Thursday, September 12, 2013

Meaning of animals painted on drums

I have recently been reading the books of Bobby Lake-Thom, and enjoying looking at the meaning of animals painted on my journey drums from the view of his teaching. Since I both paint a drum for a specific person who has already purchased the frame drum, and also paint unsold drums when a creature shows itself, I realize that my drums are signs and symbols carrying messages in an ancient language for the folks that are attracted to them.

This drum, painted for a young woman asking to recenter her life in her family more than in her schooling, is perhaps working with the vulture's skill at warning of interruptions or problems forthcoming in order to make more clear and confident decisions.  

This quite amazing drum painting called "water sister" was painted by enhancing with a few marks of color the figure and fish already strongly in the drum skin.  Water is the symbol of the West and is the sign of our physical aspect.  These fish are abundant and varied and are a sign of physical plenty. In fact, the man who purchased this drum also bought a second one!

The fox in this drum painting is both a good power and a bad sign according to Lake-Thom.  The fox is clever, intelligent and a wise friend whose power and spirit can be used to reverse the message of danger and sickness it brings.  

I wonder if the seal is an animal power whose spirit is related to the otter, dolphin and porpoise. These other water creatures bring wealth, playfulness and happiness.  Certainly the seal adds a love of community and time spent just 'hanging out' with family and friends.  

Some drums come with stories as big as the creatures that come to be painted on them.  The bear on this elk hide drum, with the later addition of a very few marks from me, was fully present as the drum dried. Shortly after its making, a good friend who was part of the drum making died, and the special power of this animal brought insight, protection and healing to all of us left behind.