'The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe. The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightning and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.' -The Upanishads.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

another turn of the wheel ...

The wheel of the seasons turns again into the dark and the cold in this Hemisphere.  I wish you all radiant health, happiness, balance, and above all - peace in the New Year.  I am grateful for the ongoing interest in my work and for your support.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

krobo beads

A dear friend gave me a strand of glass Krobo beads from Ghana for my birthday a few years ago.  They are "Mue ne Angma" or "Writing Beads",  made from finely ground glass with glass slurry decorations that are "written" on and fused in a second firing.  They are brighter than most of the beads I tend to favor and they only found their way into a couple of pieces.  I like an aged, more elegant look and these are - well - kind of crude and brash.  But I know that if I find myself resistant to something, it means I have to suspend my judgement and find its own unique beauty.  It works the same way with people too, but that's a little more problematic.

Grouping the them into color affinities was my solution to the problem of what to do with the Krobo beads, adding other bright resin and ceramic beads and some rustic bone Tibetan Buddhist mala beads.

In a short-lived burst of creativity, I made a batch of bracelets strung on leather and embellished with charms.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


With the first really hard frost here on Long Island comes the necessity of dealing with all the half-ripe and green tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and a ton of windfall apples from a friend's trees.  I enjoy food prep and cooking, especially now that the weather is so cool, but it takes me away from my workbench more than I would like. 

Just got this amulet listed on Etsy.  I love the bronze hand clasp and the diamond shaped Thai amulet.  I have come to the conclusion that my reluctance to part with a piece is an indication of how much of my heart I've put into it.  I hope no one buys this one.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ancestors and skull beads ...

I just got back home after being away for the last four weeks and as usual, am having a challenge getting back into the groove and the rhythm of making, photographing, editing, blogging, listing.
I may be rambling just a teeny bit, so please be patient.  I'll get there eventually.  Or not.

I know I've written about the ancestors before.  About how shamans live with one foot in ordinary reality and one foot in the world of spirit and energy.  We usually access that unseen world through trance/drug/drumbeat induced journeys.  In some instances when we have been doing a lot of journeying, we flip back and forth - sometimes unexpectedly for some of us less experienced travelers.  It can lead one to doubt her sanity.  The great benefit is that it enlarges our personal definition of "reality".  Quantum physics bears out the shamanic experience again and again.  

But I'm seriously digressing here.  I just wanted to explain my use of the skull as a symbol of the protection of the ancestors.  I use it as an invocation of the spirits and guides who I believe have our backs as we make our way through our lives.  Some traditions say that they are not allowed to help us unless we specifically ask them for it.  I use the skull beads as a reminder that there is more than can be seen with the naked eye - that we do not walk alone.  The bead I used in this necklace is made of pyrite.

See: Properties of pyrite for more information on this powerful stone.

I've also used a couple of vintage coins, one from West Africa with a six-pointed star on the back (the union of the Divine masculine and the Divine Feminine) and one from Nepal with an image of Mt. Kailash, sacred to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.  Coins are my shorthand for invoking abundance and wealth in all things.  There is a Hamsa for protection; a Thai Buddhist amulet, blessed by monks, again for protection, good luck and wealth; a Chinese jade cicada bead, to remind you that you can always reinvent yourself like the cicada sheds her old skin; a little bronze heart - for love, of course!  An Ethiopian cattle amulet, a quartz crystal point to amplify all the good mojo; some Labradorite beads (supposed to help facilitate self discovery and is a powerful protective stone).

I love the ancient feel that the soft grey/greens give this piece.  It has a powerful presence.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

magic things ...

To become a shaman, one must see things that the rational mind says should not be there, hear voices no one else hears, suspend disbelief.

Friday, August 28, 2015

sing your own song

I do like the way that the amulets on a choker-style necklace hang over the throat, protective and yet empowering.  

It has been a struggle for me all my life to learn to speak my truth.  I suspect this is true of many women.  These amulet chokers I have been making are a reminder to sing your own song.

My oldest granddaughter started high school this week after going to a small, arts based charter school since kindergarten.  She was upset Monday night because no one seemed to be responding to her openness and natural friendliness.  In searching for words of grandmotherly advice, I found myself starting to tell her to be friendlier, make eye contact, smile more - and then before the words could leave my mouth, I caught them and swallowed them down and told her that she should just be her smart, funny, uniquely wonderful self and she will eventually find her tribe.  Or they will find her.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

still august

Once in a while, a piece just kind of makes itself.  That doesn't mean this was just the way I needed it to be the first time.  I had to restring the smokey quartz crystal because it didn't hang right and the Tibetan mala bead that connects the coin to the leather cord originally had turquoise chips in it that were way too blue to go harmoniously with the other turquoise beads and had to be changed out with another that had only a brass inlay.  But overall, the process is just joyful when it comes together so smoothly.  (It also sold within a couple of hours of being listed on Etsy.)  Now, if I could just do this whenever I wanted to ...

