• Navajo ghost beads necklace
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Ghost Bead Necklaces

Called “ghost beads,” these necklaces are made by a friend of mine from the Navajo (Diné) Nation using the seeds of juniper (cedar) trees after the fruit has withered away. She looks for trees that produced good seeds, where birds have pecked out one end of them.

Sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find a good tree. Then she uses a leather needle to punch out the opposite end and cleans the inside of the beads. She strings them generously on 15-17” strands with tiny glass beads interspersed and many different color options.

I have come to love these beads, a string of which I received from her last fall to protect me in my journey back to health. I think they make great gifts for that purpose. I like to wear mine doubled up and clasped in the back, which I think looks pretty.

As for men, at my healing ceremony, a Navajo cousin took my husband aside and told him the correct way for him to wear it was as a single, long strand outside the shirt or collar.