Ever since I discovered Beth Wodandis’ blog in August 2015 I’ve also been following her Etsy shop (back when it was called Fyberwytch), which is full of beautiful beadwork, jewellery, fibrecraft, and scented things. Although I’d been browsing for months, and seen many beautiful things that I’d love to have owned, I never bought anything – I never felt that I had enough of a connection to any of the deities or themes Beth had designed the pieces for, and I wasn’t about to buy a necklace essentially because I loved the look of it when someone else who actually had a devotion to Loki or the Wild Hunt or Hera could have it instead. The same held true for the prayer beads and cords, with the addition that with the prayer beads I’d have no idea what prayers to use with them that I wouldn’t just use with a repurposed Dominican rosary, akin to what has been done here. So I browsed, and ooohd, and dreamed of a day when I might be able to justify buying one of her pieces.
And then I did!
I can’t remember when it was listed, but as soon as I saw the Yggdrasil prayer beads made out of wood and sea-glass I fell in love. It was so pretty! But I had no reason to own it, so I clicked on. And yet every week or so I’d end up browsing Beth Wodandis Designs and the beads were still there. I kept looking at the photos, and reading the description, and I kept wanting to buy it, but without that self-justification I just couldn’t. However, by mid-late January I suddenly realised I could justify buying those prayer beads, partly through my own previous actions, and partly through Beth’s words.
Earlier in the month I’d bought myself what’s called a Missionary Rosary off eBay, not because I agree with the reasons behind this rosary version’s introduction (I really don’t), but because of the colours – instead of continents I had four elements and Spirit, and as it was a chain rosary I could easily swap out the Virgin Mary centre and the crucifix with, say, a triquetra and a valknut (I’ve had a fascination with Woden since reading Elfking by Susan Price when I was 11 – it took a couple of years before I got hold of the prequel, Elfgift). Anyway, my newly-dubbed Elemental Rosary arrived in the post, and I spent about two weeks-worth of evenings after work sitting on the sofa reading a book, watching a film, browsing the internet, and running the beads through my fingers. I wasn’t saying prayers, just constantly moving my fingers from one bead to the next, round and round and round. Aside from just enjoying the feel of the beads moving through my fingers, I blame my hobbies – I started knitting a couple of months after I started C17th re-enactment, and I started doing 1640s Living History a few months after that, and when you spend a lot of days sitting around in a Stuart peasant village the habit of having something to do with your hands becomes ingrained – women sitting and gossiping are being idle, and as the saying goes ‘the Devil finds evil things for idle hands to do’. Women sitting and gossiping but also spinning, knitting, or making lucet cord however, are doing useful work and therefore can get away with the sitting and gossiping. So for years now I’ve been used to doing something with my hands while concentrating on other things, so even when I’m not knitting my hands want to be doing something, hence the constant rosary-fiddling.
Anyway, I finally got around to moving the rosary from the living room to my altar space in the bedroom, and it was a week or so afterwards that I realised how I could use the Yggdrasil beads – they’re designed with the World Tree in mind, and trees are very much grounding symbols of Earth, both element and planet. As I said in my previous post I consider myself to have an affinity with the element earth as well as being a very physical person, so having an actual thing to hold and essentially play with would actually fit me quite well. Earth is, after all, the element associated with the body and the material world, and if I bought the beads I’d have a physical reminder of that elemental connection as well as a touchstone to help keep me grounded when I get book-lost, and something to occupy my hands. And yes, I could just grab one of my other sets of prayer beads and use those instead of buying something new, but they’re all prayer beads, with specific prayers or mantras attached; using them for something so secular just didn’t sit right with me (when I was fiddling with it my elemental rosary hadn’t been used to pray with).
I said above that Beth’s words were also a factor in my eventually buying the Yggdrasil beads, and there was one sentence that grabbed me every time I read it and that would stay in my mind: ‘the contrast between the cool glass beads and the warmth of the wood make this set extremely pleasant to hold and use’. For each of her beadwork pieces Beth always lists the stones and beads she uses, along with a decription of their metaphysical properties and some ideas on how to use the object, but I don’t remember seeing a description on any of her other listings of how the item actually felt. I’m a tactile person, and my first ever set of prayer beads were/are an Anglican rosary with wood week beads and onyx cruciform beads, which I deliberately chose for the difference in feel. Now yes, there’s a space around each cruciform bead, the same as the Our Father beads on a Catholic rosary, which is meant to mark the beads out, but I wanted something more than that. The difference in texture between the warm wood and the cool onyx when you’re in a meditative mindset is just lovely, and the thought of having another set of beads with that aspect that I could use more often was so, so appealing.
