Mala Divination

2012/10/23

I was trying to find a website explaining Tenmo (mala divination or ‘phrengbamo for Wylie fans) for a friend of mine to save me having to write up this entry. While I found many pages talking about it, they all seem to have been copying from the same errant source. I don’t mean it’s a different system and thus can’t work in a spiritual sense, I mean the source they’re copying doesn’t physically work. What does this mean? It means I’m writing this entry when I was trying not to.

So I’ve talked about malas once or twice before but I didn’t talk much on the divination side of it. I don’t use it much, I’d rather stick with my dice or my tarot, but on the other hand I always have my malas on, so if I really need an answer quickly when I’m out and about I can turn to my mala, and for that purpose knowing how to do this is a great help.

To begin the divination say the mantra of the figure you want to ask the question to for a complete japamala (108 times, a complete count on the mala). Traditionally that’s Manjushri being the Buddha of Wisdom, though any figure you work with who may be more relevant may be used. Personally I perform the permutations of the Divine Name (IAOAOIOIAAIOIOAOAI) and say a quick prayer to my Holy Guardian Angel.

Once this is done ask your question, when you see how the responses are formulated later you’ll get a sense on how to phrase the questions, but it is largely yes/no. Then hold the mala between your hands and grab two beads at random, and stretch the section without the guru or triple gem bead(s) out. There are two methods from here (and this is where other sources have messed up), you count the beads toward the centre by groups of three until you are left with one, two, or three beads. The left hand represents wisdom, so in some traditions you only count the beads by three with the left hand. Others have you alternate left, then right, repeat until you have three or less beads left. I use the left hand only method, the point is to count off three beads toward the centre until you can’t do so anymore.

One bead is called ‘The Falcon,’ two beads is ‘The Raven,’ and three is ‘The Snowlion.’ From here the answers are quite simple. When you receive the Falcon it means that the God/Protector/Spirit you called on approves of the action and give it their blessing. It also symbolizes good luck and favourable circumstances. The Raven means they don’t approve, will not help, and there will be obstructions. Raven can also be a sign of sickness and weakness. The Snowlion means you have some support, but it is more passive/neutral, results will be slower coming. To oversimplify Falcon is Yes, Raven is No, and Snowlion is Maybe…but.

You can adapt this with other number systems. For instance I use this for elemental divination. I use the same process, but instead I count by fours, leaving me with a result 1-4 and each number relates to element and that gives me the theme of my answer. This can be made more complex by combining multiple elemental readings or mixing elements and qualities, or elements and planets.

So as mentioned it’s a simple system, but it’s handy because if you wear or keep a mala with you, you can get an answer anywhere on the go. Though as mentioned it’s also something you can customize with other number/symbol systems if you want to use the idea but the Falcon/Raven/Snowlion symbolism doesn’t appeal to you.


Celebrations, Sales, and Anniversaries

2012/09/20

As I’m coming up to two years (!) of this blog, and three months of my etsy shop (not to mention the financial fun of the first month of school) I’m going to offer another sale. One random item will be marked down 10% every day (I’ll announce on twitter each morning and update this entry) and you can use the coupon code SEPT12 to get another 10% of everything in the store until September 26th. (Three days before and three days after the anniversary) And yes, those discounts can stack.

Currently marked down:
Buddhist Space Mala
Earth Mala – Buddhist
Air Mala – Buddhist
Wealth Mala
Medicine Buddha Healing Pendant
Fire Mala – Western
Spirit Mala – Western


More on the Magick of Malas

2012/07/23

I’ve been getting more and more questions about malas. It started with my original post on malas but it has been increasing since I opened up my little shop on etsy (currently on sale until noon tomorrow, check out my previous post) and people have been asking more. Last time I spoke more on malas traditionally, now I’d like to talk a bit more about my personal adaptations with malas.

As mentioned before malas are like batteries, they store the energy of the work you do inside of them, and if they are consecrated and attuned with an energy they retain that. This is a technique I use primarily with my planetary, elemental, and chthonic malas, as they all connect and relate to a specific type of energy. But something similar could be worked out with any mala.

