How to Make a Prayer Flag
Spring is here, and the winds of change are blowing; the sky fills with birds and returning life is everywhere. In this season of airy expansiveness and hope, we can send out our wishes for peace, healing, and harmony on the winds with a simple prayer flag, inspired by a traditional Tibetan Buddhist practice. Here’s how to make a prayer flag.
This can be as simple or as elaborate as you like or as time allows, but all you really need is a small piece of smooth fabric, any size you like (although traditionally, these are not larger than about a twelve-inch square). You could use a piece torn from a discarded sheet, or an old handkerchief.
First, give some time and thought to the prayer you want to send out into the world. Now, using paint or an indelible pen or marker, write or draw your prayer on the fabric. If you have the time and the desire, you could add appliqués, hand-embroidery, or painting, but these are strictly optional.
Attach your flag to a length of string by folding down an inch of fabric from the top and doing a simple running stitch, then threading a piece of string through this channel. You could also use safety pins, or sew a length of ribbon at both top corners that are used to tie the flag to the string.
On a breezy day, bring your prayer flag and string outdoors and take a moment to ground and center yourself. Close your eyes and imagine the winds taking your prayer out to the world. Now choose a place to leave your flag where the wind will be able to move it. Branches of trees are ideal, but you could also place a stake in the ground and tie one end of your string to the top of it, with the other end of the string tied to a stone or smaller stake placed in or on the earth. Some people string their prayer flags across the top of a porch, or from tree to tree. You can add several prayer flags to your line.
Whenever you see your flag dancing, allow your heart to go out on the winds with your prayer.
Inspired by Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, by Cait Johnson (SkyLight Paths, 2003).