About Prayer Ties
Prayer ties are a traditional sacred bundle of tobacco that is imbued with your best wishes, prayers, intentions, and especially your thank yous. The making of prayer ties is a wonderful way to prepare for ceremony, sweat lodge, vision quest — anytime you are called to pray with Creator. Prayer ties are often made with special intentions: when someone is ill, for the ancestors, for the elders, for our youth, as a sign of friendship, for protection, when someone has crossed over to the other side camp.
Prayer ties come in all sizes, from small bundles on a length of yarn or string, to large bundles (sometimes called prayer flags) that might hang from a staff or grace a sun dance arbor. They are often made with red cotton cloth, but can be of any color, depending on the circumstances, which tradition you are following, or what your intuition calls for.
At the Naraya, many participants create a strand of prayer ties as a part of their preparation for the dance, to focus their intentions. While the Vision Arrow is specifically for yourself, prayer ties can encompass yourself and prayers for friends & family. The completed prayer ties are most often brought to the dance and hung from the branches of the Tree of Life at the center of our ceremony. After the dance they may be taken home, or placed appropriately in a tree on the land of the dance site.
Making Small Prayer Ties
Have everything prepared and in front of you before you begin. Prayer ties are to be made of cotton or other natural cloth. You will also need yarn or string, loose tobacco, and scissors or knife. Take your time, and find your breath.
- Pre-cut small squares of red, blue (or other) cloth — some say 2″ or so. With a cotton square in one hand, take a pinch of tobacco with the other and put your prayers into it.
- Place the pinch of tobacco at the center of the cloth.
- Gently bundle the tobacco into the cloth so that it does not escape. Loop the yarn or string around the bundle and pull tightly.
- Continue making your prayer ties, spacing them evenly on the yarn or string.
Other thoughts: There are many folding styles of prayer ties with specific meanings. The number or color of the ties you make may be based on your tradition, the circumstances, or the event. Their destination is varied as well — hanging in a tree, buried in the ground, placed in a stream, left on a mountain top, added to your sacred space, or offered to fire. As with any sacred item treat your prayer ties with the honor and respect they deserve.