The Significance of Rattles in Shamanic Healing

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The use of sound for healing has been a part of human culture for thousands of years. Shamanic societies in particular have long recognized the power of sound to shift consciousness and promote physical and emotional well-being. Rattles are one of the most commonly used sound instruments in shamanic healing practices. They are believed to create a vibration that can penetrate deeply into the body and clear stagnant energy. This article will explore the importance of rattles in shamanic healing, providing a step-by-step guide on how to work with them effectively. We will also discuss the benefits of rattling, as well as how to make your own rattle and imbue it with intention.

What are Rattles?

Rattles are a regular element in the shamanic practice, known for their healing abilities and their use in ceremonies. A rattle is a percussion instrument consisting of a container filled with small objects (like seeds, stones, or beads) that make a sound when shaken. Many indigenous cultures around the world have incorporated rattles into their spiritual traditions as a tool for communication with the spirit world. The sound of the rattle is believed to awaken dormant energies and help individuals journey into altered states of consciousness, leading to emotional and physical healing. Each rattle is unique, representing the individual’s connection to their spiritual practice. To learn more about rattles and their role in shamanic practices, check out this article on the topic.

The Role of Sound in Shamanic Healing

Sound is a fundamental aspect of shamanic healing. In the shamanic tradition, sound is viewed as a powerful tool for shifting energy and inducing altered states of consciousness, which is essential for healing. The rattling sound, in particular, has been used for centuries in shamanic practices for its unique healing properties.

The sound produced by the rattle is believed to help restore balance and harmony to the body, mind, and spirit. The sound waves created by the rattle penetrate deeply into the body and activate its natural healing processes. The vibrations produced by the rattle can also stimulate the release of toxins, blockages, and negativity, which can promote profound healing.

The sound of the rattle can also help to clear stagnant energy and create a more open and receptive state, allowing the shaman to connect more deeply with the spirit world. The shaman can use the sound of the rattle to help enter into a trance state, which is essential for shamanic journeying and accessing higher realms of consciousness.

In addition to its healing properties, the rattling sound is also used for ceremonial purposes, such as marking transitions and rites of passage. The power of sound is seen as a way to invoke the spirits, and the shaman often use rattling to call in the spirit helpers to aid in the healing process.

The use of sound, particularly the rattling sound in shamanic healing is an essential tool. The sound of the rattle can help to restore balance, clear blockages, and stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. It is also used to enter into a trance state and connect with the spirit world. The use of sound, particularly the rattle, in shamanic healing has been practiced for centuries and has enduring therapeutic benefits.

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Working with Rattles in Shamanic Healing

Working With Rattles In Shamanic Healing
Working with rattles in shamanic healing can be a powerful tool for releasing negative energy and promoting healing. Choosing the right rattle is essential for this process. Rattles are typically made from natural materials such as gourds, seeds, stones, or animal parts. Each type of rattle can produce a unique sound, so it’s important to choose one that resonates with you and your intentions for the session. Preparing for the session involves setting the intention, creating a safe and comfortable space, and cleansing yourself and the space with sage or other smudging herbs. During the session, there are many techniques for using your rattle, including shaking it over the body, directing the sound towards specific areas, or using it in conjunction with other shamanic tools such as drums or singing bowls. It’s important to note that common misconceptions about rattling, such as it being a form of entertainment or simply creating noise, are incorrect. Rather, it is a sacred tool used for deep healing and spiritual connection. To learn more about the origin of shamanic rattles, check out this article on shamanic rattles origin.

Choosing Your Rattle

When it comes to choosing a rattle for shamanic healing, there are a few important factors to consider. Here are some tips to help guide you in selecting the right tool for your practice:

Material: The material of the rattle can influence the sound and energy it produces. Rattles can be made from a variety of materials such as gourds, shells, bones, or wooden beads. Each material can create a unique sound and feel, so trust your intuition and choose the one that resonates with you.

Size and weight: Consider the size and weight of the rattle as it can affect your ability to hold and use it for extended periods. A larger rattle may produce a deeper sound, but it could be difficult to maneuver, while a smaller one may be easier to handle and create a higher pitch.

Design: The design of the rattle can also impact its energy and aesthetic value. Some rattles are intricately decorated with symbolic patterns or animal totems, while others may be more simplistic in design. Choose a design that speaks to you and aligns with your personal beliefs and intentions.

Sensitivity: When choosing a rattle, it’s important to test its sensitivity. You can do this by holding the rattle in your hand and giving it a gentle shake. Listen to the sound it produces and feel the energy it creates. If it feels good and resonates with you, it may be the right rattle for you.

