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 Weekly Beadditudes with Dara 

Bead Superstition: The Evil Eye       At first glance, you may think that a piece of jewelry is just there to enhance one’s beauty. But a second closer look may tell you more. Amulets, charms, pendants and strands of beads are worn for all kinds of reasons, from avoiding evil to capturing love to generating good luck. It may seems silly to some, but these customs among all nations have been rooted in our history since the beginning. Here are some fun and interesting examples… 

      Beware of the Evil Eye! Otherwise you could be injured or worse. It could even be deadly. Belief in the evil eye has been around for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in ancient Greece and Rome. It's alive and well in Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu traditions today, as well as some folk cultures. Spaniards favor coral, agate and rock crystals to use for amulets against the evil eye, along with the belief that coral beads will change color depending on whether the wearer is ill or well. So how do you get rid of the evil eye? You wear one, of course. The most common ones are made as a cobalt blue pendant or Bead Superstition: Venus Charmsbead, with a white large dot, with a black small dot in the center. It really does look like a huge blue eyeball staring at you. I have a friend who has a huge one hanging on her front door. While I wait for her to come let me in, it stares at me and lets me know that if I have any evil intentions it will strike me dead instantly. 

      Knock on wood! Did you know that the origin of that phrase comes from the rosary? Back in the day, rosaries were made from oak wood and were used in times of distress, trouble, or worry. Keeping your rosary near to you meant you could have better luck at your fingertips, and as time progressed, we carried our rosaries less and needed to use doorways, railings and furniture for a quick source of wood to rap our knuckles on. 

      Before modern medicine, how do you think women increased their chances of becoming Moms? By wearing a fertility symbol, of course. Fertility symbols have been worn for centuries with people believing that to wear them makes you more likely to bear children or have a huge crop of flourishing food. Kokopelli, the flute player, comes from Anasazi folklore, and stands for fertility. Kokopelli can also be a symbol of rain, cleansing or rebirth. The Venus of Willendorf is believed to have been worshipped as a fertility symbol nearly 35,000 years ago. This stone carving was discovered in Germany, and although it isn’t a portrait of a specific person, it was considered to be an idealized representation of the fertile female. You’ll find this voluptuous Venus in charms, amulets and patterns used today. And once you actually have babies, the adornment doesn’t stop there. In Spain, mothers put strands of facetted amber beads around their babies' necks, to help ease the pain of teething. Amulets in milky gray and white banded agate are worn by mothers to help encourage their milk flow to their babies, as well. 

      Jade finds its way into the lives of the Chinese, who believe that the stone’s composition -- comprised of 30 elements — are needed by the human body. It is found in the mountains and riverbeds of the Xinjiang, Shanxi, Henan, Gansu and Liaoning provinces, and is worn commonly on a red string around the neck. Children, teenagers, elderly… everyone in China wears jade. It's one of the striking things noticed right away by tourists there. Because it comes in so many natural colors, it appeals to every taste. The Chinese say that gold has a price, but jade is priceless. 

      India is known for its land rich with amazing gemstones. It was believed that the gemstones had supernatural powers and were fit to be adorned in jewelry worn by kings and queens. Even today the married women of India still wear gold and black beaded necklace known as ‘mangalsutra’ that is a symbolism of their married status. Gold bangles are a must for the women, especially if they’re married. India is rich in precious metals, and metals are valued over other types of jewelry or beads. 

Bead Superstition: Queen Victoria      On a more DRAMATIC note… (ha ha… I crack myself up!) When performing in a theater, it's considered unlucky for the actors to wear “real” jewelry on stage. They opt for costume jewelry, beads made of plastic or glass, or faux metals. This practice is still used today, among a tremendously long list of do's and don’ts that can make or break a performance. 

      Charms have been worn since the dawn of time, and for every reason under the sun. During the age of the Egyptian Pharaohs the first recognizable charm bracelet was introduced. Life spans were relatively short during this time, about 30-40 years, and much of that time was spent in preparation of the afterlife. Charms were worn to identify the person and their status, in hopes that it would be recognizable to the Gods and would help the wearer achieve their desired position in the after life. 

      Queen Victoria ignited a big wave of superstition with her jewelry. Her bracelets were the rage of fashion, in part because the common folk thought that wearing them would soften the heart of the Queen and bring them luck in their struggles. Queen Victoria wore charm pendants and random charms on her clothes and the countrymen scrambled to learn what the images consisted of. Charms in general have been enchanting people since prehistoric times. In the beginning they were made of bone, wood or other organic materials, and they’ve emerged the polished and perfected stones, metals and materials of today, while maintaining their meaning and use. 

Bead Superstition: Kokopelli      Whether or not you believe in rabbit’s feet, four leaf clovers, horseshoes, or have a statue of St. Christopher on the dash of your car, chances are that you have a talisman, charm or amulet of some sort in your jewelry box. I found a piece of amethyst (deters drunkenness and insomnia), a cross pendant (the symbol of my faith) and a hazelnut seed given to me by a friend when I was moving across country. He told me that it would help me grow roots in my new home, and I have it in a vintage locket

      The next time you’re browsing in the bead store, scan over the charms and stones. They may have new meaning to you. In fact, I think you should go bead shopping right now. Have fun, and well… break a leg!

Resources…
www.jjkent.com/articles/superstitions-stones-spain.htm
www.newsfinder.org/site/more/prayer_beads/
www.china-travel.suite101.com/article.cfm/chinese_jade_white_or_green
www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/italian-superstitions.html
www.isnare.com/?aid=157693&ca=Arts+and+Crafts
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatrical_superstitions
www.mymotherscharms.com/history.htm

Bead Superstition: The Evil Eye
 
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