Seven Rays of the Archangels rosary; on inspiration and partial possession

Today’s mantra: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  I’m going to repeat it until I am over having my designs and ideas ripped off, or until my tongue goes numb, whichever comes first.

New auction: One of a kind Rosary of the Seven Rays: this one is a 7 Rays of the Archangels rosary. [link removed, was to old ebay auction]

seven rays of the archangels

Description below the cut. First, a bit about ritual creation and esoteric prayer.

When I started making voodoo loa and hoodoo/medium’s rosaries (back in 2003 – when they weren’t to be had anywhere else online nor in any shop I ever set foot in; I had never seen them before and they didn’t exist as far as I knew, but I wanted an Erzulie Dantor rosary, so I taught myself to make rosaries… but I guess I’ll leave that alone what with my mantra working and all (sigh) ), I had a bit more time on my hands, and I’d usually make a few every month, and usually had a few for sale at any given time.  In looking over my old listings this weekend, I realized I hadn’t made any new ones in about six months – or more.  I have a list of requests from folks who’ve written about various custom things, and I try to make them as I have time, going down the list but sometimes skipping things if I’m not in the mood to make a piece on the list or don’t have the materials on hand, but time has been really scarce the last year or so.  But I really *miss* making rosaries, and I especially miss making the loa rosaries and the esoteric prayer rosaries – every one is a unique piece of folk art and I really like to see how they unfold, or bloom, or whatever the metaphor is, as I make them.

I don’t usually have a strict plan going in when I sit down – usually I’ll start with an individual spirit or saint or loa, or at least a family of loa, and I’ll fuss with the altar for a while – cleaning, dusting, setting out fresh water or flowers or whatever, depending on the spirit or saint, etc. And then I sit down with my bead box and my tools and I start working, letting the loa or spirits guide me.  This often isn’t a very different process from what any writer or artist or craftsperson might call “inspiration” – the next object or line or shadow or phrase or chord just comes to you when you’re “in the zone.”  Sometimes you get stuck or blocked, sometimes you hit a snag, back up, and reroute (much easier with beading than with knitting, let me tell you). Sometimes there’s on-the-go consideration and revision, choices between one shade or another, a decision about one metal or another.  Sometimes the loa chime in loudly and specifically; sometimes they do not (Simbi never seems to yell; Freda I don’t even have to be in the same room with to know what she wants.)

And then sometimes there’s no on the spot consideration or revision at all – it’s like a tidal wave.  Sometimes writing comes like that to writers, or an image to painters, where it all pours out instead of the usual work work work of such projects.  It’s like suddenly plugging in to some source, or tapping into some wellspring, that you don’t have access to all the time.  When this occurs in a certain context, this is what I call “partial possession” – it’s not the same as being completely ridden by a loa, where your consciousness is entirely displaced, but there is definitely a “flow” to it that is not your regular sitting-down-to-make-something flow.  It’s the same thing that happens a lot when I’m doing one of those all-day-into-the-night marathon ceremonies or spiritual bath events – I am moving stuff and making stuff and mixing stuff and handling stuff and saying stuff, but if you ask me later, I’m not always going to have any idea what I told you or what I put in that herbal mixture or what I wrote down for you (granted, some of that is sometimes sheer exhaustion.  But then again, that kind of full-on-body-mind-and-spirit exhaustion also makes possession much easier to slip into).  The spirits don’t always just hop in and take over, though – sometimes they sit on your shoulder, or talk in your ear, or seize your hands (in the case of work like making baths or making jewelry or pakets), or seize your eyes, as the saying goes, where your consciousness is not fully displaced, but a spirit is involved at some more narrow or circumscribed level, often involving one faculty or sense, or one set of appendages (so partial possession of the hands is common, if for instance La Sirene comes by when I’m giving a spiritual bath to someone, and she might come mix the bath herself, through my hands. It’s not a full possession but she is nevertheless involved in the action through me as a medium for that action).

