The Birth of Celtic Soul Prayer Beads
I’ve always felt the steady rhythm of beads moving through your fingers comforting as they introduce a regularity, a heartbeat which calms my racing mind. From Catholic Rosary beads as a child or in later years rounds of mala beads provided this route yet neither fitted as they weren’t my tradition.
While I am only vaguely familiar with traditional Celtic prayer beads – the Paidirinean, I was drawn to create Celtic Soul Craft Prayer Beads.
Prayer Beads for the Spiritual Warrior. Wolf with bloodstone
Celtic Soul beads are born from my tradition which involves a deep communication with the land and a relationship with the ancestral energies of that place. My culture is a circle culture which stretches back through generations of wise women, of women who knew the thresholds of life and death and carried the stream of their ancestor’s voices. Ancestors who were weavers, drummers and singers – women versed in herbalism, stone medicine and doll making, women whose language was ritual and ceremony, women who danced between the worlds.
The Symbolism of the Beads
The circle the beads form the Wheel of the Year and the eight festivals. create represents the wheel of the year. It is also that great cycle of birth, death and rebirth which honors the great mystery.
Pendant – The set begins with the pendant which sets the tone and insight for the set
Step Beads – I think of these three beads as steps we take on the way to the temple or in preparing to go into meditation.
Mystery Bead – The mystery bead is usually the biggest bead in the set and invites us to consider the mystery that exists in all things and is the source of everything. It also invites us to let go of everything we know, of expectations and step into the mystery.
Circle of Beads – The beads are generally divided up into eight sections which represent the eight festivals of the wheel of the year. In general, there are 40 beads in the circle – eight sections with five beads, although this can vary slightly depending on the beads I’m using.
Threshold Beads – These are the beads which sit between the festivals, are on the threshold of each of the festivals.
The Wheel of the Year
The circle of the beads represents the eight festivals of the wheel of the year. While there are differing interpretations of the wheel and the festivals my wheel follows the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland wheel which is inspired by my ancient foremothers. This is a very brief overview of the festivals:
Autumn Equinox – marks a still point of day and night before we descend into the dark of the year.
Samhain – Celtic new year and a time to honor our ancestors and the great crone – the Cailleach.
Winter Solstice – The rebirth of the sun at Newgrange marks rebirth. A time to honor the Old Antlered One, the reindeer goddess.
Imbolc – Honoring Brighid’s return to the world.
Spring Equinox – Marking that point again as we move into the outward time of the year.
Beltane – A time to honor fertility and desire in all forms – exploring your heart’s greatest desires and planning the journey to achieving them.
Summer Solstice – Summer often finds me on the islands off the West Coast of Scotland and I’m inspired to work with the energies of the Amazon’s of myth and legend of these islands.
Lughnasadgh – Celebrating literal and metaphoric harvests.
Considering the wheel is an invitation to connect to those stories, folklore and questions and reflections we can work with. You can work with the beads and concentrate on the thresholds, those places which are of both and of neither – and keep a foot in both worlds.
‘Edgewalker’ Antlered Prayer Beads with Hematite and Mystic Quartz
Ways to Use Your Celtic Soul Prayer Beads
Breathing Into the Circle
Each person is invited to find their own meaning. My main use of these beads is to pick them up and begin the pilgrimage with my fingers around the circle. As I begin to think about the circle I’m traveling I imagine breathing into that circle. A circle which holds all the mystery of life. I breathe out what I’m holding and want to release and then breathe in from the circle – it’s one of the few things that quiets my mind and lets me connect to the vastness of life with its thousands of connections. I find this is a wonderful morning meditation to root you into the day.
Other ways of Using the Prayer Beads:
You may simply wish to use the chant using three words which offer the essence of the particular holy day or to represent a situation
- You may simply wish to use the beads with your own chant/prayer (such as protection, intention, gratitude)
- Use them while walking, in ritual or in quiet time at your altar
- Work with them in creating your intentions at new moon
- Concentrate on the symbolism of the particular holyday of the wheel you’re at
You might have selected your prayer beads being drawn to the pendant or the stones. You don’t even need to know the properties of the stones (I myself am very much a beginner) yet I find it a divination of sorts to see what stones we are naturally drawn to. Sometimes just sitting meditating and holding the stones is enough for them to work their stone medicine!
Care For Your Prayer beads
It’s best not to leave your prayer beads hanging o something as a way of displaying them as this can weaken the silk thread. I’d also minimize getting them wet.
For energetic cleansing, I’d personally place them on a bed of hematite (which I do for all the set’s I create) and you may be drawn to your own way of doing this such as leaving them out under a full or dark moon.
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