|Wish Tree - Los Angeles 2011|
In preparation for workshops, I have been researching healing traditions related to the prayer flag. I had been curious if prayer flags were used historically within our western culture. An interesting discovery was the "Clootie" well, derived from the Scots word for cloth or rag. In Celtic areas these places of pilgrimage are wells or springs, often with a neighboring tree, where strips of cloth or rag have been tied to the tree's branches as part of a healing ritual.
|Cloths on a tree near Madron Well in Cornwall|
Worldwide down through the ages wish tree traditions have existed, using all manner of materials as offerings including fabric, coin, or paper. Japan has a strong wish tree culture. In 1990's Yoko Ono began using the wish tree in her work in exhibitions shown internationally. People have been invited to write their personal wishes for peace and tie them to a tree branch. More wish tree links here. What better way to send healing than through art!
|Yoko Ono Wish Trees - Arlington Garden , Pasadena|
As for actual prayer flags, their origin is believed to have come from India and the Shakyamuni Buddha, whose prayers were written on cloth banners. They were introduced into Tibet about 800 CE, with widespread use of printed flags beginning around 1040 CE.
Have you heard of other traditions? Please let me know about them!