Spanista » Self Care Rituals, Reflections & Resources for Joyful Living by Ginny Shiverdecker

Spanista Holiday Collection Gift #11: Beads Sacred Symbolism

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Dear Wellness Seekers,

Spanista Holiday Collection Gift #11: Beads Sacred Symbolism Yesterday & Today. 

We seem to be naturally attracted to beads – especially beaded bracelets. They beg to be touched and admire. My first recollection of beads comes from sitting on my Mother’s lap while she prayed the rosary. She was a devoted Catholic who always demonstrated a special reverence for prayer. Saying the rosary was a ritual she found great peace in. I do not recall a week going by when I did not witness here setting time aside to touch each bead in prayer in her favorite way. What I also recall, she always seemed to emerge from her form of reflection time with a renewed spirit – more content  and more loving. Perhaps this is one way the significance of rituals was imbedded in me at a young age.  And why beads hold such an attraction for me.

Mindy, owner of Design In The City Boutique agrees that a beaded bracelet provides personal comfort just by touching the beads. Of course who does not love their Spa Chic Style. The quality of the beaded bracelets pictured in an array of rich colors begs them to be collected and worn in a ‘statement’ layering effect. Spanista Enthusiasts know my penchant for bracelets. The day I have a Spa Studio treatment scheduled, I comb through my collection to ware one or more depending upon The Intention I have going into my Self Care time. When in the experience, I often touch the beads to bring me back to the moment when my mind wonders or when I want to be reminded of my intentions. It is a wonderful touchstone by which to can attach your own symbolism.

This holiday seasons, my curiosity peaked as to when and how beads became associated with symbolism, so I did some exploring. I discovered this fascinating explanation that appears to be well researched on ASacredMemory.com. Here is an excerpt of 3 questions and answers:

“What does history reveal about ancient sacred beads?”

“In his book, The Dawn of The Human Culture, archeologist Randall White of New York University, who specializes in the study of upper-Paleolithic art (earth embedded), believes that beads, perforated shells, pierced animal teeth, and other ornaments were remarkably symbolic and sacred to the ancients. White’s research indicated over 30,000 years ago the intricacy of beads required extraordinary time and effort, implying notable profound symbolic meaning. White’s experiments illustrate a single bead typically required one to three hours to craft.”

“What significance and/or purpose did the ancient beads symbolize?”

A handful of fragile ostrich eggshell beads was excavated from a Kenyan site called Enkapune Ya Mato, or Twilight Cave, established 40,000 years ago. Sediment found in the cave reveals a record of important cultural changes during the past few thousand years. According to writer Mitchell Leslie, “…they appeared to be the earliest known jewelry. But some anthropologists think they are much more. The people of the Twilight Cave may have exchanged them as ritual gifts or tokens making the Cheerio-like object the oldest known example of symbolism. …” (Mitchell, July-Aug. 2002)

Of particular interest is the commonality and widespread application of beads as symbols across many different cultures due to the inherent value the symbol(s) provide.

For example – In addition to helping keep one’s place in structured prayers, prayer beads also symbolize the commitment to spiritual life. With their circular form, a string represents the interconnectedness of all who pray. Each bead counted is an individual prayer or mantra, and the rote repetition of prayers and mantras is meant to facilitate a sole focus on the prayer or mantra itself. … [Maggie Oman Shannon and Eleanor, Wiley in A String and a Prayer]   Based on Shannon and Wiley’s observations, it’s of little surprise that the use of prayer beads— or similar customs involving symbols—in also evident in non-Christian practices across a far-reaching cultural, religious, and spiritual spectrum: the ancient Egyptians used beads, as did Native Americans,African history points to rituals evoking the power of gods; Hindus used prayer beads for counting breaths and repeating mantras; Buddhist bead practices served to attain enlightenment; and even within Judaism—long considering “prayer beads” as a form of paganism—a prayer shawl, known as a tallit, features craftsmanship that is based on a number of specified knots, quite similar to prayer beads.

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“Did the ancients project “intention” onto these sacred beads?”

In her Book of Intentions, Dianne Martin writes about ‘intention.’ Our whole world changes with intention. The collision and interactions of intentions profoundly affects our behavior, our environment, our communities, our world, the universe, and therefore ourselves. Did the ancients know this?

A Beliefnet interview with Dr.Wayne Dyer, ( one of my heros) discussing his book The Power of Intention, features a significant quote by Carlos Castendada: “There’s an immeasurable indescribable force, which shamans called ‘intent’ and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is connected to it… an invisible source that ‘intends’ everything into the universe.”

Discovering how our ancestors around the world gave purpose and meaning to their beads helps provide remarkable insights into many of our present-day religious and spiritual customs, be they ceremonial, spiritual, in celebration, as currency, as part of healing rituals, as a form of status (power and wealth). Yet it is within the act of prayer itself that we can most recognize the symbolic and far-reaching significance of beads.”

Thank you to ASaredMemory.com for this history. This is a great site to spend time with if you care to learn more. Books are available on Amazon.com.

Spanista Takeaway: So know that when you are gifting a yourself or someone you care about a beaded bracelet you are giving more than Spa Chic Style, you are giving the Symbolism of the Spirit of Intention. That is a pretty potent gift. That is why it is added as #11 on the Spanista Holiday Collection Gift List.

May Your Self Care Journey To Joy be Merry & Bright,

Ginny

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