Posts Tagged ‘rosary’

I had the good fortune to visit two of my best friends in Austin, Tex the weekend before last and while my one friend, Chris, was working, my other friend, Lisa, and I hit the bead stores. Lisa is one of the most talented beaded jewelry designers I know and specializes in Japanese beading. You can see her blog here and her Etsy store here. Check ’em out.

Front room at Bead It

Front room at Bead It

One of the stores that Lisa and I went to is called Bead It and is located in South Austin – which, when Lisa, Chris and I went to school at the University of Texas was kinda a place you didn’t want to be in after dark. Here’s my main memory of that neighborhood – a buddy convinced me to go see our first X-rated movie there. Actually, my only X-rated movie. Yeesh.

But now, that part of town is hot and happenin’ and has all kinds of cool stores and boutiques – not the kind you need a million bucks to buy anything in, but the kind that remind you that Austin is still weird, still a bit on the wild side, still a place where you can get away from the strip mall mentality of much of the rest of the country. Bead It is the perfect embodiment of that.

Lisa and I were not looking for prayer beads, or prayer bead materials – which is probably

Zoe, the great sales associate

Zoe, the great sales associate

why we found one of the coolest rosaries I have ever seen. It seems that one of Bead It’s specialties is vintage beads, and there in the front case was a rosary, probably from the 1950’s or a bit earlier, that had directions written on each Our Father bead! Each Our Father Bead was three-sided – like a little Toblerone bar – reminding you of each mystery you should prayer for on a given day. It was like a 3-D rosary map! Very cool! Here’s a BIG picture. Click on it to see the whole thing:

Mapped out rosary

Mapped out rosary

They also had a small case of Tibetan pendants blessed by monks! Pretty cool, huh?

Tibetan prayer beads

Tibetan prayer beads
Rosary window

Rosary window

The store is in an old house and it was extremely fun to wander from room to room and dip through all the treats and treasures – some vintage, some not. They also have a great classroom, and while they do not have a rosary or prayer bead making class, they did have a rather fabulous display of rosaries in their window.

I also noticed that they had a really good collection of crosses and other pendants that would work well for prayer beads and rosaries. Some of the crosses I had never seen before – and I have seen a lot of crosses!

If you go to Austin, definitely check out this fine, funky store. Make a set of prayer beads or a rosary from vintage glass. We were helped by a lovely, young knowledgeable girl named Zoe, and Pake, the manager, or Sarah (the owner?) can also help you out. I plan to visit my friends in Austin again before the end of the year – I hope – and I am going back for sure. I just might have to have that vintage rosary.

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All this  reading about Ireland and the many faiths there has given me a major case of wanderlust. Alas, I will not be going anywhere til May when my husband and I are off for a month in Italy (yes, you may hate me) where he has a conference and some other work. So I decided to do something I should have done months ago, but for some reason (hmm, work, house cleaning, needy dog, life in general) just never got around to – sharing with you all the fantastic prayer beads my eldest son Shawn and his girlfriend Cecilia brought back to me from their 5-month trip through Europe, the Middle East and China.

I think one reason it has taken me so long to show these beads here is it just seemed a huge task – they sent back and brought back so many from so many countries! But this morning, I thought, why not just do it in parts? So today, I want tp share with you some prayer beads Shawn brought back from the first six weeks of his trip, which he made with another classmate, through Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt. So here goes . . . .

Turkey – Here is a set of Muslim prayer beads, alternately called a subhah or a tasbih, depending on the culture,

Turkish prayer beads

Turkish prayer beads

that came from Istanbul, Turkey. Does anyone know what they are called in Turkey? I am thinking “tasbih.” Along side it, you see an evil-eye bead that he also brought me. I love this collection, because it tells you a lot about the faith and practice of this country – Turkey is still a secular country, but it has a growing religious fundamentalist political party. The people there – mostly Muslims – can be very devout (thus, the subhah), but they are also superstitious (thus the evil eye bead). If you have my book, you can find a description of the history and use of both of these kinds of beads on pages 8-10. I was lucky enough to travel in Istanbul and western Turkey 15 years ago and I remember seeing these blue eyeballs everywhere. Kinda creeped me out. Not this one, tho.

