The Witch's Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit - Arin Murphy-Hiscock 2018
Prayer and Meditation Beads
Many people are familiar with the Catholic rosary, Buddhist malas, and Islamic misbaha (or tasbih). Prayer beads aren’t limited to organized religions, however. Prayer is a way to communicate with the universe, or your perception of the divine spirit that animates it. It is intensely personal, and because of that there is an infinite amount of variation available to you. The prayers suggested here can be changed as you need to, so that they reflect your current and ever-evolving spirituality. You can also design new prayer beads in different patterns for different sets of prayers as you need them. If you want to make a set of prayer beads infused with intention and energy from the very start, you can make the actual beads themselves as well. (See the Making Magical Rose Beads craft later in this chapter.)
Did you know that the modern English word bead comes from the Middle English bede, which means “prayer”?
This craft creates a set of beads you can use for prayer or meditation. This particular set associates sets of self-care affirmations with each section of the meditation beads. The meditation works with the number three, which is a blessed number in many magical traditions. The number nine is, of course, three sets of three.
When making this craft, don’t use beads that are too small. You want to be able to feel them in your fingers as you pray your way along the string. Put tiny spacer beads between your major beads to separate them farther and to help make the string of prayer beads more fluid in your hands.
Note: Prayer beads aren’t necessarily meant to be worn. This set won’t be long enough to slip over your head.
What You Need:
♦ Wire cutters or scissors
♦ Beading wire, nylon cord, or waxed linen thread (about a .015"—.018" weight works for most beads)
♦ 1 large bead
♦ Small spacer beads (approximately 40)
♦ 3 medium beads (color A)
♦ 1 set of 9 smaller beads (color B)
♦ 1 set of 9 smaller beads (color C)
♦ 1 set of 9 smaller beads (color D)
♦ Pendant charm or stone with loop, hole, or bail
♦ Jump ring, to attach pendant
♦ Tweezers or needle-nose pliers
♦ Incense of your choice and censer
♦ Matches or lighter
What to Do:
1. Cleanse and purify your beads according to your preferred technique (see Chapter 1).
2. Center and ground.
3. Cut about a 24" length of your wire or thread. Make a loose temporary knot about 2" away from one end. Slip the large bead on to rest against the temporary knot. Thread a spacer bead on to rest against the large bead.
4. Slip one of the medium beads (color A) onto the wire to rest against the spacer after the large bead. Thread a spacer bead on to rest against the medium bead.
5. Begin threading the first set of 9 beads (color B) onto the wire. Slip a spacer bead on after each B bead.
6. Place another medium bead (color A) on the string, followed by another spacer.
7. String the second set of 9 beads (color C) onto the wire, placing a spacer after each bead.
8. Place another medium bead (color A) onto the wire, followed by a spacer bead.
9. String the third set of 9 beads (color D) onto the wire, placing a spacer after each bead.
10. Check your string of beads to make sure you haven’t missed anything in your pattern. When you are satisfied, undo the loose temporary knot and tie the ends together with a square knot. (Don’t use a granny knot; it will slip open.) Trim the ends, but leave about an inch on each. Use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to feed each end back into the beads on one side or another.
11. Use your fingers, tweezers, or the jewelry pliers to open the jump ring slightly with a gentle twisting motion. Loop it through the hole or bail of your pendant charm or stone, then over the wire between the final spacer bead and the first medium bead. Press the jump ring back together firmly.
12. Once your prayer beads are done, center and ground, then purify them by passing them through incense such as frankincense or sandalwood, and say, “I cleanse and bless you, beads. Be for me a focus and support in my pursuit of wholeness and leading a blessed life. May it be so.”
♦ A dab of clear nail polish can help secure the square knot.
♦ Store your prayer beads in a pretty bag or box, away from strange hands and where they could pick up unwanted energy.
How to Use the Prayer Beads
Since repeating affirmations is a magical practice, why not use your self-care journaling incense and candle to accompany this exercise? It will help signal to your psyche that this is the same sort of self-care activity.
