Lately I have felt the need to utilize prayer beads and I feel like many Pagans would like to do the same, but might not know where to start. mnemosynejewels has written a great piece with awesome ideas, so I thought to share it with you!
Some of us pray as part of our spiritual practices, and our reasons for doing so are as varied and numerous as the gods we pray to. We may pray for help, for guidance, for favor, in devotion, in greeting, in thanks, to feel closer to our gods, or just to talk. Prayer is our direct link to the divine – no tools are needed, and anyone can do it. I’m a prayer bead maker, and prayer beads are a tool, but they are not at all necessary to pray. All you need are your words, or even your thoughts and feelings. If they’re directed toward the divine in communication, to me that’s prayer.
So, what are prayer beads for? While they aren’t necessary to pray, and I say many quick prayers without them, in my experience they can be helpful. Prayer can be quick and easy and frequent, but I think prayer beads have a place too – when you want your prayers to be deliberate, to set apart time for them, to be rituals in themselves.
Unless you’re part of a specific tradition that uses prayer beads, there are no absolute “rules” for how to use them. Here are some ways I’ve personally found them to be helpful:
Prayer beads can be an immediate, physical and visual, connection to a god. When I pick up my prayer beads, I physically feel them vibrating with energy. The moment I pick them up, I’m in a different head-space. Touching the beads can act as a cue to shift you into a prayerful mindset. When you pick them up, you are ready for communion with your god/s.
The use of beads with repeated prayers can induce a trance or trance-like state. I’ve personally experienced states of rapture and trance while using prayer beads. Holding them and speaking simple, repetitive prayers can carry you away. The time can slip away, too. If nothing else, it’s relaxing.
Prayer beads can be used to meditate on specific aspects of your god/s.With the use of colors and symbols that are meaningful, you can focus on aspects of your gods that you love and want to feel connected to, or aspects that you don’t fully understand and want to know better.
Okay, so you have a set of beads. How exactly do you use them? Again, there are no absolute “rules,” though different religions use them in different ways. If you are not part of one of those traditions, here are some ideas to get started:
You can simply hold them while praying spontaneously.
You can assign to each type of bead a different prayer, speak the prayer while holding the first bead, then hold the next bead and repeat. I have a different prayer for each “element” of my beads, with the majority black bone being a simple repeating 2-line chant; the flowers, skull and pomegranate being longer written prayers; and the garnet being a cue to speak spontaneously.
You can designate different sections of beads to focus on different aspects of your god, holding that entire section as you pray.
You can wear them to feel closer to your god/s.
Example – of-the-eucalypts’s prayer beads
Anything else you can think of – be creative!
In closing…I’ve always been amazed by how prayer works. I can’t count the number of times that the perfect answer to a problem has come to me mid-prayer, and how many times I’ve left prayer newly energized, happy, feeling connected to my god and knowing I’ve deepened my relationship with Her.
I wrote this post because I’ve had many people ask questions on prayer and on using prayer beads. Again, they are not necessary for prayer – but if you are interested in using or making them, I hope this has been helpful, or given you ideas.