Above: This is photographer Drew Gorrie’s shot of me at Unitus Cultural Arts Festival playing a pan in 2014. By day, my (ex)husband Christopher’s campsite housed a workshop about sound meditation. By night, he transformed it into a charming oasis of healing and magic open to all who were there.
The TerraPan takes its name from Terra, the Latin word for Earth. As such, the idea has always been that playing the instruments will help align people with natural cycles. We never proposed to know exactly how this would happen, but it does often seem to occur. It may be something about the vibrations themselves and how they interact with a person’s own energy field. Or, it may simply be that the instruments are relatively intuitive to play and, as such, become powerful tools for facilitating meditation—an inherently balancing practice.
If you know TerraTonz’s origin story, then you also know my (ex)husband found out about handpans following an Ayahuasca ceremony when the assistant to the Peruvian shaman stated that he’d seen my (ex)husband in a vision sculpting a metal instrument which resembled a spaceship. Since then, TerraPans themselves have become increasingly familiar elements of plant medicine ceremonies around the world. Some tunings even have notes distinctly selected for playing icaros—the sacred songs a shaman sings, regarded by some cultures as their own form of medicine.
Personally, the part of that story I’ve always focused on most has been the idea that people typically turn to Ayahuasca seeking relief from a combination of physical, psychological and emotional pain. The most permanent form of relief comes from genuine healing, and the process of healing rarely follows one singular, direct path. I’ve long regarded the vision of my (ex)husband sculpting the pan as a sign of what a path of healing could look like rather than as an answer or a balm itself.
I also feel this has been true. Through the process of creating TerraPans, we have faced a pretty relentless stream of both personal and professional setbacks. However, we are emerging from the process with a much clearer grasp of, and deeper respect for, who we are and what we want for our individual lives. I view this as the bedrock of good health. Even though I am navigating cancer, I feel my experiences with TerraTonz and TerraPans have somehow made me better equipped for that journey.
Of course, it’s inaccurate to focus only on the TerraPan’s value as a healing instrument. TerraPans fill the hands of professional composers and street corner savants alike. They have appeared on stage at TED Talks and provided background music to scenes in major motion pictures. Sam Maher’s spontaneous jam in a New York City subway went viral on YouTube in 2015 and still receives comments and likes today.
Fundamentally, the TerraPan is a hand-crafted piece of art. It’s greatest legacy is its ability to awaken the artist within those who play it and hear its songs.
Read on to learn more about the different tunings and discover which one resonates most with you.