What You Need:
♦ Matches or lighter
♦ Candle and candleholder
♦ Incense and censer
♦ Prayer Beads (see previous activity)
What to Do:
1. Center and ground.
2. Light the candle and incense.
3. Hold the string of beads in your hands and take three slow, deep breaths.
4. Start with the pendant. Hold it and say, “I am complete in myself. I am enough. I have the power to shape and change my life.”
5. This set of beads represents healing. At the medium bead introducing this first set, say, “I am whole and healthy; I embrace wellness.”
6. On each of the 9 smaller beads of this first set, say, “I welcome healing in all areas of my life.”
7. The second set of beads represents self-confidence. At the medium bead introducing it, say, “I am enough. I hold within me all that I need to succeed.”
8. On each of the 9 smaller beads of this second set, say, “I welcome growth and opportunity.”
9. The third set of beads represents self-love. At the medium bead introducing it, say, “I am worthy of love, respect, and care. I deserve a good life.”
10. On each of the 9 smaller beads of the third set, say, “I welcome love in all areas of my life.”
11. You have gone all the way around the string of beads, and are now back at the pendant. Repeat the affirmation that began the meditation: “I am complete in myself. I am enough. I have the power to shape and change my life. It is so.”
Making Magical Rose Beads
Making beads from the roses you have been given for a special occasion is a lovely way to tie that appreciation and celebration into your ongoing magical self-care practice. This craft transforms the petals of roses into beads that you can use in your prayer or meditation beads. As you use them the warmth of your hands releases the scent of the roses used to make the beads. It’s a beautiful and magical experience.
One full-sized rose can have around 30 petals, which will make 1—11/2 cups when dropped into a measuring cup lightly, not packed down. Half a dozen roses will yield roughly 8 cups. It may seem like a lot, but the petals will be reduced a lot, first by cooking and then drying. Depending on the size you make the beads, this will yield various numbers of beads. Remember that smaller beads will dry in less time.
Note: The colors of the roses will darken and sometimes change as they cook. Don’t be alarmed.
What You Need:
♦ Petals of 6 roses
♦ Distilled water (approximately 1/4 cup per 2 cups petals)
♦ Large saucepan (avoid stainless steel; try to use glass or enamel)
♦ Wooden spoon
♦ Rose essential oil (optional)
♦ 5 metal or plastic double-pointed knitting needles (US size 1 or 2)
♦ Square of Styrofoam or floral foam
What to Do:
1. Place 2 cups petals in the blender and add 1/4 cup water. Cover and blend. Alternate adding the petals and the water. As you add more petals, hold back on the water a bit; you want a doughy texture, and the more water you add now, the more you’ll have to remove later.
2. Scrape out the blended pulp into the saucepan and heat it over medium heat, stirring with the wooden spoon. Do not let the mixture boil; just heat it to thicken it further.
3. When the pulp is the consistency of clay, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool enough to be able to knead it. If your rose clay isn’t scented as much as you’d like, add a few drops of rose oil and knead it in.
4. Twist off marble-sized pieces and roll them into balls. The beads will shrink to about half their original size as they dry, so plan accordingly. Gently press a ball onto a knitting needle so that the point comes out the other side, then gently slide the bead down toward the end of the needle. Continue until you have used all the clay to make beads of your desired sizes. Allow a bit of space between the beads on the needles so that air can circulate between them properly.
5. Press one end of each needle into the Styrofoam or floral foam so they stand up, to allow the air to circulate around all surfaces of the beads.
6. Spin the beads gently every day or so or move them back and forth on the needle to make sure they don’t dry to the surface of the needle itself.
7. Drying time will depend on how humid or damp your weather is, how much water is still in the clay, and how large the beads are.
8. When the beads are dry, slide them off the needles. Use them in whatever bead-based craft you like.
♦ These flower-based beads can be made with other flowers as well. Look up the magical associations of the various flowers you have and see what you can use for specific magical purposes. You can cook different flowers together to make a multiflower clay, or cook them separately and then combine the beads on your wire as you string your new set of prayer beads.
♦ If you don’t have a blender, a food processor will work. You can also grind the petals by hand in a stone mortar and pestle, but it will be time-consuming.
♦ Don’t get these flower-based beads wet; they’re not waterproof.