Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Shaman's Rattle

The shaman's rattle is used to invoke the assistance of power animals and helping spirits. It is also possible to direct energy with rattles, much like a magician with a magic wand. Healing energy can be mentally transmitted through the rattle and out into the environment or into a patient's body. Prayer and intention can be broadcast to the spirit world. Moreover, you can create sacred space by describing a circle with the rattle while shaking it.

Among Iroquois medicine societies of present-day central and upstate New York, the gourd rattle is described as the sound of Creation. The creation stories tell of the first sound, a shimmering sound, which went out in all directions; this was the sound of "the Creator's thoughts." The seeds of the gourd rattle embody the voice of the Creator, since they are the source of newly created life. The seeds within the rattle scatter the illusions of the conscious mind, planting seeds of pure and clear mind.

In South America, the shaman's rattle is a most sacred instrument. The rattle is believed to embody the sacred forces of the cosmos through its sounds, structural features, contents, and connection to shamanic trance. The various parts of the rattle also symbolize the structures of the world. The handle is the vertical axis that ascends into the Celestial Realm. The Upper World is represented by the rattle's great head-gourd, which contains spirits. Joining the head of the rattle to the handle symbolizes the joining of masculine and feminine elements in the universe, an act of fertilization that bestows the sound of the instruments creative shamanic power. From a shamanic perspective, caretaking the rattle and playing it properly during ritual fulfills the destiny of the human spirit -- to sustain the order of existence.

Rattles and drums work well together. The repetitive sound of the rattle, like that of the drum, helps induce trance states. The shaking of rattles creates high-pitched frequencies that complement the low frequencies of drumbeats. The high tones of rattles resonate in the upper parts of the body and head. The low tones of drums act primarily on the abdomen, chest, and organs of balance, while stimulating an impulse toward movement. Rattles stimulate higher frequency nerve pathways in the cerebral cortex than do drums. This higher frequency input supplements the low frequency drumbeats, thereby boosting the total sonic effect. Try a rattle and drum shamanic journey.

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