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Stone Circle in the Hand

Hail Goddess, full of grace.
Blessed are you and
Blessed are all the fruits of your womb.
For you are the mother of us all.
Ebenezer Lutheran Prayer, San Francisco, CA. September 2008. Adapted from Carol Christ.

I recite this prayer while holding a rosary made of amethyst beads and a pewter harvest goddess. It is my first time inside a Lutheran church, my first time praying a rosary or actively participating in a Christian church’s rituals. My voice mingles with the other women’s voices in the large chapel, punctuated by the soft voice of an older man. After we pray our way around the rosary, the female pastor invites us to light incense or candles on the altar, above which hangs a cross that is dwarfed by a huge painting of a mother goddess by Shiloh McCloud. The goddess wears a black headscarf dotted with small red flowers. She gazes over us gently, approvingly.

We return to our chairs, which are positioned in a soft “v” shape. We can see each other across the room, though most women look at their hands or, like me, the white slip of paper with the unfamiliar prayer. My view of those seated across from me is blocked only by the pastor and a few other women. They stand around a low, round table where a goddess statue rests, along with incense and candles.

The rhythm of the prayer, the low lighting, and the smooth crystal rosary in my hand begin to bring my body to a new, softer vibration. I wonder if this is like meditating, something I never seem to be able to do. The feeling is warm and pleasant. I breathe deeper and focus on the purple beads as my fingers stroke them. Even the words I am saying do not give me pause.

Our Mother, who dwells within us,
We celebrate your many names.
Ebenezer Lutheran Prayer, San Francisco, CA. September 2008. Author unknown.

I am here because the phrase “goddess rosary” came to me a couple of years ago, seemingly out of nowhere. I searched the Internet, wondering who was thinking those same words. There were no books by that title, and only one other woman with a web presence who was making and selling goddess rosaries. Then I came upon the website for Ebenezer Lutheran, also called Her Church, and saw that they made goddess rosaries and prayed to a female divinity. I recalled having passed their large banner announcing, “Goddess Rosary, Wednesdays at 7pm.” At the time I thought how odd and progressive that practice was, for a seemingly traditional Christian church. Then I didn’t give it another conscious thought for a year or two.

It seems that the words had snuck into my unconscious until their time to blossom. And blossom they did. I had collected an assortment of luscious, luminous beads for another project, but found myself unable to make that project come to fruition. But once the phrase “goddess rosary” made itself known to me, there was no stopping the delightful momentum of it. Rosaries seemed to make themselves, and interestingly, wanted to be necklaces.

To make a goddess rosary, I begin by choosing a goddess figure, usually bone or pewter and an inch or so long, then simply listening to what beads she seems to want to surround and serve her. As I learn about different crystals or a woman wants me to use a particular stone or color, I add to my collection of natural beads, “gifts from Gaia’s body,” as I think of them. Some women have asked for colors that correlate to the chakras, or crystals that are known to have a certain purpose, but mostly I use the beads and colors I am attracted to and encourage women to do the same when making their own goddess rosaries.

Spotty, river-blue lapis lazuli; earthy, sunset-orange carnelian (my personal favorite); mystical grey smoky quartz; coral painted blood red; polished and moonbeam-white mountain jasper are strung next to a goddess, approved or rejected for size, color, shape. Perfectly rounded mountain jasper is replaced with chalky green serpentine cylinders. First three in a row, then four. No, that’s not right. One serpentine bead, then one rich, black, round Siberian jet bead, then another serpentine. Yes, that feels right.

When choosing from my collection of colorful, pleasing beads, I find myself in a somewhat meditative state listening to the stones and the goddess or energy or my sense of the needs of the woman for whom the rosary is being made. My process is organic and intuitive, and brings me a sense of rightness that I can’t entirely articulate.

As a child, tiger’s eye was my absolute favorite stone. As I grew older, garnet replaced it. As a young adult, a friend and I purchased bags of beautiful glass beads (we couldn’t afford crystal beads) and made bracelets we intended to sell. We got as far as a business license and one craft fair, and our interests shifted. To get the business license, we needed a business name. “Goddess Gifts” came to mind and felt right, though neither of us had a concept of the Divine Feminine at the time.

I have come to see rosaries as tiny stone circles activating the energies of our bodies, just as stone circles like Stonehenge and Avebury are thought to activate the energies of the earth as goddess. Many stone circles were constructed with material that didn’t exist naturally in their immediate environments — our ancestors went to enormous lengths to bring particular stones to these particular places.

Having visited several of England’s stone circles myself, I have a strong sense that they were used for goddess worship. A small, easily overlooked stone circle called simply “The Nine Stones” felt the most positively feminine to me. Like so many things in rural England, The Nine Stones eluded us at first. Finally we asked after its location in the pub where we had lunch. The server warned us, “it’s just a little bitty one, you know?” and we did know. He gave us vague-sounding directions (go down the main road until it bends to the right, park by the new barn) but they were accurate enough. We parked and as we were walking toward the site, we passed the carcass of a deer, legs and head still intact, innards completely scavenged by other critters. It seemed a powerful omen, perhaps a reminder of the goddess’ death and regeneration powers.

We crossed the busy highway, walked over a concrete slab serving as a bridge across the drainage ditch, and opened the waist-high, wrought-iron gate surrounding The Nine Stones. Entering their small, intimate circle, I immediately felt welcomed, almost as if they’d been waiting for us, and how glad they were we’d come.

These stones, above and beyond any of the other circles we visited, felt distinctly feminine to me. A gnarled tree grows among them, almost like a tenth entity, partially covering one of the stones. The stone that impressed me the most was this circle’s yoni stone. Many stone circles have prominent stones with deep clefts or vulva-like crevices, but this stone in particular was impressive in size and in the depth of the cleft. There is no mistaking it as a representation of the goddess’ yoni! Despite the rush of the highway, literally feet away from the edge of the circle, this ring of stones has a quiet but charged feel.

The goddess rosaries are a way to stimulate these same sensations in ourselves as we make them, wear them and pray them.

I set no specific number of beads to use, nor prescribe any prayers to go along with certain size beads, as is the norm with traditional rosaries. Somehow the act of making them, whether I do so alone or lead others in the making of rosaries, is a prayer. Wearing a carefully constructed strand of beads with a goddess figure at its center seems to be like “wearing your prayers,” as one friend phrased it. Whatever rituals were conducted at the many stone circles are lost now from human memory. As we reconstruct them to suit our needs, beliefs and circumstances, so I encourage others to seek out their own use and associate their own meaning with each rosary and each of its beads.

Graphics Credits

  • rosary, photo © Jennifer A. Mantle. All rights reserved.
  • carnelian, photo courtesy of k. birchall.
  • stone circle, photo courtesy of F. Arangio.
Copyright / Terms of Use: Contributors retain the copyright to their work; please do not take art or words without the author's or artist's permission. Other graphics and reference materials are used and attributed as per the Fair Use Provision of The Copyright Act and individual terms of use.

MatriFocus Cross-Quarterly
is a seasonal web journal (zine) for Goddess Women and others interested in Goddess Lore and Scholarship, Goddess Religion (ancient and contemporary), Feminist Spirituality, Women's Mysteries, Paganism and Neopaganism, Earth-based Religions, Witchcraft, Dianic Wicca and other Wiccan Traditions, the Priestess Path, Goddess Art, Women's Culture, Women's Health, Natural Healing, Mythology, Female Shamanism, Consciousness, Community, Cosmology, and Women's Creativity.

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