malas and other meaningful things

Over the weekend Gwen was drawing with chalk on the front porch. She drew me first, then paused and looked at me, "Should I add your necklace and bracelets, Mom? Because it doesn't really look like you without them..."  Its true. I wear a Hamsa on a chain around my neck, and two malas on my wrist. Always. I eat with them, sleep with them, shower with them, yoga with them, play with them and work with them. They have become so important to me, and they don't come off.

So what are these pieces? Well, a Hamsa is a well known symbol throughout the Middle East and Africa, and is represented in most major religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism). Also known as the Hand of Fatima, the Hand of Mary, or the Hand of Miriam, it is supposed to bring luck or ward off the evil eye. It is reflected in yogic mudras. There are stories that trace the symbol back to Carthage, Horas, or Egyptian mythology.

Source: google image search for hamsa (1, 2, 4),
hand of fatima (3, 5), hand of mary (6)

I bought mine inexpensively online, but a jeweler friend of mine molded it and recast it in silver for me, so it will last. Its good to have skilled friends!

The bracelets? I call them my malas, though only one really is. A mala is a set of beads used by Hindus and Buddhists, for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. Malas are typically made with 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads; though some practitioners use malas of 21 or 28 beads for doing prostrations (which is what mine is).

When I bought my mala, they said it was Jade... though I believe it is actually Indian Agate. Different stones have different properties. Jade is a symbol of purity and serenity. It signifies wisdom gathered in tranquility. It is a protective stone, which keeps the wearer from harm and brings harmony. It is believed to attract good luck and friendship. Agate is formed from microscopic crystals of quartz laid down in bands. This is a very stable crystal. Agates are grounding stones, bringing about an emotional, physical, and intellectual balance. They aid in centering and stabilizing physical energy. Agate has the power to harmonize yin and yang, the positive and negative forces that hold the universe in place. A soothing and calming stone, agate works slowly but brings great strength. Its multiple layers can bring hidden information to light.

My second bracelet is just a totem for me. A reminder. A simple wooden bead carved with the word breathe, and turquoise beads. Turquoise is an efficient healer, providing solace for the spirit and well-being for the body. It is a protective stone and has been used for amulets. It promotes spiritual attunement and enhances communication with the physical and spiritual worlds. Turquoise is a purification stone. It dispels negative energy and clears electromagnetic smog, providing protection against pollutants in the environment. It balances and aligns all the chakras with the subtle bodies and attunes the physical level to the spiritual.

Wearing these pieces makes me feel grounded and offer me comfort. When I am stressed or nervous, I often finding myself touching them for comfort.

Why these symbols? Well, as someone who believes in G*d, but doesn't align with a particular religion, I find the timelessness and universality of the Hamsa to be appealing. People from multiple faiths have assumed it was their own, and I like that too. I've always had a deep interest and appreciation in Buddhism, and like the idea of having something always on my person which encourages prayer and reflection... hence the mala. And even if the effects are only psychosomatic or a placebo effect, I still like the idea of having things that promote serenity, harmony, stability, and well-being always on my person.

Clearly they mean a lot to me... enough for me to write a whole, random blog post about!

What about you? Do you have any special pieces of jewelry that never leave your person?


  1. Well, I have one ring from Ethan, and one from my mom, who got it from my dad from Russia when he was doing graduate work there, and those never come off. And I've been wearing the e e cummings bracelet nearly every day, as it's a good reminder for me not to expect life to be a "paragraph." I also have a hamsa from Morocco, although I don't wear it every day...I bought the pendant there and strung it on ribbon here. It's from down in southern Morocco, which tends to be more Amazigh, but has "Shaddai" in Hebrew on it. Fun fact: some of the Jews expelled from Spain simply went across the strait and were adopted into Amazigh tribes, which is probably where my pendant came from. So it's a nice reminder that the language and religious diversity stuff I work in matters. And a good conversation starter!

    1. Very cool! I didn't know that about the Amazigh tribes.
      Love your pieces! :-)


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