Updated: Apr 9
Rose Quartz and Crystal Mala Necklace, as part of the Soleil Satnam "Love Yourself" 2021 Collection
April 8, 2021, A Self-Reflective Q&A by Marisol Santana of Soleil Satnam Jewelry
Marisol Santana is a multidisciplinary artist and educator who works within the realms of visual art and performance. She currently teaches creativity workshops and exhibits in New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, Florence, and more. She holds a Doctorate in Art and Art Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. She has been an "artisan in residence" for the Rubin Museum of Art Gift Shop for the past three years.
How and when did my mala making begin?
I began about four years ago, after completing and defending my doctoral dissertation. I was so exhausted from all the writing. I needed to get out of my head. I needed to get back into my body, my hands, to do something that would ground and help me cope with the immense pressure and anxiety I had from graduate school. I came across this mala-making workshop, which was designed to help heal yourself through the making of one mala. I gave it to myself for my birthday. It's where I made my first mala out of red carnelian.
So, was I hooked?
Not exactly. That first mala was really hard to make. It took so much time to make, I didn't know if I had the patience to make any more. But, I also loved malas. I thought they were beautiful.
Mother's Day rolled around and I learned that my mother loved them too. She wanted one made of angelite. I attempted to make a second one. Then I learned my best friend collected malas. She commissioned me to make her an onyx one. When I started posting pictures of my creations on social media, I immediately received one order after another.
Why the Rubin Museum of Art, and when did I start producing malas for them?
The Rubin always felt uniquely special to me, a truly sacred place, a temple and a museum all in one; with all the ancient deities and artifacts. To me, the Rubin always seemed like the perfect place for precious gemstone malas, ones that have a metaphysical dimension, healing, and uplifting to accessorize the fine art experience. I began making them for the Rubin in 2018.
What is the difference between my malas and others one might find online?
Each mala I make is unique. Many are custom-made for a client who might need a dose of bright, light-filled energy. I've been' told my malas have a touch of magic that elevates a person's positive vibration. Many times clients seem to glow while wearing one of these malas.
Jade and Moldavite Mala Necklace, as part of the Soleil Satnam "Love Yourself" 2021 Collection
What have I learned in creating these malas and working with gemstones?
Mostly that all gemstones have a calming effect and give a feeling of lightness and well-being. I've learned that it's not just the elements in a crystal that are healing, but it's the light that reflects off of it. Making malas is a meditation to me, and assists with my own anxieties, especially during these troubling times. I've learned that malas bring some sunshine, joy and a feeling of nourishing adornment into people's lives.
Has there been any specific spiritual lessons that the practice of making malas has taught me?
Yes, quite a few!
I've learned that karma is real. What we give freely is given freely back to us. I've given many malas to people as gifts, then many times immediately after, I've been blessed with a number of sales or some other abundance in my life. The practice seems to always produce mutual positive vibrations.
Patience. It takes time to make a mala. It can feel tedious, as you need to tie at least 108 knots for each of the 108 beads. I've learned that each knot represents a problem and its resolution, just like in life. Then, there's the pressure at the end, to tie in the Buddha/Guru bead and its tassel. I can't tell you how many times I have messed things up at the very end, and have had to destroy a mala and start all over! Which leads me to the third spiritual lesson...
Detachment. This is especially important when you have to start over again. One has to practice detachment every time one creates something and gives it away, even for profit. We become attached to many things, objects, people, etc. I've learned the importance of freeing oneself from these attachments: That life and nature demonstrate how things are constantly changing and are impermanent. Nothing stays the same, and, ultimately, we can't bring anything with us when it's our time to pass.
Lastly, manifestation. The malas teach me that with patience and vision, you can meditate on what you would like to manifest in your life. They can serve as an effective manifesting instrument for health, love, protection, relaxation, and anything you feel you might need most in your life. I've learned the true meaning of the famous quote, "Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve."
Lapis Lazuli Mala Necklace, as part of the Soleil Satnam "Love Yourself" 2021 Collection
Is there anything particularly special about this new collection?
As we all know, so much has been shut down, on and off, over the last year; all over the world, including the museum due to the pandemic. It's been extremely taxing and stressful for everyone. I was asked to create twelve new malas. I learned that people have needed them to help with their personal meditation and anxieties. Because of this, my personal meditation while making this new collection has been to: "Love Yourself." Perhaps we all need a bit of this these days!
Indian Agate Mala Necklace, as part of the Soleil Satnam "Love Yourself" 2021 Collection
When will they be available to the general public?
They should arrive this week and be available for purchase just in time for Mother's Day! Feel free to ask to see a Soleil Satnam mala on your next visit to the Rubin Museum of Art gift shop! I hope they bring you gentle feelings of lightness, joy, peace, and love.
Red Agate and Carnelian Mala Necklace, as part of the Soleil Satnam "Love Yourself" 2021 Collection
Thank you so much for reading about my mala-making practice and this new "Love Yourself" collection!
-Dr. Marisol Santana
Updated: Apr 2
Here I will write about my meditations as I make art, malas and teach!
What is Soleil Satnam: Malas by Marisol?
Soleil Satnam: Jewelry made from natural healing gemstones and materials from the earth to help manifest one's highest purpose, truth, and reconnect to the God of love, peace, light, and life.
What is the meaning of Soleil Satnam?
Soleil = Sun, LightSat = True, Truth Nam = NameSatnam= Hindi for the One, True, Eternal, Everlasting God
What are Malas?
Mala in Sanskrit means "heavenly garland." Mala beads have been used by centuries by ancient Buddhist and Hindu practices, traditionally using 108 beads for meditation, prayers, and mantras. The 109th bead, usually silver or gold is called the guru or sumeru bead, which represents the student-guru relationship, relationship to God and all ancestral teachers, and/or facilitating one's transcendent force beyond the universe. The string is what hold our lives and universe together. The knots are obstacles in life overcome. Beads are in a circular shape to symbolize nature's infinite cycle of birth and death. The tassel represents our connection to God and each other. Legend has it the Roman empire appropriated the mala prayer beads into a rosary after trade expeditions with India. They mistook the Sanskrit word "japa" mala meditation (which means to mutter or chant) for "jap" the Latin word for rose, hence "rosary." Malas can help with any meditation, manifesting, or individuation practice. They are wonderful tools for inner and outer beauty! "Honor the highest truth in the universe: it is the power on which all things depend: it is the light by which the whole of life is guided. Honor the Highest within yourself: For it too is the power on which all things depend and the light by which the whole of life is guided." - Marcus Aurelius "One love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright." -Bob Marley
Thanks for being with me on this journey!