What Is an AXIS OF HOPE™ Prayer Wheel?

A prayer wheel is an ancient concept. Many people are familiar with the traditional Buddhist form found in the mountain villages of Tibet and Nepal. Made of metal, leather, or wood and ranging in size from a soup can to a 500-gallon drum – each prayer wheel is inscribed and packed with written prayers. With a push of one's hand the prayer wheel cylinder whirls. Each revolution counts as uttered prayer.

While the prayer wheels I create are not necessarily Buddhist, the concept and intent are similar. A prayer wheel offers a tactile and visual meditation, a way of cultivating mindfulness of the ideals one wishes to live by. Two years after I inadvertently created my first ceramic prayer wheel, my wife, daughter and I were trekking in Nepal's mountains. There I experienced a magical moment with a traditional prayer wheel.

 Today the prayer wheels I've made are in use by people from many spiritual traditions. In the process of creating each vessel I write the words Peace, Love, Gratitude and Compassion on the inside.  Aside from those four words the vessels are empty until people fill them with their own written prayers, intentions, memories or other meaningful items. Of course it is certainly possible to place traditional Buddhist mantras inside. While I have never done that myself I found this website to be a wonderful source of information of where to acquire the microfilm with mantras and how to install them correctly. https://fpmt.org/media/resources/microfilm-for-stupas-and-prayer-wheels/ 

Watching a giant traditional prayer wheel turn, I again felt charged by the storytelling capabilities of a cylinder carved with moving and meaningful images. Filled with prayers, this simple but exquisite vessel turned people to their core beliefs, reminded them of what they hold most important. It underscored for me that this was my real work.

Considering the troubling state of our planet and humanity's ongoing search for hope – the prayer wheel provides an axis that radiates optimism, healing, peace, wholeness, love, compassion and harmony among all things. It is an AXIS OF HOPE™ spinning counter to so many negative things! And so my business took on a new name.

My modern-day prayer wheels explore the theme of hope. Each wheel tells a story through images inscribed or carved into the clay. As the wheel turns on its pedestal, the images flow, the story unfolds...

Some stories are simple – such as leaves falling or a bird in flight. Others celebrate natural cycles of life, death and rebirth – a moon waxing and waning over a skyline of mountains... a stream burgeoning with salmon, bears, eagles.... Some tell human stories such as the civil rights struggle. Others display a musical score or poetic text. Other stories are more personal.

And, like traditional prayers wheels, Axis of Hope™ vessels can be filled with your written prayers, dreams and hopes.

An Axis of Hope Prayer Wheel is used in ceremony 

To me they are one continuous and intuitive use of the clay – reaching your hand for the raw clay, shaping it and then gently turning the prayer wheel to continue the movement.
— Sally