Thursday, February 16, 2012

Prayer Beads

Prayer Beads
An interesting conversation came up in a group I belong to; the subject of prayer beads. While I don't pray, I have always thought prayer beads were very pretty, and hold a sacredness to them that always made me want a set.

Almost very major religion has its own prayer bead design. Except Protestant Christians. Not sure why, except maybe as a "fuck you" to the Catholics when they broke away centuries ago.

The Catholic Rosary Beads are some of the most beautiful I've seen. Some day I intend to buy a set.

The Catholic Rosary provides a physical method of keeping count of the number of Hail Marys said. The fingers are moved along the beads as the prayers are recited. By not having to keep track of the count mentally, the mind is more able to meditate on the mysteries. A five decade rosary contains five groups of ten beads (a decade), with additional large beads before each decade.[34] The Hail Mary is said on the ten beads within a decade, while the Our Father is said on the large bead before each decade. A new mystery is meditated upon at each of the large beads. Some rosaries, particularly those used by religious orders, contain 15 decades, corresponding to the traditional 15 mysteries of the rosary. Both five and 15 decade rosaries are attached to a shorter strand, which starts with a crucifix followed by one large, three small, and one large beads before connecting to the rest of the rosary.

The Buddhist Japa Mala Beads are always so exotic looking, another set I intend to acquire some day. Mala beads or prayer beads represent an ancient meditative tool.

Traditionally, there are 108 beads on a strand of mala prayer beads. (Yes, we counted them and all our mala beads have 108 beads!)

This number is significant because it represents the number of mental conditions or sinful desires that one must overcome to reach enlightenment or nirvana.

Muslim Tasbih Beads are traditionally held in the right hand and used in two ways -

In one method, the mala is hanging between the thumb and the ring (third) finger as pictured. The middle (second) finger is used to rotate the mala by one bead towards oneself with each repetition of the mantra.

In the other method, the mala is hanging on the middle finger, with the thumb used to rotate the mala just as explained - one bead at a time.

The index finger is not traditionally used to touch the Mala beads.

The Santeria Ilekes 

An eleke is basically a string of beads.  It can be in the form of a necklace, a bracelet, an anklet, a kneelet, an armlet, waist beads or breast beads.  In the context of Vodun and derivative systems, it is a string of beads that represents Vodun itself or a Spirit or Deity within or syncretized with the system.  They can be dedicated to one or multiple Spirits, including one’s ancestors.

Since Vodun is not really a representative faith, when we say “represent” what we mean is “simultaneously symbolizes, embodies, and calls”.  So they don’t merely represent the Spirits.  They are something like tendrils of the Spirits that a person mindfully constructs and consecrates.  The artist is the tool more than the object.

You should put your necklaces on or remove them one at a time. This should be in the same order that you received them. This order is usually: Elegba, Oshún, Yemayá, Shangó, Obatalá (if you received your ilekes to Obatalá). If it has been determined which orisha rules your head then that orisha's ileke goes on last and Obatala's goes on second. For example if it has been determined that Oshún is your orisha then you would put your necklaces on and remove them in this order: Elegba, Obatalá, Yemayá, Shangó and Oshún. You should kiss the necklaces as you put them on or remove them. They should be placed on a white cloth or on your altar to the orishas, not thrown in a jumble in a pocket or in your purse. You must respect your ilekes as you would the orishas themselves.

AzureGreen- Celebrating All Paths to the Divine

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