Friday, August 19, 2011

Friendship Bells

One of the things that I love doing this time of year is something called Friendship Bells. I discovered it through scouting with my daughter when she was a child in the 1990's. Women and girls around the world have collected Friendship Bells for many years. Some people have used the same type of bells since the 1960's and 1970's on their backpacks to scare away bears and mountain lions while hiking. The use of the bell is an old custom from Thailand (not to be confused with the island of Taiwan). The Thai believe the sound of the bell pleases the good spirits and brings good luck, great fortune, health, and happiness. They also believe the sound of the bell drives away the evil spirits. I discovered recently that bikers attach Guardian Angel Bells to their motorcycles to "ward off" evil spirits or to trap them inside the bell to where the constant chiming drives them insane/crazy and the evil spirit falls off. One website suggests that this is the reason there are potholes... They mount the bell as low as possible on their bikes. It is also said that when the bells are given to another person for their bike, it makes the guardian bell stronger.

In scouting we exchanged them with others troops/units or made them to give to each other for special ceremonies or events. At a camp we attended, the following ceremony was used for exchanging the bells:


Have one bell for every person participating in the ceremony. Pick 4 people to represent the 4 directions of the compass. They will make up "the tree" that you will hang the bells on. Have them stand back to back or shoulder to shoulder to face the 4 directions of the compass. Have them extend their arms up (one arm high, one arm low) and spread their fingers wide. You will hang the bells off their fingers. If doing this with children, it's easier just to have them hold a couple of the bells in closed fists with the rest of the bells spread at their feet or in a box. Have the rest of the people make a circle around them.

You can be the "the caller" or choose another person to do it.

The caller says "Bells to the North" and the person who is facing North, bows and straightens up.
The caller says "Bells to the South" and the person who is facing South, bows and straightens up.
The caller says "Bells to the East" and the person who is facing East, bows and straightens up.
The caller says "Bells to the West" and the person who is facing West, bows and straightens up.
The caller says "Bells to the Ladies/Girls/People" or whatever Group its is that you have and the people encircling "the tree" come up and take ONE bell.

This is best done at the end of the meeting or camping trip so there are less lost bells and less noise.


Of course, if you are going to make a hobby of it, you will need a bell cord to put them on. The easiest way to do it is to get a metal shower curtain hook and macrame cord using a square knot.

Here is what mine looked like after a few years, of course it's much larger now.

I made a video for YouTube the other night while making Friendship Bells for a scouting troop. The bells I made were approximately two and a half inches long. Click on this link to see the YouTube video: Friendship Bells

Yes, this means we will be adding assorted bells to the store for additions to the Awareness Bracelets and Book Thongs. Right now I have jingle bells and assorted Holiday (shaped) Bells. My next project involves getting them photographed and added to the shop. If, and that's a BIG *if*, I can find a supplier, we will add the larger brass and silver colored bells as well as the Guardian/Angel biker bells too.

Have a great weekend! Don't forget to join our blog here and our Facebook page as well as our Twitter page to keep up-to-date! You never know where we will be posting a flash sale or a contest.