Saturday, October 27, 2012

Beadwork As a Spiritual Practice

Glass beads were first imported to France from Italy in the 14th century, and the early French settlers brought them to North America and introduced them to the Aboriginals in the 16th century.  Seed beads & smaller beads began to be used as embellishment on ritual objects from the early 1800s, hence, the practice of beading itself took on an important spiritual significance.

This form of artwork was a common way for them to express their spiritual beliefs, merging them with their culture and customs.  Bold solid colours, such as brilliant blues to represent the sky, yellows for the sun, reds & greens to represent plants & flowers, and browns for the soil were most frequently used. Aboriginals have always been closely in touch with nature and had a deep respect for it.

We can all incorporate many of the Aboriginal traditions in our own beadwork (or whatever art form we practice).  It was and is a common practice to include prayer as part of their beading rituals.  You can too.  Transform the time spent doing beadwork into a spiritual retreat.  It is an excellent approach to mindful meditation.  

To begin, light some incense or a candle, put on some relaxing music, and take a moment to clear your mind.  Focus on your connection to a higher power.  Allow spirit to flow through you.  You should never bead when you are sad or angry or depressed.  Your negative emotions will be reflected in your work.  Don't worry, 'bead' happy.  Your finished product will shine and so will you!

Another Native American beading tradition is to always include a 'spirit bead' in their work.  It's a bead that is the wrong colour, shape or size that is added somewhere in a piece of beadwork as a way to honor the Great Spirit & express humility.   A spirit bead is a reminder to the world that nothing created by human hands can be perfect. Quilters often intentionally incorporate an upside down or off-colour patch of fabric for the same reason.  

Most importantly, remember that creating art is a journey, not a destination! Don't stress yourself out. Allow 'spirit' to guide you in directions you never imagined or considered. Flow with the inspiration. Amazing creations will emerge!


  1. This is very nice post thank you so much for this. Please keep your posting continue..

  2. Thank you for such an informative post. I learned a lot.

    1. You're welcome. I'm glad that you found the post interesting and educational.