Yes, kinda like this. I’m aware I’m a nerd.

Holding the mala stretched out between my hands forming a long oval, I reach into the forces residing into the mala (and sometimes refreshing it adding in some new energy) and I cycle that energy along the string, then I focus on having it jump the gap. Much like an electric shock, just a little zap jumping from a bead on the top to the bottom, or vice verse, and I do this spreading it out until between the beads of the mala, in the opening, is a screen or veil of the energy type of the mala, the sparking unites into a single harmonious flow. For lack of a better or cool name I call this the mala-field. (To me this looks like a cross between the Guardian of Forever Gateway, and the Stargate, a cloudy rippling veil-like surface)

Now if I’m doing something simple, I just need a short answer, or just want to do a quick prayer, I pull the mala down over my head, so my head passes through that veil. I then find communicating and seeing spirits of that sort (so fire elementals if I’m using my fire mala, or shades of the dead if I’m using my chthonic mala) is a lot easier, it is as though I’ve encased my head in a bubble of their reality.

If I’m doing something a bit more lengthy and complex, like petitioning, or summoning it is a bit different. Once I have the mala charged in the same way I place it on the ground (or table, or tombstone, whatever) sometimes in the shape of a circle, sometimes the shape of a triangle. Instead of encasing myself in a bubble of their reality, I’ve created a limited space that joins our realities, a place where the elemental/planetary/spirit realm intersects our realm a little easier, or perhaps I’ve just created an area of specialized energy to their type that makes them manifesting here easier (similar to some theories about the use of appropriate incense in evocation).

My Cosmic mala over my triangular skrying mirror

Then I call them into the mala-field and communicate with them that way. Without some extra work, this does not function like a Solomonic triangle, it won’t keep anything in that doesn’t want to stay in that space, though they’re weaker outside of it, so unless you have some form of backup, or don’t mind the fun/challenge I’d avoid summoning unfriendly spirits this way. This method can also be used to drape a mala around a skrying mirror to “tune” it into a specific place/energy/spirit. You can either put it directly on the mirror like in the picture, or put it in a circle around the mirror. I find results are largely the same.

I’ve been taught that the left hand is receptive and the right hand is projective (though I suspect that is more about dominant hands), and I find wearing a mala with that in mind takes on another facet. Granted a good 90% of the time I just put the mala on, and that’s it, but sometimes I want to do more. In that case I’ll animate the mala like I mentioned above, activating it, drawing out the forces placed inside of it. Then depending on what I want to do, I’ll put it on. If it is something I want to bring into my life or retain internally I wrap it around my left wrist (being receptive). I see that veil covering my hand and the energy washing up my arm into me. This can also be used to start the motion of an energy transfer, so if you want to draw from the Moon, either to use or to recharge a Lunar mala (as an example) when wearing it on the left, if you’ve started to draw it in from the mala it’s easy to switch to an external source of fire and the draw continues, like priming a siphon pump.

If it is something I want to project into the world, then I wrap it around my right wrist, gathering the energy around my hand. From there I can use this to passively embody traits that I pass into the world, or can use it to actively influence things. By connecting to the energy in my Venusian mala, I can project that into people I touch, or in close proximity to help influence them in my favour. Connecting to my Martial or Saturnian mala, depending on the situation, I can use that to create forms to help keep people I don’t want around from engaging me.

That’s only three of the different ways I use malas, but I thought I’d start with them as they’re simple and versatile. I’ll probably be writing more on malas later since there is more interest in them than initially expected, so if you have any questions or topics you want discussed toss them in the comments and I’ll try to include them next time.


Blue Flame Magick Supplies Is Live

2012/06/21

Read the whole article to find out how you could win a free pendant!

I’m happy to finally announce that Blue Flame Magick Supplies is now live on etsy. Blue Flame Magick Supplies offers ritual tools, blessed items, ritual supplies, and magickal services drawing their inspiration from Vajrayana Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism) and Western Ceremonial Magick. I plan on using it to sell the items I make as part of my practice, items I make for my practice, and assorted stuff I find handy and interesting to use.