Friday, August 7, 2015

August 2015

I've been working on this piece on and off for a least a month, but at last I think it's where it needs to be and I'm satisfied. For now.  I've had the little mother-of-pearl belt buckle forever. When I first moved to Bay Shore more than 40 years ago, I made friends with two little old ladies who ran the thrift shop for the local hospital and they used to put aside old buttons and such for me. This is probably from that stash. It's such a pretty piece - delicate and iridescent. I wonder where it came from and who wore it ...

And here's a very simple and serene necklace -

Don't let the simplicity fool you though - this necklace packs a potent protective wallop - including a Troll Cross to protect you against (what else?) trolls! Wish I had known about these when I was still working in an office ...  Hanging below the copper wire Troll Cross is a terra cotta Thai Buddhist amulet, a bead from a Buddhist prayer mala and a bone shield/evil eye cattle amulet from Ethiopia.  With the creamy opal beads from Peru, we've covered 4 continents in 2 hemispheres.

This one is a triple tiered necklace that I'm going to test drive a little before I put it on Etsy.  The bottom amulet is a very large (much larger than I expected because I am metrically challenged, as you may remember) Thai amulet made of low fired clay, stamped and gold-leafed.  I sealed it with about a zillion coats of clear acrylic.  I was originally going to make three separate necklaces so any of them could be worn individually or with other pieces, but having three different clasps at the back of the neck felt like it might be uncomfortable.  The three chains come together on one clasp but my concern is that in storage, the necklace may become very very tangled.  I'll have to see how that works out.

And finally, another deer antler tip amulet with a Chinese bronze coin and fancy Bali-style copper beads on a copper rolo chain.  The antler tips are naturally shed and I polish them up a bit and drill the holes in them.  I love the shape and the variations in color and use them to invoke the wild male Green Man energy that puts the Divine Female energy into balance.  We have an abundance of white-tailed deer here on Long Island where I live, although not in my neighborhood.  A number of my friends have to contend with having their gardens devoured by hungry deer so they have mixed feelings about them.  I just get to enjoy their beauty and the wonder of living 45 minutes from one of the biggest cities in the world and still having the experience of driving home from a friend's and having to stop my car for a magnificent stag standing in the middle of the road.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

time traveler

Time traveler.

Way back in the 1970's, I used to watch Dr.Who.  I was a fan of the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, with his unruly scarf and unrulier hair.  (I watch it on BBC America now too and am very impressed with the last three doctors, but I may just be watching so that my grandchildren think I'm hip.)  The idea of time travel has always intrigued me.  If I had access to a Tardis, the first thing I'd do is visit Broadway in the 1920's and catch the Marx Brothers live on stage.  The second thing is attend a ritual at Stonehenge when that culture was at its height.  When I hold one of these beautiful Russian fossilized ammonites in my hand, I am transported 60 million years (give or take a few million) back in time.  It's incomprehensible.  The quartz crystal bead above it is from Mali and I am told that children sift these beads from the sands of the Sahara, string them, and sell them to tourists.  Since there is no way of dating them, they may be anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand years old or more.

Here's another necklace that I wasn't satisfied with and decided to rework.  I added some more quartz crystal to the Labradorite and one of my copper wire DNA charms.  Now it makes me happy.  Just wish I could get the colors in the Labradorite to photograph better.  I have a cool new photo prop though - a nice little piece of driftwood with an interesting shape.

And one more new piece - this one feels so earthy - like the way that the woods smell in Spring.

Friday, May 22, 2015

new york state of mind

I finally got around to listing this piece on Etsy.  I don't know what was holding me back.  The beautiful borosilicate bead is the last one that I had of the set; maybe the thought of parting with it was too daunting.  You really can't see how magical it is in the photos.  The green is like shards of Peruvian opal and there are so many shades of brown.  The little faceted rondelles of petrified wood echo the browns in the bead.  It really turned out to be a special necklace.  I believe that's a Herkimer Diamond wired across the horseshoe.  They're supposed to have tons of positive energy, despite their small size.

I bought of couple of these Endless Knot carved shell pendants a while back, intending to use them in summer necklaces.  I collaged the back with Chinese script, skeletonized leaves, silk fabric and bits of Godiva chocolate wrapper, protected by layers and layers of ModPodge and Renaissance Wax. The cord is braided and finger-woven.

I would wear it with the collage side up, but it's reversible.  Also very very long, so it can be tied at any length the wearer desires.  Very versatile and perfect for Summer.

