Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

The Beads and the Prayer

Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement.  Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.
— Mahatma Gandhi

In case you have never used a rosary, mala, or other prayer bead tool (I certainly had not when I first made mine), the idea is to construct a circle or line of beads that has a beginning and an endpoint of some sort. In between, each bead represents an element of your overall intention.  Then you count off, or touch each bead, speaking a prayer for each. That prayer may be as simple as one word – a name, a quality, a desire, for instance.  Or it may be a more lengthy or even formal statement, like a mantra.

That’s why, before you start to put together your prayer beads, you need to have decided upon your intention. This is where you focus your will and desire.  With each bead, you will be sending out your energy towards this outcome.

Next, based on that intention, what will each gift, name, blessing, or other component be?  What will each bead represent as you move through them with your fingers?   Jot down all these elements in a list.

Be thinking of how you might put them together in a rhythmic or poetic way.  You might arrange your listed components into sections or groupings, or in some kind of way that will make sense and flow together in ways that you find inspiring or meditative.  Now, begin to write it as a prayer or poem.

Be sure to turn off your inner critic. This is going to be an ongoing, intimate conversation between you and your Divine One(s).  Authenticity and sincerity are the real beauty, not flowery language or iambic pentameter (unless that is what comes naturally to you).

Here are some suggestions from Donald Engstrom-Reese about writing your Prayer/Poem:

  • Write the prayer/poem in your own authentic voice. It is always a good thing when doing this work, to remember that a Witch’s words are words of power.
  • Take the time to find/create a style/frame work that truly moves you.
  • What is the overall rhythm of your piece? Does it take you smoothly into Mystery? Does it bring you smoothly out of Mystery?
  • Do you have a repeater line? Donald suggests that a repeater line is a way of coming back to the main intention. It could be an affirmation, or a dedication, or a declaration of devotion. It weaves throughout the prayer, holding the piece together.  To see his daily prayer/poem and how he uses the repeater line, you can go here.
  • In general, it is a good thing to have one bead per concept and/or prayer line.

Once you are pretty happy with at least a first draft, it’s time to start thinking about the beads.

If you have decided to have one bead per line (or element/concept), you might want to make little envelopes for each one.  Then you will know exactly which beads you already have, and which you need to get.  You can also have one envelope that holds all the repeater beads. The repeater beads will be the ones that go with the repeater line, as explained above.  They should be identical, or else very similar to each other, as their point is to, well, you know..  repetitious!

Beads do tend to turn up everywhere, once you are looking.  And I agree with Donald’s advice that any durable bead at least the size of the tip of one’s middle finger is appropriate. “It is good to have beads that move comfortably through one’s fingers,” he writes.  “It is also a good thing for you to consider each of the beads beautiful, significant, and/or wonder-filled. Materials that I have used include glass, stone, wood, plastic, bone and metal.”

By the way, in our workshop, Donald admonished us for being snobbish about plastic.  He reminded us that we claim that the Divine is in all things.  Do we not say that all, above and below, is sacred?

Just because plastic is manufactured (yes, in ways that may raise ecological concerns), is it somehow unholy or unworthy?  Can you honestly say that every other product you love is completely natural?  Or is made with 100% pure green technology?

If something is beautiful and magical to your senses, do not let your brain discount it just because it might be made from chemical processes. Everything is made from chemical processes!

More to come!

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  • August 21, 2010, 9:34 am Nan

    I’m a genealogist with a huge collection of beads that I sometimes get around to making into necklaces or pendulums or just get out and run through my fingers as I admire their beauty. I’m new to ritual, but have been wanting a way to honor the line of women whose mitochondrial DNA I carry. When I think of the trials they faced in their lives I am in awe. This process is something that really resonates with me. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • August 21, 2010, 2:34 pm Athene Noctua

    Beth Owl-

    Quick question-are the beads for the divine, us, or both. I am going through a transition and am wondering if it’s ok to make a set to help me get through it.

    Athene Noctua

  • August 21, 2010, 3:43 pm Beth

    Nan – What a beautiful idea for your beads! You MUST promise to send photos if you make this .. I have tingles just imagining them!

    Athene – Yes, and yes and yes! Absolutely! Trust your own sensual and intuitive pleasures in the beads to be an affirmation of the Divine. As is always the case, is it not?

  • August 25, 2010, 8:30 am Arie

    I’m a little behind schedule here… 🙁

    But I have a remark on “Plasticum Vulgaris”.
    I cannot connect to this, what shall I call it?
    When touching it, I cannot feel it’s energy, nor can I smell it, nor does it raise any divine association within me. On the contrary.
    And it is not out of snobbism.
    I create all my tools out of natural elements.
    Maybe because I feel myself very much connected to nature and it makes me sick seeing all the plastic bags scattered all over.

    Anyway I like this subject very much and will be happy to hear more. Thank you for posting. 🙂


  • August 25, 2010, 2:48 pm Beth

    Hey, Arie! Better late than never! 😉

    Each bead needs to delight you, feel sensual, give off a magical vibe of some kind. For you! Most of all, it should resonate in some way with its assigned meaning in the prayer.

    So, if plastic feels lifeless to you, there is no reason I can think of you should use it! Similarly, people who are sensitive to the Stone Realms may be unpleasantly or unaffected by particular crystals or minerals.

    Bottom line: explore. Discover. Be open to surprise!