Intention: Lastly, keep your intention in mind when choosing a rattle. What do you hope to accomplish with this tool? If you have a specific intention, look for a rattle that aligns with that goal. For example, if you are seeking to release negative energy, choose a rattle that has a sharp, powerful sound.

The process of choosing a rattle can be a personal one. Take your time, connect with the various options available, and choose the one that feels right for you and your practice.

Preparing for a Rattling Session

Preparing for a Rattling Session requires creating a safe space to work in. Rattling can sometimes bring up emotional blockages or painful memories, so it is best to prepare yourself mentally and physically.

Mental Preparation

Before beginning a rattling session, set an intention for your work. This intention can include what issues you want to address, what energy you want to bring in, or what outcome you hope to achieve. It is important to remember to let go of control and allow the rattling to guide you through the session.

Physical Preparation

The physical preparation for a rattling session includes getting your body into a relaxed and comfortable state. This can be achieved through a variety of methods such as deep breathing, meditation, or stretching exercises. Additionally, make sure to create a comfortable space to work in by lighting candles, burning incense, or playing calming music.


It is important to protect yourself and your energy during a rattling session. This can be achieved by calling upon your guides and ancestors for protection, wearing a protective crystal, or smudging with sage or palo santo. Creating a protective circle or using an energy shield visualization can also be effective.

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is crucial during any spiritual practice, including rattling. Decide what is off-limits for the session and communicate those boundaries to any other participants or guides involved. Similarly, if emotions come up during the session, it is important to set boundaries for how much processing or discussion will occur afterward.

Preparing for a rattling session is an essential part of the process to create a safe, respectful, and transformative experience. By taking the time to prepare mentally, physically, and energetically, you can fully open yourself up to the power of the rattling and receive its full benefits.

Techniques for Using Your Rattle

There are numerous techniques that shamans use when working with their rattles. These techniques are designed to help the shaman achieve a trance state, where they can connect with the spirit world and perform healing work. One of the most basic techniques is to simply shake the rattle and keep a steady beat. The sound of the rattle helps to focus the shaman’s mind and create a rhythmic flow that can be used to connect with the spirits.

Another technique is to use the rattle to create a specific pattern of sound. For example, the shaman might shake the rattle in a zigzag pattern, or create a circular motion with the rattle. These patterns of sound can be used to represent specific spiritual energies or entities, and can help the shaman to connect with them more easily.

One more advanced technique is to use the rattle to create a “call and response” pattern. In this technique, the shaman will shake the rattle in a particular pattern, and then wait for a response from the spirits. The shaman may receive a response in the form of a vision or a feeling, which can then be used to guide their healing work.

It’s important to remember that each shaman will have their own unique techniques for working with their rattle. Some may use specific patterns or rhythms, while others may simply let the sound of the rattle guide their work. Regardless of the specific technique used, the rattle is an incredibly powerful tool for shamanic healing, and can be used to help people connect with their spiritual selves and achieve greater balance and harmony in their lives.

Common Misconceptions About Rattling

One of the most common misconceptions about rattling in shamanic healing is that it is simply a form of entertainment or a gimmick. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Rattling is a powerful tool for promoting spiritual healing and balance. It has been used by indigenous cultures for centuries, and its effectiveness has been confirmed through scientific research.

Another misconception is that anyone can pick up a rattle and start using it without any prior knowledge or training. In reality, working with a rattle in a shamanic context requires a deep understanding of the spiritual principles and techniques involved. This understanding can only be gained through years of study and practice, or by working with an experienced shamanic practitioner.

Some people also believe that rattling is a form of magic or supernatural power. While it is true that rattling can create a sense of connection with the spiritual realm, it is not a form of magic. Rather, it is a way to access the innate healing and balancing abilities that exist within each of us.

Another misconception is that rattling is only effective for certain types of people or conditions. In reality, rattling can be used by anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or physical condition. It can be effective for treating a wide range of physical, emotional, and spiritual issues, from chronic pain and anxiety to grief and trauma.

Finally, some people believe that rattling is only effective when used in conjunction with other shamanic techniques, such as drumming or chanting. While it is true that many shamanic practitioners use a combination of different techniques in their healing work, rattling can be just as effective on its own. Ultimately, the effectiveness of rattling depends on the intent and skill of the practitioner, as well as the willingness of the client to participate in the healing process.

