Sunday, December 6, 2015

Prayer Shawl

One of the first things you learn about Paganism is that you are supposed to get yourself a robe.  There are no hard rules on clothing but you can use a robe for when it was too chilly to be in the buff.  Many robes can be found online and mail-order catalogs.  But what if that is not for you?  What we put on our bodies, and the corresponding image that creates, holds a lot of power, and personally I couldn’t see myself being very powerful in a shapeless thing that would catch fire on candles. yet…it never felt quite right to do ritual in my street clothes.  Sure, many of us have some pretty fabulous wardrobes, and any public ritual will be chock-full of velvet cloaks and bird masks and jingling metal belts and hand-dyed scarves and layers and layers of skirts.  Yes, I have a few articles of clothing that I like to wear for ritual: skirts that are good to dance in, scarves and sweaters that evoke a particular element.  But it does feel a little unsatisfying to wear something to a Samhain ritual one night, and then to work a couple of days later.

Then comes this year's St Nick gift - a Prayer Shawl made by my nephew.  A knitted blue beautiful piece.  A shawl is a simple item of clothing, loosely worn over the shoulders, upper body and arms, and sometimes also over the head.  It is usually a rectangular or square piece of cloth, that is often folded to make a triangle but can also be triangular in shape. Other shapes include oblong shawls.  Shawls are used in order to keep warm, to complement a costume, and for symbolic reasons.

Pagan Prayer Shawls provide comfort and wrap you in the love and energy of the Goddess in a time of need.  It is her arms we feel wrapped around us when we are rejoicing or when we are mourning; when we have succeeded, or when our knees have been scraped.  Using dedicated ritual attire can be a boost to your practice.  

I like the idea of having a garment I can slip on over my street clothes for morning and evening devotionals.  There is, as always, the candle issue, but I like the idea of having one garment that I consistently wear while working magic.  I like the thought of building up power in that garment, even if I can’t wear it for every single activity. Prayer Shawl (or Meditation Shawl) is a work of crafted material about a foot or more in width and reaches the length of your outstretched arms, about five feet.  It all starts with the intention of the knitter to infuse healing, good thoughts and prayers of protection into the shawl.  The Shawl can be made through sewing, knitting, crochet or macramé.  Most often they involve using a simple repeated pattern which can be conducive to meditation.  You can also add symbols or designs to it and blessing it when you finished making it. 

The Prayer Shawls support many aspects of our human journey – shawls can be created for bereavement after a loved one has crossed the veils; the celebration of a baby blessing or a handfasting; healing for illness or disease; rites of passage such as a young girl coming into womanhood, mothering, croning, eldering, initiations, and more.  The Prayer Shawls support life transitions.

When going into a meditation practice, it is helpful to do things to remind your body, mind, heart and soul that it is time.  Prepare your meditation area, pillows, candles and whatever you use.  Put on your meditation shawl.  Do your meditation mantra and then close your session.

I wrap this shawl about me as the universe wraps its arms around me in love.  It is a expression of my practice as I am an expression of the Divine.  It is the yolk that holds me in this timeless blessing of peace. Scandinavia, rectangular woolen shawls date to at least the early Pre-Roman Early Iron Age through the Viking Age.  The artwork generally has a standardized appearance; usually a woman in profile, her hair in a knot, wearing a long garment that is covered by a shawl or a cloak.  Women often used tri-lobed brooches to fasten the neck opening of their clothing.  Or brooches that are sometimes called turtle brooches, since their shape is similar to the shell of a turtle.  This outer layer may be long, with pointed corners at the sides of the body, or shorter, with a diagonal hem.  From what little evidence remains, it is very likely that during the Viking Age there was a shawl style universally worn by all Norsewomen, at all times.

The Pagan Prayer Shawl is a great way to connect with your Ancestors,  a comfort during meditation and a wonderful Yule project or gift. 




Just Being: A Pagan Guide to Meditation By Shanddaramon



  1. Nice images you have posted.You have written the about the need of Jewish tallit in Judaism. Every men and women have used the shawl during the prayer in the morning. They follow their traditions from ancient times. Thanks a lot for giving me such a beautiful blog that is really helping me a lot in future.