because I can get pretty, ahem, dewy when I dance. If you choose to use spirit gum, thinly coat the back of the bindi and leave it to get tacky.  Do your eyes or lips or something and come back after several minutes have passed.  Place it directly on the skin and hold for a few seconds.  When removing the bindi be sure to clean any makeup off the back either with olive oil or vodka will also work!

The Tribal Gathering

Performing with Tanzhexen at Jewel of Yorkshire. Photo by Violet Ann.
Performing with Tanzhexen at Jewel of Yorkshire. Photo by Violet Ann.

In my other life, I am a tribal belly dancer.  Originally it was something I did as a dare to myself and then it was something I did so I could socialise in a new place where I knew few people and now it has taken over most aspects of my life that are not already occupied by making pretty things.

There’s a wonderful tribal belly dance festival in York this weekend called the Tribal Gathering. I’ll be selling my wares in the souk.

I make most of my costuming.  Though my designs I sell are not necessarily performance ware– they are intended everyday or special occasion pieces, but the designs are all influenced by dance, and tribal belly dance in particular.

Currently the tumble polisher is tumbling, I’ve been hammering away and working away with the callouses and cuts to show for it! I reek of sulphur. Making pretty things is not unlike dance.  I think of all the sweat and tears to bring something beautiful out of nothing– it is the same struggle, and a joyful one. I hope to see some of you at the tribal gathering.

If you’re not sure what tribal belly dance is, this short documentary is a nice introduction:

Tribal Hoops available in My Etsy shop.
Tribal Hoops available in My Etsy shop.

Adventures in Tribal Fusion

Performing with Renegade Tribal. That's me on the left. Photo by Jennifer Bombardiere-Lippit

Perhaps my best kept secret is that I am a dancer.  The fact that I am a dancer is proof that sheer force of will can make almost anything happen.  I do not have what this culture considers a dancer’s body.  Since childhood I have been known as “the klutz”, and in high school theatre my inability to dance was used to comic effect, if it was used at all.

In hindsight we see our missed chances, places where we blew it.  I don’t have many, but the one that is most glaring is my refusal to dance, seriously, earlier in my life. In the late 80s I lived in San Francisco, just when Carolena Nericcio was inventing American Tribal Style dance and founding Fat Chance Belly Dance. I was hanging out at Cafe Istanbul in the Mission and there were women dancing.  Not the sequinned, chiffon veil bellydance I’d seen before (which I thought cheezy) but something else totally mesmerizing and earthy, and something I really, really wanted to do.  At the end, one of the dancers tried to pull me up to join them and…I refused!  I refused to dance because I was too ashamed of my body, and certain I would make a fool of myself.

One blessing about getting older is you no longer listen to those voices. Belly dance is a haven for women who have stopped listening to those voices and just want to move, and move well.

For a few years I have been dancing seriously– in my own living room. I have had world class teachers.   Kimberly MacKoy  gave me the gift of muscle memory training– “welcome to the labyrinth of your body” she would say.  Jesse and Philippa of Morai Tribal were the ones who taught me American Tribal Style, though I am still a beginner and would sometimes come home from that class in tears, it was so hard for me.  Jesse was the first teacher to help me understand that it wasn’t hopeless and it was dancing with her that I first realized that mastering even the most basic of ATS could feel like flying.

I now study with Samantha MacLaren in Selby and perform with Renegade Tribal, and my first performance in front of other people was this weekend– something I thought I would never do.  Life surprises you sometimes. With Samantha I have continued to hone my muscle memory and choreography skills.  Samantha not only believes everyone can dance, she makes it happen. She is a powerful dancer and I’m lucky to have her as a teacher.

Along with Tribal Fusion comes exciting possibilities in costuming– the photo below is of Samantha wearing her belt and headdress I made for her Lady of the Lake solo piece.

Samantha MacLaren wearing the Lady of the Lake belt and headpiece by Feral Strumpet on Etsy, photo by Mark Zuza.