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

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Drums for strength and calm mind

These two new drums from the Journey Oracle are spirit companions and family.  Both drums came from the same deer hide, which is very rare in my experience as a drum maker.

And so is their numerology and symbolism related like a sister and brother.  Sometimes I think I make these choices with my conscious intention, and sometimes it just happens.

The interlacement patterns are a "knotless" design to prevent negative forces from attaching to the drum or the drummer when being played.

This 14" drum brings energy and inner strength. 

It helps the drummer have courage, strength, and self-control by bringing the power of 11 to being and staying in one's own center. 

The handhold features a 5-pointed star for clarity and illumination.  While drumming, the drummer experiences a harmony and closeness to spirit.  

This 12" drum brings clarity to thought, calms the mind and is a guide for inner peace.  It helps the drummer find new inspiration by bringing the strength of 9 to help one recognize one's talents. 

The handhold features a 9-pointed star for the power of faith and kindness toward oneself.  The cedar withe is wrapped with traditionally prepared smoke-tanned leather.  While drumming, the drummer experiences meditation as sound.

  These drums will be a big or little sister or brother to the drummer in every realm.  Listen to the 14" drum of inner strength being played with a felted beater by clicking on this link:  Listen to the 12" drum of calm mind being played with a felted beater by clicking on this link:  You can hear the  unique voices of each drum, and also the family resemblance.

It's good to go on a journey with your sister or brother. 

These drums are available for purchase in my webstore, or contact Kristen at for more information.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mystical cloud drum for shamanic journeying

This new drum from the Journey Oracle has its head in the clouds! I am never too sure how a drum will dry and what kind of surface pattern of lights and dark will result.

I have been thinking about cloud forms as a kind of oracle card or divination technique.  I notice an image in the clouds, and try to remember the thought that just occupied my mind at the same moment.  The image and the thought together will bring a message, a confirmation, a revelation.  I believe this kind of conversation is not an accident but the other-than-human realms using all of nature to communicate with us.

Usually I expect to paint a drum, but sometimes the drum face itself is more varied and interesting than anything I can imagine.  Leonardo da Vinci spoke of a method of "quickening the spirit of invention" by advising, "You should look at certain walls stained with damp, or a stones of uneven colour....In such walls the same thing happens as in the sound of bells, in whose stroke you may find every named word which you can imagine."

This drum is a mystical oracle that combines both vision and sound.  And takes you to the stars.


It was not until after this frame drum dried that I realized the connection between its cloud surface and the pentacle design on the reverse.

Playing this cloud drum will take you into sacred sound while holding onto a star.  How is that for a journey to the alternate realities!

You can hear this shamanic journey drum being played with a felted drumstick by clicking on this youtube link:  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tom Tom drum on fire-hardened cedar wood

This drum has a voice and inspires a rhythm that can join heaven and earth. It is not only oracle cards that call old wisdom. The art of divination may allow us to glimpse the will of the gods, but this drum allows us to dance with them.

The design of this tom tom or kettle drum is thought to be Native American or Asian in origin.

The two drum heads are goat skin.  A hide which is remarkable for its strength and thinness, giving a percussive, "bright" sound.

The shoulder strap and braided thongs are made of elk skin.  Elk is one of the keepers of old wisdom in my family.  My father was a skilled and respectful hunter of elk in the forests around my childhood home on the Oregon coast.  When he died, his grave was located along the edge of woods where he often hunted.  For years the elk would come out of the dense stands of trees along the border of the cemetery, and paw the grass off the top of his grave.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of this drum to call old wisdom is the cedar wood shell.  Like oracle cards whose history travels back into the mists of time, the process for making  fire-hardened wood is ancient.

The bark is tied onto the outside of the log to prevent the shell from being scratched.  Then the inside is hollowed out with a long handled chisel until the thickness of the rim is twice what the finished drum base will be.  And then the really exciting part of the process happens.  The inner wood chips and strips are put back inside the log and set on fire.  The drum shell is rolled continuously for several hours to keep the fire constantly moving so the inner rim is evenly burned.  The outside of the bark-covered log is regularly sprayed with water to prevent "hot spots" from burning too far into the wooden rim.

When the drum shell is cooled and the charcoal is chiseled away from the inside of the rim, a spirit hole is burned into the wood so there is a doorway between this world and that one.  This becomes the threshold where the drummer and the gods may connect without connecting, as the drum's voice is the translator that is always in between.

You can hear this tom tom drum being played by the talented hands of Immanuel McKenty of the Merry McKentys family band, by clicking on this youtube link:  This drum is available for purchase in my Etsy webstore, or you can contact Kristen at

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A frame drum for the love of cats

A new drum all about the love of cats.  This Cat Goddess has appeared with one eye looking into the possibility of kitty comfort and one eye looking with a predator's gaze.  

Bast, the Cat Goddess of ancient Egypt, also has this multi-dimensional nature.  She is both a Sun and a Moon Goddess because of her sacred and all-seeing eye.  She is the Goddess of sensual pleasure, protector of the household, bringer of health, and the guardian saint of firefighters.