The Rev. Docteur Tau Michael Bertiaux refers to partial possession of this type, when a spirit is involved in “your” faculty of vision, as “la prise des yeaux,” the possession (or holding or taking or seizing) of the eyes.  Now, it’s a lot more complex in Bertiaux’s scheme, and what I’m giving here is the “exoteric” interpretation of partial possession, but in all cases it’s describing a type of sight that’s akin to clairvoyance in a certain sense, but with a key difference: it’s a faculty that is absolutely based within the human being, the psychosomatic body/mind/spirit unity of the person plus his or her interaction with the spirit, with the human being as nexus or “container” (or depending on your vocabulary, battery or lodging place or even point-chaud, or the material “half” of the point chaud or pwen), and so the faculty of vision, the change that enables this to happen, is internal to the serviteur.  This is often different from, say, someone scrying, where he or she “sees” in a triangle or mirror or gazing ball or any external “screen”.  In prise-des-yeaux, the “other world” doesn’t get projected onto something you can see in your field of vision, like a crystal ball or a candle glass you might “read” the signs from.  Rather, the intersection, if you will, of the visible and invisible worlds is *inside* the practitioner.  Bertiaux calls it Esoteric Vision, and he also calls it a sacrament (VGW p. 254), and discusses it in terms that suggest he would not equate “exoteric” vodoun’s “partial possession” necessarily with the type of interactive relationship he’s discussing in the VGW.  But there are enough similarities in terms of how it works “on the ground’ to make it worth mentioning.

I am out of time to keep trying to sort my thoughts out on partial possession, but I want to get in writing some of what I see as the implications of possession and partial possession in my religion, how it differs from what that means and how it works in other traditions and vocabularies, and what the implications are for points-chauds or pwen work; they are significant, and even though I’ll likely make a mess of it, I can definitely still see some connections to some of the principles Bertiaux outlined back when he wrote the VGW, even though the Great Arabia Working participants and our current points chauds working group folks are working pretty far away from the original Bertiaux-inspired core set of points and articulation of their workings and ontology.  So, maybe I”ll get to it soon.

In the meanwhile,  this weekend I sat down to make a Seven Rays of the Archangels rosary.  These are esoteric prayer beads, a little more complex than a traditional Marian rosary.  Description (and a rant about people fundamentally misunderstanding angels) below the cut:

This rosary is made of pressed glass pumpkin-cut beads in seven “decades” of seven colors (each “decade” or section of beads has seven beads rather than the ten in the traditional Marian rosary).  Each section is separated by a Czech glass “cathedral” bead in a deep lustrous blue/purple – it’s not lavender, but more like deep cornflower blue with a hint of purple, or a dark periwinkle.  They are aurora borealis finished and each end has a small embossed “crown”/circlet of gold, so they catch the light and have a subdued but beautiful sparkle, even though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what you’d call this beautiful but mysterious color.  

The centerpiece is a blown-glass Murano heart-shaped bead; these have hollow centers as they are blown glass, so these focal pieces give stunning “heft” and presence to the piece without making it too heavy for practical use or wear.  Despite being hollow, these blown-glass beads are sturdy enough for ritual wear and for regular use on prayer beads (though I do not recommend you wear it to go out dancing or hiking or the like).  The center heart bead has a lovely, subdued range of hues in a subtle, gradually shifting swirl, from a deep amethyst purple to a fresh spring green.  From the center hangs a royal blue Czech glass cathedral bead; a pewter prayer box that opens to hold your tiny prayer papers and/or herbs or small curios; a tiny full-color resin medal of the angel Uriel, a tiny full-color resin medal of the angel Michael, a pewter medal of the angel Gabriel, and a pewter medal of the angel Raphael.  Finished with a silver-toned crucifix featuring a corpus, Alpha and Omega symbols, two Jerusalem crosses stamped on the front, and “Jerusalem” in relief on the back.

This hand-made piece can be customized with the addition of other medals or charms; see the Saints Items categories for individual medals, or write if you want something you don’t see and I’ll let you know if I can list what you want.  I have plain pewter medals of dozens of saints and angels in stock, and I usually have full size and miniature full-color resin medals of Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, Michael, and other saints as well.  I also have your usual selection of charms and curios (like hearts, four-leaf clovers, apotropaic charms, doves, etc) if you’d like to add something non-denominational; just write with your request and I can set up a custom listing for whatever additions you’d like to make.

Listing cost includes any prayers, consecrations, anointings, censings, or blessings that you request upon checkout; there is no additional charge for this unless I am adding medals or charms or otherwise altering the piece physically for you (for instance adding a charm, adding a clasp, making it longer, etc – that sort of thing will probably cost a little more, but otherwise there is no additional charge).  Upon request, I will add herbs, powders, name paper, and/or petition paper to the tiny prayer box, as appropriate to your situation (though do keep in mind that the box won’t hold a large paper or a vast quantity of anything).  Just leave me a note in the “note to seller”/”instructions to merchant” box in the paypal payment pages as you are checking out, letting me know whatever info you want me to include or have in customizing your esoteric rosary.