Happy Mango Beads is having a contest to win some of its fabulous beads, so I made a new charm bracelet to enter.  They are a great company with a social conscience to boot.  I highly recommend checking them out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

spring tonic

Now that my husband is back in NY to be my shipping department, my Etsy shop is open again - with 15% off all purchases, including sale items.  Just use coupon code "SPRING2015" at the checkout!  Sometimes getting some fresh mojo in your life can be like a spring tonic.  Out with the old negativity - in with the fresh positive, protective, healing energies!  Any new piece of jewelry can brighten your day and lift your spirits, but with the carefully chosen and blessed amulets and other elements I use, Maggie Zee's Urban Amulets take it to the next level.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

spring break ...

My Etsy shop, " maggiezees " has been on hiatus while Dave and I are in North Carolina visiting children and grandchildren.  Dave will be heading back to New Yawk on Sunday. and I'll stay until my son-in-law gets sick of me or I miss my dogs too much.  I'll reopen the shop on Monday and he can take over shipping until I return.

My oldest grandaughter has gorgeous rainbow colored hair and is determined to get me to let her dye my silver locks purple.  Maybe just a streak.  Meanwhile, I'm loving the coming of Spring here - cherry and Bradford pear trees all in bloom, forsythia, daffodils, redbuds.  Everything turning a joyous, hope-filled green.  Tonic after a very cold and snowy Winter.

I wish everyone a Blessed Ostara, Happy Easter, and a wonderful Passover.  I'm personally celebrating every one of them!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015



Were do-overs a common practice in your childhood as they were in mine?  How liberating it was to be able to own your mistake and then claim a second chance to get it right.  And if you had the power to go back in your life and invoke the rule of do-over, how many things would be changed?  I'm thinking "Back to the Future" here. How would the course of your personal history be altered?  For me, it's just as well that's not a possibility; maybe we're here to learn certain lessons and missteps create opportunities for growth that are an important part of that journey.

In art, however, unless the piece has left your possession for good, you can claim the Right of the Do-Over.  I like the way this piece looks in the photo on the left.  The steel wire wrap bothered me though, and the one time I tried to wear it, it clanked and made a racket.  I thought it needed some softness and a little spark of turquoise to wake it up. So I got rid of the wire - even though I really liked the joints - and strung (stringed? strang?) the beads and pendants on waxed linen.  This way they still maintain the ability to move the way I want, but in a more organic way.  I changed the dangle on the far left completely.  I think it's more harmonious now.

 I looked at a lot of shaman's costumes and old amulets on Pinterest, as well as contemporary interpretations (check out Stephanie Brouwers amazing work) and it seemed like my shaman's amulet needed more STUFF hanging off it.  The ends of the linen were begging to be beaded.  I replaced the leather thong with a finger-woven cord of the same waxed linen and grunged it up with a little Guilders Paste.

Actually, it could probably handle lots more stuff.  I think I'll just let it evolve.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I work in a very small space and it had gotten rather disheveled while I jumped from one project to another.  I was having trouble finding things.  There were piles on the floor I was tripping over. Beads everywhere.  Time to clean.  You've gotta have good feng shui to keep the energy flowing and clutter and dust are enemies of that flow.

When a cleaning gets to be needed that desperately, it becomes something like an archaeological dig: There are various strata you have to work your way through to let the work surface see the light of day.  With my short memory and even shorter attention span, there were a lot of things turning up that I had forgotten all about.

When I began to make amulet jewelry, I was in love with Tibetan "beeswax" beads.  I made quite a few pieces using them and I wear several of those pieces regularly.  In organizing my stuff, I came across a box with pieces I had begun and gotten stuck with.  I mean stuck in a design context.  There was a collection of Tibetan beads and they seemed so sad to be relegated to a zip-lock bag in a Valentine candy box.  Like World Music combines rhythms and instruments from cultures all over the planet and fusion cooking combines flavors, this necklace brings together crusty glass beads from the Czech Republic, amber colored horn beads from the U.S., silvery beads from Turkey, coins from the Middle East and those fabulous Tibetan amber "beeswax" beads.  I think they're all happy to be together.

Monday, February 16, 2015


The picnic table where I usually take my jewelry photos has about a foot of snow on it.  The temperature hasn't gotten above freezing in ages and I've had to resort to using a set up near a north window.  We cope.  It's not ideal, but it'll have to do for now.

Shoulder duster earrings with bone flowers, wooden skull beads and beautiful amber colored horn beads.  I wish I didn't have such a short fat neck and I could wear them myself.

Leather, copper, abalone shell and a bronze Thai Buddhist amulet.  Great casual piece.

Milagros earrings.  Praying for true love.

Another variation on the abalone and leather theme - this time with a fossilized ammonite shell, a fancy copper wire bead and a recycled glass bead that makes me think of a root beer bottle.

And oh - this one. 

 This one I may have to keep.  I love the brown and the green together.  The fossilized ammonite shell with its slight iridescence, the carved horn spike.  Oh yeah. I may need to keep this.