Here's the introductory commentary followed by a link to the document ~ ENJOY!
I was lovingly raised by wonderful parents who did their very best to instill good family values in me and my siblings. A devout Catholic family man, my father had me attend parochial grammar school. Now mind you this was before Vatican II (which essentially shaped a modernization of the Catholic Church including a changeover from the Mass being celebrated in Latin to English) so my earliest memories include attending Mass ceremoniously celebrated in Latin with incense burning. I distinctly remember the weekly benedictions attended as school children because a) we vacated the classroom (yay!) and b) the chanting of Latin phrases and the singing of sacred tunes amidst plumes of incense provided an intoxicating and hypnotic atmosphere to a young impressionable me. Nevertheless, in the Catholic Church, it being a patriarchal hierarchy afterall, there was no role for a girl (or a mature woman for that matter) anywhere near the altar other than to maybe iron the priest’s vestments and, of course, the church ladies could polish the pews! No higher it seemed could a woman aspire than to enter a convent to learn to become a teacher at best ~ a most noble profession to be sure but prestigious or high ranking, maybe not so much. So, in my late teens, when I discovered that thousands of years ago there were matriarchal cultures wherein women held esteemed positions in ancient sacred temple ceremony, I wanted to learn MORE!
Thus began my independent life-long study of traditions, movements and rhythms steeped in women’s history. Along the way learning the dance as well as learning to play frame drum and finger cymbals, a history of ritual and processions was unveiled, if you will, wherein women played a prominent role. I delved into a study of artifacts related to this history collected and archived at venues like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in books ~ e.g., When the Drummers Were Women. And then in February 2007 I travelled to Egypt.
Upon my return home following that trip to Egypt, I was inspired to add a sistrum to my personal collection of percussion instruments which I play and utilize for various public performances as well as for personal purposes and/or and community ceremony. However, at that time (in 2007) there was no sistrum in the “marketplace” which even remotely resembled what I’d seen engraved on the ancient temple walls. After that initial search I shrugged my shoulders and considered it a darn shame I could not find what I was looking for: Harumph! Not long after, maybe only a couple weeks later, I awoke with a start from a deep sleep experiencing a feeling of being startled awake and yet, I still felt half asleep in a predawn dimension between night and morning. Somewhere between conscious, unconscious and suBCEonscious, I suddenly sensed a “knowing” of what the gods intend through me. It felt like a wake-up call and I chose to answer this “call” beckoning me to re-emerge the percussion instrument associated with the Goddess Hathor, a prominent deity of ancient Egyptian cosmology.
Ten years hence, after diligently working to manifest the Ceremonial Systrum™ in the 21st Century, I feel honored and privileged to now take the time to amass and relay to you my dear reader some of its rich and magnificent history while inviting you to join me in envisioning this ancient instrument’s sublime and splendid future.
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