I’ve made and consecrated a ridiculous amount of malas for various purposes, spirit work, wealth work, and elemental focuses mainly for now. I like malas what can I say, I find them really useful tools. For practice and experiment purposes all the malas I made have been consecrated with various unique rituals and mantras.

Also I’ve put up my Machik Labdrön (Chöd) pendants, and my Medicine Buddha pendants. These were created and consecrated over months of my daily practice, so unlike the malas these are a limited due to the time it takes to make them. (The Machik Labdrön pendants were over six months of daily rituals)

One of the requirements that was put on me for creating these pendants as part of my practice is the fact that two from each “batch” have to be given away. One goes to someone who I think needs it, the other goes to someone random. For the Medicine Buddha pendants the random person will be selected from those who asked for assistance on twitter when I was working on consecrating the pendants. But the Machik Labdrön (Chöd) pendants I’m going to be giving away through my blog and twitter. Just tweet at me, comment here, email me, whatever, just get in contact with me say you want into the raffle, and I’ll put you down for it. On Monday I’ll draw to see who gets the pendants. That’s it, you don’t need to do anything other than say you want in.

So what do these Machik Labdrön pendants do? Complicated, read the full description for more details, but basically they work to remove obstacles in your life and to repay karmic debts. They satisfying karmic debtors, and purify past transgressions. When there are obstacles in the way of your life (especially chronic ones), these pendants work to alleviate that. They do a lot more, but chöd is a complex practice and really hard to explain outside of Buddhist jargon and concisely. Any questions feel free to ask. As a side note, I was unable to find anyone who makes pendants of Machik, so not only are these consecrated me, I made these pendants myself.

I’ll blog when I put up new stuff (or several things), so please check out the store, share, spread, buy stuff, help support my dharma practice and magickal work.


Mechanics and Magick of Malas and Mantras

2011/11/10

Malas are probably one of my favourite magickal tools, they walk a line between practical and transcendent; they are devotional, developmental, chargeable, and portable. Plus if you’re fashion forward they can be used as accessories, unfortunately the colours and materials of my malas have more to do with their purpose than looking good. So I’m sure most of the time I’m committing some fashion faux pas, does this mala make my Yesod look big?

What are malas? Mala means garland in Sanskrit, in Tibetan they’re called phreng ba (Wylie) and simply put they’re a string of beads often worn as a necklace or bracelet, or carried in a pouch. A brief disclaimer, I’m speaking from my training and education but different lamas and sects have different views and rules on malas, if you’ve heard something else, I’m not saying they’re wrong, just different. Traditionally a mala has 108 beads, but 54, 36, 27, and 21 bead malas are relatively common, though I have no real use or understanding of the smaller malas, only having training in the use of the 108 bead malas.

Some traditions believe that every X number of beads has to be of a noticeably different size so you can keep track by feel, I’ve never been taught that and frankly haven’t found a need for it. At the end of the mala, where the string comes back upon itself there are three beads of a different size or colour, that are connected to the side of the mala. These are called the guru beads or the gem beads, as they represent the triple gem of the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings), and the Sangha (community). Sometimes there is a single bead in which case it represents your lama, and that contains the triple gem as through lama devotion do you gain access to the triple gem.

