I love my re-constructed rattle, made with a fluorite from Muzquiz, Mexico. The fluorite and the fossil shell both represent fractals to me, and the whole thing is dedicated to my higher spirit Uvanga.
I just finished this large shamanic rattle, made from curly willow and rawhide, featuring antler, coyote fur, turkey feathers, and quartz! If interested in this or similar items, please visit my Etsy! Honoring Wilderness
As a shamanic practitioner, I employ rattles in my work. Rattles can easily take the place of a drum when drumming is inconvenient or too loud, or — if you’re like me — you find it hard to keep a rhythm or keep drumming during your meditation. Rattles can produce a variety of sounds depending on how they are made. I have some that are very quiet which are great for moments during travel, or just when your spirit wants something subtle. Some of my rattles are loud and distinct. In any case, rattles don’t require musical talent to use — just make sounds that you enjoy!
Rattles aren’t just a shamanic thing. If you are any kind of empathic, meditative, or energy-working person, you can use rattles for meditation, intuitive healing, energy work, space cleansing/clearing, blessings, and other ceremonies. In shamanism, rattles serve as a “sonic driver” that helps guide the mind into a trance like state. But this state is simply an altered awareness that can be used for setting intention, affirmations, grounding, and mindfulness. Engaging all your senses and creating a moment for yourself by “making noise” is a powerful thing.
A cosmology is necessary to navigate the spirit realm. It is your personal map that provides contextual understanding for what you experience within it. A cosmological understanding also helps focus one’s intention in what one is truly trying to accomplish.
The composition of a cosmology should contain an explanation of the landscape of the spirit realm, and how it functions, as well as how the physical world and the spirit world relate to each other.
My cosmology assumes that the definition of spirit is equal to that of pure potentiality. This world is an “ideal”, but not in the sense that everything is good and perfect. It is abstract in the sense that it is not physical, and taken together it contains all aspects of all instances.
The spirit world is not bound by time. In spirit, everything that is possible exists simultaneously.
One of my spirit helpers has told me that the spirit world can be thought of as a coil. What extends the spirit world from being one infinitely-packed point is the idea of time. Shamanic societies usually break the spirit world up into three realms: the upper, middle, and lower worlds. However, the explanations of these realms are fairly vague across the board. In my cosmology, the real distinction between the realms is time. Future, Present, and Past represent the upper, middle, and lower realms respectively. In my studies I have not encountered this idea specifically, but the whole point of building a cosmology is that it needs to be what resonates with you at your core.
In the end, all cosmologies are metaphors and stories, as existence escapes human definition and the limitations that our understanding always puts upon it. The stories we create are the vehicles for our imagination that take us beyond the physical world. We don’t want these stories to limit us, but to help carry us forward. It’s important not to get too wrapped up in our cosmology, but to let it transport us.
The hallmark of a shamanic trance is that it is induced. Consequently, shamanic practitioners and journeyers are very interested in different ways of inducing trance. I’ve tried some different methods myself, one of which I haven’t seen mentioned in this context, so I thought I’d share.
Probably the most common method used by modern North American practitioners is drumming. Live drumming, either performed by oneself or a partner, is excellent, but I’ve always used a drumming track and headphones. Shamanic drumming tracks are readily available and are said to be just as useful as live drumming, though I imagine that drumming for oneself adds to the rhythmic, hypnotic experience. That said, I know I could never keep up drumming and journeying at the same time!
Another method is the use of consciousness-altering chemicals, otherwise known as plant medicine, entheogens, or psychedelics. One needs caution and know-how to go down this path. In addition to research, one ought to speak with the plant spirits themselves as well, otherwise you are doing no more than just taking a drug. What I’ve tried is mild — a so-called flying ointment of my own making — but has produced some good results. Still, I don’t use it often.
Rather, my favourite method for inducing trance is through the act of sweating. I don’t know the physical mechanics of why it works, though I can guess at things like changes in hydration, electrolytes, and body temperature. It’s definitely not a unique idea, but I haven’t seen in mentioned in the wealth of literature available on how to journey. Certainly great physical exertion and exercise would be a great way to sweat and alter your consciousness, but I take an easier route (and perhaps safer one, given that I faint easily). I simply take a very hot (but not uncomfortable) bath. It brings up my heart rate and aids my poor blood circulation for starters. Then, as I begin to sweat more, I find my focus sharpening and the Otherworlds coming within close reach.
Naturally, everyone works differently. I’d be very interested to hear of other ways of inducing trance, or your experiences of what works best. Happy journeying!
Finally I am well again, and I am deeply relieved to have my life back. Indeed, I have been blessed with spiritual energy this week as well as physical wellness. One of my guides showed me a place in the Otherworlds where I can step directly into the universe’s life-giving energy, like stepping into a river. It is a beautiful and wonderfully nourishing thing! So I have chosen to see my time of illness as a period of spiritual testing leading to healing and growth.
To those of you who wrote to check in on me, your notes were all very appreciated. It was so sweet to have near-strangers reach out like that. You are all wonderful people.
To those of you who are still waiting for journey from me, I am now back in the swing of things! Expect an email within a week. I am so happy to be able to journey again for myself and others — it is such a powerful thing in my life.
Also, if anyone out there was thinking about requesting a free shamanic journey from me, now is a great time to ask! I really do love this work, so don’t feel shy.
Finally, let me send out my blessings! Happy Samhain! Today has been interesting already; I keep seeing wispy things floating about, and things seem to skitter off at the edges of my vision. Perhaps tonight’s journey(s) will be more intense than usual; I’m looking forward to it. I’m dressed as a witch today at work and might do trick-or-treating duty at my mother-in-law’s house — I hope everyone is having fun as well!