How to Make Pagan Prayer Beads

Prayer Beads
Make a strand of prayer beads to use in your rituals and workings. Patti Wigington

In many magical traditions and religious paths, the use of beads can be a meditative and magical exercise. The best known example of this practice is found, obviously, in the Catholic use of the rosary. Within the rosary, each bead is representative of a prayer, which is counted in a ritual format. Some forms of Judaism have used prayer beads for many years, with a bead or knot symbolizing each of the Psalms.

Prayer Beads Around the World

Buddhist prayer beads.
Pascal Deloche / Getty Images

If you’re Pagan, obviously you wouldn’t need a set of prayer beads symbolizing things such as Psalms or other clearly Judeo-Christian ideals. However, Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on faith, and for many Pagans the idea of ritualized prayer is an appealing one. You can construct a set of prayer beads with a variety of themes and use them in rituals to express your Pagan beliefs and ideologies.

Prayer beads are found in religions all over the world. In Buddhism and the Hindu belief systems, strands of beads known as malas are used. Typically containing 108 beads, each one signifies the mortal desires of human beings. Muslims often use a misbaḥah, which is used as a counting tool in reciting the names of God in prayer. Larger ones contain 99 beads, and the smaller ones just 33.

Let’s look at ideas for two different types of Pagan prayer beads. The first set is a devotional one that honors the elements, the changing seasons, and the phases of the moon. The second pays tribute to the deities of your tradition.

Devotional Prayer Breads

Pagan devotional beads
A set of devotional beads can celebrate the principles of your tradition. Patti Wigington

You will need:

Sort your beads and arrange them so they for a pattern that you like. You may want to try different patterns and designs and see which feels right for you.

On the bead strand in the photo, the silver beads represent the lunar months, the purple ones are for the eight sabbats, and rather than using four beads for the cardinal elements, it features three different beads symbolizing the realms of earth, sea and sky which are honored in many Celtic paths.

Once you have your beads aligned the way you like them, string them on the beading wire and knot it securely. To use your beads in ritual, assign a prayer or short devotional to each bead. As you count them, recite the prayers.

God or Goddess Prayer Beads

Pagan prayer beads
Use colors and symbols representing a deity to make a set of god or goddess beads. Patti Wigington

You will need:

  • Beads in colors representing the deity/deities of your tradition
  • Beads that symbolize some of the attributes of the deity
  • Spacer beads in color of your choice
  • Beading wire or string

Sort your beads and arrange them so they for a pattern that you like. You may want to try different patterns and designs and see which feels right for you.

On the bead strand in the photo, the red and black beads symbolize the Morrighan, and the hematite represents her protective, warrior qualities.

Once you have your beads aligned the way you like them, string them on the beading wire and knot it securely. To use your beads in ritual, assign a prayer or short devotional to each bead. As you count them, recite the prayers.

Other Ideas for Prayer Beads

Set of prayer beads
Patti Wigington

Want to try some other ideas for prayer beads? Consider one of these as an option:

  • Chakra beads: incorporate the seven colors of the chakras into a prayer bead strand, and use in healing meditations
  • Ancestor beads: use a variety of beads to symbolize your family’s heritage and origins. Use them in rituals celebrating your ancestors and kinfolk.
  • Triple goddess beads: combine three different colors to represent the maiden, mother and crone aspect of the goddess often found in Wiccan traditions.
  • Spellwork beads: consider the principles used in the Witch’s Ladder for spellwork, and work them into a bead strand.

Sources

  • Engstrom-Reese, Donald L. Pagan Prayer Beads, wearewalkinginbeauty.org/Walking_in_Beauty/Pagan_Prayer_Beads.html.
  • Greer, John Michael., and Clare Vaughn. Pagan Prayer Beads: Magic and Meditation with Pagan Rosaries. Weiser Books, 2007.
  • Peck, Alice. Mindful Beads: 20 Inspiring Ideas for Stringing and Personalizing Your Own Mala and Prayer Beads, plus Their Meanings. CICO Books, 2018.