Decade loop is app. 13″ from end to end, with ends held together, so it would be not quite double that if you were to measure it in non-loop form – plenty big enough to go over your head if you want to wear it.  Entire piece is about 18″ from end to end, with ends held together.

This piece is one of a kind like all my Seven Rays rosaries, hand-assembled by me in a ritual setting.  They take a while to make, and I pray them as I make them, so they are already pretty juiced up when the beading/assembly part is finished.  The rosary will live on my Archangels altar until it finds its new home with you, and I will personalize its “final departure” blessing or consecration just for you when you are ready to bring it home, so don’t be shy about letting me know a little about the situation or context you’ll be using it in, and I will incorporate the details into its dedication before it leaves my altar space. Just use the “note to seller” box as you check out, so all your info stays attached to your order.

There are different types of Rosaries of the Seven Rays.  This particular type is dedicated to the Archangels, and this exact piece was created with an emphasis on the four “named” Archangels: Michael as a figure of strength, protection, and the fiery light of God that burns away lies, illusions, dangers, and doubts; Gabriel as a figure of harmony, messages, swiftness, strength, fertility, and creativity; Raphael as a figure of exorcism and banishing/binding, intellect, healing, marriage, and safe travel, both physical and spiritual; and Uriel as a figure of devotion, grace, prophecy, poetry, and inspiration (in some traditions he is also known for smiting the unjust at Judgment Day, though all the angels have some sort of role in the apocalypse related to summoning of the dead, assembly of souls, or judgment in Christian scripture).  These are the Four Archangels most often mentioned by name in the Judeo-Christian scriptural and exegetical traditions, and are considered in some schools to be Seraphim.  Other apocryphal and esoteric traditions name Seven Archangels, or Princes of the Presence, who stand before the face of God (Tobit 12:15).  Depending on which teaching of which esoteric school you read, the archangels are

Michael (here often associated with power, protection, and faith)
Jophiel (love and wisdom)
Chamuel (creativity)
Gabriel (harmony)
Raphael (intellect and understanding intricacy)
Uriel (devotion and grace)
Zadkiel (freedom, some schools say magic also)

Rosaries of the Seven Rays have associations and prayers for the seven days of the week, the seven planets, and the seven archangels.  Thus, this rosary can be used as part of a weekly cycle of esoteric prayer and meditation, one section prayed for each day’s meditation.  Or you can pray the whole thing in one sitting if you like, as well. There is a lot of info out there, as many mystery schools have teachings related to the Seven Rays; there are no hard and fast rules about how to use these prayer beads, but there are lots of possibilities and they can be adapted to different religious backgrounds if you aren’t the “Hail Mary” type. 

(Some schools teach a Feminine counterpart to the archangels as well, but as someone who studies the history of saints and angels professionally, and has published scholarly articles on them, I think it’s important to note that according to thousands of years of doctrine, philosophy, and folk practice, angels do not have any human gender or sex at all in the Judeo-Christian tradition.)* [see note below]

This rosary is prayed for spiritual growth and progression and for strengthening of the body of light (you can “target” areas in your body of light, build up “weak spots,” and do targeted chakra work by focusing on one Ray or another in your prayers and meditations).  Energy workers and light workers can use this rosary to do work on behalf of others as well, so it’s a powerful tool in the spiritual toolbox of the healer and lightworker.

This is a serious piece for the serious practitioner devoted to esoteric prayer.  It won’t do you much good if you just keep it in its bag and look at it a couple of times a year – it’s not like a talisman you keep in your pocket.  It’s more like a musical instrument — it’s designed to be used, not to sit on a shelf in a museum, and it will become more powerful and its energy more focused with regular use.

Bishop Tau Michael Bertiaux says of the rosary, in his chapter on Upadhi I in The Voudon Gnostic Workbook, that prayer beads are among the most effective ways to generate spiritual energy and “hook up” to “God energy.”  He conceives of the
rosary as a “prayer machine” and emphasizes that the rosary is further blessed and empowered through use.  I have blessed and empowered this rosary, praying as I make it, but it will absorb deeper spiritual energies through your repeated use, “tuned” to the traditions and energies you work with.

