Braids and Gratitude
As we get ready for Thanksgiving here in the states, I find this a great time to reflect on gratitude. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I try to express that the best I can to my loved ones and to the spirits that have my back in my practice and my day to day life. It’s good to take the time to step back and appreciate all that goes into us being here. Our food system keeps us fed. Our local water source keeps us hydrated. The land we live on supports us and gives us shelter. Our ancestors and their history of love and life led to us being here.
My teacher Adhi Two Owls was up here in the Northeast this past weekend, and she talked a bit about gratitude and offerings to spirit. She told me the story of when her teachers made her make braids for everyone she knew. This was to find the gratitude for what they had taught her, good and bad. She was to then give these prayer braids to them.
This simple act of cultivating gratitude while practicing both using repetitive motion to induce a different state of mind and moving energy into something you are creating is a practice that has intrigued me since Adhi first introduced me to it. It reminded me of the knot magic I had read about (a similar act of folk magic). As I played around with it, I could see the energy that I would weave into these braids. I made a few for those I knew, braiding in prayers and love into them so I could give my friends a simple, but loving gift.
That’s the easy part of the practice, though, isn’t it?
The practice is to give it to everyone you know, not just everyone you like. It can be difficult to honor the gifts that people you dislike have given you, the lessons that they have taught. That part I’m still working on. It’s easy to find gratitude for those you love. Less so when they are someone you don’t.
If you want to try making prayer braids to honor those in your life, it’s pretty easy. Find something to braid that is made from natural fibers. Wool, cotton, silk, etc. Not only do these materials hold energy well, you are also working with the plant or animal that it comes from. It’s already imbued with their energy, so, if you have a choice, you can choose what kind of vibes you want to start with. Sometimes, though, what you have on hand is what you have. I have a big bag of embroidery thread. When I’m making a braid for someone, I sit with the colors and try to feel out the appropriate ones. I know, it seems like a lot of thought to put into a simple braid, but that’s part of the magic. Once you’re set with colors, braid. Think of the gratitude you feel towards the person you’re making the braid for. I like to imagine that I’m braiding in Reiki symbols or Runes that would help the person, making the braid a sort of amulet. Once you’re done, tie it off and give it away.
This seemingly simple thing has a few bigger applications. Those who have taken my amulet class know that I use these braids in my amulet making process. If you’ve ever seen my drum, you’ll see a whole bunch of different braids hanging from it. Each of those braids represent someone important to me. When I use my drum in healing work, I imagine that those who I have made a braid for receive some of that healing. It connects me to my family, and my ancestors. Sometimes, I braid in certain elements that I want to bring into my life. Bravery. Compassion. Things like that. Then, I wear the braid until it falls off.
The tactile beat of braiding might also become one of your favorite ways to find a light trance (getting those brain waves to Theta). I get lost in the movement. This is a moment where you can be open to receiving information, or to be a better conduit for healing energy. For someone who loves using his hands in his work, it’s a favorite of mine.
So, I challenge you this week to make a few braids for those who you are grateful for. If you’re into watching the big football game, it’s an easy thing to do with your hands. If you want to really make space and focus on what you’re doing, it’s a great way to find some down time while you digest your big Thanksgiving meal. Give someone a little love and gratitude, even if you can only tell them that you made a bracelet for them, or something like that.
I am grateful to you, reader. Thanks for taking a moment with me. May your Thanksgiving be filled with food and loved ones.
Until next time
The Green Mountain Mage