Indigenous cultures used Rain Sticks in ceremonial rainmaking rituals to help bring rain during drought periods. Creating the sound of falling rain was believed to bring about a rainstorm. In ancient times, and even now, some of our relatives in the Latin Americas use the Rain Stick in ceremonies intended to draw life-giving rain from the heavens to fall upon the dry lands.
The Rain Stick is like a tubular rattle. Traditionally made from cactus, the hollow tube was dried in the hot sun. The Rain Stick differs from other ceremonial rattles due to its interior structure. An interior spiral was formed by hammering in cactus spines, wooden pegs, or bamboo slivers. The tube was then partially filled with items like small pebbles, beans, seeds, and small pieces of lava rock. The ends were sealed and a unique instrument was made to assist in sacred prayer during Rain Dance ceremonies.
Beautiful sounds like that of falling rain is heard when the Rain Stick is turned from one end to the other. The various contents of the Rain Stick mimic sounds in nature when raindrops hit leaves, dirt, rocks, wood, and water.
Before making a Rain Stick of your own, take the opportunity to actively listen to the next rainstorm you are blessed with.
Be still and close your eyes as you listen to the sound of rain. Give thanks for its refreshing and life-giving essence. Slow down and savor the Great Spirit’s presence in nature. Taking time to listen is healing for the Earth Mother. As we focus gratitude for what the Earth provides it is the same as extending a blessing of love.
Rain Stick Materials:
1 Cardboard roll. An empty gift wrap roll works perfectly.
1”Nails, about 100 of them.
Packing tape or masking tape.
1 Sheet of heavy paper or light cardboard. A cereal box works great for this.
Materials for Inside of Rain Stick:
Popcorn kernels, rice, small pasta, small pebbles, small beans, pieces of shells
Additional/Optional Decorating Materials for Rain Stick:
Beads, leather string, feathers, paint, colored paper, markers, crayons, glue, etc.
Draw dots about ˝ an inch apart along the spiral seam of the cardboard tube.
Carefully hammer a nail all the way into each dot, making sure not to poke thru the other side. Wrap strong tape over the nails to keep in place.
Cut 2 circles from the cereal box piece that are just a bit larger than the ends of the tube. Seal one end of the tube with one of the circles and tape shut. Reinforce the seal with heavy tape.
Hold the open end upright and put a handful of mixed rice, kernels, beans, etc. in to the tube. Cover the open end of the Rain Stick with your hand or some paper, turn the Rain Stick upside down and listen carefully to the sound of the materials hitting the spiral of nails on the way down the tube.
If the items seem to fall thru the spiral too quickly, add a few more nails here and there until you hear what you like.
Slowly add more materials until you are happy with the sound of falling rain. The various materials make specific sounds against the nails. The popcorn kernels and the pasta shells make a hollow sound and the beans and pebbles make a harder sound. A mixture of unique sounds most resembles the sounds of nature.
When you are happy with the sound of your rainfall, seal up and reinforce the open end with paper and tape.
Complete your Rain stick by covering it with paper and decorating it in ways that make you think of rain and the magnificence of Mother Earth.
May the Rain Stick inspire you to enjoy the rain wherever you are!