…or is that Prayer Sticks, Feathers and Sticky Notes?
Native American friends tell me that when one finds feathers, it means that one is on a good path. Feathers and birds represent our connection to God, heaven and angelic spirits. On a prayer stick, they help send prayers upward, into the universe, to heaven to God, to Creator… whatever your belief in a higher power is called.
When I find feathers on the beach, I often stand them upright in the sand while offering a blessing to someone else, a friend with a problem, a hope, a dream – or Lake Superior, the Universe, and even to myself. It’s kind of a physical “sticky note” to the Universe, from a time long before post-it-notes or computer posts.
How do you make a prayer stick?
Simple to make, all one needs is a small stick of wood (from a tree, preferably ) and good intention. I often make them on the spot, as in this photo. At the beach, I found feathers (probably seagull) and fastened them to a piece of driftwood, which spoke to me and was particularly beautiful, with a leather lace from my backpack. Sometimes I find dried roots or beachgrass to use as a tie. (In my home studio, I have more choices of materials, sticks, trees, and sometimes finding the right choice is harder there.) As the prayer stick is made, holding good energy, kind thoughts, thinking of the person or purpose for making it, are most important. As you create the prayer stick that energy is passed into it from your hands, thoughts and energy… so try to be clear about your intention as you are doing it.
Where to put a prayerstick?
I have made and left prayer sticks in the woods, on the beach, in many places.
When camping, I will scout the area as I set up camp, and usually find the perfect materials close at hand. While making the prayerstick, I am usually thinking thoughts like asking Creator protect the campground, this campsite, fill it with love, that kind and loving people share it with respect and joy. For me, a prayerstick placed near the campfire is a welcome to good things, people, energy, inspiration. (I have accomplished a lot of writing in camp grounds, by hand, away from the computer… with the energy of a prayer stick nearby! I’ve always only met wonderful, interesting and kind people, too!)
Not a camper? City bound? Apartment dweller?
You can do this anywhere… you can make a prayer stick and put it in your garden , near your door, or in the earth of a houseplant on your windowsill. Prayersticks can be simple or complex. I have decorated them with feathers, beads, leather, beach grass, fabric, silk thread, carved them with symbols, tied notes to them. Making a prayer stick is a wonderful form of meditating. They can also be created for celebrations – to celebrate a marriage, a birth, a birthday.
(When my sister, Kate, and my friend, Paul, were ill and dying, I made a “healing” prayerstick for them and our families. We, and they, knew they were dying, and in making that prayer stick, I cried a lot, rembembering the great times we had together, I asked that their pain and suffering be alleviated, that their wonderful spirits be remembered and honored, and acknowledged their love for me and mine for them. I asked for healing for them and our families. I placed the prayer stick near my campfire at home, where I could see it daily and remember to offer them a blessing. They were both sick at the same time, and the prayer stick stood through rain and snow, sunshine and darkness for over a year. It was decorated and added to. As they grew closer to death, it still stood, with feathers freshened in the second spring. Did it heal them? No. They died within 2 weeks of one another. Yet, the prayer stick still stands, with a few things removed after they left and those items burned in the campfire. New feathers added, new lines of communication to their angel spirits who join us at campfires, at the beach, in songs, laughter, and s’mores! The prayer stick made it easier to say good-bye and hello. I have not photgraphed it and probably won’t…)
Humans have been “blogging” and “posting” since the beginning of time… communicating with words, images, prayer sticks, making things of feathers and stone… and making offerings in silver or gold plates in churches.
If you attend a church, notice the rituals and objects used in them… They are deeply rooted in the human condition of desiring communication of our hopes and dreams, joys, our sadness at loss.
My prayer sticks are simple and I hope beautiful. They are always full of love, joy, gratitude and forgiveness.
I learned about them by accident, then from friends, then reading, and found I had been practicing an ancient tradition for a long time.
White Eagle – Provides a lengthy and traditional description of making Prayersticks.
Eagle Spirit Ministry – Provides a simple description of how to make a Prayerstick.
May your day be filled with good energy and many feathers!
Namaste ~ Star Bear
Copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis