On the evening of 22nd November my husband & I went with Peter Knight, local author and historian to West Kennet Long Barrow, on the Dark of the Moon, for an evening of drumming in the barrow itself. Peter facilitates these sessions on a regular basis, usually on the Full Moon, so this was unusual. We were a small group of approximately ten and the energy was particularly healing and nurturing. At one stage I spent time in the first chamber on the left as you enter the barrow. The spiral of energy I felt was so intense I struggled to stand upright and ended up squatting against the wall of the chamber. The flow of the Mary Current takes a direct route through the long barrow and has a very feminine, healing energy. I felt particularly comforted and cocooned.
During the final session of earth healing, where we send out healing to those who need it and to the world I felt I had to make a shamanic rattle and in doing so I had to visit Swallowhead Spring, at the foot of the hill on which lies West Kennet Long Barrow.
Now, I knew nothing about shamanic rattles at this stage but I felt drawn to 'Google' them that evening. In doing so I found instructions for making one.
So the following morning, armed with some leather and a container to collect some of the water from the spring I made my way to the spring. This was my very first visit and what an amazing place. I walked to the Kennet River itself then turned right and followed its bank to where I found stepping stones across the river. It was a very muddy and squelchy walk and I took delight in getting mud up my legs as I walked across the field. When you reach the point where the river bends to the right you are faced with large stepping stones and across the river you can see a clootie tree and willow arch which was also decorated with fabric offerings. From beneath the tree Swallowhead Spring emerges with crystal clear water. The Mary Current passes through the spring and the Clootie Tree and again I felt the same sense of nurturing I'd felt the night before. I had the place to myself and once I had, carefully, made my way across the wet stepping stones I gently walked around the tree and took in the peacefulness of the place. My discovery took on a meditative feel and I lost all knowledge of the background road noise from the A4, focusing instead on the rustle from the slight wind in the trees and the sound of crows and a pheasant calling.
In order to make my rattle I had to soak my leather to soften it. I had already cut it to shape and I entered the river in order to soak the leather. I then collected some of the spring water in the bottle I had brought with me in order to continue soaking the leather at home. I needed something to make the rattle 'rattle' and so I collected pebbles from the river bed. Wow! Was that icy! My fingers gradually took on that wintery red colour as I collected what I could without entering the water too far that it flowed over the tops of my wellies! Now I needed a handle. I walked back around the Clootie Tree and found a perfect stick at the base of the tree. So my collection was almost done. The thing left to do was to walk under the willow arch. Unfortunately the recent rain meant the slope up to it was too slippery, and whilst I'd enjoyed squelching through the mud and wading into the icy cold river I decided that to return to the car having gone bottoms up trying to climb the slope was a step too far ... plus my fingers were still suffering from the cold water. So I saved this delight for a return trip.
On my way back to the car I felt there was some sort of decoration missing. I really wanted a feather to add to the rattle. As I searched for one a crow flew over and gifted me one of his.
So now I have my rattle, after a couple of days work soaking, stuffing and sewing. If I was making another I'd use stiffer leather and find smaller pebbles as I was unable to use some of those I'd collected as they didn't fit through the opening. However, the rattle is as it was meant to be. It had its inaugural trip out last Saturday for the Full Moon when I was once again drumming at West Kennet and it currently rests on top of my husband's drum, ready for its next trip out.
Each month, throughout 2017, I will be posting in more detail about the topic of the month. Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like me to discuss.