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The Benefits of Rattling

Rattling is an effective tool for shamanic healing that brings about numerous benefits. During a rattling session, the sound and vibrations produced by the rattle can induce altered states of consciousness, allowing individuals to access and explore their inner selves. The rhythmic and repetitive sound of the rattle can also help clear energy blocks within the body and restore balance and harmony. Additionally, the practice of rattling is believed to foster a deeper connection with the spiritual realm, promoting spiritual balance and growth. Those who regularly incorporate rattling into their healing practices have reported increased feelings of calm, clarity, and vitality. The benefits of rattling are numerous and can lead to profound transformation on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.

Altered States of Consciousness

Altered states of consciousness refer to the mental states in which the normal waking consciousness is altered or changed. Rattling is a powerful tool that can help induce altered states of consciousness which cannot be attained through ordinary waking consciousness. Some of the altered states of consciousness that can be achieved through rattling include:

Altered State of Consciousness Description
Trance State In this state, an individual loses the sense of his/her body and surroundings and feels an altered state of mind. The person feels as if he/she is in a dream world, and the boundary between reality and imagination fades away.
Self-awareness Rattling can help you access deeper parts of your mind, which may not be accessible in your conscious state. This helps you become more self-aware and understand the beliefs and feelings that you may have been suppressing.
Shamanic Journey In shamanic practice, rattling is frequently used to induce journeying or visioning. During journeying, you are guided by the sound of the rattle to go deeper into your subconscious to gain insight and understanding.
Expanded Consciousness Rattling can help you transcend your physical limitations and open your mind to a greater awareness of the world around you. This can lead you to innovate and create unique solutions to problems that you may be facing.
Heightened Intuition and Insight Altered states of consciousness attained through rattling amplify your ability to receive messages from your higher self, spirit guides, and other divine beings. In these states, you are better able to tap into your intuition and gain insight into your life and the world around you.

Altered states of consciousness are powerful tools that can be used in shamanic practice and spirituality. Rattling helps to achieve these states by altering your brainwave patterns, which can stimulate a range of experiences and emotional states. By regularly practicing rattling, you can further explore your spirituality, increase your awareness and intuition, and improve your wellbeing.

Clearing Energy Blocks

Clearing energy blocks is one of the most important benefits of using a rattle in shamanic healing. Energy blocks occur when the flow of energy throughout the body is disrupted or blocked. This can lead to physical, emotional, and spiritual imbalances.

When using a rattle, the sound vibrations can help break up these energy blocks, allowing the energy to flow freely once again. This can lead to a sense of clarity and release, as well as a reduction in physical and emotional pain.

The Chakra System is an essential concept in understanding energy blocks. The chakras are the energy centers located throughout the body that help regulate the flow of energy. When a chakra is blocked, it can lead to imbalances and issues in the corresponding physical and emotional areas of the body.

Using a rattle to clear energy blocks involves focusing on the area of the body that feels blocked and using the rattle to create a sound vibration. The sound waves can help break up the blockage, allowing the energy to flow freely once again.

It is important to note that clearing energy blocks with a rattle is not a substitute for medical treatment. However, it can be an effective complementary therapy for addressing physical and emotional imbalances.

Using a rattle for clearing energy blocks can lead to a sense of balance and relief in both physical and emotional areas. When combined with other shamanic healing practices and medical treatments, it can be a powerful tool for promoting overall wellness and healing.

Promoting Spiritual Balance

Promoting Spiritual Balance is one of the primary benefits of working with rattles in shamanic healing. This involves creating an environment where the body, mind, and soul can align and function harmoniously. Rattling creates a vibrational field that helps restore balance to your energetic body and stimulates the chakras, promoting the flow of energy.

One of the primary ways that rattling promotes spiritual balance is through its ability to induce a state of relaxation and calmness. When we are relaxed, our body can shift from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic, which promotes healing and growth. Rattling helps activate the parasympathetic system, which reduces the impact of the stress hormone cortisol and enhances the

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production of endorphins, known as the natural painkillers.

Another way rattling promotes spiritual balance is by allowing us to connect with our own inner wisdom. By creating a sacred space in which we can turn our attention inward into our own thoughts and feelings, we can enter a meditative state and become more in touch with our intuition. This can help us become more aware of our own inner strengths and how to utilize them in our daily lives.

Rattling also helps to release emotional blockages by providing a way to center and release the negative emotions that are trapped within us. The sound of the rattle resonates deep within the body and mind, helping to release stagnant energy and tension. This allows for greater clarity and a reduced sense of tension.

Lastly, rattling helps to promote spiritual balance by giving us a sense of grounding and connection to the earth. The sound waves from the rattle spread through the body, from the feet to the head, creating a sense of connection between ourselves and the earth. This grounding effect helps to balance the energies within our body and promote feelings of harmony.