While cotton, wool, and other natural materials are traditional for malas, for practical reasons I restring all my malas onto an elastic cord and I commonly see them on nylon, metal thread, and more. There are three main materials the beads are made from: wood/seeds, bone, and crystal. Some traditions heavily emphasize that the beads must be sandalwood (they probably mean acacia and that’s a translation error), or bodhi seeds, or rudraksa beads. I’ve found that with wood/seeds that material doesn’t seem to make much of a difference and my lama never stressed one over the other. Bone malas were traditionally made from human skulls, giving them more of a flat disc than a round bead, but now almost all bone malas are made out of yak bone. Crystal malas have become popular but I can’t find much on how traditional they are, but one of the lamas I studied with briefly suggested that quartz malas are the best we can use as their “molecular makeup” will change with our use. While I don’t believe that, I can see quartz doing a great job at holding onto what we put into it, but I’ve never had an issue with wood holding the “charge.” Again my lama doesn’t stress materials much one way or the other. With cross-pollination with the West crystal malas are now being believed to pick up all sorts of powers based on what they are made from. Rose quartz resonates with compassionate practices, onyx and garnet with wrathful practices, amber with healing, etc. I don’t discount the idea but it isn’t that traditional and I like wood malas just fine.

My collection of malas

So how are malas used? Most commonly and obviously a mala is a counting device. You use a mala to keep track of how many times you’ve said a mantra, recited a name, or performed a prostration or other action. Every time you complete a mala you count yourself as having completed 100 repetitions, there are 108 beads but eight are there assuming you’ll make mistakes several times.

Using the mala for mantra/names is the most common use (sometimes called japamala other times japamala is just used to refer to a mala) and there are many reasons, benefits, and effects for doing this. Different schools, different thoughts, but I was taught that for every syllable in a name or mantra that you have to recite it 100,000 times. Om Mani Padma Hum is a quick little 600,000 recitations while Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Soha is 1,700,000. (This grows exponentially as not only does every syllable add in another 100,000 recitations, but that extra syllable has to be said an extra 100,000 times. 3.6 million syllables with Om Mani Padma Hum and 28.9 million with Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Soha. This means in this case three times as many syllables in a mantra equal eight times as much work).

Aside from anything mystical and internal this is a brilliant act of devotion. More than anything if you say the name or mantra associated with a particular figure hundreds of thousands of times, it will get their attention and it will serve as a show of your devotion to them. A practical side to malas as a mantra counter is simply timing, it is an easy way of making sure you devote a certain amount of time to a mantra without setting an alarm. The last major practical facet of a mala is use in meditation, this applies in many ways, but the most “mundane” of them is simply that if you cannot focus on a broad thought verbally and mentally reciting a mantra over a mala brings the mind to something concrete forcing out other thoughts. Using a mala while reciting and visualizing a mala brings body, speech, and mind into harmony.

Of course aside from the practical stuff there is a lot of stuff associated with malas (and mantras) that are far more fun. The most obvious is siddhis, which means attainment or accomplishment (and many other things), which are believed to be granted by reciting vast amounts of mantras. Siddhis can be understood as blessings and abilities, they range from mythic and powerful (shape-changing, instant travel) to more magickal and mundane siddhis (long life, protection from spirits, ability to read minds, health). Related to this there are various rituals and spells that require the recitation of mantras to complete. Again this is where malas as counters are useful.

What is interesting (though a point of dispute) is reciting a mantra over a mala has an extra benefit. A siddhi is a personal thing, it is a part of you, but a mala with hundreds of thousands of mantra recitations over it also has that siddhi or an imprint of it. Perhaps it is not as “powerful” but the same effect seems to radiate from a completed mala. This means a completed mala both serves as a tool of personal development and becomes a magickal tool in its own right. It can be given as a gift, kept as a “connection” to the siddhi, or the siddhi-energy (for lack of knowing a better term) can also be transferred into another item. I’ve used the last to make blessed pendants before and it has proven to be a very efficacious method.

Of course there are many examples in Buddhist and Hindu magick where the recitation of thousands of mantras are used in order to enchant a specific end. I wouldn’t presume to limit this to Buddhist and Hindu systems, similar patterns of recitation can be used for other works. I’ve had a few Angels request that I dedicate a mala to them, as I have done with various Buddhist figures, which greatly increased my collection of malas as shown above. So there is a use outside of Buddhism, I have my devotional malas for some of the Angels I work with and used them as counters for various rituals.

If you don’t use a mala, I recommend them, they’re relatively cheap (unless you buy bone or stone), they’re practical, and easy to keep with you.


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