One year ago today I sold my first Free Range Rosary on Etsy. This was my first official sale and it just so happens that the same person who purchased it, just bought another one of my creations yesterday.
I’m still unclear on whether it’s freerange or free range or free-range but that hasn’t stopped me lol. In my last post, I shared a little bit about the origins of this work. Here, I’ll share a bit more of the backstory.
Today, October 15th is also the feast day of Saint Theresa of Avila. All of my beads spend time in veneration of first class relics of both St. Theresa of Avila and St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
The Origin Story of Free Range Rosaries
In late 2019 I’d had to leave my beautiful Maui home and community because my Mom’s health was in pretty rapid decline. My Brothers needed me there more than the few months at a time that I’d done in years previous. So I packed my things into storage and said aloha to Maui and left for Maryland where my Mom and Brothers were living. By the time I landed, she was bedridden in a nursing home. Her heart was in bad shape and she qualified for hospice, which she roundly rejected even though it would have provided the support we needed to bring her home. A nursing home was last place we wanted her to be, even if it was a good one. We came to the heartbreaking conclusion that we couldn’t provide even close to the care she needed at home. We visited her daily, sometimes several times a day. The folks in her wing thought I worked there because I was there so often. It broke my heart to see how many people never got visitors. I made friends with people and visited with them even though my Mom would get jealous.
Then COVID hit and we could no longer visit. It was torture for all of us. I hadn’t prayed the rosary since childhood, but I found myself gripping the beads and asking the Mother of All Mothers for help. (She did – in big and small ways.)
I’d gotten a copy of The Way of the Rose by Perdita Finn and Clark Strand and was in awe of the comeback of the rosary. But of course SHE was always there, never wavering, always welcoming us into the garden of the rosary.
I tried praying the rosary with Mom over the phone but she always made an excuse to stop a few Hail Marys in.
There were rosaries in the house but I wanted something more resonant with a connection I felt with Her. Nature was my church and had been as long as I could remember. I searched Etsy for something right for me. I didn’t find anything. I searched on Instagram and found just the right thing – and made by a lady in Hawaii! Geralyn sent me my first non-traditional rosary and I adore it to this day! Aloha RosaLeis are gorgeous and I’m blessed to have her as a Rosary Sister.
I then set about making rosaries for my friends and family. I got to show my Mom some of the rosaries I made during window visits in the summer. The dementia was pretty bad but she understood what I was doing and was pleased and a bit surprised by my rosary renaissance. (I was kinda the heretic of the family.) We started hospice for real a few weeks later and she passed in September.
Sharing the inheritance of rosaries to the younger generations in my family felt like the right thing to do and a way to help process my grief. A “rosary coven” formed with friends and cousins and we prayed together over Zoom once a week (still do).
Pueo guarding my first rosarium workshop in Maryland.
I found a beautiful creative outlet sitting at the desk in my brothers house stringing up beads, praying and dreaming up creative ways to organize colors, symbols, textures and ideas into prayer beads. It’s pretty much all I did in the evenings. I could feel my Ancestors cheering me on and the prayers moving through me while I worked. This is why I call what I make co-creations. It’s never just me, She is with me and all those who work to create the ingredients I use get a prayer of thanks as well.
I didn’t intend to sell my rosaries, but after I ran out of friends and family to make them for, I decided to see if other people had a desire for unconventional, nature inspired prayer beads. It also wasn’t a bad idea to re-coup some of the money spent on my bead shopping sprees either. I was mostly unemployed so any income was welcome.
My background in archetypes, years of spiritual study, leading ceremonies and a lifetime of being an artist (including jewelry) all fit nicely into a free range rosarium. Thinking on it now, it all makes perfect sense. At the time it was just helping keep me sane and connected to Our Lady.
When I moved back home to Maui in February, I wasn’t sure if I would continue making rosaries. I prayed on it and the next day I woke up to 5 new orders and a sweet thank you note from someone who got one of my rosaries and loved them. That was clearly a sign to keep going.
Today is the one year anniversary of Free range Rosaries as a business. I’m so surprised and delighted to see this cottage business thrive. I’m beyond grateful to all the people who have chosen my co-creations and taken the time to leave a review, write me a note or request a custom rosary.
I’m looking forward to more co-creations and connections to the Divine Feminine through this work.