Syria – Shawn went to Syria next, where he had a wonderful time in bazaars and out in the desert, too. I guess he did not find any proper prayer beads, as he brought me these two necklaces. Neat, huh? Look at the arrowhead-like thing on the brown one. I suppose I could use that for a terminal charm.

Syrian beaded necklaces

Syrian beaded necklaces

Jordan – Next came Jordan and three sets of tasbih, each with different and interesting tassels. One

Jordanian prayer beads

Jordanian prayer beads

has coins, one has little metal balls, kind of like bells, and one has little metal drops. I do not know if there is any significance to these kinds of tassels. Anyone know? Also, notice that the prayer beads on the far right – the white ones – have some kind of writing on them. I am sure it is Arabic – anyone know for sure? Can anyone tell us what it says? If you have an Arabic friend, please forward this blog entry to him or her and clue us in. I am dying to know.


Arabic writing?

Prayer beads from Israel Israel – And here we have the first set of Catholic rosaries of the trip. Both are made from olive wood, very common to Israel, and both have a little window behind the medal that contains something it tells me is “terra Jerusalem” – the soil of Jerusalem. It’s kind of reddish in color. Pretty neat. He also sent two sets of subhah, these both with silk (or silk-like) tassels. Both are made from some kind of hard plastic or resin.

Here’s a picture of the “terra Jerusalem”:"Terra Jerusalem"

“Terra Jerusalem”

Egypt – OOPS. I forgot to photograph Egypt. We’ll have to save that for the next entry.

So, aren’t these very cool? Do any of you readers have rosaries or other forms of prayer beads from this part of the world that you could share a picture of or a story about?

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bead-boutique-rosary-1I hope you have noticed that one of the lists I keep on the right side of this blog is of local bead stores in the U.S. that offer classes in rosary and/or prayer bead making. I was updating the list about a week ago – sadly, two or three stores had not only stopped offering the class, they had completely closed their doors! – and I sent out a query to all the remaining stores asking them to send me pictures of their rosary/prayer bead samples. I also said I would welcome any pictures of rosaries/prayer beads made by students in the classes.

So far, the great women of Bead Boutique in North Canton, Ohio are the only ones who have gotten back to me with pictures. Hey, what is it about Northeast Ohio and prayer beads? Some of you may remember a post I wrote about the fantastic women of Bonita Bead Boutique in Maumee, Ohio who hosted a trunk show of the prayer beads pictured in my book in their store last April. LOTS of prayer beading going on up there! Anyway, Bead Boutique’s Kathy, Jen and Megan sent two pictures of the samples they use to promote the class and promised to send some of their students’ work after the next class. So today – Christmas Eve – enjoy these pictures! I hope they inspire you to make some prayer beads today. I am particularly fond of the aurora borealis strand! bead-boutique-rosary-2

Tonight, I head off to church for the “midnight” service, a time I always look forward to. As usual, my prayer beads will go with me.

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Bobby Kennedy and the Rosary

Just wanted to make sure you all saw this brief piece in the New York Times on Sunday. It describes the experience of a busboy at the Ambassador Hotel who saw Bobby Kennedy’s assassination and placed a rosary in the candidate’s hands. I just thought it was a very nice way to remember the event 40 years ago that’s been in the news so much lately.

I haven’t blogged much lately because of being overwhelmed with work – which is good, right? This Thursday my husband and I travel to Pasadena for my eldest son’s college graduation. I’ll do some blogging from there. See you soon.

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Today is both Yom Hashoah, the day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust, we well as the 56th celebration of the annual National Day of Prayer, a holiday created by Congress in 1952. I have never marked the National Day of Prayer before partly because it seemed somehow artificial to pray because Congress says I should. And as a journalist, I have sometimes covered this day in the past and have found it hasn’t always been as inclusive as it should be. I have often marked Yom Hashoah by thinking about and praying for all those who were killed in WWII.

But how will that change unless we all make an effort to honor the true spirit of the day? In that spirit, I wanted to offer a new set of prayers for prayer beads. But on what theme? There’s an awful lot we need to pray about – the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the plight of the poor and hungry, the condition of our environment – too many, really for me to list them all here, though I try to keep them all in my prayers.

