TOOLS & RESOURCES
DRUMS -- RATTLES -- SMOKE
Recorded Drumming tracks are a very good option in many situations. They work well for journeying, shamanic dance or ceremonial work. Listening to a recorded drum gives the option of using a a headset when journeying, which both creates an intense experience and avoids disturbing others.
** Playing a shamanic drumming track should never be used in moving vehicles of any kind, and need to be regarded with the same respect as other allies used for contacting the Spirit world. Even though it is a recording, the Drums themselves are alive.
The Scandinavian Center for Shamanic Studies has its own drumming recording, produced by B-Joe Johansen, who drums on it together with Jonathan Horwitz, Kirsten Slots, and Marianne Hvass Kure. It has two tracks, one for a 20 minute journey and for a 30 minute journey. Both are available in two versions, one that begins with Jonathan's distinctive whistling and one without. We offer this Drumming recording as a gift to people who have trained with us and want to continue the work at home.
We are very grateful if you read the guidelines about how to use and share it.
DRUMS & RATTLES
“Where can I get a good drum?” “How do I make my own rattle?” These are questions we are often asked, so here you will find information which we hope will be helpful. Below we suggest what to consider before looking for your first drum or rattle. Further down is a list of craftspeople whose work we know and like
The Drum’s rhythmic power is like the heartbeat of the Earth, and is deeply anchored in our shamanic practice. We journey on the drum beat to the Spirit world and return with power. The drum and the rattle are both tools and also Allies with their own power and soul. We do not see them as objects, but as beings in their own right that we can develop relationships with over time. We are in communication and contact with them so they can teach us how to work with them.
In shamanic work, traditionally, handheld tambourine-like drums are used together with a drumstick. But where to find a drum? Which should you choose? Should it be factory made or handmade? Would you like to make your own, but don’t have the tools or experience? Should the skin be from an animal, or is it good with a synthetic drumskin? The most important thing to remember is that this partner in your hand feels good to you, that the sound feels right to you, that you can dance with its power, that you can work together.
MASS PRODUCED DRUMS are not as expensive as hand-made drums, and often have a good sound. They are available at music stores, and ones with synthetic skins can be used outside in the rain or in humid places. The Remo company makes some good and inexpensive ones, which are easy to personalize. Whether a drum is made from plastic or animal hide, it has a Spirit. Look beyond the surface and come to know it, respect it, and it will teach you how to work with it.
HANDMADE DRUMS AND RATTLES are getting easier to find as there are more people making them. In the list below we share some drum makers we know and have worked with. When buying a rattle or a drum, we highly recommend buying direct from an indigenous artist or a crafts-person with a personal spirit practice. It can also be inspiring to learn to make your own tools at a drum or rattle making courses. Many of the people on the list below offer such courses, where creating the tool is seen as a wonderful way to get to know each other. We prefer drum-making when it is done in this ritual way with awareness and intention. Birthing a drum helps you to connect with the Spirit of the instrument as it comes into being and makes itself known.
RATTLES are filled with power. They also act as power antennae. In many parts of the world they are used together with drums, and in Siberia they are often built into the drum or drumstick. They are easy to carry, and do not cause so much disturbance to neighbors. They also tend to be less expensive than drums, and many fair trade shops have beautiful, powerful, inexpensive rattles for sale. When coming on a course, we ask you to bring a rattle, and it is very simple to make one at home: simply put a small amount of rice, beans or stone in a non-breakable container. You can decorate or paint it and get to know it. It is not the surface that matters, how it looks is less important than the power and the spirit of it. Read more about rattles and how to make your own in Jonathan’s article Power in your Hand
Instead of buying a drum or a rattle, it can be interesting to wait and see what comes to you – maybe you will find one second hand, or one will be given to you, or you get inspired and try to make it. Please be aware that even though you might fall in love with a particular drum or rattle, maybe it is meant for someone else. Take a moment to connect with it and feel if you are right for each other. Listen and trust the response. It can be easy to feel that we can do good work if only we have the right tools. They certainly help, but the essence of the work is intention and Spirit connection.
Native American Style Flutes are easy to play and good for helping to shift consciousness. Deeper toned flutes require longer fingers, and the 5-holed flute is easier to play than the 6-holed which has more possibilities.
