There are numerous rites of passage for young men in our Church. Given that I have five sons, I have been so grateful to see my boys pass from stage to stage in priesthood office and also in Boy Scout rank. The first time each of my sons passed the sacrament is a cherished memory, and to hear their voices while saying the sacrament prayer never gets old. And when I wear a jacket with all my boys’ BSA rank advancement pins, as one Scoutmaster put it, I look like a South American dictator. We already have two Eagles in our family, and by the end of the year, we will have a third. I am immensely grateful for the fine young men growing and developing in my family.
But I also have three daughters, and it is also true that in Church culture there is no marking of passage for them, no naming related to who they are and what their eternal destiny is. They have been bystanders as their brothers have had their life stages marked and celebrated in the Church. Their progress is invisibilized in our Church culture.
With my first daughter, who passed away in 2005, I already had stirrings that this was contrary to the will of Heaven. I have described elsewhere a special party I held for Ariel upon the occasion of her first menstruation. There was something else I did for her, too: when she turned nine, I made her a Life Necklace, which marked and named the stages of a righteous woman’s life with different semi-precious stone beads. When she died, we buried Ariel with that necklace.
Exactly twenty years later, this very summer, it was time for my two younger daughters to receive that important guide, as well. But this time, I knew more about the divine feminine than I had two decades earlier. I expanded the Life Necklace to 24 beads, and now I had surer names for the stages my daughters had passed and will pass through. As my daughters pass from one stage of their life to another, they will be able to name and mark and celebrate each one. The Life Necklace teaches them about their past, their present, their future, and their eternal destiny. As we assembled the necklace this summer—one bead per day—we have already had wondrous conversations. They can recite what each bead means, and thus have a sure foundation to understand their life as a daughter of God.
At some point, the Spirit whispered to me that this was a cultural excavation of the Divine Feminine that might be of interest to others who have similar yearnings for their own daughters. And certainly after analyzing the results of our Readers’ Puzzle poll on the naming of women’s position and organizations in the Church, it was clear this yearning is deep and heartfelt. And so I offer one woman’s attempt to do for her daughters what would not otherwise be done for them in the Church. And maybe this is the way it must be: maybe it is the Mothers who must be the ones to rise and do for their daughters. Maybe it is wrong to put such an effort under the aegis of men.
I obtained the materials for the Life Necklace from Fire Mountain Gems, an online beading supply store. I used 8mm round beads, except for the very last bead, which is 10mm. A link to Fire Mountain’s website for each bead and charm used will be given, as well as a photo from their website that shows each element. Of course, there is no need to use this company or their beads.
It should be noted that with each bead I give my daughters, I also give them an index card on which I have written what the bead is and what it means. I’ll reproduce those cards’ contents below each bead description. When we finish the necklace, we’ll bind those index cards into a little booklet for them to keep. Because my two youngest daughters are adopted, they have a charm that is placed later in the bead sequence than it would otherwise be, and I’ll indicate where that is.
Prefatory Index Card
From Mom with love—We are going to build a special necklace together! Each bead of your Life Necklace represents an important stage or event in your life as a woman and daughter of God. The necklace will tell the story of your life—past, present, and future—where you have been and where you are going!
Once upon a time, millennia upon millennia ago, the intelligence that would one day be you existed—but was not yet organized into a daughter of God. Heavenly Mother searched for some of the most keen, most loving, but less organized intelligence in the universe and assembled those before her. How interesting and special was this combination!
Link for this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h202022fb (This is the priciest bead of the set; I am sure there are less expensive alternatives!)
Gold Crackle Bead
Once Heavenly Mothers had gathered all that would become you, She and Heavenly Father organized you into a sparkling jewel of an intelligence. And when you were organized, they called you Beloved Daughter—and they gave you a special name you have forgotten, but which one day you will remember when you see your Heavenly Parents once more.