Rattling can promote spiritual balance by inducing a state of relaxation and calmness, connecting us with our own inner wisdom, releasing emotional blockages, and providing a sense of grounding and connection to the earth. By promoting spiritual balance, rattling can help you achieve a greater sense of well-being and harmony in your daily life.

Making Your Own Rattle

There is a special kind of magic that comes with creating your own rattle for shamanic healing. To begin, gather materials such as a branch, a piece of hide or cloth, and small stones or beans. Assembling your rattle involves cutting the branch to an appropriate size and wrapping it with the hide or cloth, securing it with string or leather. Then, place the small stones or beans inside and seal the rattle shut. The cleansing and activating process is important, as it involves using sacred smoke or sound to clear any negative energy and infuse it with positive intentions. Infusing your intention into the rattle can be as simple as meditating with it or speaking positive affirmations over it. Creating your own rattle can deepen your connection to the shamanic healing practice and make your rattling sessions even more personal and effective.

Gathering Materials

When it comes to making your own rattle for shamanic healing, gathering the right materials is crucial to creating a tool that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. One of the most important components of any rattle is the container, which is typically made from materials such as gourds, seed pods, or animal hooves.

If you choose to use a gourd, you’ll need to select one that is thick and sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of rattling. Look for a specimen that is round and symmetrical, with a stem that is big enough to drill a hole into. It’s also important to ensure that the gourd is fully dry before you begin working with it.

Seed pods such as those from the maraca tree or the elephant ear plant can also be used as containers for your rattle. These can be purchased online or harvested from nature, but it’s essential to make sure they are fully dried before use.

For those who choose to use animal hooves, it’s important to source them in an ethical and humane manner. Many craft stores and online retailers sell sanitized and ready-to-use animal hooves for crafting purposes.

In addition to the container, you’ll also need to gather materials to fill it with. This can include items such as seeds, beans, or rocks, each of which will produce a different sound when shaken. It’s important to experiment with different materials to find the ones that resonate with you the most.

Once you’ve gathered your materials, you’re ready to begin the process of assembling your rattle. Remember to approach this process with respect and intentionality, as your rattle will become a powerful tool for healing and spiritual practice.

Assembling Your Rattle

Assembling your rattle is an important step in the process of creating a tool for shamanic healing. Here are some steps to help guide you through the process:

1. Attach the handle: Begin by selecting a handle for your rattle. This can be a branch, a dowel, or any other material that feels comfortable to hold. Secure the handle to the center of the skin using strong string, leather cord, or sinew. Make sure it is wrapped tightly and securely to prevent any movement of the handle.

2. Fill the rattle: Once the handle is secure, it’s time to fill the rattle. Many shamanic practitioners prefer to use natural materials such as beans, seeds, or small stones, but you can also use synthetic materials if desired. Place the chosen materials into the rattle through an opening at one end and then seal the rattle securely.

3. Decorate your rattle: This is where you can really customize your rattle by adding beads, feathers, or other decorations. You can attach them to the handle or around the edge of the rattle head. Make sure that any decorations you use are securely attached to prevent them from coming loose during use.

4. Test your rattle: To make sure that your rattle is functioning properly, give it a test shake. Listen for any loose materials or rattles that might indicate a problem with the construction. If you are happy with the sound, then your rattle is ready to use.

Assembling your own rattle can be a rewarding and meaningful experience. It allows you to put your own energy and intention into the creation of a powerful healing tool. Remember to take your time and pay attention to every detail to create a beautiful and functional rattle.

Cleansing and Activating Your Rattle

Cleansing and activating your rattle is an essential step in preparing it for use in shamanic healing. It is important to note that the specific cleansing and activation methods may vary depending on personal beliefs and traditions.

One common method for cleansing your rattle is to use smoke from sage or palo santo. Simply hold the rattle over the smoke while visualizing any negative energy being cleared away. You can also use sound, either by shaking the rattle or by using a singing bowl or tuning fork, to clear any stagnant energy.

After cleansing your rattle, it is important to activate its energy. This can be done by setting an intention or by infusing the rattle with your personal energy. Here are some steps you can take to activate your rattle:

  • Set an intention: Before using your rattle, think about why you are using it and what you hope to achieve. This can be a general intention, such as promoting healing and balance, or a specific intention, such as releasing emotional blockages.
  • Visualize: While holding your rattle, visualize your intention and feel the energy of the rattle matching that intention.
  • Charge with the elements: Some people like to charge their rattles with the elements by burying them in the earth, leaving them out in the sun or moonlight, or submerging them in water.
  • Meditate: Spend some time meditating with your rattle, focusing on its energy and the intention you have set.

