Some forty years ago when I was a child and bored one day, my mother bid me to bring hersewing basket. Thinking I would soon be darning my sock, I retrieved the basket somewhatgrudgingly. Reaching into her basket, she took out not the darning bob, but a round metal box full of buttons. She opened her button box and selected a large button, and then cut a piece of heavy thread twice the length of my arm. Threading the two ends through the button holes, she then tied them. Next she put her fingers into either end of the loop, like a cat's cradle, with the button in center. First spinning the button around with some slack, she began to alternately pull and loosen the string which set the button to spinning first one direction then the other. Then she gave me the setup to play with as something akin to twiddling-thumbs.
Fast forward thirty years to find me camped along the Virgin River deep in Utah's Zion Canyon. Just after falling asleep and beginning to dream, a spirit Shaman appears to me in this vision: The old man has come in and disturbed us. He intends to stay. He curls up and goes to sleep. He wakes as I tell him to go and begin to pick him up. He objects, but does not struggle. I pick him up and carry him away. I take him where he belongs. It is dim and an old woman is there. I put him down and he stands. He produces two objects with handles on one end and spider-web weaving at the other. They have parallel finger-like projections on the handle end. He joins the fingers together in front of his face. The object is a mask now. He pulls a string on the mask from his left, down and forward and a part spins and rides down the string giving off a low whirring sound. He does likewise on the right. The mask center now opens like four doors and something protrudes, square and glowing red. It flies toward me. I see myself now from the neck down. The cube has come from the mask and I see it enter my chest. A snake comes out from my throat, stretches out a ways and then turns to a forked stick which then falls to the ground. I wake.
Now the connection is that the spinning parts on strings in the vision, are different versions of the button on the string. Fast forward now about seven years to 2000, when I borrow the book "Drumming on the Edgeof Magic" by Mickey Hart. Therein he describes the button on the string as the Diable, avariation of the bullroarer (that stick and string sound thing Crocodile Dundee uses in the second movie). Turns out this is a very old and widespread magic device. Beginning then I started making and experimenting with different shapes and sizes of disks, and different weights and lengths of string. Enclosed is a short video(1) of me working what I think-yeah claim-is the worlds largest Diable, ever. I only this fall however, constructed diables as seen in the vision.
Well, as you can see this turns out to be a very complex subject for just a stick on a string. In preparing this story I now have more questions than answers. I encourage anyone interested to just string a button on a thread and dibble. I myself refer to these as "Dibbles" and use them regularly as prayer wheels and meditative foci.
Your Humble Servant,