Link to Bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20f8588cl
The War in Heaven
Gold Heart Charm
When you and your brothers and sisters in Heaven were developed enough, you were given the choice to follow Jesus’ plan, a plan of progress and happiness, or Satan’s plan, a plan of stasis and slavery. One third chose Satan’s plan and two-thirds chose Jesus’ plan. This was the time of the War in Heaven. It was not a war of spears or guns. It was a war of the heart, in which testimony and reason and love were in play. You were a mighty force in favor of Jesus’ plan, and many of your brothers and sisters listened to you and were persuaded. You saw clearly why Jesus’ plan was called the Plan of Happiness and how it would help you become like your Heavenly Mother.
Link to Bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h207290fx
Spirit Who Kept Her First Estate
Because of your faithfulness during the War in Heaven, you were pronounced “a spirit who kept her first estate.” This entitled you to be born into mortality, receive a body, and be tested to see if you would choose the right even when you were away from heaven. You were so happy to be found worthy to progress! Because of your unique abilities, you were reserved to come forth in the Last Days before Jesus’ Second Coming, and it was promised that you would come to a family on earth that would teach you the true Gospel of Christ. [Note: Feel free to alter that last sentence, or any other sentence in the set of index cards, according to circumstance.]
Link to this bead: I had to buy the snow quartz beads from eBay. Here is a representative link, which will probably be expired when you click it: http://www.ebay.com/itm/GR269f-White-Snow-Quartz-8mm-Round-Natural-Gemstone-Beads-16-/121910336793?hash=item1c626c1d19:g:qdAAAOSwMHdXSF4L
The Priestesshood Ordinance of Birth
Black Banded Bead
In the premortal existence, a daughter of God covenanted to one day administer the priestesshood ordinance of birth to you, the central ordinance of the First Tree. This is a sacred ordinance, a temporal expression of a spiritual reality. Through pain and blood and water, your mother would clothe your spirit in a body of flesh and bone, and bring you cross the veil and into the light of day on earth, where her love would awaken within you the Light of Christ, which would guide you to choosing the right. Your owe this priestess a great debt of gratitude! Your navel is the sign of this ordinance.
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h203062mb
After many lessons and preparation, it was time for you to enter mortality through the sacrifice of your earthly mother—through the priestesshood ordinance of birth! This is the crowning ordinance of the First Tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You were excited, but anxious. You would soon be going through a veil that would cause you to forget your Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, and forget everything about how you were organized and what you were to do on earth and what you did in the War in Heaven. Father, Mother, and Jesus all held you and made promises to you, and you to them, before putting you under the stewardship of your earthly mother, who would make body and spirit come together and awaken the Light of Christ within you. [Enter your daughter's birth date here]—time to go!
Link to bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h203546gs
Like this white stone with some grey and black, you were born into a beautiful but imperfect mortal body, now able to feel pain and illness. As an innocent baby, your foremost job was to learn how to handle your new body—after all, you never had a body before! You caught on very quickly, and were a magical baby that we all loved!
Link to bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h203673gs
Sealed to Family
[Note: If your daughter was born under the covenant, you will want to place this right after the Birth Bead, the black onyx bead, and alter the contents of the card. If your daughter was sealed at an older age, place the bead accordingly.]
Because of your adoption, it was possible for you to be sealed to your family on earth. Being sealed, or welded, to your family is a great blessing, and entitled you to be with your family forever. Your family took you to the temple, all dressed in white, and there you were sealed into your earthly family, and the Family of God. It was a beautiful day, one we will always remember.
Link to charm: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20a9156fn
As a young girl growing up in knowledge of the Gospel, the Damsel is preparing for the day when she will be given the choice to accept baptism. As a Damsel, she learns important lessons about the commandments and the Plan of Happiness, and also important lessons of the heart. These lessons of the heart include experiencing and learning to control and cope with anger, jealousy, discouragement, greed, and fear. It also involves learning the nature of love and friendship, learning charity, sharing, cooperation, repentance, and unselfishness. Learning how the mind, heart, spirit, and body can work together to produce happiness is a major work undertaken by a Damsel.
