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Making a Spiritual Connection Through Jewelry Open Access


Other title
experiencing the presence of the holy in jewelry
Spiritual connection with jewelry
Type of item
Degree grantor
St. Stephen's College
Author or creator
Marlene Joy Salmonson
Supervisor and department
Dr. David Goa
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Charles Bidwell
Rev. Dr. Marjorie Pettinger
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Theological Studies (Spirituality Specialization)
Degree level
Are people still experiencing the presence of the holy in today’s world? If they are, through what means are they making this connection? Jewelry is a reliquary of personal and spiritual memory. It is through conversations about their jewelry that I enter into my participant’s important beliefs and experiences. My thesis focuses on the results from conversations with five adult participants; from diverse backgrounds, ages, sexes and spiritual paths, centering on the topic of the spiritual connection, which they have with their jewelry. This is a narrative phenomenological study. The narratives cover four themes: jewelry as a vow; jewelry as a touchstone of spiritual story, and an invitation to relationship; the symbolic character of jewelry, which connects the individual experience to a larger tradition of meaning, and jewelry as a connection to the trauma and grace of past experience. The participants are shown making meaning of life in an individual way, while often drawing on their own spiritual heritage. The results inspire hope in the resilience of the human spirit, and humankind’s ability to find the face of God in the world of object. Theologians Rudolf Otto, with his profound ideas of the experience of the holy, and John MacQuarrie, who speaks to the spiritual practices of believers, provide the theological basis for my work. I also draw on the theories of Eithne Wilkins, who in her book The Rose-Garden Game: The Symbolic Background to the European Prayer-Beads describes the “presence” of the rosary, which embodies a “spiritual potency” waiting to be activated by the believer. This “presence” is revealed in unique ways by my participants, both through their thoughts and their interactions with their jewelry
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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