Birthing a Drum – a lesson in patience
Today I made a shamanic drum.
I have needed a drum for years but drums come to us when the time is right. Early on in my path I made the mistake of ordering a drum, for very little cost, on the Internet. It was quick, convenient and cheap and as a result the drum’s sound was empty, like the plastic it was made from.
These days convenience and money are not such important factors to me. The more I value my path the more I recognise the importance of good quality tools.
When I ordered that drum I didn’t really want a drum, I wanted the idea of a drum. It would be a long time before I actually knew what it meant to want a drum. Rhythm is definitely not a strong point for me. I have danced out of time – to the amusement of my friends – for years. My general technique for drum circles was to hit the simplest beat, very quietly, and hope that no one noticed the Jazz notes!
In November 2015 I was in a drumming circle as part of a retreat I was on. We started by connecting to the drum, as a spirit, remembering the animal whose skin had been used for it. Making a connection with the drum shifted me. That night, round the fire, the drum played me. I felt like I was riding the rhythm, I felt it move my beater for me. For someone who has never experienced what “being in time” means this was a miracle! It was also the first moment that I truly deserved to be the owner of a drum.That night I spoke, from my heart, about how I wanted to make my own drum and today, the 11th of March, 2016, I made a drum with two of the women I had spoken so passionately to that night.
We went to a beautiful centre on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. The journey was by no means convenient. I had to get up at 5.30 am but I am learning that things that rare are not meant to be convenient. The Universe says “Go on, show me how much you really want this….” Sleepy eyed, I stepped out of the door into a foggy London sunrise. The fog felt so resonant, I am at the end of a cycle that started in November. My winter has been one of soul searching and finally something’s coming into view, I’m beginning to see where I am going, if a little frustrated that I am not quite there yet. I feel like a ship seeing a blurry lighthouse in the mist and the drum is one big symbolic lit-up step closer to shore, to port.
I traveled on several trains to Sheppey, photographing countryside I had never seen, being inspired by it being so close and easy to reach. My thoughts were filled with nature, I could feel my animal guides around me. Including my Grandparents’ dog Piccio – Piccio who hasn’t been with me for a long time. Drums belong to Animal spirits and mine we here to support me.
Full of energy I arrived at this beautiful shamanic centre where so much love, care and detail had been put into the land and workshop spaces.
After an emotional opening ceremony it was finally time to make the drums!
Lynn was holding the workshop; she was assisted by Lewis and Chrissy. These three people were so knowledgeable and passionate about drums and how to make them that they will only run the workshop for four people, so that get you all the attention and energy you need. They are the midwives in the drum-birthing process. You can imagine that this workshop was not cheap. I am so happy it wasn’t. This was not drum making with a kit course. This was the real deal. We were taught the craft of drumming making, which is priceless because of the bond your form with your drum. We searched the hide, running our fingers over scars and holes, choosing the piece of skin that was right for the drum. Being in a room with five hides you realise how different, how individual each animal is, your drum is unique and this is how it becomes precious to you. Making a drum takes time, concentration, arm strength and patience but it is a meditative experience. You start to listen to the hide with your fingers. You start to understand the textures and tensions. The drum starts to teach you.
I loved the earthy, spiritual energy that Lynn wrapped the day in, every step began with honouring the materials. The drums were becoming sacred because we were becoming grateful for them. Lynn was very honest. She started the day by saying, “How can you make an ethical drum? Maybe if you are walking in the woods and an animal drops dead of natural causes in front of you, maybe that would be ethical. We get our hides from animals that are killed by humans for other reasons. We believe that making the skins into drums gives them life again. They live through the music of the drum.” We sage’d the skins before working with them. Watching the smoke curl around the bullet holes, I felt my deer’s shock, fear and pain. I also felt her, I knew in my gut she was female. I knew she was a mother. I could feel her personality and it was inspiring the drum, she was becoming my guide. I chose a piece of skin that has vain lines running through it because I want this deer’s heart to be inside the drum. I want her life-force inside the sound.
We also branded our drums, burning words into the wooden rings. I wrote a line that honoured the shamanic song that I first played ‘in time’ with back in November
“Mother I hear you”
I felt I was remembering that song -moment, committing to listening to the drum, speaking for the mother-deer and promising to use her for the good of the Earth all in one go.
Making a drum is not quick, it took 10 hours and it now needs to dry for 12-14 days. You have to be patient, something that we rarely have to be in the age of ‘one-click-and-it-is -yours’. But this is not drum buying, it is drum birthing and birthing belongs to nature, who always takes her time. Drum making teaches you patience, it’s not meant to be quick. You have to form a connection that matures and unfolds.
We ended the day in meditation, lying down with our new drums on top of our hearts. Lynn, Chrissy and Lewis drummed us into a deep meditation and connected with the spirits of the drum. I met my mother deer and the trees that gifted the wood to my drum. I had visions mystical forests and heard ancient languages while my drum and me filled up with the Earth. I came out of the meditation with the feeling that it was the other way around, my drum has been birthing me all day.
My drum was dedicated in the first fire ceremony of 2016 - the Equinox Fire that open’s my light work for the year.
Getting this drum was not cheap, easy or quick. She is not a cheap easy or quick drum, she is a sacred, priceless, living drum. I know I can lean on this drum, I can trust her. I have not heard this drum, but I know her sound already, I know the story of her sound. I know we love each other. I know this drum will come round the world with me.
First stop for my drum and me will be Ibiza, reconnecting the light Journey in May. We have spaces available, on this magnificent white Isle Earth journey! I know this Light work for this journey is going to spectacular, ‘integrational’ and transformational
To find out more here is the link:
So much love and many blessings to you