Henna is a potent natural dye that is derived from the dried, crushed leaves of the Lawsonia inermis shrub. The term “henna” derives from the Arabic, al Khanna and various people used them for different reasons mainly beauty and spiritual benefits.
On a spiritual level, henna is believed to bestow happiness, good fortune and all the benevolence of the universe. Egypt has integrated henna into traditional wedding rituals. Where western cultures have bridal showers, Egypt has the tradition of the henna night known as Leylet el-henna.
The country of Morocco also taps into the spiritual benefit of henna as henna parties are called to help a woman who is troubled or when there is a need to contact the spirit world.
There is also evidence that Asian worshippers of the Semitic goddess Anat used henna. In southern China, henna has been associated with erotic rituals for at least three thousand years, during the ancient Goddess cultures.
Mummification of Pharaohs in Egypt also involved the use of henna as archaeological research indicates that henna was used to stain the fingers and toes of Pharaohs prior to mummification. However, research also argues that the Pharaohs were not the only Egyptians to use henna as ancient Egyptians and many indigenous and aboriginal people around the world believed that the naturally derived red substances of ochre, blood and henna had qualities that improved human awareness of the earth’s energies. Henna was therefore applied to help people keep in touch with their spirituality. Ani, a mummified scribe (1400BC), had fingernails stained with henna. There are also several medieval paintings depicting The Queen of Sheba decorated with henna on her journey to meet Solomon.
The act of using henna for spiritual purposes continues to be practiced in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia, and Europe and is used by Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Moslems, Christians, Pagans, among others.