Link to bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h202185ge
The Priesthood Ordinances of Baptism and Confirmation
Blue Banded Bead
When you turned 8, you were given the opportunity to accept the first priesthood ordinances in mortality—the first ordinances of the Second Tree, the Tree of Life, the path to salvation and exaltation. These are Baptism and Confirmation. In baptism, you would promise to remember Christ, to keep God’s commandments, and to love and help your brothers and sisters on earth. In return, God accepted you into the Kingdom of God on earth, washed away all your sins, and gave you the gift of the Holy Ghost in your confirmation. The Holy Ghost would now be your constant companion, if you did not offend your conscience. You learned the principle of repentance, as you were now held accountable for your actions. You decided to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost!
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h203052mb
After your baptism, you became a Disciple of Christ—you became accountable and a member of God’s Church. You were no longer innocent, but had been washed clean by baptism. Each Sunday at sacrament meeting, you remembered and re-promised again your baptismal covenants. You began to be tempted by Satan—sometimes bad thoughts or feelings would come to you, and you would fight hard to banish them. Sometimes you made mistakes, but the Holy Ghost would help you recognize those mistakes and repent. After repenting, you would feel much better—all clean again, like at your baptism. During this stage of your journey, you would receive a patriarchal blessing to guide, inspire, and direct your life. [Note: In our family, the children receive patriarchal blessings when they are 13.]
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h202773ge
A Key is Given You
At a certain time ordained just for you, Heavenly Mother will lay Her hands upon you and set you apart to do Her work here on earth. You will become Her apprentice. For most girls, around age 13, She will give you the great key that can unlock the door between Heaven and earth, making it possible for your body to become the entryway for God’s worthy children to obtain a body and enter mortality. This is a sacred trust, and you must be a good steward of the key your Heavenly Mother has given you. The day of your menarche is a day to be celebrated!
Link to this charm: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20a9158fn
When Heavenly Mother gives you your key to open the door between Heaven and earth, you have become a woman, or more specifically, you have become Her Apprentice. During this stage of life you will develop talents and experience important lessons about love and about the relationship between body and spirit and mind and heart. You will also menstruate every month. You were born with about two million eggs, but you lose up to 1500 eggs every month. Because you are not married and are not having sexual relations, the egg that matures in a given month and which travels to your womb will die and be washed out of your body by blood. This flow of blood is healthy for you because it washes away dead tissue, and the flow will last about five days. Your woman’s body is a marvel!
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h202771ge
The Priesthood Ordinance of Endowment
Pink Banded Bead
When you have progressed sufficiently as an Apprentice, you will one day be given the opportunity to choose to accept the priesthood ordinance of the earthly endowment. Though there are other endowments, before this one and after this one, this is a special ordinance that prepares you with strength and knowledge to progress in your journey towards eternal life. It is the first ordinance of exaltation, given only in the temple, and when you are washed, anointed, and endowed, you will be clean indeed and without condition. This may take place when you are between the ages of 18-20, or later. You will make several important covenants, and God will bless you with spiritual power and protection. You will begin to wear the holy garments, and will receive sacred knowledge and a new name, which you will not share until and unless you marry.
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h203060mb
As an endowed woman who has been given her key, you have become a priestess. You walk this earth as a woman of great spiritual power, who is able to effect much good despite the darkness of the world in which you live. You contribute your talents, your skills, and your voice to that task. You are a light that shines in the darkness, and many see your light and their hearts are softened to the truths of the Gospel. It may be that after your endowment, you choose to go on a mission. Or it may be that your call to do good lies in another direction. As a priestess, you desire marriage to a worthy son of God, so that the fullness of your Heavenly Mother’s work can be brought forth on earth.
