Monday, April 30, 2012

Prayer Flags

Prayer flags are a centuries-old tradition among Tibetan Buddhists.  My first exposure to the flags came in the mail, when the Free Tibet organization sent me a string of flags while asking for my support. 

When I learned more about the tradition of prayer flags, I found it delightful.  The flags, containing all sorts of symbols, prayers, and mantras are placed outside homes for the wind to carry the prayers out into the open air.  The flags, moving in the wind, are said to generate natural positive energy and bring harmony.  There is significance to the symbols, colors, and materials beyond my knowledge and understanding.
I was recently directed to the Prayer Flag Project (unfortunately, I cannot remember the person who first provided me the link), which seeks to spread peace, goodwill, and kindness, one flag at a time.  The originator of the project, Vivika Hansen DeNegre, invites people to create a flag (she includes a tutorial on her site), hang it outside to spread the words and sentiments on the wind, and then submit a photo for inclusion on her site.

Shortly after I saw that site, Donnalee Nichols sent me a mini-zine about prayer flags, which she calls "living kinetic words of hope."  Further, it says, "It is believed that the prayerful words on the flags are lifted up to God and spread thru out the universe as they soar in the wind.  Everyone who encouners that wind is touched by that prayer that extends blessings of good will & peace...a reverent reminder that our prayers are heard and answered."  Beautiful!
With all of these "nudges," I was inspired to do my first (but certainly not my last) prayer flag project.  I decided to work with paper--a more familiar, comfortable, and "easy" medium for me--before tackling something with fabric.  I chose the size of an ATC for each of my flags to make my initial project manageable. 

I then created a list of qualities that I find myself praying for frequently, or know that I need to be praying for regularly.  I came up with:  peace, love/tenderness, wisdom, satisfaction, nature, innocence/purity, joy, faithfulness, and new beginnings.
For each quality, I created a collaged ATC/prayer flag.  On the backs of each, I wrote a Bible verse that reflected that quality.  The verse serves as a reminder of the quality, or as a prayer in itself.
I punched two small holes in each card and strung them together on hemp twine.  Then I hung the prayer flags above the closet in Studio 791, spreading their positive energy among my art supplies.
Here are some close ups of each of the flags:
innocence/purity, love/tenderness, satisfaction
the verses on the back (in reverse order from the images above)
joy, new beginnings, wisdom
again, the verses on the back, in reverse order from the images
nature, peace, faithfulness
again, the verses on the back, in reverse order from the images

While it's not particularly realistic that I would stand in my closet to read the Bible verses on the back, I thought the photos captured from inside, looking out into my workspace looked pretty cool:
I continue to be interested in the concept of prayer flags, and for the ways in which they connect with my Christian faith.  There are sure to be more prayer flag projects in my future!

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10 comments:

Janet said...

Your ATC-sized prayer flags are wonderful! You've got me thinking now about making some for my own studio.

Thanks for the links. I've participated in prayer flag projects before and they're always fun.

Karenann Young said...

Great idea about the prayer flags! I recently bought some playing cards at the Family Dollar store that are a perfect ATC size! I bought four packs since they were only a dollar each. I can use them for ATC's and prayer flags! Thanks for sharing!

Mary Has Sound said...

Lovely creations! I was introduced to the Buddhist prayer flags about four years ago when I first started at my job. I love the idea of them and I think it should be said that they don't necessarily need to be religious either.. just positive!

donna!ee said...

fantabulous prayer flags you've created...leave it to you andria to take it to the next level! thank you much for sharing your how to and the shout out. blest be :)

VivJM said...

Oh, Andria, I love your prayer flags. I think this would be a great project to do with the boys too...off to check out the Prayer Flag Project!

Anne said...

Beautiful breeze out here in the country and I can just feel the positive energy of prayer flags blowing over our patio. Great post but I did get a fit of giggles over picturing you standing in the closet to read your morning Bible verses!!

lee said...

what a great idea, i might give it a try

iHanna said...

They are beautiful and very inspirational. If you read Jane LaFazio's blog it might have been there you saw about the project? She makes these awesome mixed media fabric prayer flags!

http://janelafazio.com/prayer-flag-project/

scrapwordsmom said...

Oh I LOVE nd NEED these!! Seriously...I am creating a set of my very own!!! Thank you for always trying !!!

Liberty said...

I love ATC's too.

Your blog is beautiful.

http://leblogdeliberty.canalblog.com