Friday, October 24, 2008

Word of Mom: Hamsa Bracelet

My grandmother grew up Catholic but also honored her Chinese ancestry's Buddhist beliefs. She would go to daily services in the morning and then come home to burn incense and give her offerings to Buddha in the back yard. Everywhere she went she carried a small ivory Buddha and her rosary. She was incredibly superstitious too. All her superstitions are of Chinese origin. For example, on her burial she had to be wearing her favorite pink dress and holding a purse which contained a picture of the family, some money to pay her fare to heaven, water if she gets thirsty in her after life journey, her shoes were placed next to her (they don't put shoes on the dead in the coffin) because she didn't want to get blisters on her feet in case her travel was arduous, a blanket to keep her warm and candle and match to light her way.

She was a quirky and eccentric woman. I didn't have much exposure to her since she passed away when I was only 8 years old, but much like her I have found myself drawn to different religious beliefs.

I was raised Catholic -- received my first communion, went to confession and even got confirmed. I lost my faith in Catholicism during college when I started studying the history of the Catholic church, studying other religions and stories of priests molesting altar boys started coming out. There were so many options of how to pray, literature to read, ways to be one with your surroundings and how to live your life, but I felt that all of them had two main philosophies: 1) there is a higher being and 2) live your time on earth with goodness and respect. What organized religion I chose didn't seem to matter much to me. I don't pretend to know everything (or anything for that matter) about religion. What I do know is that each one has something that makes complete sense to me. (Maybe I should invent my own religion ... it is a pretty lucrative business!)

I am also superstitious, but not to the extent my grandmother was. As a kid in the 80s I did have a lucky rabbit's foot (which I think that is a hideous concept now). When I studied in London for a summer I took a class on astrology and had my charts read multiple times. I carry the fortunes from my cookies and Yogi Tea around in my wallet. I have a lucky number. I have a small statue of Buddha in my house. More recently I have acquired a a hamsa bracelet.

At a wedding in June I noticed my friend Dub (no, that is not her real name) wearing a pretty red cord bracelet. I asked her what it was. She told me it was to ward off evil. You might have seen one on a few celebrity wrists. After some research I discovered that hamsa is an old and popular amulet for magical protection from the Evil Eye. The word HAMSA means five and refers to the digits on the hands. It is considered a Jewish good luck charm symbolizing the protecting hand of God. According to my Jewish clients When worn as a bracelet it is not to be taken off until it falls off on its own. Considering where I am currently in my life I had to have one. So, I went to (don't say it ... I know) and purchased one.

Has my luck changed since I have been wearing it? Do I feel protected? Actually, I do! Whether it is mind over matter. This little bracelet and silver hand have given me some additional strength. Have I converted to Judaism or Kabbalah? No, I am still an open faith believer embracing my own spirituality. I am not very eccentric, but I guess I am a bit quirky!

Do you have a good luck charm?

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with you! I was raised Catholic but don't feel connected to the church. I believe in a higher being and think that is the central theme to all religions, so why can't we all just get along?