I’m in the middle of a long day of work restringing some of our Guia necklaces – these get plenty of use, so it’s totally normal that need to be restrung and/or renewed from time to time. I took the lovely photo above to document them, and I thought this would make a good blog post for today, giving you an outline of what Guia necklaces are.
Guia necklaces are a very important tool for Espiritistas in Maria Lionza’s religion:
· They keep us protected and grounded during channelling and trance work;
· They protect us from parasitic spiritual entities, a big problem for mediums in training, and a very dangerous one;
· They put us in a constant, and very powerful, connection with the Spirits they represent;
· They deflect negativity and harmful magic from others, and keep our energy and vibration high.
Of course, these have to be made in specific conditions, under the presence of Spirits, and by an initiate. Some belong to the patronage of a specific Spirit, and some to a Corte (group of Spirits). The patterns of colours and beads are dictated by the Spirit or Corte they belong to, and can vary greatly depending on what the Spirits want at any given moment, so there are no fixed combinations. Besides beads, Guías can include shells, wood, talismans, seeds, nuts, bones/teeth of animals, feathers, and all kind of natural elements, depending on the Spirit they serve.
This is not just jewelry making – these must be made in a completely sacred environment, and under the energy of a powerful working altar. Stringing them is only the first part of the work – after creating the necklace, the Guías must be charged through ritual, and must be fed the offerings that Spirits dictate; for as long as they are used, they will be cleansed and re-fed regularly, and kept in the altar with great care when not in use, as the sacred tool they are.
Guías are usually not pre-made or purchased, because it is extremely useful that the Spirit or Spirits dictates what are the signs each practitioner needs to wear. Although each Spirit has favourite colours or ornaments, and it is expected that certain elements will be repeated, others are not. Your Guia necklace should be unique, because you have unique needs, and unique features as an Espiritista. So, it is quite usual that the most crafty person within a Spiritual community takes the role of Guía maker, and makes them only for the community they are involved in, under the guidance of Spirits and of the Banco (the head of the community).
Although it is understood that you will wear them at least once every day, it is not mandatory to wear them at all times. Some initiates prefer to wear them all day, and some only while performing spiritual work; some choose to have an “everyday” Guia that they wear all the time, and keep the rest for Spirit work time – imagine going to the gym with five pounds of fragile, expensive beads on your neck!
Guia necklaces have some rules, and while they can vary from Spirit to Spirit and from community to community, some general rules apply – they cannot be worn when sleeping, and you should not participate in fights or any acts of violence while wearing them. Usually, it is not recommended to have sexual intercourse wearing them, specially if that intercourse is with a non-initiate. When you take them off, you cannot just leave them in a tangle on the bedside table or the bathroom. In any case, the point is not to wear the necklaces in any situation that would diminish their energy levels, because it would be like parking your car and leaving the engine on; after a while, the battery will die and make the car useless.
One last note – while there may be similarities, these have nothing to do with Santería’s Elekes, which are given through specific ceremonies, and that follow an entirely different set of rules. We can, of course, wear Guias that represent an Orisha, because the Orishas are a much loved part of the Spirits we work with, but that doesn’t make them Elekes.