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20f7123cl
The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage
Green Banded Bead
One of the most important earthly ordinances of exaltation is the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, often called temple marriage because it only takes place in the temple. No other marriage is binding after death—no other marriage has the power to seal your children to you for eternity. It is supremely important that you choose to marry only in the temple. This is the most important decision in your life after the decision to follow Christ, so choose a companion who loves the Lord and keeps the commandments and who cherishes, respects, and loves you as his equal partner. If you are not given the opportunity to marry in this life, you will have that opportunity after mortality, for the new and everlasting covenant of marriage is what prepares us to become gods and goddesses like our Heavenly Parents, and is essential to our exaltation.
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h203054mb
A green and flowering time is the time of your bodily motherhood. Through the sacrifice of pregnancy and the shedding of blood and water in the pains of birth—just like Christ’s Atonement—you will meet and love your babes. You will feed them life and love from your very breasts, and they will carry in their bodies until the day they die the sign that they accepted your priestesshood ordinance; their navel. Through your love and care, you will awaken within them the Light of Christ, so they turn towards the Good and shun the Dark as naturally as they turn towards you. You will keep their hearts soft, so the Holy Ghost can touch them later in life and they will feel it. They can never forget these first lessons from you, and you can never forget your children, because their cells will be in your body until the day you die through the micro-chimerism that happens during pregnancy. And your husband will be by your side, helping you as your loving companion. If you do not have children of your body in mortality, know that motherhood is a larger power than that expression of it, and that you will have children of the heart here on earth. While you may still have a work to do in the world, now it is deeply informed by the love you have for your children, and for all children, for now you understand the work of the Mothers.
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20f7215cl
The Key is Withdrawn
When your childbearing years are complete, around age 50, Heavenly Mother will set Her hand upon you once more to close the door between Heaven and earth, the doorway that your body provided. You have been faithful in your charge, and the responsibility is lifted from you at the time your Mother ordains. The change in your body is usually gradual, but at some point you will no longer menstruate, and no longer be able to bear children. We call this change menopause.
Link to this charm: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h20a9158fn
By the time you have gone through the change of menopause, you may well be a grandmother. You will have reached an important new stage in your life: High Priestess. In some cultures, this is called Wise Woman—a woman who has seen much, who has learned much, who has loved much. A new, but different flowering begins in this stage, where much that was put to the side while raising children can return to the fore once again. A Wise Woman blesses those around her with her wisdom. The grace of God is strong in her, and people seek her insight and blessing. She not only blesses her family, but is actively involved in making the world a better place for all of God’s children, and now has greater time and resources for that task. She may go on a mission with her husband for this purpose, or by herself if widowed or single.
Link to this bead: I couldn’t find this at Fire Mountain, so I used eBay instead. Here is a representative link, probably expired at this point: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Natural-Lapis-Lazuli-Gemstone-Round-Spacer-Loose-Beads-DIY-4-6-8-10-12MM-/371420247767?var=&hash=item567a5f36d7:m:mLJy2ImW5PqXcY07uE5YUkQ
Soul that Kept Her Second Estate
Gold Heart Charm
A High Priestess that has endured to the end has won the race of mortality—she has kept her second estate. The test of the second estate was a great test of the heart—would you choose good or evil on your own? Because of the veil between you and your Heavenly Parents, the test was real. You had many chances to let yourself be lost to evil—but you refused. When you have become a soul that has kept your second estate, the veil becomes very thin, and you will hear and see and dream things that others cannot.
Link to Bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h207290fx
When death comes for you, even if your body has suffered before death, death will be sweet unto you. Christ has made this promise to all who love Him. Unlike birth, you will not be anxious this time, for this time you are going Home. You will see spirits of loved ones who have come to take you back. Even your beloved pets who have passed on will be there. You will pass from this dark world back through the veil and into a world of Light, and there will be peace and rejoicing in your heart, for you will have left behind on earth a legacy of love and truth and of sealing unbroken that can continue far into future generations.