STAFFS have a role equal to the drum and rattle in several cultures, especially in Scandinavian magic tradition. There are many ways to find a staff, or let it find you. A good way is to walk in the woods with a clear intention to ask for help to meet your Staff. Release any expectation of what it should look like, as it is the Spirit of the staff that counts. A crude branch is fine. It does not need be decorated but it should be strong. The important thing is that you can work - and dance - together. Get to know your staff better by walking with it in nature and make a journey to meet with the Spirit of the Staff.
INCENSE speaks to our soul and our senses. Smoke can both invoke, purify and bless. Along with drumming, singing and rattling, it can create a powerful ritual. Different shamanic traditions use different types of incense. We highly recommend getting to know local plants and learning how they can be used for smoke.
All plants are sacred. Some indigenous people around the world feel that certain plants should never be bought but only received or given. Very much depends on how they are harvested, both physically and spiritually. There is a big industrialised market in sage and sweetgrass so rather than buying these, we recommend taking time to learn about wild plants in your area. Robyn Wall Kimmerer shares guidelines in the Honourable Harvest which are very helpful when gathering plants.
Wherever you live on the Earth, plants are growing who have a long history of co-operating with humans in ceremonies, blessing work, and cleaning. When we meet plants in this way, we also meet their soul and can develop long lasting relationships. Learn more in Annette’s article Sacred Smoke
CRAFTSPEOPLE & CRAFT COURSES
These are practitioners we know and have worked with. You can find many more in Sacred Hoop magazine.
* ENGLAND *
NICK WOOD is a very experienced drum-and rattlemaker, who occasionally takes commissions http://nicholasbreezewood.me/Pages/Craft-Index.htm
KATHY FRIED makes beautiful Spirit inspired rattles, as well as other shamanic power objects. She also leads rattle-making courses www.kathyfried.co.uk
* NORWAY *
DAY FEYE is an “Elder Drummaker” who has taught many to make drums and teach drummaking. For many years he held drummaking courses in Norway and other European countries. For contact and advice please email
* DENMARK *
NICOLAJ MØLLER has many years experiences making incredible drums, rattles, flutes and other instruments: http://forbundethed.dk/
TROMMEVAERKSTEDET sell ready-made and handmade drums, with synthetic and natural skins. They also carry rattles, drumming CDs, incense, books, and courses in drum-making:https://www.trommevaerkstedet.dk/trommevaerkstedet/
SHAMANTROMMER are Erik and Susanne who make drums in the same family as Day’s. Susanne also makes rattles on order. They hold drum and rattle courses in both Denmark and Sweden: www.shamantrommer.dk
* FINLAND *
CHRISTIANA ARO-HARLE leads drumming circles and drummaking courses deep in the Finnish wilderness. To learn more about her various shamanic courses, visit www.solavoima.fi. She also has a shamanic blog, in mixed English and Finnish https://christianaaroharle.blog/
* SWEDEN *
MARIE BECH makes expertly crafted rattles of many different sizes and shapes, always taking care to work with the Spirit of the Rattle. She is based in southern Sweden and sells work ready-made or on commission: https://artbymariebech.wordpress.com/skallror/
* SWITZERLAND *
Edith Wilhelmy makes hand-made drums with a special tuning system, in the same style as our workshop drums. The drumskin can be tightened or untightened with a few easy adjustments, which makes it more playable in different weather and temperature conditions http://www.altes-wissen.ch/?page_id=155 (website is not in English but she can be contacted in English).
NATIVE AMERICAN STYLE FLUTES
There are many flute makers, but these are the three Jonathan knows and recommends. All three of these flute makers are people who see their work as a service and the quality of their work is excellent.
CHARLIE MATO-TOYELA made Jonathan's Chreokee river-reed flute. A great beginners flute with a sweet tone at a great price. Charlie also makes quality cedar and pine flutes: http://www.bluebearflutes.com/
GEOFF NORMAN makes beautiful instruments, fantastic workmanship and tone, good for experienced players. Slightly more expensive, but includes CDs on how to play: http://www.ugunaflutes.co.uk