Friday, November 29, 2019

The Bear Doctor drum

The Bear Doctor drum.  

What does that even mean?  I have only a small idea, although I find the image that came to this 14 inch frame drum to be quite haunting.  The Shaman holds the right bone, and the bear comes, and touches, and guides deep healing.

At first I thought I was painting the head of a deer.  OK. Certainly appropriate for the blacktail deer skin but not very unusual. And most of the time I can tell when a drum painting "jumps up" because I could not possibly have designed the figures and their relationship before I started. I could not even have imagined them.

So first I see this incredible face which emerged suddenly from the partially closed eye of the deer.  Doesn't make any sense in the telling but like the vase/face  drawing, first one was there and then suddenly the other one was.  And the eye became the bone.

My grandfather James Sweet began 6 generations of  bone setters who set dislocations and fractures using "inner sight,"  in Rhode Island beginning in the 1600's. Different wisdom about what we know and how we know it.  Maybe this is a bone shaman.


You would not believe me if I told you what little pigment I added to the woman's face, the bear's head, the hand of the woman.

I understand that the colours of this realm of usual reality, and of the other-than-human realm,  are red and blue respectively. These are the only coloured pigments that wanted to be on the deer skin.

The Star of the 7 Sisters is a traditional defense against outsider's penetration of one's secrets.  Maybe a bone setter's wisdom is like that.  Seven legendary priestesses were said to have founded major Oracle shrines in the ancient world.  I  make the connection between having bone setters as ancestors, and creating an Oracle deck, but that is just my nature to make connections and find patterns.

Every wisdom needs a doorway, a way in.  The way into the wisdom of a drum is death. What is the way into the wisdom of a bear doctor?

Perhaps it is the inner sight that guides the hands. 

You can hear this drum being played with a felted drumstick 
by clicking on this youtube link.