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.
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 is based on the Wheel of the Year and the eight festivals. It is the great cycle of birth, death and rebirth which honors the great mystery.
The Pendant – The set begins with the pendant which sets the tone and insight for the set
Step Beads – Three silver beads. I think of these three beads as steps we take on the way to a place of worship, it might be steps out to a favorite tree, preparing for meditation, or the familiar steps into a shrine or temple.
Mystery Bead – The mystery bead is usually the largest bead in the set, it 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 divided up into eight sections which represent the eight festivals of the wheel of the year. Each section has 5 beads which adds to a total of 40 beads.
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. My interpretation of the wheel follows the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland which is inspired by my ancient foremothers, folklore and legends.
Considering the wheel is an invitation to connect to those stories, and the reflections which arise. 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.
This is a brief overview of the festivals:
Autumn Equinox – Marks the great threshold as 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 and emerge back into the world.
Beltane – A time to honor desire in all forms. Exploring an ancestral longing for a place and time we can't quite pinpoint. A time to explore our 'wild self' and explore how we bring elements of her into our life.
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 – A Celtic harvest festival and a time of greats gatherings. Exploring the maps of the Wise Women and their environments as well as celebrating the gathers, and not the hunters story.
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, it is 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 could consider using a chant, or simply a few words which offer the essence of the particular holy day or to represent a situation or how you fell or wish to feel.
- 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 place on the wheel you’re currently 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 on 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.
13 Moon Finger Prayer Beads
These smaller sets of prayer beads are specially designed for keeping in your pocket. The idea for these beads came about with wanting a more portable and smaller version
of the larger set of prayer beads. There are 13 beads related to the 13 moons of the year.
We are pulled by the waxing and waning of the moon. We can plant our intentions by the dark moon and explore them again by the light of the full moon. The beads can comfort as they offer the same circle as the larger set, a circle to breath and ground into
and allow ourselves to ground and know we have the strength of our ancestors with us in whatever we might be facing.