Monday, February 27, 2017

Design the back of a frame drum

When I first started making drums, I designed the back of my frame drums using a ring with an open center.  Then I discovered the creative possibilities for filling in the open center from a book by Barbara Walker titled The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects.  I discovered interlacement patterns.

An interlacement pattern is a "gateless" design.  This means that the thong that makes the pattern is all one piece, so there are no knots upon which negative energies can stick. Here is a visual journey to the interlacement patterns I use in the back of my frame drums.

The Pentacle, or 5 pointed star, is made by wrapping every other point of the star as the thong  moves around the design.  I then double the pattern but keep the same thong going by including the wooden ring in the second wrapping.

The Hexagram, or Star of David, is not a true gateless design because two separate thongs are needed to form the triangles.

A solution to this possible loss of magical power is solved in the Magic Hexagram which can be drawn with one line.

The Star of the Seven Sisters was a design used as protection against others penetrating one's secrets.

The Mystic Star looks more complicated to weave than it actually is.   The basic 7 pointed star pattern skips two points to wrap around the third.  This pattern is then repeated on the inside with a separate thong in order to pull the design in toward the center so the outer spaces are easier for the fingers to fit within.

Although I use two designs based on 8, both have their origin in the Octagram.  This motif is unusual because the figure has an even number of points, yet when  the thong is wrapped around every third one, an eight pointed star results.

The interlacement pattern called the Eight-fold Path is also based on the Octagram.  Here the design is made by shifting the thongs that come from the rim of the drum skin into four sets.

This destabilizing tension creates a different level of stability and  balance.

Some of my favorite patterns are created with the number 9.  The Ninefold Goddess is a sign that evokes the divine feminine in mythology and folklore.  This pattern is made by wrapping the thong around every fourth point during its construction.

I have only tied this Sacred 9 pattern once, and cannot now quite figure out how I did it.  The more I examine it, the more complex it becomes.  To make it a gateless design with a continuous thong I included the cedar ring in the wrapping, but how?

These designs based on numbers 5 through 9 are like Oracle cards from a distant time.  They bring protection, call on the Sacred, give aid.   Yet all manner of peculiar patterns and objects can be put inside the ring by applying some creative problem solving. This drum back has a small medicine pouch that the drummer can fill with a special token of the sacred.

This delicate design uses a gusset to hold a stone so that the hole in the center is not covered.

A tiny heart-shaped stone is held in a spider web of thongs whose design seemed to originate in the land of Fairy.

And what is this about?  A pattern of 11 points whose wrapping and finishing is so dense that it defies my memory.  Sometimes Spirit just steps in, takes over, and refuses to offer explanation.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dream interpretation with Journey Oracle cards

I have always thought the Journey Oracle divination deck would help with dream interpretation.  I woke this morning with a sense of frustration from a dream, thinking, "what was that about?"

The Dream
I am needing to get to my car but to do so it is necessary to walk a path through the woods.  I have borrowed a friend's car to get this far, but once I walk the path to my car, I will be unable to return her car.  I am very frustrated at not being able to figure out how to do this.  I am aware there is a time pressure.  While I have enough time now to retrieve my car, the clock is ticking and soon enough I will be out of time.  I spend some time trying to call my friend but realize I am looking under the wrong alphabet letter for her last name in the phone book.  Finally it is too late to walk the path through the woods. 

I am going to try to interpret this dream using the oracle cards.  The Journey Oracle deck asks me to draw four cards to make a reading.  These cards represent the situation, the experience I am having in the situation, the change trying to come, and the resolution of the situation.
When I apply these four aspects to the dream, this is what I understand.

The situation:  I need to return to what enables me to move but to do so I must walk a path into something not easy to see through. To get this far I have had a friend's help, but now I have a dilemma.
The experience:  I feel frustrated at not being able to resolve the dilemma of how to get where I need to go, and return what belongs to my friend, at the same time.
Change:  I need to change where I am looking for the solution to the frustration.
The resolution: There is no resolution because there is no more time available for how I am trying to figure out the dilemma.

Although this separating of the dream parts into the Journey Oracle reading categories provides some interesting phrases: "I must walk a path into something not easy to see through," and "I need to change where I am looking for the solution,"  these phrases do not really tell me what the dream is about. So I am asking the Journey Oracle for insight into this larger question.

This is the oracle card of my situation: I am a baby deer, surrounded and suffused with the color red.  Although many dream dictionaries describe red as passionate and angry, I am struck by the additional meaning of this color: loss of energy, "loss of blood."  What situation in my life is young and lying down, like a baby deer, experiencing a loss of energy?  Promoting the Journey Oracle deck.  I have been struggling with the dilemma of how  to advertise my oracle cards.  So far I just seem to spend money without results. Certainly trying to figure out what to do is like walking into the woods and not having a clear view of what's ahead.

This oracle card represents the experience of my frustration at not being able to solve the dilemma in the dream.  The brown fog catches my attention, I read that the color brown in a dream can mean seeking physical comforts through food and sleep.  It can also mean being humble and compromising.   I now think the friend's car is my friend Ann Mortifee's publishing house: Eskova Publications.   Ann is the one who used her way of moving to publish the Journey Oracle so it could move out into the world.  Is the difference between Ann's way of moving, and mine, the difference between energized confidence, and seeking to be comfortable and feeling humble?

