Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What makes a shaman drum?

This new drum is called giving voice to spirit, and while its painted face is startlingly beautiful and it has a rich tone, these are not criteria for a shaman drum. It has been my experience that someone, or something, must be born twice to enter into shaman knowing. The voices drum has a black tail deer antler handle, and mounting this drum handle while keeping the thongs very tight required three separate attempts. Each redo meant that all of the previous lacings had to be cut off and therefore could not be used again, so each time the drum was reborn to its purpose. This is because to me a drum without a way to hold it suspended away from the body so its voice rings clear is not really a drum.

In my experience the second criteria for creating a shaman drum is effort. By effort I do not mean just hard work, although this was certainly present. I instead mean the kind of effort that requires a risk. This is the risk of not being able to guarantee a successful outcome, or maybe of not having an outcome at all, and still being willing to stay in the work with attention and care.

For me the third criterion for making a shaman drum is the most elusive and necessary. This is the receiving of help from the more-than-human-world, whose creatures and forces are ultimately who will empower, direct and receive the voice of the shaman drum.