But so many truly happy threads are running through my life right now that I feel like rejoicing. A dear friend is expecting a baby after many, many years of trying. My eldest son will graduate from college next month. My youngest son has returned to college after a very trying year off. My husband and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary this month. And my mother is in good health after a scare in February. I am healthy and whole and – dare I tempt the fates? – happy.

I think, then, I must offer up prayers of thanksgiving. But I will temper my prayers of joy with one of hope – that on the next National Day of Prayer I will be praying my thanks for greater world peace, unity and prosperity than there is right now.

In that spirit – of joy, of inclusiveness, of thankfulness and of hope – I offer the following prayers drawn from Psalms 96 and 108 and from the book She Who Prays: A Woman’s Interfaith Prayer Book by Jane Richardson Jensen and Patricia Harris-Watson.

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;
I will sing and make melody.
Wake up, my spirit; awake lute and harp;
I myself will waken the dawn. (Psalm 108)

I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 108)

1 – Sing to the Lord a new song;
2 – Sing to the Lord, all the earth
3 – Sing to the Lord and bless his name (Psalm 96)

Glory to you who creates,
Glory to you who sustains,
Glory to you who awakens

1 – I believe that you, O God, created humanity, female and male, in your image.
2 – I hear you, O Lord, and your call to love with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, and with all my mind.
3 – I accept others, just as you have accepted me, in order to bring praise to you, O God.
4 – I hope to shine like the stars in the universe as I hold out the world of life to my community
5 – I am committed to growing in your knowledge and love
6 – I praise you for clothing me with yourself so that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
7 – May the Light who lightens my life today illumine all of my tomorrows.
[8 – Delight of my heart, rest in my peace; ]
[9 – Nestle into my presence.]
[10 – Amen.] (From She Who Prays: A Woman’s Interfaith Prayer Book)

And since we spent part of this week learning how to make and use the Pearls of Life, I offer this adaptation of the same set of prayers for that form of prayer beads:

Glory to you who creates,
Glory to you who sustains,
Glory to you who awakens

ON THE PEARLS OF SILENCE (say once on all six):
I praise you for clothing me with yourself so that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.

I believe that you, O God, created humanity, female and male, in your image.

I hope to shine like the stars in the universe as I hold out the world of life to my community

1 – Sing to the Lord a new song;
2 – Sing to the Lord, all the earth
3 – Sing to the Lord and bless his name

I accept others, just as you have accepted me, in order to bring praise to you, O God.

Delight of my heart, rest in my peace; nestle into my presence.

May the Light who lightens my life today illumine all of my tomorrows.

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;
I will sing and make melody.
Wake up, my spirit; awake lute and harp;
I myself will waken the dawn

I hear you, O Lord, and your call to love with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, and with all my mind.

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Two years ago, my friend Daniela and I decided to head into San Francisco on the Saturday before Christmas to play tourists. It was so much fun we decided to do it again this year.

So on the Saturday before Christmas, we took BART to the city, got off at Powell Street and headed up to Union Square to see the lights and last-minute shoppers. Then we headed up to Grace Cathedral via the cable car. So far, all was a replay of last year’s trip, except for one thing – in my bag I had Daniela’s Christmas present: a set of red, black and gold glass prayer beads I made especially for her. I planned to give them to her inside Grace Cathedral and show her how to use them as we sat in its hushed light.

Grace Cathedral at NightBut when we reached Grace, there was a ticketed concert going on inside, preventing us from going in. No matter. We settled ourselves on a stone bench skirting the cathedral’s outdoor labyrinth. I whipped the package out of my bag and said, “Merry Christmas.”

As she unwrapped, I explained that this was not a piece of jewelry, but a set of prayer beads I had made for her with her needs (as I understood them) in mind. I said I had chosen to make them red not just because it is her favorite color, but it also seems to be the color she surrounds herself with. It is a color that seems to represent, for her, her idea of herself. I made them using the Episcopal rosary format not because she is Episcopalian (she isn’t) or even Christian (she isn’t) but because it seemed the most manageable for her.I explained that she could pray anything on them that she wanted to and to any being she wanted to.

