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Six beaded necklaces are laying on a dark wood table. Three of the necklaces are curled into small b

grief meditation beads

a community art project on collective grief

hello beloved friends.

if you have arrived here, it means that you have received a handmade set of grief meditation beads or you are interested in receiving a set. These beads are part of an on-going community art project designed by fungifemme/hydra system during March 2020.

these grief meditation beads are an artistic practice in crafting magical spells in this world that are dynamically symbiotic. This spell is an ongoing engagement that involves elements of bead materials, tarot, and mantra. All of these elements are combined to create the full experience of the grief meditation beads, which are woven together into a larger community grief symbiotic relationship.

imagine a lattice net where an experience, like grief, is supported by the connected nature of community, where each experience of grief is supported communally instead of individually. A woven structure that connects all stages of grief, layered together in multi-dimensional space connecting the grief process dynamically through non-linear time. 

these grief meditation beads are meant to create that shared support of the experience of grief: where sometimes it is your grief, sometimes it is my grief, and collectively it is our grief.

Three sets of grief meditation beads laying on a dark wooden table. The center beads are coiled.

"the cosmos is within us. we are made of star-stuff. we are a way for the universe to know itself."

carl sagan

A close-up image of the grief beads on a dark wooden table. Pictured are brightly colored beads.

the madness of grief

  • in nov 2019 we had a spiraling future image of a community grief framework. this art project transmuted that framework into a beautiful beaded web.

  • when everything changed in march 2020 we started beading to process the grief we were witnessing

  • this project looks at grief as a collective experience through the lens of decentralized madness. it’s a community lattice connected by the beads themselves and the anonymous relationships they embrace.

  • healing is non-linear, multi-dimensional, and radically creative. there is joy in healing through liminal spaces and altered states.

the beads

  • each set of meditation beads follows a traditional Buddhist mala count, with 108 smaller beads and 1 large bead, for a total of 109 beads per set.

  • the beads are a mixture of gemstone beads, which are vibrantly colored, and lava beads, which are black and textured.

  • the beads are hand-tied individually by us!

  • each set of grief meditation beads is made as a pair. so if you have received one, it means that there is another set designed with the same set of gemstone beads exactly. 

A pair of grief beads laying on top of a dark wood table. One set of beads is coiled up.
Three sets of grief meditation beads laying on a dark wood table. The center beads are coiled up.

the design

  • the beads are designed in numerical sections that correspond to tarot cards

  • the numbers of the four sections are 1, 8, 13, and 24

  • the sections are related to tarot cards: Magician (1), Strength (8), Death (13), and the Two of Swords (24)

  • there is one hidden tarot card located in the Two of Swords (24) which is the Empress (3)

  • these five cards act as a connected tarot reading designed into the beads themselves 

"all that you touch - you change.
all that you change - changes you."

octavia e. butler

the tarot: magician

  • the power of magic

  • possibility of transmutation

  • practical synchronicity

  • appears one time; next to the community knot

A close-up of the single bead that corresponds to the magician tarot card.
The section of eight colored beads that corresponds to the tarot card strength.

the tarot: strength

  • beautiful and complicated

  • mutual understanding

  • compassionate collaboration

  • appears one time

the tarot: death

appears four times

  • transitions and transformations

  • profound loss

  • embrace the mourning

  • appears four times

The thirteen black lava beads that appear in four sections. They represent the tarot card death.
The section of colored beads that represents to the tarot card two of swords. section has 24 beads.

the tarot: two of swords

  • immense undertaking

  • cracking open the heart

  • liminal space between emotion and logic

  • appears two times

the tarot: empress

  • deep community connection

  • nurturance in cycles

  • lovingly creative

  • appears sixteen times

the section of 3 beads that represents the tarot card empress. this section is colorful groups.
a picture of the grief meditation beads covered by a grey text box with the word OM.

the mantra

  • accessible in that it can be said out loud or silently

  • this mantra is what connects the single to the multiple, the self to the multitudes of universal wisdom

  • OM is the beginning of a lot of mantras and prayers in various communities

  • OM is also the beginning syllable of OMG


Q. Can I get a set of grief meditation beads?

A. yes! they are handmade so the process of making them is slow and intentional. if you want to become part of the community art project, please sign-up for our newsletter. we will be doing small quantity releases depending on the interest!

Q. How much do the grief meditation beads cost?

A. this stuff is hard, as we want this project to be sustainable but not involved in capitalistic profit. so, if you want a set of beads, we will send you one. if you want to support, we will accept donations to cover bead costs and postage. we are also open to trades or some other wonderful type of exchange. this is and always will be a community offering.  

Q. How many beads are out in the world?

A. up until this point we have just been making them and gifting them to people in our community. some are in the US, all major areas + coasts, some are in Canada, some are in Australia - so they are all over. I believe there are almost 50 pairs of grief meditation beads out in the world at this point, which would be around 100 sets of beads.

Q. Can I know who has my other grief meditation matching pair?

A. this is where the spell has a small bit of mystery. the knowledge that it's out in the world, yet still unknown - feels like cosmic magic.

Q. Why do these grief meditation beads have the same amount of beads as a Buddhist mala?

A. meditation and mindfulness have been a huge part of our experience, especially when navigating grief, madness, and survivorship. our first mala was hand-tied for us as a gift, so this art project connects to that experience. we were also connected to the Shambhala Buddhist community, and we stand with the SV survivors involved with Buddhist Project Sunshine. survivorship connects us to collective grief processing. the inspiration for these meditation beads have multiple origin points in our life.

Q. How do I use the grief meditation beads?

A. meditate with them. pray with them. keep them on your altar or on your rear-view mirror in your vehicle. carry them in your pocket or wear them wrapped around your wrist. touch each bead and say the OM mantra. connect with them like you would any piece of magical art. hold them while you cry or wear them with joy. you all are connected to everyone else who has a set of beads.

Q. Can I wear my beads in the shower or in the bath?

A. no. try not to get them wet as they are tied with hemp cord.

Q. What is the community knot?

A. the community knot is the final knot tied on the whole strand of beads. it contains its own spell "what's yours is theirs/what's theirs is yours/and collectively it is ours". Tied three times and sealed with clear nail polish, for a final touch of femme magic.

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