Link to bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h203546gs
Righteous Spirit in Paradise
Because your mortal life was noble, and you kept both your first and second estates, your spirit will go to Paradise after death. This is a place of beauty, joy, and rest where you will meet all your beloved brothers and sisters again, including your husband. Jesus and your Heavenly Parents will greet you and embrace you. In Paradise, you will work on behalf of your posterity who are still on earth. Also, you may be sent on a mission to those of your ancestors who did not accept the Gospel in mortality. There you will try to persuade them to be believing, so that they may accept the earthly ordinances done by proxy for them and join you in Paradise. You will also be taught more than you were able to learn on earth about the eternities and eternal truths.
Link for this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h201584pl
Resurrected Righteous Being
Faceted Austrian Crystal
At some point, Judgment Day will come. At that Day, all children of God will stand before the Judgment Seat to be judged as to whether their deeds and thoughts in this life were good or evil. As you approach, Jesus will stand by your side and be your advocate and support. Because you have been righteous and kept your second estate, you will be judged worthy to enter the celestial kingdom and dwell with Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. You will receive a beautiful resurrected body, and will never again feel sickness or pain or old age. The only pain you will feel is pain for others who have made wrong choices. You and your husband will clasp each other and your children in your arms of flesh and bone once more, and all tears will vanish.
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h202768cy
Golden Shadow Faceted Austrian Crystal (10 mm; larger than the previous beads)
After your judgment and resurrenction, you will learn much in preparation to be a goddess, a Heavenly Mother yourself. You, as well as your husband, will learn how earths are made and sustained, and about the organization of spirits. Finally, one day, you and your husband will be called up to become goddess and god. You will begin to organize the intelligences of your children, and prepare them through love and testing to one day become gods and goddesses alongside you. Love, life, joy will all increase forever for you, and you will be revered as a Heavenly Mother. What a glorious future awaits you, dear daughter! Live for that destiny!
Link to this bead: http://www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/h207015cy
We finished off our necklaces with white sead beads on either side of the teaching beads, and closed it off with jumprings and a lobster clasp. My daughters will wear their necklace on the occasion of passing to each new stage of life, and will recite the lesson of the beads to their daughters and granddaughters, as women’s wisdom should rightly be passed.
When we are done, I will teach my daughters a new song, one that the singing group Libana taught me years ago (whose lyrics I have slightly altered below; you can hear the song at this link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZiqXDLMQ8w ):
Ancient Mother, I hear you calling,
Ancient Mother, I sing your song,
Ancient Mother, I share your laughter,
Ancient Mother, I taste your tears . . .
While making a Life Necklace might not be right for your family, consider fashioning a way to mark and name and teach the stages of a righteous woman’s life to your daughters, whether they be daughters of your body, or daughters of your heart. I think our Heavenly Mother would be greatly pleased.
Full Citation for this Article: Cassler, V.H. (2016) " Cultural Excavation of the Divine Feminine: My Daughters’ Life Necklaces," SquareTwo, Vol. 9 No. 2 (Summer 2016), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerYWNecklace.html, accessed <give access date>.
Would you like to comment on this article? Thoughtful, faithful comments of at least 100 words are welcome. Please submit to SquareTwo.
I. Jessica Jackson
"And maybe this is the way it must be: maybe it is the Mothers who must be the ones to rise and do for their daughters. Maybe it is wrong to put such an effort under the aegis of men." What a profound statement to ponder. Thank you for sharing this meaningful way of marking the events in the life of a daughter of Heavenly Mother. As the mom of an Eagle Scout I can identify with your feelings of joy as your sons were regularly recognized in our church. As the mom of 2 daughters I've prayed for more knowledge about Heavenly Mother for my daughters and myself so we can better experience our connection to the Divine Feminine. No pun intended, your article is a gem.
II. Rachel Rutley
Many thanks for sharing how you were able to give meaning, structure and celebration to your daughters spiritual journey. We have celebrated each advancement of our older sons and when our daughter left primary we had a celebration and I expect I will repeat this when she turns 14. But I will also look into your necklace as it has such beautiful meanings. It is good to have a space to discuss and listen to these matters. Thanks.