Rain sticks historically have been utilized by indigenous people living in dry, desert climates across the globe. Often employed in religious ceremonies, the purpose is to draw life-sustaining hydration from the heavens.
The legend behind the Indian rain stick points to supernatural intervention; the hope is to mimic the soft splash of raindrops in an effort to remind the “spirits” or “Great Spirit” that the people of Earth have need for a drenching rain for their crops, animals and thirst.
Native American cultures in the southwest of North America built their rain sticks from hollowed-out, dried cactus tubes, pushing cactus needles into the core to form an obstruction. Small pebbles were then placed inside and the ends of the cactus tube sealed. Flipping over the stick simulated the sound of a gentle shower of rain.
The rain stick remains in use today in Native American culture and is present for both sale and use at powwows and other tribal gatherings. It has also been adopted by non-indigenous cultures and is often utilized as a soothing tool for meditation and music production.
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images