When I was growing up, I used to absolutely love braiding my sisters' hair. I have three older sisters, and I am sure that I did this to each of them at one time or another, but to my youngest older sister the most. She had long beautiful hair and I would just love to run it through my fingers and braid it. I even did this for a few of her friends, or at least they sat through it for me. Later on in life, this got expressed when I was able to work at a friend's beauty parlor, washing clients' hair and preparing them for the cut and/or color and/or curl etc that my friend was about to do for them.
I never got to braid any clients' hair. That was okay with me, because by that time I had girlfriends who liked to have me do stuff to their hair for them. Now, I have two beautiful daughters who now and then let me braid their hair. Sometimes they ask me to do this for them, but most often I have to ask if they will let me. One of them really likes the variety of hair styles that I can create with braids.
So why the braids? I don't know. At least I didn't know back when my minor obsession first manifested in my life. The braiding process is something that I find to be meditative. It is something that makes me slow down. As I slow down, my heart rate slows and I feel calm and serene inside. But now I also understand the deeper meanings of braids. Besides the function of keeping the hair out of the eyes and face, braids are also expressions of who we are. When a woman wears a braid, the style of braid says something about her personality. I could go on for a while on this one, but I won't because there is one more thing about the braid that is even more important.
A braid is the living expression of the interwoven nature of the universe.
Hmmmm.....what the heck is this shaman dude getting at?
The braid, like us, depends on all the parts. First off, you need a clean parting of the hair. Then you need the style or pattern of the braid. Then you need to be able to weave it together so that it strengthens through the weave, and doesn't just wimp out and fall apart. You can work several braids into each other, so that it becomes like several different rivers flowing into one large river. Each strand of hair, each group, and each braid make a beautiful expression of the interdependent and interwoven nature of all things. We all rely upon other things in order to survive. When one thing collapses, it sends out a ripple effect and other things begin to collapse if we have not repaired the first thing. The next thing you know, there is a cascade effect and the entire thing comes undone and unravels everywhere. Life is like that. So these are some of the things that I think about as I braid hair. Not that deep at all, just different. And it is much better than having to count "knit one, purl one".