Tibetan Prayer Flags

May all beings touched by the wind have PEACE, HAPPINESS, LONG LIFE,  AND PROSPERITY.

Tibetan Wind Prayer

A few weeks ago, Rick and I were driving in the Greenwood area and came across a Tibetan shop called Pema Karpo.  We had been looking for Tibetan Prayer flags to put up around our house in Ocean Shores.  Inside the shop we met Rigdzen, the owner of the shop.  We really enjoyed meeting him, finding the prayer flags in his shop, and learning more about the significance of prayer flags!

Rigdzin in his Tibetan import shop

Rigdzin told us  he would figure out the most auspicious day for us to put up the prayer flags. But first, he needed to know our birth dates, so he could figure out what animals and elements we represent based on the Chinese calendar year.  He pulled out his Tibetan astrological books and asked Rick for his birth date.  Rick said proudly, “I’m the Dragon.  Metal Dragon!”  But Rigdzin looked puzzled and said, “Please, give me your full birth date.”  “Oh, I already know…I’m a Dragon, a Metal Dragon.”  Rigdzin gave Rick a long look and said, “See, I need your birth date.  You look like Sheep to me.”   That sort of unsettled Rick (why be a Sheep when you can be a Dragon?)  and of course, it cracked me up!  I was looking at Rick’s hair thinking of a sheep before sheering time.

Somewhere, some time long ago, based on the year he was born, Rick was told he was a dragon.  Rigdzen explained that February 9, 1952 would not yet be the year of the dragon, according to the Chinese calendar year.  That year, the new year’s celebration would have been around February 15th. Yup, turns out I am married to a Metal Sheep.  Rick was still not convinced.  What about his love of dragons?  We have a blue Tibetan carpet with a blood red dragon weaved into it and an Indian head board with a dragon-like motif on it, both representing Rick’s love of dragons.  Rigdzen asked a few key questions that quickly convinced Rick he is indeed a Sheep, “OK, what is your relationship with your Mother?  Are you close to her?  Sheep loves Mother.  And your Wife?  Sheep is very devoted and true to Wife.”  (Sheep have wives?)  Rick looked stunned, “Wow, I guess I AM a Sheep!”

I am who I thought I was which is the Metal Ox!  Apparently, our most auspicious day together is on THURSDAYS.  Any Thursday will do.

Rigdzin figures out the most auspicious day for us to put up the prayer flags!

Rigdzen told us that we should put up the prayer flags on a Thursday and that the event should be very special.  For example, all elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space) should all be represented while putting the flags up.  And we should pray.  He said that while we put the flags up, we should say a prayer for what we want in life and whatever that prayer is, it should be a prayer for all of humanity!  So if I pray for my sisters’ health, then my prayer is for the good health of all living beings. If Rick says a prayer for his mother, then his prayer should be for the well being for all the mothers on this earth.  If I pray for peace and happiness, then my prayer becomes a prayer for peace and happiness for all of mankind.  Those were in fact our prayers last Thursday at Ocean Shores as we put up our new prayer flags.

We had the element of FIRE present and that was represented by this candle:

Candle flame represents element FIRE

And the element of earth is represented with these fragrant lilacs that we placed around the candle:

Earth represented in flowers

Water was easy to represent since it was raining while we put the prayer flags up!  We could also hear the ocean churning away in the distance.  Normally, for the element of air, we should burn incense, but I don’t have incense because I have allergic reactions when incense is burned indoors.  However, air was also easy to represent as the air is so rich and pure at the coast, so we just focused on taking in deep breaths of ocean air as we put the flags up.  Space or Ether was represented by our prayers for a better world where every person is healthy and free of physical and emotional pain, a world where life is celebrated every moment as a precious one-time gift.

Our new prayer flags at Little Renaissance, Ocean Shores

The colorful prayer flags are inscribed with prayers and mantras.  Tibetan Buddhists place prayer flags outside their homes and places of spiritual practice.  The flags flap in the wind and it is thought that the wind carries beneficial spiritual vibrations across the earth and heavens-to gods, humans, animals, and all that is living.  The various colors represent the elements.

Colorful flags

Displaying the colors is believed to balance the elements, bringing peace to humans living in that environment and to the environment itself!  I love to think of all the plants, trees, birds, squirrels, and raccoons as benefiting from the flags flapping in the wind.

Each color carries symbolic meaning:

Blue Flags: Health and Longevity

Water: Purification of Karma

Red: Wish Fulfilling Prayer

Green: Compassin Prayer

Yellow: Victory over Obstacles

Our Flags Flapping in the Wind

Below is a great explanation I found for the symbolism of the prayer flags:

The prayers of a flag become a permanent part of the universe as the images fade from exposure to the elements. Just as life moves on and is replaced by new life, Tibetans renew their hopes for the world by continually mounting new flags alongside the old. This act symbolizes a welcoming of life’s changes and an acknowledgment that all beings are part of a greater ongoing cycle.

Prayer Flags in Tibet


6 Responses to “Tibetan Prayer Flags”

  1. Rick Clark Says:

    Fran and I went on-line and found the calendar for all Chinese years going back to 1900, and it turns out I’m a dragon after all. But as with all such things, I found a little of the sheep mixed in with the dragon and vice versa.



  2. aliceatinveresk Says:

    I too am perplexed. I was born on 9th February 1952,. Am I a dragon afterall?


    • frangallo Says:

      Hi Alice, Thanks for reading my blog and commenting! According to the Tibetan calendar checked by Rigdzen, February 9, 1952 is the year of the sheep. According to Rigdzen’s calendar, New Year’s Day, the year of the Dragon, officially began on February 15, 1952. However, Rick, determined to be the Dragon he has always thought himself to be, searched the internet and found a calendar that said he is a Dragon. Who is accurate? I am not sure? At any rate, Dragon or Sheep, you have a big birthday coming up! Happy 60th to you! Fran


  3. Rhana Pytell Says:

    Thank you! Gorgeous images!


  4. Tenzin Says:

    Hi! Found your blog randomly, enjoyed the post. I’m pretty literate in Tibetan and lunar astrology myself, I think Rigdzin was near the mark, but mistakenly labelled you a Sheep when he meant Rabbit (eastern Astrology animals are grouped by three…The Pig, Sheep and Rabbit are all very similar). Translating from English to Tibetan and back into English in one’s head can be difficult :).

    By my reading you are born on the cusp between the Rabbit and Dragon year, and although according to Chinese astrology you are a Dragon, the Tibetan lunar calendar sometimes falls on a different date, likely setting you in the Rabbit year according to a Tibetan reading.

    Either way, you’re a ‘cusp baby’ as they call it, so it makes sense you identify a bit as a Dragon, along with Rabbit like qualities :).

    Enjoy those prayer flags!


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