Today we actually begin to create and work with our prayer beads. As I have explained, I learned this from Donald Engstrom-Reese in 2003 at SpiralHeart Witchcamp. So my directions will be based on how I was taught. As our very lively prior discussions here have shown, there are many approaches to this beautiful practice.
First, before you start to gather your beads or shop for your supplies, you need to set your intention. The beads you are going to make are for a prayer-spell that you send out regularly. Each bead, as you roll it through your fingers, represents a part of your prayer.
My beads that I will be sharing with you in the days ahead, were created with the intention of giving thanks to the Goddess. As I work around each one every day, I am thanking and praising Her about specific gifts She has bestowed in my life.
You may wish to set a similar intention, or you may wish to make your beads for something else. I would recommend that your intention be a short, single focus that you can hold throughout your prayer. So mine is very simple: “Blessed are You, and blessed are Your many gifts.” Each bead, then, is an element of this main intention.
Rather than giving thanks, perhaps your beads will celebrate the ancestors, including your blood ancestors, mighty ones of the Craft, your teachers, historic, political and cultural ancestors, friends from prior lifetimes, and so on.
Maybe your prayer beads will encompass the Wheel of the Year, including the four seasons, the eight sabbats, the thirteen esbats, and birthdays and other personal sacred anniversaries. Or perhaps you might like to focus your prayer-spell towards creating new cultures of beauty, justice, wisdom, joy, peace, balance, etc.
You can pray for places or beings that are holy for you (Donald has a beautiful set that includes beads for the rivers of America). You may want to name your most beloved Gods and Goddesses in each bead. Or you may make your beads specific to a traditional spiritual practice, such as prayers to the twenty-one Taras, or the traditional 108 beads of the Buddhist and Taoist mala.
Once you have your intention, it is time to write a prayer/poem, in which you name each element. Write this in your own voice, for your words are words of power and this needs to be authentic. My suggestion is that the more simple and close to your heart your words are, the easier it will be to begin to remember them, and the deeper you will be able to go into your meditation.
For example, unless it really turns you on and reflects who you are spiritually, it’s okay to skip the Ren Faire language. This is your own, deeply intimate prayer to your Divine Ones, in your own words.
If it is actually a poem, great. But if not, that’s fine too. Practice reading through it aloud, since that is how you are going to be using it. It is very helpful to have a rhythm, so it can become easy to chant. If there are words you stumble over, or that sound too cute, or pompous, or rhyme-y/dime-y, hone it down. Beauty and simplicity are best; a pattern or beat is a bonus.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at how to start gathering and organizing your beads.