XXVII - Prayer beads

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We've all seen Catholic rosaries and most of us know how they work. Rosaries or prayer beads are used to count repetitions of prayers so you can focus all your attention to the prayer instead of counting in your head. Many pagans have been inspired by the Catholic rosary or Buddhist prayer beads and adapted the concept to paganism. In this chapter, I'll show you how to make your own prayer beads (of course, if prayer isn't your thing, you might not wish to make one).

Your prayer beads can be as long or as short as you want. They can be focused toward your patron deities, a pantheon, one deity, just the Universe, your guardian angels, or any being you work with. Many prayer beads have a lot of identical beads, meaning that the prayer that corresponds to that bead is repeated many times. However, pagan prayer beads often have plenty of different beads, and some prayer beads may not have a single identical pair of beads. One bead may correspond to a prayer to one deity, another bead corresponds to another deity. Despite the name, prayer beads can also be used for functions other than prayer. You can make "Wiccan Rede prayer beads" with a bead for each line in the Wiccan Rede, helping you memorize it. Furthermore, rayer beads can be used for relaxation, anchoring an energy, carrying blessings, and helping in spells (if the spell requires you to repeat something many times, prayer beads can be really useful). My first prayer beads were for peace, and I made one for the protection of my house, too. Of course, you can definitely use them the traditional way and pray to a deity with them.

Below I'll show you two ways to design your strand of prayer beads. You can follow one of the examples, or you can adapt them to your own liking.

Designing prayer beads, method 1
1) Decide what the main symbolism of the strand will be. You can also choose a few additional elements of symbolism. Think about who or what you want to honor with the beads, and what materials will be appropriate for your goal. If you want to make a strand centered around a deity, go to your altar and pray to them, asking for guidance and what kind of prayer beads they would like. Also decide on the type of strand – a necklace, a bracelet, open-ended, or something else?

2) Decide what numbers, colors, and types of beads you want. If you're dedicating the prayer beads to a Sun god, use warm colors and charms with Sun symbols. Is there a number that is important to you or your deity? Wiccans often use numbers three and nine, both symbolizing the Goddess. Think about the symbolism you chose in step 1, and find beads that fit that symbolism in your opinion. You can go to the bead store and look at what calls to you.

3) Put the beads in a nice order. Do you want the strand to be symmetrical or asymmetrical? If you have a prayer or song written for the beads, follow the design of that. You can put one bead for each line or verse of the song. Maybe you want to include a bead for giving thanks, or one for asking for guidance. Maybe you want to have groups of seven identical beads in a row. It's all up to you! If you're out of ideas, you can meditate, pray, or go to the bead store to find inspiration. You can also look online for examples of prayer beads.

Designing prayer beads, method 2
Here is a basic layout for prayer beads that you can use to find fitting beads and help you design your strand of prayer beads.
1) Intent of the work.
One or more beads that clearly names the intention of the prayer bead set. What is it that you want to "accomplish" with this strand? Prayer to a deity, a state of calm, guidance?

2) Introduction of repeater bead (optional).
The first use of the line that repeats, weaving throughout the prayer/spell poem. The repeating bead can add rhythm to the prayer poem because you're using the same line multiple times throughout the poem.

3) Creating the container.
Beads to invite for example, the Elemental guardians, ancestors, deities, etc. I often use a repeater bead between each ally named.

4) The core concept(s).
I often break this part of the work up into rhythmic stanzas of 3 to 8 lines, each stanza separated by a repeater bead. What is the symbolism of your prayer beads? What are you asking for? What do you wish to achieve? Use beads that correspond to each concept.

5) Closing of the prayer (optional).
Often it may be a good idea to find a clear way of ending the prayer, but not always. I often include a "giving thanks" bead, used for thanking the Universe for everything I have.

6) Last bead.
I almost always use the first bead and its line as the last bead and line of the prayer. For me, it ties it all neatly together.

To find beads that feel right, you can use the way from method 1: "Decide what the main symbolism of the strand will be. You can also choose a few additional elements of symbolism. Think about who or what you want to honor with the beads, and what materials will be appropriate for your goal. If you want to make a strand centered around a deity, go to your altar and pray to them, asking for guidance and what kind of prayer beads they would like. Also decide on the type of strand – a necklace, a bracelet, open-ended, or something else?"

Writing the prayer or spell poem
If you don't have a prayer already written for you, you can write your own. You can write the poem first and make the beads after, or you can make the strand first and write the poem based on it. Your poem doesn't have to rhyme, but it can. Here are a few things you should remember when you're writing your poem.

1)What is the intention for your prayer beads? State your declaration of intention as clearly as you can. It is a very good thing to find a significant bead to hold the overall intent of the set.

2) Write in your own authentic voice. When doing this work, it's always good to remember that a witch's words are words of power.

3) Take the time to find or create a style or framework that truly moves and inspires you.

4) What is the overall rhythm of your piece? How does the rhythm take you into the Mysteries? Do you wish it to smoothly take you in and back out of your prayers? Do you wish a jubilant, ecstatic rhythm? Do you wish calming, centering rhythm? What rhythm best supports your intention?

5) What is your repeater line? How does this line feed and empower the whole of the prayer beads? A repeater line isn't necessary if you feel you don't need it.

6) It is generally a good thing to have one bead per concept and/or prayer line. In other words, try not to layer so many things onto a bead that the focus is lost. It is good to keep each bead centered on one notion, thereby deeply grounding and focusing your intention in order to fully enliven and activate its power.

7) It can help to write down all of the different elements of symbolism you have. For example, if the overall idea of your prayer beads is health, you can have separate lines and beads for physical, mental, and social health, for example. When you see everything you need to write a line for, it can be easier to come up with something.

8) I use affirmations as inspiration for my lines. For example, there is an affirmation that says, "I remain in balance with my emotions". You can make this affirmation into a prayer by simply writing, "May I remain in balance with my emotions".

Sources:
"Pagan Prayer Beads: Magic and Meditation with Pagan Rosaries", authors: John Michael Greer and Claire Vaughn, Weiser Books

"Pagan Prayer Beads", author: Donald L. Engstrom-Reese, site: wearewalkinginbeauty.org

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