Daniela is a very spiritual person, but her spirituality is very different from mine. I would describe her as more New Age than I am and with a good dose of woman-centered paganism thrown in. She has many times mentioned to me that she feels connection to goddesses and spirit guides and she has a deep reverence for the divine feminine. She does not pray in a way I would pray, but “puts out” energy and ideas and thoughts. So for her prayer beads a cross or other specifically religious icon would not have been right, so I used a red crystal heart for a terminal charm. I had intended to use a goddess charm, but that did not seem right. I think it is because more than being guided by “the goddess,” as I understand the idea, she is guided by a belief that the universe is a positive place full of love and intuition and an overaching goodness. A heart, it seemed, captured that better than a goddess.
Daniela loved them. She was very moved and started to tear up. And I was deeply pleased that I had been able to give her something that I hoped would honor her spirit and her soul and not just a holiday requirement for giving a present.

I then suggested that we walk the labyrinth together. Since this would be her first time using prayer beads and maybe her first time walking a labyrinth, I suggested that rather than trying to come up with prayers for the beads, she hold onto them and keep in her mind an idea of what she hoped for as she she walked. I said she could think of this as dedicating the beads to a certain purpose – perhaps bringing goodness and love into her life, or a renewed sense of purpose, or whatever she felt a need to speak to the universe about.

I had also brought a set of prayer beads (I have a set for almost every bag and pocket I own!) and took mine out. Because I knew we would go to Grace and I hoped we would walk the labyrinth, I had brought a set of Episcopal prayer beads made of natural colored stone (like the labyrinth) and with a pewter labyrinth as a terminal charm.

It was very cold as we walked there in the shadow of Grace Cathedral. I held my prayer beads in my gloved hands in front of me and began an invocation of the Trinity – In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit . . .” as I took my first step in. Daniela waited a minute or so and then entered behind me. I moved on to the Lord’s Prayer on the invitatory bead and then on to a favorite Psalm verse for the cruciforms and the prayer of Julian of Norwich (“And all shall be well . . .”) for the weeks beads. I found that as I walked my whole being seemed to slow down to the tempo my feet and my fingers were keeping. I could focus on every syllable, every step. I also became very attuned to the sounds about me – car horns, feet on stone steps, people chatting as they passed by, the roar of a bus engine – but was not distracted by them. Rather, it was as if I became intensely focused on what was here and what was now – me, the prayers and the world.

After we completed the labyrinth, we sat on the stone bench again and were very quiet. It was a lovely, still moment in the midst of an otherwise busy and bustling day and a sea of serenity in an otherwise overwhelming time of year.

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book-cover-image.jpgEvery major world religion has some tradition of counted prayer. And in all of these religions save one, these prayers are counted on beads. For Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics and Protestants, prayer beads form a link between these diverse faiths and varied cultures.

My name is Kimberly Winston and I am a freelance religion reporter and author of a new book, Bead One, Pray Too: A Guide to Making and Using Prayer Beads. Among the forms of prayer beads I explore in the book are Hindu and Buddhist malas, Islamic subhas, Catholic rosaries, Anglican and Episcopal rosaries, Lutheran prayer beads, the ecumenical rosary and the Pearls of Life. The book is both practical – explaining how to make several forms of prayer beads and suggesting prayers for them – and personal – documenting my own spiritual journey with prayer beads. Bead One, Pray Too will be published in April 2008 by Morehouse Publishing.

The purpose of this blog is to begin a conversation with my readers and others who are interested in or use prayer beads of any kind. I hope we can share ideas on how to make different forms of prayer beads, either traditional or original, and on how to pray with them.

On this blog, I also plan to interview people of different religions about their prayer beads, how they use them and what they mean to their personal spirituality. We will talk to Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Neo-Pagans, including Wiccans and Druids. And while Judaism has no tradition of prayer beads, we will learn about the tzitzitTzitzit special knotted fringe on tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl – that are fingered during certain prayers. The purpose of these interviews will be to highlight the common thread that prayer beads and counted prayer represent to members of these diverse religions.

I am brand new to the world of blogging and I am sure I will make some mistakes. I ask your patience and indulgence as I find my way through the blogging world.

The book won’t be out until April 2008, but maybe we can start the conversation now. I would love to hear from anyone who makes or uses prayer beads of any form

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