Friday, September 7, 2018

Naming the spirit of a drum

I consider that a drum is a living being.  
A spirit with a body and a voice.  
Fed by the vibration of drumming its voice awake into song. 

I understand from my years of shamanic practice that everything wants a home and needs food.  Everything also has a name.  The sound of its name is the vibration that helps it stay found.

When I first receive a blacktail deer hide from hunters here on Cortes Island, I spread out the skin, close my eyes, and let my energy sink to my first chakra.  I slowly move with my breath up through each subsequent chakra, feeling any sensations of intensity that show me where the energetic “charge” of the animal lives in my body. 

I then open my eyes.  I gaze at the patterns of veins and colours in the membrane without trying to see anything—I am just looking.  Something appears.  A figure, a creature, a face, a scene.  Like reading clouds on a summer’s day.  A phrase accompanies the image.  If the image is stable and the name has a frisson of connection, this is the some day new drum telling me its name. 

This name stays a deep memory as the drum is being made.  Most times the drum shows me a different image when I gaze into its dried surface, looking for a painting to appear. And that painting becomes another name, the one by which the drum becomes known.

But a drum that is not painted keeps its deep name.  
This is not the name of a picture. 
It is the name of a spirit that revealed itself 
in those first moments of transformation.  

This is the drum’s true face. 

Who is this drum?  Whose old wise skin flows smooth over the 
sliprock coloured spruce wood,
 singing with the stars.