I just watched a really fascinating treatise on the subject of prayer beads. The video is called “Pagan Prayer Beads, Malas, & Galdr“, and although it’s rather long, it is chockful of new information for me.
When I was much younger, my Meme (grandmother) gave me a beautiful rosary made of pink crystal. I loved that rosary, and was very close to Mother Mary throughout my youth. The rosary was a tangible symbol of Mary for me. I used to pray the rosary religiously, and it saw me through plenty of rough times. In my mid twenties I went on a road trip to Florida with my sisters and BIL, and I inadvertently left it behind in one of the motels we stayed in. It was something that I wore all the time, and I slept with it. I accidently left it in one of the beds. I was heartbroken! I did actually cry at its loss. I fervently pray that whoever found it wound up cherishing it too. sigh.
Since then, I searched for a new rosary, but never found one that spoke to me. It didn’t help that my evolving spirituality made me question the validity of my Roman Catholic upbringing. To be honest, I have been pagan most of my life, with a little Catholicism thrown in to appease my Catholic Pepe (grandfather). I questioned my Catholic upbringing early on…it was actually confession that made me realize how ridiculous a lot of the religious premises were. I only went to confession 3 times, and it was that third time, as I lay in bed the night before racking my brain trying to figure out what sins I had committed in my little 8 yr old life were, that I realized that I didn’t actually commit “sins”. And…why did I have to tell this priest guy my sins? Why couldn’t I ask God’s forgiveness myself? I decided to talk to God myself instead. In Grade 7, I asked my religion teacher why she never spoke of Jesus’ brothers and sister. She was aghast! Where had I heard such a sacrilegious thing?!?!? Edgar Cayce of course…and she didn’t even know who he was! I totally lost faith in her after that.
So, although the rosary was special to me because of my relationship to both Mother Mary and my sweet Meme, who was extremely devout in her simple faith, the loss of it was a turning point in my spirituality practices. I no longer felt a calling to say the rosary, and I was only half-hearted in my search for another one. I had a problem with the prayers associated with it too…I really was only using the Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer at the end. Then I discovered some alarming things about Mary, and my faith in Mary wavered. My post on Jesus and Mary here, showcased my problems with Mary being an archaia of the archangel Raphael…I had always thought that Mary was the twin flame of Jesus! And just check my Explanatory Notes and Occult Codex for my disses on archangels! Mary…a dreaded archangel?!?! Then I learned that she had a lifetime as the Chinese goddess Quan Yin…which threw me for a loop too. I’m not sure why now, but I’ve reconciled this idea in my mind and my belief system now.
So, I found my reconciliation with Mother Mary rekindled my desire to reconnect with her via a rosary. Living in this tiny town, I have no idea where to find one though. And…I am not sure if I really need one. Enter the concept of mala beads and prayer beads. Mala beads are a Hindu religious artifact, made up of 108 beads that mantras are said upon. They are made of all kinds of materials, and there are some gorgeous ones out there! They usually have a tassel and a separate series of beads for counting the number of rounds you are on. The video above goes into its history quite beautifully. I really enjoyed this video, and her discourse on mala beads and prayer beads in general was very lucid and enlightening. I learned a lot really.
For instance, did you know that you are not supposed to use your index finger to finger the beads and advance them? The index finger is the seat of Will, and you should not use your will to direct your meditations. I never thought of that before. But hand movements called mudras emphasizes the importance of placing your hands/fingers in certain positions to affect different mental/emotional/spiritual states. So it makes sense that the Hindus would have specific ways to use mala beads. She talks about this idea here.
She also explained how she got into Sanskrit mantras to say on mala beads, which resonated with me. I have made a little prayer bead rosary with 3 decades. I originally was saying a revised Hail Mary prayer with it, but then I started using it to say my personal mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum. To be honest, saying a mantra on just a few beads doesn’t let you get into a meditative state easily. I understand the 108 beads as necessary for both reciting mantras and also to count your breaths. I had never thought to use the beads as a meditative way to focus on your breath. I think this is a really great idea I’m going to incorporate into my bedtime/meditation rituals. She recommends a book of healing mantras that I might get, although I already have 2 mantras I use…the Om Mani Padme Hum (the Compassion mantra) and the Om Shanti Om mantra (the Peace mantra). I have decided to use different malas for each of them, so maybe I don’t need more mantras.
Looking at mala beads, I have discovered they are expensive, and I am on a low fixed income. Well, the ones I like with genuine stones are expensive! LOL I have wanted a sandalwood one for a while now, since I read that it is one of the best ways to protect your Well of Dreams chakra from invasion from negativity. You actually wear the mala beads so the back of your neck is protected. Of course, using the beads just imbues it with more spiritual energy, so this is actually an ideal thing! 🙂
But looking at all the lovely mala beads, I was reminded that I actually have a few strings of beads that I bought over 25 years ago when I first got into crystals and had a good paying job. I rarely wear these beads now, but looking through them, I think I can repurpose them as malas. They aren’t 108 beads, only around 60-65 beads, but prayer beads can be any number you want. Already I have repurposed my lapis lazuli beads to use with the Om Shanti Om mantra. I think I will use the multi stone one with my Om Mani Padme Hum mantra…the stones are rose quartz, aventurine, moonstone, and blue lace agate, which seem perfect for the concept of compassion…soft and gentle energy. I’m going to make a tassel though, since this one has no clasp as a natural stop/start division. I also have a really nice amethyst bead necklace that broke and I can’t afford to get restrung (it was a really expensive necklace and I want it properly knotted). There’s also no jewellry store in town, so I don’t know where to go to get it restrung. But maybe I should get it restrung as mala beads instead.
She also showed how she used her prayer beads, and she had some great ideas on what to do with your prayer beads. It was very informative and gave me lots of ideas!