Ten days ago you may remember I began chronicling the journey that eight ordinary people took to birth a living myth for our time. I’ve made a few “text-ural” detours which I hope add dimensionality to your appreciation of what we were doing.
Now we’re back in the teepee. We’ve smudged, spoken our prayers and focused on our normal breathing for fifty counts as a way to empty ourselves of monkey-mind chatter and to find our bearings with gratitude. We all take the position of the posture we’ve chosen as our trust building gateway into this four day ceremony. Standing with our hands gently curled, we position them about midway on our sternum with the first knuckles of our little fingers touching. We cock our heads back just a little, open our mouths, close our eyes and wait for the rattle/drum to begin.
I say rattle/drum because I hold the sticks of both a rattle and a drum beater in the same hand. I began simultaneously drumming/rattling in 2000 when I read an interview with Gunter Hasffelder, Director of the Institute for Communication and Brain Research in Stuttgart, Germany, conducted by Nana Nauwald, European teacher of Ecstatic Postures and visionary artist, and a long time associate of Felicitas Goodman, PhD, anthropologist and founder of the practice of Ecstatic Postures.
Nana asks him: Is there a difference between the direction of inner experience and the intensity of trance if one would compare rattle and drum?
Gunter responds: The difference in the effect has to do with the physical: a rattle has less volume than a drum. The volume of the drum reaches different layers of the brain…The rattle produces more overtones and activates certain endorphins in the brain. The drum has deeper layers, mainly the basic chakras, and also the heart chakra. At the basic chakras the kundalini energy gets stimulated and people get more sensitive to the vibrations in the room. The rattle starts at the heart chakra and moves to the head, so with the rattle you stimulate more the intellectual experience. The drum stimulates the earth energy in the body and connects therefore with communication. Drum and rattle are the media to synchronize the vibration for the group. If there is the leadership of drummer or rattler missing, i.e. when you hear a CD, then, you cannot build up the feeling of community so well. Each person in the group falls back on him/herself and doesn’t have a connection to the collective unconscious,…It is important that someone acts in the middle, one who can hold and lead the group energies and group consciousness. Then, all can steer to a common aim…(and you can) deepen your experience.
This information captivated me and I’ve honored it ever since. Postures open specific doorways to non-ordinary reality, so I figured that I would use a drum alone ( or in tandem with another drum ) only for those Postures that typically take us to the lower world, the world of roots feeding the tree of life.. For those that typically take us to the upper world, the world of branches, then I use rattle(s) exclusively, to help us rise, to fly.
But for most postures, the experience seems enhanced when I offer the rhythmic medicine of both instruments simultaneously.
In this instance, when the rattle/drum beat begins, we all start sounding, aaaaaahhhhhhhh, the vowel sound of “a” in the word father. Aaahhh is a universal sound found in most cultures and is often our intuitive verbalization when we recognize the completion of something or we register understanding. Most of us are comfortable making that sound. We make it all the time in everyday conversation. But most of us modern folk, especially women, are not comfortable giving forth big sound.
And big sound will arrive before the posture session is over…