Sometimes she is shown holding a sistrum, a rattle used as a musical instrument in ancient times and associated with Hathor.  Agile and lithe, Bast was recognized as the goddess of music and dance.

The Priestesses of Bast dressed in the color red, because Bast was the daughter of the Sun God, Ra.  She would ride through the sky with her father, protecting him from his enemies.  And here our Cat Goddess sits atop a Priestess's red robe.  

The interlacement pattern tied into the back of this cat drum represents the Ninefold Goddess.  Nine is sacred in Arabic numbers because the digits of every multiple of nine add up to nine again.  

And how perfect for the love of cats, who are said to have nine lives.  This myth may have begun in ancient Egypt.  Atum-Ra, was a sun god who gave life to the gods of air, moisture, earth and sky, who, in turn, produced Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys.  These gods are collectively known as the Ennead, or the Nine.

You can listen to this drum being played with a felted drumstick by clicking on this link:

This drum is available for purchase in my Etsy webstore, or contact Kristen at 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A new drum that turns weakness into strength

Ever wonder how to turn a weakness into a strength? This story of turning weakness into strength is about the making of a new frame drum from Journey Oracle.

The blacktail deer hide came from a old hunter here on Cortes Island, whose eyesight and steady hands are failing.  The skin had a number of fleshing cuts but as these did not go through the hide, I took a chance calculated on experience that the finished drum would be alright.

The drum made up beautifully--the skin laying just right on the frame, which did not warp .  Yet after the drum dried these two stretch marks appeared in the drum rim.

I had tied an interlacement pattern in the back of this drum that represents the 8-fold path of the Buddha's teaching: a way to gain enlightenment through right effort, mindfulness and concentration.
So here was the drum's first teaching about strength and weakness.  The weakness in the drum rim has its balancing strength built right in: strengthen weakness with mindful attention.  The person who will own this drum will have to pay attention to keeping the drum away from extremes in temperature so the stretch marks do not become tears.  And in spiritual practice and life--sustained attention is strength.

I decided to paint this shamanic drum and began looking for who was looking back at me.  Soon I saw this remarkable bird.  At first I thought it was an eagle but it became what Martin Prechtel would call "a never before seen thing."  The shaman bird.

When I paint a drum I look for a story.  Only rarely does a single creature or person appear without being in relationship.  And so I kept looking.

I saw a figure of an old woman.  This is the drum's second teaching about strength and weakness. Most of us think that being old is being susceptible to weakness. But she is holding a smoking bowl in her hand.  Making an offering.  Offering the wisdom of experience is a strength, yet stories from elders, how they make or do something, can seem sometimes as wispy as smoke.


But look who is coming to listen.  See what the offering of wisdom through the experience of mindful attention can bring.


14" BC spruce wood frame
Blacktail deer hide
cedar withe, smoke-tanned doeskin
raw earth pigments

View this drum in my Etsy webstore. 

For more information or to contact Kristen email 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A life journey frame drum

This is a frame drum for the development of wisdom on the life journey.  

The 14” Spruce wood frame is covered with a blacktail deer hide from Cortes Island.  This drum has the clear strong voice of youth.  The skin was from a young deer with few scars and blemishes. A creature that gives the strength of its life journey to your sacred drumming.

The cedar withie ring is filled with an 8-fold path interlacement pattern.

Since ancient times an interlacement pattern has been considered a magical charm because the endless line drew the eye around and around the figure without any breaks or “gates” through which negative forces might enter.  Thus such a pattern could become a yantra for meditation or used to induce a trance.

The magical properties of this pattern includes the twelve small triangles (the zodiacal twelve), and the central diamond around which the apexes of four larger triangles interlock.  Thus the design not only references the 8 steps of the Buddhist Noble Path which are right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.   It also contains the mystic threes and fours.

Learn more about my drums and how I became a drum-maker by visiting my Journey Oracle website. This drum is available for purchase in my Etsy webstore.  If you are interested in a conversation with me about a painting for this drum, or if you are interested in ordering a custom-made frame drum, email me at 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A new shamanic drum from an old wisdom

This is the drum made from the hide that I was going to throw away.

In another post I told the story of talking to nature, and how I thought this skin was too thick and old until I listened to a Pileated Woodpecker who said "This is a good drum."

You can hear the beautiful deep voice that has come from this old Shaman deer by clicking on this youtube link.

How many times do we all think to discard something because it isn't quite to our specifications? The rolled aluminum hoop that that I use as a mold for this 17" hoop of British Columbia Spruce wood is cracked and so this shamanic frame drum is not quite round.

Yet the cedar withie that holds the drum head around the frame, and secures the voice of the drum, is from the strongest part of the tree.

The interlacement pattern on the reverse is a double 7 pointed star wrapped with doeskin. This unusual design is made of a continuous length of thong.  This  pattern is considered magical protection because there are no "gates" or breaks in the continuous line through which difficult energies can enter.

So the next time you are wondering what to keep and what to throw away...go outside, pause to clear your mind of its tumbling conversation, and ask nature what is good.  A bird just might fly by with the answer.

This drum of ancient wisdom in available in my Etsy webstore.  Or for more information contact Kristen at