Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Building a Shamanic Rattle

Building a shamanic rattle is like putting together a puzzle without a picture showing the final image. The process of constructing the hollow rawhide shapes is quite simple: wet pieces of hide are sewn together and filled with sand and sound-making materials. When dry the sand is shaken out and the rattle’s voice is heard in each hollow shell for the first time. But what creature or element wants to have such a form in this reality? And what materials will make its voice? And how will you know the quality and volume of voice is accurate if you cannot hear it, before it is too late to change it?

The answer for me is in creating correspondences, or associations, with the materials that intuitively feel like they are coming to be in and on the rattle. This is much like discovering associations when doing dream interpretation. I might be drawn to include small cowry shells and so I ask, “In my own story, with what do I associate their smooth porcelain surface, their use as currency among many traditional peoples, and their symbolic association with womanhood, fertility, birth and wealth?” The answers will guide me to the location and number of shells that I attach to or include in the voice of the rattle. Over time, as each material is explored for its associations to my present spiritual experiences, the meaning and use of the rattle emerges.

Reading the Journey Oracle cards also unfolds like a puzzle. After I think of a situation for which I need clarity, I choose a card and describe its colors, shapes and images as simply and directly as I can. I then go back and ask of each description, “What do I associate with this? These associations shift each description to my inner knowing, and give me insight about the situation that caused me to draw the card.