shaman menu


Shamanic use of Drums, Rattles, Flutes, Staffs and Incense

Drumming CD
Drummaking courses
Handmade Drums,
Rattles and Flutes

Useful informative reading
shamanic tools drums rattles flutes staffs
drumming shamans

“Where can I get a good drum?” “How do I make my own rattle?” “Where can I read about shamanism?”

These are questions we are often asked, and so we have collected some information here which we think will be helpful. Below you will find a discussion of things to think about before looking for your first drum or rattle. In the menu on the left you will also find Tools Resources, with links to people whose work we know and like, and a Book List of recommended reading.

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, on one hand, the tools of our trade, and on the other hand, our allies with their own power and soul. In shamanic work, traditionally, handheld tambourine-like drums are used together with a drumstick. But where does one find a drum? Which should one choose? Should it be a factory made drum, or hand made? Do you think about making your own, but don’t have the tools or experience? Should the skin be from an animal, or is it all right with a synthetic drumskin? The most important is that this partner feels good to you, that the sound is pleasing to you, that you can dance with its power, that you can work together.

Rattles are filled with power and at the same time 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 don’t bother your neighbors if you live in a flat. They also tend to be much less expensive than drums, and many shops selling goods from “third world” countries have beautiful, powerful, inexpensive rattles for sale. You can learn more about rattles and how to make your own by reading Jonathan’s article POWER IN YOUR HAND.

Mass Produced Drums are not as expensive as hand-made drums, and generally have a good sound. They are available at music stores, and the ones with synthetic skins can be used outside in the rain or very humid places. The Remo company makes some nice ones, which are easy to personalize. Even a plastic drum has a Spirit. Respect it, and it will help you.

Handmade Drums and Rattles are getting easier to find as there are more and more people making them. In the Tools Resources we have listed some of the drum makers we know and have worked with. Several of them also hold drum and rattle making courses. Here you make your own drum. The drum-making is done in a ritual way with awareness, and in this way you get to acquainted with the Spirit of your instrument as it makes itself known. If you want to try to make your own drum or rattle, the best book is Bernard Mason's How to Make Drums, Tom-Toms, and Rattles which gives you many types to choose from. Also recommended is Nicholas Wood’s fine book Voices from the Earth (see Book List).

Drumming CDs are another option. Many people who don’t have the money for a drum, or the time to go on a course, find that the alternative of using a drumming CD works very well, using either a headset, thereby not disturbing others, or speakers. This option should never be used in moving vehicles of any kind, and should be regarded with the same respect as other allies used for contacting the Spirit world.

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. You can read about it in Annette's article The Staff And The Song and see a drawing of the Siberian shaman's horse-staff in our gallery. There are many ways to get a staff. A good way is to walk in the woods with a strong desire to find - or be found by - it. Release all expectations of what it should look like, it's the Spirit of the stick that counts. A crude branch is fine. It need not 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, the smoke can both invoke, ritually purify and bless. Along with drumming, singing and rattling, smoke creates a powerful ritual. In various shamanic traditions you use different kinds of incense - discover yourself what works best. You can read more about it and how to make your own herbal incense in Annette's article Sacred Smoke. You can also buy different kinds of good incense, for example at Trommeværkstedet or online, see the Tools Resources page.