Monday, July 25, 2016

Why go sailing

Why go sailing is something one asks only if they haven't been out there in the channels, bays and coves of Desolation Sound in British Columbia.

Of course there is drama when sailing a bigger boat in a stiff breeze.

But I find as much joy in the little boat that takes me ashore for adventures of exploration.

A dramatic sunset is a view filled with wonder.

But so is watching the sun slowly release the forest into its quiet shadowed life.

There is music in the utter stillness of night coming on.

Just as there is the music of companionship floating over a safe mooring in good holding ground.

Why go sailing?  Because I need a pause from my everyday self who does Journey Oracle readings, makes shaman frame drums, and works as an oyster farmer.  Why do you need to go sailing?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Use heart based consciousness with Oracle cards

I have discovered an exciting new way to read Oracle cards using heart-based consciousness.  I have been reading Stephen Buhner's The Secret Teachings of Plants and decided to try his heart-based perception technique to do an oracle card reading.  I made these notes to myself.

Look at the object
Gazing not scrutinizing                                                                                                                              Take in color, form, space.
Feel eyes soft-focus,                                                                                                                                Feel heart rate slow, 
Come into sensation of inner awareness
How does the object feel?
Do not dismiss, edit or doubt what I am feeling.

I am soon to present a workshop at Hollyhock, a retreat center on Cortes Island, with my friend and fellow shamanic traveler Ann Mortifee.  I decided to conduct an Oracle card reading about our workshop called Known, Unknown and Unknowable.  

This first card represents the situation--the complexity of presenting this exciting and challenging topic. As I gazed I saw many possibilities, a small paw, something opening, hooks. 
I turned my attention inward and felt tight, short of breath, a raised temperature.  Quite the recommendation for needing to plan a way into nature's mystery, the source of all that is known, unknown and unknowable. 

The second oracle card represents my experience in this situation. I saw being eaten, a mad mouse, a comical bug, many antennae. Looks like many other-than-human beings are checking in to this event.  I felt slight upset, hollowness.  This seems a message to be impeccable in my integrity when planning how participants might communicate with the other side. 

The third oracle card shows the change that is trying to find me.  After I gaze at this image I write intensity, snake or stick?, awareness of detail, edges.  The phrase "snake or stick?" really calls to me.  This is often the example given for that moment when our conscious mind cannot decide what it is seeing: threat or safety.  I feel inner awareness, opening, full breathing.  These feelings are a considerable change from those that came with the first two cards.  This change is calming, welcoming.  I do know the language of nature, and am able to help others listen and speak well. 

The fourth oracle card represents the resolution, or happy ending, to the situation.  I see soft colors, artistic facility, grace.  Yet, when I come into inner awareness and ask "How does this card feel?" I note these sensations: sleepy, shallow breathing, a need to go deeper.  What good advice from this Journey Oracle experience with heart-based consciousness for accessing the known, unknown and unknowable. Stay awake,  Take full breaths. Go deep. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How to buy the best frame drum for shamanic drumming.

I have been building frame drums for shamanic drumming since 1989 and I have learned a few tips for how to buy the best frame drum.  There are three things to look at when buying a frame or hoop drum: tension, balance and whole attention.  Here are examples of each from my newest drum.

A visibly even tension is perhaps the most important factor to consider.  Deer hide is like fabric--it has a bias. The skin from the sides of the animal is thinner and more stretchy than the skin along the backbone.  This means that if the hide is stretched the same amount over the hoop, the hoop will bow or warp when the skin dries because the different amounts of tension in the skin were not taken into account.

The first thing I want to do when a new drum is dry is this--to look across the drum's face and see a flat playing surface. In an odd way that is good advice for much of life, to obtain an even result sometimes one must at first be intentionally uneven.

Balance is the second critical factor.  When the back of the drum is uneven in its construction, it is likely that the voice of the drum will also be uneven. By this I mean the drum's playing surface will have dead spots and areas of reduced harmonics.

This tying technique, which results in a flower-like pattern, is a Passamaquoddy design I learned when I made my first drums while living in Nova Scotia.  It is easy to see that the entire drum is balanced if the flower petals are equal in size and shape.

The third factor I call whole attention.  Every part of the drum, and every part between the part, is whole.  Every part deserves the same level of attention.

When the knot work the wraps the hand hold in the back of the drum is even in tension and well balanced in the thickness of the doeskin thong used, then the finished result will be firm and durable.

Of course the best indicator of a good frame drum for shamanic drumming is the sound of the drum. The voice should be layered with a good range of overtones and bass tones. The drone of the drum voice is the tone that continues after each strike with the beater.  This tone  is called "the good horse" and its continuous sound is used to propel the drummer into the spirit world on a shamanic journey. The "finish" of the voice should be long and even so that a drone continues from one strike of the drumstick to the next.  If the voice "falls off" between strikes, creating a brief pause between beats, then the skin is too thick or the stretch is too tight.  

You can listen to my drums being played with a felt beater on my Journey Oracle website, and hear the subtle blending of tension, balance, size and stretch in the drum's voices.  This youtube movie of a new drum demonstrates one of the finest drones I have ever stretched in a frame drum.