Mysticism, and psychic phenomena, are not clearly understood, or widely accepted, within the mainstream. We are all born with certain abilities, psychic or intuitive, as well as shamanic abilities.  Abilities are just like a muscle… if we don’t use it… it atrophies… work it out and it gets stronger.

We have times of waxing and waning in our “inner” life much as our “outer” life. The only inevitability is change; our resistance to it causes conflict, not the changes themselves.  Shamanism challenges us because it creates numerous opportunities for change.  We are encouraged by our spirits to grow, decay, evolve and simplify.  A path is continually opening up before us. However, our job is to find the path; an element of shamanism is path finding.

As an example I encourage my students to discover a personal relationship with a rattle. How does that rattle fit into your present path.  Through journeys, alone time and healings we will either discover, or deepen our relationship with Rattle.

Shaman’s soul flights, journeys if you will, invite us to become intrepid explorers of our inner landscape. Discovering our way through the worlds of spirits, one journey at a time, is as important as marking your way on a path when you are in unfamiliar woods. Understanding that the path of the shaman is one built on patience, awareness and passion.

Through ritual and ceremony we work here, in the Middle World.  Rattles, Drums, Song and Dance keep us centered and grounded.  The irony of shamanism is that you are grounded and centred in both the spirit world and the physical world, at the same time.  One challenge we face, is to learn to find a path that will successfully lead us to blending the worlds at the same time.  The learning, is the fun {??} part.  Know that you will be fine, even when the rudimentary parts of your mind sense something unusual and stimulate a fear reaction. Fear, like pain, can be a friend, if we can discover what about the situation is disconcerting us.  Learn what is ours and what is not, so that we can sublimate the unpleasantness yet still be capable of seeing clearly.

Our Rattles

Rattles are seen as divine gifts; markers of identity; tools of magickal intent and certainly as musical instruments. The rattle has a history of being a predominant instrument in climates that were too moist for skin drums, however they have been found to be a part of the majority of ancient cultures. Most of us remember seeing rattles in our toy boxes as children, or have given them as gifts to the children in our lives. Rattles were originally given to infants as both a toy as well as a protective spirit. Certain traditional Navajo rattles were connected to the Spirits of the Sky by having small holes drilled into the gourd representing constellations. Small gourd rattles are worn on the legs f dancers in Zimbabwe in order to underline the rhythm of the feet in counterpoint to the drums. Ewe women of Ghana, West Africa play gourd rattles called Shekeres accompanying the drummers, and while sitting perform very energetic body movements to show off a stylistic form of playing that I have read is amazing to watch.

The Bella Coola shaman generally had three types of rattles used during soul retrieval ceremonies.  One rattle has a carved face on one side, the other side is flat and painted with intricate art. The second rattle was made woven wooden hoops with crossbars from which hang many deer hooves or even puffin beaks. The third rattle, unique to Haida shaman, was a carved wooded double headed dance wand with many attached puffin beaks. {Puffins were revered because of their ability to dive and quickly disappear into the underwater cosmic zone, analogous to the shaman slipping into the spirit world.}

Rattles are voices of spirits activating the healing properties and spiritual essences of herbs, beads, stones, as well as being recognized as containers of magickal items. Shamans have long held rattles as Beings of the water.  Rattles are water streaming over the body, or rain washing over cleaning and refreshing our physical and energetic selves.

Silence is a teacher.  In our dial a day reality there are way too many distractions.  Many of us are urban dwellers living with an electronic, white noised filled world. Our rural dwellers, although have the quiet, also have many tasks and responsibilities occupying their mind.  Silence is taking the opportunity to sit quietly and listen to the whispers that surround us. 

 I encourage each of us to find stillness, and a place to sit with the intention of quieting our mind, and focus on the voice of the rattle. We can connect to the voice of the rattle in the Middle World.  The language of the rattle is not easily translated by everyone. Some of us will hear our fondest grandparent as the voice our rattle, and some of us will hear stones and peas rattling about in a cylindrical object.  Easy answers are not easy to come by.  The path of the shaman is patience, awareness, passion and a bit of free license!

 When we are walking on an unknown path in the woods, we make decisions where to go. At times, only to come to very thick underbrush and have to either turn back, or find an alternative route.  Listening to the voice of the rattle can be a hit or miss path.  We learn the language of the rattle.

I had a wonderful horse as a kid, he was a true woods horse.  I would often ride him deep into the trees, only to get myself hopelessly lost.  In complete and absolute trust I would place the reins down on his neck and he would lead us out. In time I developed confidence and experience that enabled me to find my way out of the trees.  When I listen for the voice of a rattle I have complete and absolute trust that it knows how to reach me, but I still get lost in the woods sometimes! Connecting with our Rattle know that it may not be an easy path, but it will still be an experience made with the intent of connecting.

The voice of the rattle is important to be able to connect with when we begin to perform our healings.