Saturday, January 27, 2007

Prayer Stick

I've always been fascinated by sacral (sacred) objects. I hold an view that now seems unpopular in the Christian west that objects and places can be hallowed (holy) and have a special connection to spirit, as an individual conceives it.

I'm convinced by experience (which is something different from believing) that objects and places can accrue a kind of spiritual energy. If you've ever entered a 1.000-year old church or spent time in an ancient monument, you may have experienced what I have in mind. And if you look at texts like the Book of Kells or some of the beautiful spiritual art of various cultures, you may have felt the links, too.

Among the objects that touch me most are prayer objects that people have made. Often the makers are not artists, but simply people with concerns and praise they wish to lay at the feet of Spirit. I strongly believe the act of creating is in itself powerful prayer, in addition to any words that may be added. The act of creation opens doors to deeply meditative states that make spiritual connections easier.

This is a simple payer stick I made recently. The stick is a wooden spatula that I covered in scraps of text from Bible pages someone sent me. I dabbed that over with a layer of acrylic glazes in red, yellow, and orange. The halo is made from two circles of (used) sandpaper glued back to back, with a scrap pf black and gold punchinella added between halo and face cabochon, which I touched up with some patina.

The stick is partially wrapped with lengths of twine I soaked in pigment overnight to age them. I had pigment ready mixed; you might prefer to use walnut ink or thinned acrylic paint instead.
Traditional prayer sticks often contain a "signature" to tell Spirit who made them, who has sent the prayer. In this case I included a tiny shell to represent the feminine and also the perfection in form and dimension and spiritual progression of the spiral.

The actual prayer is written on a long strip of rice paper. I folded the paper into a star (if I can find the instructions for the star, I'll share them), which then turned out to be too large for the stick. I unwrapped a few layers, tore them from the remaining star, then rolled them into beads which I attached to the fronds. I then attached the start to the stick.

I punched holes at the top and bottom of the stick. The top hole is for a hanging thread. (I have a special place where I hang things like this.) I attached a few threads and some hammered copper nails from an African necklace to the bottom of the stick.


Margaret F. said...

Yes!!! I've been working with these as well, and it feels good: wordless prayer that is immensely soul-satisfying. Old churches and other "hallowed" places or "religious" art also resonate within the soul - no words are needed. Somehow you feel a connection with the people who created these places or objects, or spent time there

Jill said...

Just beautiful! This really speaks to me.

Gena said...

I love this. It has a pureness of intention that gives it great power.

shawa_strong_wind said...

I have this fantasy that when people will find these objects five hundred years from now, hanging somewhere, or having been carefully passed from generation to generation, they will think of us as civilized, lol!
A year back I made a prayer doll, and attached a tag which said "Prayer Doll - Beginning of XXIst century - probably done by a devotee of the Great Goddess"...A museum piece, as Susan´s prayer stick is...

Kari said...

Such a lovely idea - yes, special objects can help us get into the "zone" to concentrate our minds when we are meditating or praying. It looks beautiful and fascinating as well.

Kari x