So much for the beads, what of the cord?
That was a completely unexpected purchase. I’d already bought the Yggdrasil beads, paid for them, shipping address, the lot, but I carried on browsing the shop for a bit as it was getting close to bedtime and I didn’t want to get too engrossed in anything, lose track of time, and wind up getting not enough sleep on a schoolnight. Now I’m a fibrecrafter myself – I knit, crochet, and handspin on a drop spindle, and I think all of Beth’s cords look gorgeous (even the ones where the colourway doesn’t really do it for me). There are a few I’ve been drawn to over the past months, mostly the winter and Yule ones, as that is my time of year – I was born on the Winter Solstice, don’t feel the cold much, and I love the crispness of frosty days, the smell of woodsmoke, warmth of blankets, and the cinnamon-clove-nutmeg-ginger spicy scent of the season. Alas for me, the winter cords are rinsed with peppermint (I abhor mint in all its forms), and even if this wasn’t the case I still had no justification for buying one. So how did I end up with a cord consecrated to Freyja? Which is a question I’m still asking myself.
As I said, I was browsing, I clicked on the listing, and as I read it there were phrases that just seemed to jump out at me – ‘goddess of sex, love, passion, war’, ‘she can teach you the mysteries of … most of all, your own personal worth’, ‘the result is a lush, velvety swirl of wine, pink, cherry, and rose with hints of chatreuse–very indulgent and sensual!’, ‘for connecting with any of Freyja’s aspects, but especially with Her role as goddess of love, sex, passion, romance, … or self worth’. Spotting a theme here? Now I know Freyja is usually described as the Norse goddess of love and sex, but she’s also associated with war and death – sometimes called the leader of the Valkyries, she collects half of those slain in battle, and it is the warrior side of her that has always interested me more. I do Historic European Martial Arts, aka ‘how to actually kill people with a sword’, so there’s a definite link there, but the origin of my interest is something I can again, blame Elfgift for – while the Battle-Woman in the story is called Jarnseaxa and not Freyja, the same themes apply: ‘I chose the slain’ is a common saying of hers. But it was the love and sex aspects that were sticking out, which was unusual for me. And then I got this feeling out of nowhere that simply stated ‘this cord would be good for you’. I don’t know if it was my brain, Freyja, my libido, Sophia (Wisdom, the name I use for the Holy Spirit), or the universe in general, but it was really weird. Now I have no problems with my libido when it’s awake, the issue I have is that it’s very tied into my menstrual cycle, and it isn’t always awake even when my cycle says it’s sexytime – and I’m hoping the cord will help with that in some way. Except that I realised the cord could help with this a minute or so after I got the constant feeling of ‘this would be good for you’, when I was trying to work out why. Like I said, it was weird, and it just wouldn’t go away.
So a couple of hours after I bought the Yggdrasil beads I got in touch with Beth via Etsy convo and asked if it would be possible for me to buy the cord and somehow combine it with the beads I’d already bought so I didn’t have to pay twice for shipping (US to UK = many pennies). Amusingly, my brain refused to let me address her as ‘Beth’, for despite following her blog for months it decided that no, this was a formal request from somene I’ve never met and therefore the formalities should be observed – so Ms. Wodandis it was. *Sigh*
I’d forgotten how big the time difference actually was between England and the west coast of the US until I looked it up, so I was very pleasantly surprised when Beth got back to me within the hour saying yes, no problem, the cord is on hold for you with no shipping charge and it will be sent out with the beads. Yay! I know that small business owners tend to be more friendly and accessible than the customer services in large companies, but even so Beth is so wonderfully friendly and helpful, and I’d recommend shopping at Beth Wodandis Designs just for that.
Now I just have to be patient and wait for my shiny fluffy pretties to arrive…