As with all consecrated items, you are paying for the materials and time invested into making the item, not for the blessings and consecrations themselves. (In fact, clients often send me items already in their possession to bless, which I am happy to do at no cost; the client is responsible for the postage to and from me only.) 

See my blog on livejournal (username karmazain) for more information on saints and rosaries in esoteric practices and traditions.  Follow the tags!

Should this one of a kind, heirloom piece suffer due to normal wear and tear in two weeks or two years, I will repair/cleanse/reconsecrate it as needed; as long as I have a store, I’m available for “maintenance work” on your investment.  Just contact me for more info, ideally letting me know about when you purchased so I can find the notes I made while doing altar work on your original order.  (Please note that wearing this out to the club to go dancing is not “normal wear and tear” – this is a ritual item, not a fashion statement.  If your esoteric rosary or prayer bead necklace actually explodes or shatters, it may have taken a hit for you and be beyond repair, but let’s talk anyway – I might be able to diagnose it and tell you what happened, at least, and we can see what our options are.) 

* . . .  at least not until they Fall, but usually not even then.  Gender and sex are human categories and functions, not angelic ones.  There are some traditions of sexual angels, and this is alluded to in Genesis, Tobit, and Enoch, e.g., but such traditions almost always tell of male or masculinized angels who get mixed up with human women.  And the results are rarely good.  Aside from the controversial and very unclear passage in Zechariah 5 that refers to winged women, the concept of female angels or feminine counterparts to the “traditional” Judeo-Christian angels is a fairly recent modern-metaphysical-school teaching or idea.  If you are interested in female angels with a more venerable pedigree or ancient tradition, you’ll have to look further afield into Zoroastrianism, a certain squinting interpretation of some Gnostic texts, and some Arabic lore; but I’m afraid all that “male or female gender energy” stuff is new age hooey, y’all, sorry.

If your source is telling you angels just love us to pieces and want to come hug us with their wings and harp us to sleep, and that angels look like little babies with curly hair and they are all only peace and love and light, and that Gabriel is unique among the angels in the Judeo-Christian tradition for being female, then you need to be really suspicious of your source.  You can pretty safely bet your source can’t cite a reliable source for this stuff, doesn’t know anything about art history, hasn’t actually paid attention to what the Judeo-Christian holy texts say, and is invested in revisionism rather than tradition.  Angels are powerful, beyond human categories, beyond limited human concepts of morality, beyond human rational knowledge, do not care whether or not you got stood up last Friday night, and are often frightening to human beings – witness their frequent formula of greeting: “Be not afraid.” 

Bottom line: you can work with these entities or energies however you please – I’m not here to dictate anybody’s faith or practice to them (though I AM here to call “BS” when people make demonstrably untrue claims about the history of angels and saints). 

But this rosary was not made for, and is not intended to be used in, a tradition which claims angels exist to serve all humans simply by virtue of their being human; that they want to be, are, or could be at our beck and call for our smallest whim with no spiritual preparation on our parts for working with these forces, just because we bought a self-help book on how much angels love us at the local Borders; that angels are like pretty, domesticated pets who have nothing to do but just ooze love and smile beatifically at us; that they want to have sex, especially Tantric sex, with us; that they want to be our angel boyfriends or girlfriends; etc ad nauseum.

This rosary was made in the spirit of, and intended to be used in light of, thousands of years of tradition in which angels are sometimes wonderful but sometimes terrible, not always or even often human-shaped, have much better things to do than hang around over our shoulders pushing us out of the way of cars, have Intelligence or access to Intelligence that is beyond human capability, and who have various vocations, many of which frequently involve spiritual warfare with the devil and lesser demons.  These angels are not “cute,” they are not your lap dog or BFF, and they should be respected, not toyed with. 

Ok, I’m all done with my soapbox now.  I just don’t want this rosary to be misunderstood as being a product of the last decade’s surge of interest in angels of the insipid greeting card and smarmy-TV-show variety; if you don’t know what you’re doing and you just put the key in the ignition, at best nothing at all will happen.  At worst, you could get pretty thoroughly trampled.  So if you are looking for “angel oracle” and “angel therapy” stuff, and you don’t have much practice with fortifying your body of light, doing energy work, using mantra or prayer formulas, and employing regular banishing, cleansing, and protection in your life, then you might want to skip this one.

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