Shaman Antlers

June 1, 2009

It’s not really the right time of year to use these, but I am finishing some projects that are cluttering the shop and making me feel unproductive.  These are naturally shed antlers with decorations based on my personal symbolism for “black” and “white” shamans.   The “white” antler is from a Western Kentucky swamp.  It has a lined hemp/silk drawstring bag with a hydrated snakeskin agate pebble from the Chalk Bluffs (NE Colorado and SE Wyoming) and a jingle shell (not visible in photo) from Cape Hatteras.  The handwoven undyed Guatemalan cotton sash is spangled on both sides with aluminum shisha mirrors and silver beads.  The ends are decorated with Chinese knots, shell buttons, and silk fringe.  The sash represents the shaman’s rope or ladder for climbing into the sky.  Four bone cores of deer toes are tied on with hemp cord.  The “black” antler is from the Empire Mountains here in Arizona.  It was broken, so I cut off the ragged splintered end and replaced it with a tapered, curved, and reverse-twisted forged iron wand set in a hand-hammered copper ferrule.  A forged iron loop is set into the base and hung with deer toe rattles.  The deer toes on both antlers were collected from a winter-killed deer, deep in a wooded hollow near the Kentucky River.

Shaman Antlers

Shaman Antlers

I’ve also re-done the Pilgrim’s Companion bell to make it more compact and easier to hang, carry, or tie onto a walking stick.  The new version is only 5.5″ long and has a hook that can be threaded with a cord.

Pilgrim's Bell

Pilgrim's Bell

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2 Responses to “Shaman Antlers”

  1. Your mention of Cape Hatteras reminds me of a favourite poem by Louise Gluck called Cottonmouth Country:

    Fish bones walked the waves off Hatteras.
    And there were other signs
    That Death wooed us, by water, wooed us
    By land: among the pines
    An uncurled cottonmouth that rolled on moss
    Reared in the polluted air.
    Birth, not death, is the hard loss.
    I know. I also left a skin there.

    I’ve been finishing up some old quilting projects, so I understand the imperative to finish older things.

  2. I have been an admirer of your work for many years now. I love these shaman bells. One day I hope to own one of your pieces.

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