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Bullroarers and Trance States

The bullroarer is a flat elliptical shaped piece of wood attached to a cord that produces a whirring trance inducing drone when whirled through the air. Dating back to the Stone Age, it is probably the most widespread among all sacred instruments. With over sixty names, the bullroarer is universally linked to thunder and spirit beings in the sky. These roaring sticks are used in certain ceremonial dances in the desert Southwest to invoke wind and rain. According to a principle of sympathetic magic, the bullroarer imitates the sound of thunder; where there's thunder, there will be rain. In some areas of the world, the instrument played a role in certain rites of passage. The sound of the bullroarer's spiral-shaped movement is widely considered to be the voice of an ancestor, a spirit, or a deity.

In the mid-1980s, acoustic scientists determined that bullroarers produce a range of infrasonics -- extremely low frequency sound waves (20 Hz or less) that are below the normal limit of human hearing, but nonetheless enter the brain. Thunder, earthquakes, waterfalls, waves, whales, drums, gongs, and chanting all generate infrasonics. These waves are picked up by the cochlea (labyrinth) of the ear and influence the circadian and vestibular systems of the brain. Infrasonics stimulate a wide range of euphoric, trance states.


My research into bullroarers, drums and infrasonics culminated in a digital recording to support the listener in making shamanic journeys: Shamanic Journey Drumming & Bullroarer. The swirling drone complements the pulsating drum, thereby boosting the auditory driving and sonic effect. Entranced by the droning bullroarer and transported by the driving beat of the drum; the shamanic traveler journeys to the inner planes of consciousness and back. The journey ends with a callback. Headphones Recommended.

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