Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Walking a Ritual with Beads

In areas where winter means snow and ice and cold, everything seems to quiet down in the natural world around us. It’s a meditation in itself to slow our own daily lives and match pace with the place we live, making it the perfect time of year to focus on connecting to a sleeping, resting world.
It’s easy in the height of verdant summer to feel the heat and passion of life. Often, winter can feel like a long walk over the bones of the dead in a cemetery, so quiet and still. It’s unnerving to some. Truth is, just as the stars live in the sky whether we can see them or not, we walk every day over the bones of our dead. The ancestors are always with us.
I carry that knowledge with me through the holidays, when living family gathers in a whirlwind of joy and love and remembrance. After the chaos it can be difficult to slip back into the quiet of day-to-day. When missing my family is still a bright pang, I turn to my ancestors, the family who walks with me, with each of us, wherever we go. I turn towards strengthening that connection, thinking that maybe in the stillness of a snowy afternoon they can hear my call more clearly.
As a child I loved the rosary. I did not actually use it as it was meant to be used for I did not understand its true intention. Instead I used them to repeat my prayers at night, speaking to the streetlamp outside my bedroom window in the dark, whispering furtively for answers, for guidance. I loved the feel of the beads beneath my fingertips. Each one was a separate prayer, or the same prayer repeated. It was a tangible journey, one foot in front of the other, each step imprinting the message in my heart.
Working with ancestors often feels like speaking to the air, to ether. In the beginning of my work I needed that connector, that thing that joined my prayer with action. I longed for the feel of beads beneath my fingertips, something physical to help separate me from my body and push me into higher consciousness.
I’ve written before about the wooden mala beads I made, one bead for each known ancestor going back seven generations. But what I wanted was a ritual I could work with my hands, something more sacred. Something that reminded me of incense and chanting and temple halls, something to help me find the sacred in a tree grove and the night sky.
Years ago, in an evening of women coming together and doing a piece of spiritual work, we each made a set of beads that spoke to us. We each created a personal set that met our requirements for a personal ritual. All were beautiful. All were sacred. All were different.
I grew up immersed in a natural world with four seasons and my magick moves the same way, like the breath of the trees. So my personal magick often incorporates those seasons. My rituals weave through them to help me reach a heightened consciousness. I used semi-precious gemstone beads to create a ritual my fingers could walk.
Seven fossil beads begin the chain, the layers of ancestors, seven through which to know myself.
Nine beads mark each season, nine to mark what is sacred, three times three, my father, my mother and me.
Moonstone, smooth as silk stands for spring, for heavenly bodies and hope, for the promise of flowers and warmer winds.
One of bone to remember the flesh.
Red Tiger Eye, flashing and radiant as the summer sun, the shimmer of hazy heat and the courage found in youthful hearts.
One of bone to remember the tissue.
Lapis Lazuli for autumn, for the density and depth of water and twilight, of mystery and mist and the power of the veil and what lies beyond.
One of bone to remember the heart.
Moss Agate for winter, for earth and ice and crystal together, caressing and holding and resting and charging.
One of bone to remember the soul.
Then Quartz at the peak, for sight, vision and meditation, for communication. For being and reaching. For here. For now. This is where I speak, where I pray, where I petition, where I sit in silent clarity open to answers and impressions and visitations.
And then back down the path, down the ritual, back down to the beads of fossil of ancestral generations holding me and guiding me and bringing me home.

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