Thursday, October 30, 2014

drumstick with rattle

I have been building drumsticks for my shamanic frame drums for many years, and just like the interlacement patterns on the backs of my shaman drums, my drumsticks keep becoming more elaborate.

 Adding the felted beater head changed the range of and quality of drum sounds.  Now my drumsticks have two heads--one of wool and the other of padded smoke-tanned leather.

Next I added different styles of sailor's hitching on the stick shaft, which is both decorative and also carries the memory of those who were willing to journey away from land into the unknown.

Now I am experimenting with adding rattles to the drumstick.  This set of 5 deer toe bones is on a removable collar that can be used, re-positioned or removed, depending on the drummer's intention. Five represents to me the five layers of time as taught by Martin Prechtel.

This means the sound, which  is a quiet clicking accompaniment to the harmonics of the drum, is traveling through all time. As if a snake companion was sounding its warning of approaching healing and transformation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Walking horse drum

This new 14" drum from the Journey Oracle--of blacktail doe hide on a spruce wood frame is special for lots of reasons.  I very rarely receive a doe skin from the Cortes Island hunters who bring me hides.  Doe hide is much thinner and so the overlay of harmonics is quite amazing.

This wonderful horse has been present to my gaze since the drum first dried, but I could not figure out how she was standing. This is because she is not standing at all, but walking right out of the Mystery toward the drummer.  Yes, I know horses' eyes do not look forward, but spirit horses can look in any direction they want.

The interlacement pattern on the reverse of the drum is the Octagram.  Barbara Walker says this"gateless design is achieved by extending all eight sides of the two squares until they meet at the points of an eight pointed star.  On contemplation it seems mysterious that a figure with an even number of termini should be formed of a continuous line, which may account for the magical implications so often drawn from the Octagram."  

This motif  is said to be a symbol of regeneration.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Before I paint a frame drum

Here are two new frame drums from the Journey Oracle.  Before I paint a frame drum I pay attention to the story in the deerskin, and also to the choices I make while assembling the drum.  In this case, the story of two drums in one deer skin.  This is very rare since the deer must be big, long bodied and young--not a usual combination for our small Cortes Island blacktail deer.  The deerskin also had quite a few scratches on the hide, the result of the animal rubbing against trees.  This was an interesting connection to the image I saw when I first gazed at the inner side of the raw hide, before I began to remove the hair and flesh, and saw the image of a tree trunk with deer teeth marks on its bark.  So the deer "playing" the tree is a strong message for me.

The last time I made two drums from one skin was to create a pair of drums called water sister and lightening brother, who in their images told part of the story of the Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun, written by Martin Prechtel. In their deeply patterned surfaces these drums are also joining together to tell a story and I find myself calling them old sister and young brother.

The image of a rattlesnake is quite clear to me in young brother.  Find the three rattles in the lower center and you too will see the snake coiling upon itself in a tight ball of energy. What a powerful symbol of healing and transformation.

Old sister is more of a puzzle.  I see the face of an old woman with a sweet grandmotherly smile in the left center, but what is she holding? I think this is Ixchel, the Mayan Jaguar Goddess of Midwifery, so then she is likely holding a rabbit.  And if this is so, and the rabbit is food for the rattlesnake, then the two drums together tell a story of regeneration--of death and rebirth--in both heaven and earth.

The interlacement patterns on the back of these two drums echo this message.  The old sister drum has a pentacle flower, which represents heaven and earth, while the young brother drum has a handfast of the magic hexagram, which represents protection from spiritual danger.

I think, sometimes, that the most fun of painting a drum is before I paint a frame drum.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Interpreting a shamanic journey using the Journey Oracle cards

I have just completed a shamanic journey to a stone teacher on this full moon afternoon.  Instead of the stone showing me or telling me a lesson, I heard the sound of a conch shell horn.  Twice.  The first time it was faltering in its rhythm and volume, the second time I heard a strong and certain tone.
The sound seemed to be outside in nature, certainly not in my head or imagination.  After my experience, I decided to further interpret this shamanic journey using the Journey Oracle cards.

 The first card I draw represents the situation: my going to the stone and hearing the sound of the conch horn.  This card's image is one of my favorites.  The intensity of the animal's gaze is so compelling and yet disquieting.  Shamanic journeys are like that. The other world intensity of the experience is quite often for me a combination of attraction and apprehension.  What am I being shown?  How am I to manifest this message? It is shamanic to understand that the communication is real in that world and yet cannot be explained in this world.

The second card represents my experience of this situation.  I see a figure mostly submerged in portions of fire and mud, mostly floating in the orange of attraction yet also reaching into the sky of seeking.  The dramatic yellow lower torso feels like an expanded solar plexus chakra, the location of personal will.  Feels like a pretty accurate portrait of my shamanic journey : hot mental commentary and muddy doubt, swimming in the attraction of the experience and yet reaching into the unknown, buoyed by my will to travel in this strange territory.

The third card represents change.  I see a bird with outstretched wings flying to the left, which represents spirit to me--leaving dark clouds and confusion behind, moving into a rosy lighted sky.
It is shamanic to seek the aid of Nature in all its guises, and to use its teachings for regaining balance.

The fourth card represents the resolution of this situation and I see a conch shell!  The whorled opening on the left, the fluted ridges on the right.  The shell seems to be resting on a beach with a band of surf across the top of the image.  What a surprise and confirmation of the shamanic journey. Since I go to this stone teacher on the full moon, I think I now have a month to be looking for a conch shell to find me. And a month to reconfirm that all natural phenomena exist in both the physical and spiritual dimensions and all are teachers of great value. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spirit beings living in your house

I have been helping a woman understand her experience with inorganic spirit beings that are apparently living in her house.  Last night I received a dream that brought me insight for understanding the spirit world.  James Hillman wrote about not interpreting or analyzing dreams, but instead, entering into their atmosphere in order to understand their meaning.  I am using images from the Journey Oracle card deck to illustrate the atmosphere of this dream. Here is the dream:

I am aware there is a small person-like creature nearby, maybe kept in a glass box on a high shelf for my safety, and I am afraid it will get out.

I see the door in the side of the box is open, and the box is empty, but now I feel accepting rather than alarmed.  Whatever is happening, is happening.

I am gathering up five animals: three cats and two small dogs that I am going to take with me in my car since I am looking after them.  A woman friend is counting out bowls of water and kibble to make sure I have enough for all. One of the cats so dislikes dogs that she jumps out of the roof of the car and has to be brought back. Now the cats are in carriers and the dogs are one each in the front and back seats.

Next the scene changes and I am in a small white room with swinging doors.  A pair of hands reaches through and I feel great fear for a moment, thinking this is the frightening person creature from the glass box, but then in walks an old love of mine from years ago and I am so happy to see he is back and still handsome.

Again the scene shifts and the police are looking about for the small person creature.  I see a small dark-haired child, crafty like a street kid, hiding behind an ironing board.  He slowly backs out of the space holding the board in front, and escapes.  I say to myself, “I didn't think I would come to admire that boy, but I do.”  I wake feeling happy that he got away.

So what are some of the sensations of this dream that create its atmosphere?  Fear giving way to acceptance; having help to take care of what is with me; anticipating harm but discovering love; being happy at another’s daring good luck.  As I ponder these feelings, I realize the atmosphere of the dream is teaching me about how to understand the experience of the spirit beings from that world trying to manage in this world.