Across all time and in every culture, persons of power have traveled to alternate realities on the vibrations of a journey drum.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The good horse drum from Journey Oracle

This new drum from Journey Oracle is more like a good work horse than a Thoroughbred.  The older blacktail deer skin from Cortes Island is sturdy enough to hold its voice when drumming long shamanic journeys outside in nature.  The thinner skins on most of my shamanic frame drums are better suited for the warmth of the living room, but this drum is dependable for the long ride through wild country.

The deep resonance of its voice begins with a clear single tone and slowly adds an upper harmonic as the drum warms to the vibration.  This is the voice I want to work with, like I would want a Suffolk Punch to be carrying me into some alternate realities, more than a delicate, changeable creature with thin legs.

The holdfast for this new drum is a medicine pouch made of doeskin, just the right container for objects and talismans of protection and courage.  The sacred numbers woven into the back of this good horse create a saddle of strength and cosmic return in the sets of 24 and 8.

Because 8 is the number of "as above, so below" the medicine pouch contains a floor of sturdy hide so that just as your spirit on the journey is supported, so is your hand on the drum.

 A drum is the rebirth of spirit into voice, and the bullet hole of the deer's death is at the same time the passageway of  it's new life as your good horse.

The Good Horse Drum

$300.00 unpainted

14" spruce wood frame
 blacktail deer hide
cedar and doeskin fittings

If this is your drum email Kristen at

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Paint a shamanic drum with raw earth pigments

I made a drum to honor the awakening of the world mind on October 28, 2011, which had woven into the back the sacred numbers 9 for the underworlds and 13 for the heavens of the Mayan calendar. I said that although it was small it was huge.  The little drum was recently painted, and the wild animal that came to its surface is also small and huge: the Margay, a tree-loving cat from the land of the Mayans.

The Margay is perfectly suited for life in the trees, where it spends most of its time high in the forest canopy. It has especially large eyes to judge distances at night , allowing it to leap with confidence. Its night vision is six times more acute than that of humans.

The Margay has long, flexible ears that it aims with reflex action at any source of sound.  It also has highly flexible joints in its ankles, a slender build and a long tail for fluid balance and agility. The Margay is found in the rainforests of Central and South America, and is comparable to our domestic cat in size and weight.  Just the right sort of small huge creature to escort shamanic journeys into cosmic awakening and Mayan teachings.

So how do I  paint this wild animal on a drum?  I look for the eyes.  I try not to get in the way by making assumptions about what wild animal is coming.  I use the raw earth pigments as colored dust to mostly paint what is not the animal. I trust that the color symbolism of the chromium green and red iron oxide pigments, the story of the drum, and the posture and features of the animal all will go together in ways more mysterious and meaningful than I can imagine or plan for.  And because I do not tell the wild animal how to come--it does.

If you would like to custom order a painted shamanic frame drum, contact Kristen at

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Drum of Sacred Numbers

This new drum from the Journey Oracle is not even one day old, but has the ancient meanings of sacred numbers tied into its construction.  It all began when the number of holes around the rim totaled 96.  I do not plan this count beforehand and this number was unexpectedly large for a 14" frame drum.  I am drawn to the sacred meaning of 9, and from this auspicious beginning a whole cascade of significant numbers appeared on this rawhide drum.

For the first time ever as a drum maker I used 12 thongs to anchor the rim of the blacktail deer skin over the spruce wood hoop. I usually "tie in the voice" with 4 thongs and rarely I have used 5.  The ends of these thongs in this image are draped over the outside of the frame, and are already drying because this is the first step in putting the hide and hoop together.

Rarely do the numbers used in my drum construction work out so evenly.  The 96 holes and the 12 anchor thongs created a set of 8 thongs each laced into 12 holes to tie in the cedar ring that will be the support for the unique interlacement pattern or medicine pouch handholds I fit in the backs of my drums.

In order to keep the symmetry unfolding in this drum of sacred numbers, I used a lacing technique I usually reserve for my largest drum hoops; and here as well the twenty four radiating thongs are for stability and strength.

What an exciting week is coming as the drum dries and I wait to see what spirit creatures will appear to make this magical drum of sacred numbers a home, bringing a voice of new beginnings.

If this is your new drum, and you would like to decide the interlacement pattern of its handhold, or would like the back fitted with a medicine pouch, please contact Kristen at