Update 3/4/17: Please visit my shop on Etsy to see my selection of handmade Goddess rosaries and prayer beads!
When designing your own Goddess rosary or prayer beads, the options are truly endless! But there are a few things you can consider to help narrow down your options and decide what materials to use and how to design your rosary.
First, decide what you want to use your rosary for. You can make one to honor a specific deity, to honor an element, or all of the elements, to pray for world peace, to pray for healing, or to honor a particular aspect of the Goddess such as the Maiden, Mother, or Crone. If you are currently focusing on an aspect of personal growth, such as overcoming an addiction, healing depression or anxiety, or working on self-love, you could make prayer beads to assist with that work.
You can also make a general set of prayer beads with no particular focus. My set of amethyst prayer beads serve this purpose for me, and I have used them with a variety of prayers and for many different purposes over the years.
Once you’ve decided on your focus, you can choose your design. Do you want to make a more traditional style of rosary with a dangling pendant and several sections of beads (called “decades” on a Catholic rosary) divided from each other by larger transition beads? My Guadalupe rosary follows this pattern.
You can also make a simple string of beads, separated by smaller spacer beads, with a single pendant, like my Yemaya rosary, or my amethyst rosary above. You don’t really need spacer beads if you are making a wire-strung rosary, but for other types of rosaries they help separate the larger beads, which are the ones you will be using for your prayers. They are also a nice way to add other colors or contrast to your rosary rather than having one long string of all the same kind of beads.
A pendant acts as a signal of the beginning and end of your prayers as you use your rosary, but you don’t have to use a pendant at all. I made the Brigid rosary below from instructions in Lunaea Weatherstone’s book Tending Brigid’s Flame, and she designed it with no beginning or end. You simply start praying and stop when you feel finished, which can give a meditative, trance-like quality to your prayers.
The beads you use can add another layer of symbolism to your rosary. You can use crystal or gemstone beads that correspond with the qualities of the deity you are honoring, or represent the purpose for which you are creating the rosary. I used lapis lazuli beads for my Sophia rosary, as lapis lazuli is associated with wisdom, and pearls for my Yemaya rosary since Yemaya is associated with water. If you were making a rosary for self-love, you could use rose quartz beads, or an elemental rosary could use four different stones each associated with one of the elements.
Glass beads are also a good choice, as they have a neutral energy, and you can choose colors that are symbolic to the purpose of your rosary. For example, I added blue glass pearls to my Yemaya rosary since her traditional colors are blue and white. You could use fiery red or gold glass beads for Brigid, or green and brown glass beads to honor Gaia. Wooden or clay beads might also be a nice choice depending on the purpose of your rosary.
When choosing beads, if you plan to make a rosary with different sections (like my Guadalupe or Sophia rosaries), be sure the transition beads that divide the sections are different enough in size, shape, and/or texture that you can feel the transition when you are praying with your eyes closed. Another option is to add extra spacer beads between the main beads and the transition beads so you can feel the change.
Number of Beads
The number of beads you use can also be symbolic. I consider three to be a Goddess number, and I often use multiples of three in my rosaries. My Guadalupe rosary uses nine beads, three times three, in each section. Seven is a number sacred to Yemaya, so I used 21 pearls for her rosary, seven times three. Seven is also sacred to Sophia, so I created her rosary using three sections of seven beads each. I’m sure you get the idea!
As for pendants, you can use charms that you find at bead stores, or large gemstone beads. Etsy is a great source for pendants and charms. Don’t limit yourself just to charms sold for jewelry-making, also take a look at pendants sold as necklaces, or use a pendant from a necklace you already own but never wear. Many bead and craft stores sell pendant-making kits in which you can place your own printed image, which might be a good choice if you have an image of your deity that you would really like to use.
You can also sculpt your own pendant, like I did for my Sophia rosary. I used Activa Premier air-dry clay. I have had great success with it—it hasn’t shrunk or cracked, and it is incredibly lightweight and strong once dry. I often carry my rosary in my pocket and it is still in great shape. The clay can be painted with acrylic paints once dry. It’s a bit hard to tell from the picture, but I painted my dove with white pearlescent paint.
Making your prayer beads with a design, materials, and other symbolism that is important to you makes them very special, but don’t get overwhelmed. A simple string of beads is just as meaningful and useful as the most elaborate rosary. For many years my simple set of amethyst prayer beads was all I used, and though it is worn and the silver spacer beads are tarnished, it is still very special to me.
In the Part 3 of this series, I will share the ways that I use my prayer beads and some of the prayers that I use.
Happy rosary-making if you decide to give it a try! If you do, please share pictures with me here, or tag me on Instagram—I’d love to see them!