One for Sorrow
Counting games are something very much a part of folklore and superstition, most common is the practice of counting crows or magpies to ward off bad luck. The term ‘counting the beads’ however refers to the practice of reciting a series of prayers using a set of beads known as a rosary. A rosary is made up of a set of beads that serve as much as an aid to memory as anything else. Each bead within a set represents a particular prayer, with a single large bead representing a different supplication that closes that particular round.
Two for Joy
Despite the legend of St. Dominic suggesting that it was the Virgin Mary that presented the first set of rosary beads in the 12th Century, using a string of prayer beads is something that have been used for many years by many cultures. Indeed the term ‘rosary’ is from the Latin ‘rosarium’ which referred to a set of beads made from crushed rose petals that were carried by worshippers at the temples of Venus. The ancient Hindus, Buddhists and Egyptians all used prayer beads too.
Three for a Girl
Repeating anything, be it an action or a prayer builds up the neural pathways in our brains and helps us to remember it. The act of ‘counting the beads’ uses the same concept, the act of passing a set of beads through fingers and repeating a prayer whilst doing so helps someone to remember the words of a prayer and reinforce what is being said.
Four for a Boy
The rosary used in witchcraft is, to all intents and purposes, the same as that used by the Catholic faith but rather than just one use, it can be used in many different ways. It can be used to help those who use it remember the necessary incantations used in ritual magic. It can help achieve or deepen a hypnotic state or aid meditation by repeating a particular chant or incantation. They are also often used to help create and maintain a strong connection with a particular deity that the witch wishes to attract. Prayer beads have also been used to attract positive energies, or trap or dispel negative energies or entities.
Five for Silver
A witch’s rosary is usually made of natural elements such as clay or glass beads, shells or crystals ate also commonly used. Although a rosary can be bought, it is common practice for the witch themselves makes the rosary, usually as an act of devotion to a particular deity and prayers and incantations are said over the objects making up the rosary as it is created.
Six for Gold
There is a firm belief in witchcraft that the power of magic is through thought; that focusing mental energies to a single purpose will bring around the change the witch wishes to see. Therefore it isn’t too much of a leap to see how the repetition that comes with using a witch’s rosary is a way of focusing intent and building the mental energy necessary to cast a spell.
Seven for a Secret Never to be Told
Although the rosary is most commonly associated with the Catholic faith it clearly something that has been used for a long time before it was adopted by Rome. Its use in witchcraft, both traditional and modern, is more wide ranging than just being used as an aid to prayer. So next time you see someone quietly sat ‘counting the beads’ remember you are watching something that has been done for thousands of years and may well be something more than an act of worship.