This oracle card is an image of the change of direction I need to make when looking for a solution.
This dancer is dramatic, male, surrounded by orange and filled with yellow. Wow.  This website description of these two colors really sparks my insight of this dream.

  1. What does the color Orange mean in dreams? The feeling of shaking off shackles, widening one’s sphere of influence, restlessness, driven by desires and hopes, wanting more contact with others.
  2. Yellow in dreams– Yellow color in dreams might indicate: seeking solution, feeling hope about the future, trying to find out a way of certain circumstances or situations, needing a change for relief.

Feeling hope about the future.  Finding a way out of a situation by widening one's sphere of influence and wanting more contact with others.  This is certainly advice for a change of direction.

This oracle card is a representation of the resolution to this situation.  The face looks old, the eyes are looking in two directions, the figure is colored pink and surrounded again by red and yellow.  Pink is a combination of red and white and so takes its meaning from both.  The red can represent a lust for action, and the white success and insight.  The positive aspects of pink are hope, warmth and receiving comforting feelings. The negative side of pink may represent a lack of will-power and self-esteem.

The eyes looking in two directions,combined with the positive or negative meanings reinforce my sense that the resolution to this situation involves a choice.  Believe everything is going well and take action based on this belief, or be cautious due to a lack of self-confidence.

Just as I finished this reading, I discovered I sold a Journey Oracle deck in my Etsy webstore. What a great confirmation that everything is going well!  I choose this.

Try this reading with your own Journey Oracle deck.
1. Write out the dream you want to work with.
2. Identify the four aspects in the dream that correspond to the four cards in a Journey Oracle reading.
3. Draw 4 cards to match these aspects.
4. Pay particular attention to the first card, the situation, as how you describe this card will help you understand what the dream is about.
5. Focus mainly on the images of the cards, and the colors you see, to interpret your dream's meaning.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A drum for the Cat Goddess

A new drum from Journey Oracle is all about the love of cats.  This Cat Goddess has appeared with one eye looking into the possibility of kitty comfort and one eye looking with a predator's gaze.

Bast, the Cat Goddess of ancient Egypt, also has this multi-dimensional nature.  She is both a Sun and a Moon Goddess because of her sacred and all-seeing eye.  She is the Goddess of sensual pleasure, protector of the household, and bringer of health.

Sometimes she is shown holding a sistrum, a rattle used as a musical instrument in ancient times and associated with Hathor. Agile and lithe, Bast was recognized as the goddess of music and dance.

The Priestesses of Bast dressed in the color red, because Bast was the daughter of the Sun God, Ra, She would ride through the sky with her father protecting him from his enemies.  And here our Cat Goddess sits atop a Priestess's red robe.

The interlacement pattern tied into the back of this cat drum represents the Ninefold Goddess.  Nine is sacred in Arabic numbers because the digits of every multiple of nine add up to nine again.  And how perfect for the love of cats, who are said to have nine lives.

This myth may have begun in ancient Egypt.  Atum-Ra was a sun god who gave life to the gods of air, moisture, earth and sky, who in turn, produced Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.  These gods are collectively known as the Ennead, or the Nine.  And we know who was riding around with Ra in his boat that was pulling the sun across the sky.

This post was approved by a local expert who posed for the drum painting and likes being called a Goddess.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Set an intention

Each year I set an intention on the day of Imbolc, the Celtic holiday celebrating the return of spring growth: a time of initiation.

Because February 2nd is a fire holiday, I light a candle in sacred space, meditate on the flame as it burns low, and then allow a single word or phrase to enter my awareness as the flame transforms into a puff of smoke.  This oracle card of Imbolc from my Journey Oracle deck seems to echo the sensation of the trance.

This year I received the word "emptiness."  I wrote in my journal, " This year I will experience emptiness."  Because of my Buddhist practice I do not think of this word with apprehension or dismay.  Instead I understand that emptiness is the true nature of all that is.  But how to to experience emptiness when my head is always so full of plans?

I decided to do an oracle card reading about my intention for the year and here is what I learned.

I asked "what situation will give rise to this experience of emptiness?"  This oracle card shows a person lying down, awake, at a slight tilt.  Doesn't look very comfortable.  The surface upon which the person is lying seems made of grey fog, or ashes.  I receive a jolt of understanding from the Oracle pronouncement: The momentum of this situation is fed by finding a mystery.  The true mystery of emptiness is not nothingness, but rather that everything is a flowing of inter-related causes and conditions--nothing is permanent.  So planning is ultimately of limited use.

I next drew this oracle card as an image of my experience of emptiness.  The figure seems to be suspended between the physical world of nature and the god-like world of the devas.  The Oracle names this experience Beginning Vision. What an experience to be in balance comfortably with an awareness of life arising, sustaining and passing away without trying to control it.

The oracle card representing the change I need to foster to experience emptiness is this.  What a strange creature!  Or is it a face of wonder?  The Oracle's message from divine will regarding change is completed transformation will be felt as a quality of unlimited horizon.  Being in the flow of all, instead of isolated inside my sense of self, would feel a true revelation.

The last oracle card of this reading shows my resolution about this intention for the year.  The image of the spiraling shell or horn that reaches into a blue that might be the void, but also might be another reality or another planet is like something trying to trick me into knowing what reality is.  And this is the deepest teaching of all.  That life  cannot ultimately be directed or controlled, but only experienced in each present moment.