Once you have cleansed and activated your rattle, it is ready to be used in shamanic healing. Remember to always treat your rattle with respect and honor its role in your practice.

Infusing Your Intention into Your Rattle

To infuse your intention into your rattle is an important step in the creation process. Your rattle will be an extension of yourself and your spiritual practice, so it’s essential to imbue it with your energy and purpose. One effective way to infuse intention is through meditation or prayer. Find a quiet and peaceful space, sit with your rattle in front of you, and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.

Hold your rattle in your hands and feel its energy. Notice its weight, shape, texture, and sound. Close your eyes and focus on your intention for your rattle. It could be anything, from healing to protection, from connecting with your spirit guides to clearing energy blocks. Whatever your intention is, hold it in your mind’s eye and allow it to fill your entire being.

When you feel ready, visualize your intention entering the rattle through the top, bottom, or handle. Imagine it flowing through your hands and into the rattle, filling it with your energy and purpose. You may want to chant, sing, or speak aloud to help amplify your intention. Use words or sounds that resonate with you and your intention.

As you infuse your intention into the rattle, continue to feel its energy and connection to your spiritual practice. Trust in the power of your intention and the vibration of the rattle to bring healing and transformation. When you feel that your intention has been fully infused, take a moment to offer gratitude and appreciation to the universe, the spirits, and your rattle.

Remember to use your rattle with intention and respect, knowing that it carries a part of you and your journey. Keep it in a safe and sacred space, and use it as a tool for healing, guidance, and connection to the spiritual realm. The more you work with your rattle, the more its energy will align with your intention, creating a powerful and unique tool for shamanic healing.


In conclusion, rattles play an important role in shamanic healing as a tool for sound therapy. The rhythmic sound of a rattle can alter states of consciousness, clear energy blocks, and promote spiritual balance.

When using a rattle for healing purposes, it is important to choose one that resonates with your energy and intention. Preparing for a rattling session involves creating a safe and sacred space, and setting intentions for the healing process. Techniques for using the rattle can vary, but all involve some form of rhythmic shaking or tapping.

There are many misconceptions about rattling, including the belief that it is only used by Native American shamans. However, rattles have been used in cultures around the world for thousands of years as a healing tool.

Making your own rattle can be a rewarding experience and can help to deepen your connection to the instrument. Gathering materials, assembling the rattle, and cleansing and activating it are all important steps in the process. Infusing your intention into the rattle can help to create a powerful tool for healing.

Overall, incorporating rattles into shamanic healing practices can bring about profound transformations and enhance overall well-being. Whether you choose to purchase a rattle or make your own, remember that the power of the rattle lies not only in the physical instrument, but in the intention and energy that you bring to it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a rattle in shamanic healing?

A rattle is used in shamanic healing to produce sound vibrations that can help shift and clear energy blocks in the body, mind, and soul.

Do different types of rattles have different healing properties?

Yes, different types of rattles, made from different materials, can have different healing properties and energies. This is why it’s important to choose a rattle that resonates with you and your intentions.

Can anyone use a rattle for shamanic healing?

Yes, anyone can use a rattle for shamanic healing, as long as they approach it with respect and intention and are willing to learn the proper techniques.

Can a rattle be used in combination with other healing modalities?

Yes, a rattle can be used in combination with other healing modalities, such as Reiki, meditation, and massage therapy.

Do I need special training to use a rattle for shamanic healing?

While it’s recommended to learn from a trained shaman or healer, you do not necessarily need formal training to use a rattle for shamanic healing. However, it’s important to approach it with respect and intention and be open to learning proper techniques.

Can rattles be used in group or distance healing?

Yes, rattles can be used in both group and distance healing, as sound vibrations can travel and reach energy fields and chakras from afar.

How long should a rattling session typically last?

There is no set time limit for a rattling session, as it can vary depending on the intention and needs of the client. However, sessions typically last between 15-45 minutes.

Can rattling be done in conjunction with other activities, such as yoga or breathwork?

Yes, rattling can be done in conjunction with other activities, such as yoga or breathwork, to enhance the benefits of those practices. It can promote relaxation, inner peace, and clarity of mind.

What types of materials can be used to make a rattle?

Some common materials used to make a rattle include gourds, animal hides, seeds, stones, and shells.

Is it important to cleanse and activate a rattle before use?

Yes, it’s important to cleanse and activate a rattle before use to remove any negative energies and imbue it with your intention. This can be done through smudging, intention setting, or other cleansing rituals.


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