WE CAN HAVE COUNTLESS CEREMONIAL tools and power objects for ritual use, but there are two specific tools that play an essential role in shamanic ceremony: the drum and the rattle.
These instruments are ancient and resonate with us on a primal level.
When we use drums and rattles, we are using tools and tapping into ritual practices that have been part of our genetic coding and ancestral memory for millennia.
Research has shown that humans have genetic memory, which means that the ritual use of percussion is now part of our DNA.
Genetic memory is knowledge passed down to us from our ancestors.
In psychology, Carl Jung explores this within his concepts of archetype.
Jung explains that humans are born with certain inherited, pre-programmed information that taps into the collective unconscious.
This means we have access to knowledge we have not yet learned firsthand.
We are genetically programmed to have a response to the use of these tools and the sound of percussion.
Rattles and drums have been part of human rituals for millennia, with archeological evidence showing their use as far back as early Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, and perhaps even farther.
Catal Huyuk, estimated to have existed between 7500 to 5700 BCE, was a large Anatolian city located in present-day Turkey.
Inhabitants’ religious practices were goddess-oriented and made regular use of ritual drumming.
Various statues and carvings of the goddess Cybele have been uncovered, featuring handheld drums.
The most commonly used style of drum in modern Shamanism is the handheld frame drum.
You can use drumming as part of your soul song, to greet your helping spirits and shift the energetic vibration of the space you are working, and for shamanic journeying.
It can be difficult to drum for yourself while simultaneously journeying, so I recommend finding audio of live drumming to use when journeying without someone to drum for you.
Live drumming is always best, but a good audio file and noise canceling headphones will do the trick.
Rattles are also used to shift energetic vibrations, to greet helping spirits, and to honor the directions.
Some cultures use rattles instead of drums for their journeys.
In my personal practice, I use either my drum or my rattles, along with my voice, to honor the four cardinal directions before starting a ceremony.
This helps set the intent in my mind to step out of mundane life and perform sacred work and also alerts and calls my helping spirits to participate.
When I refer to shifting energetic vibrations, I mean this in a rather literal sense.
The noise produced by drums and rattles produces sound waves, as does any sound.
When these sound waves are produced, they affect the energetic field of the space you are working in.
They can also affect the energetic fields of objects, plants, animals, and people.
If you are feeling stagnant energy, use your rattle to break up the energy around your body.
You can do this yourself, or it can be performed by another practitioner who you feel comfortable with.
Rattle close to your body, moving from your head down to your feet and moving over every part of your body.
If a specific part of your body feels particularly stuck, give it extra attention. As you embark on your shamanic practice, you will discover other power objects.
Your helping spirits may ask you to honor them with specific symbols or talismans, which can become part of your altar.
You may also develop relationships with plant and crystal allies.
At the core of most shamanic systems is a belief that everything has an energetic vibration, and therefore, if used appropriately, can be used to affect change.