Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The meaning of death in drum making

Every drum begins with a death. Something must stop moving, in order for something else to begin moving. The hide and hoop from the deer and tree must pass through formlessness before they come together as the skin and bones of the drum. The sound of the drum must pass through stillness before it has a voice.

Everything wants to live. No matter how seemingly insignificant to us humans, the smallest speck of crawling, creeping, flying life wants to keep living, to keep moving. This force that keeps wanting to move is the consciousness of vibration. This consciousness of vibration accumulates layers of harmonics and dissonances; layers of joy and grief. All the sound stays present. Everything moving is a song.

The wood holds the pressure of clamps and the stretch of it's fibre as sound. The hide holds the memory of the lime water soak and the pull of the knife as sound. We hold the sound of our many lives in the vibration of our voices and movement of our gestures. All these songs stay present.I recently had a dream in which I was running along a wide white sand delta with ribbons of sparking turquoise water on every side. The sparkles turned into wheeling white birds and suddenly I flew with them high above the figure of a woman walking away, far below me in this vast woven land of white and blue. I was singing a beautiful song, and kept singing it over and over until I awoke, saying to myself, this is a karma song.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dreams about past lives

Several nights ago I had a dream in which a phychic offered me a reading about my past lives. She only glanced at me before announcing that I had caused suffering for others, apparently able to do so because I did not have feelings for their misery. I'm sure most of us think we were the ones being killed and sacrificed in the mayhem of ancient cultures--but what if we were the ones wielding the sword and the knife?

How do we believe our dreams about past lives? What signals their truth in our waking moments? Jeremy Taylor teaches about the Aha! moment in dream reflection, the sensation of feeling rather than knowing the truth about a dream's meaning or symbolism. Robert Moss suggests returning to the location and feeling of a dream image in order to re-enter its story with conscious intent. Certainly when I woke from this dream my feelings told me there was something to pay attention to in the psychic's appraisal.

I went into my dreams the next night asking for help about what to do next with this knowing. I received a dream in which one of my meditation teachers appears and asks me to his house for dinner. Once there I meet other people as I pass from room to room, moving ever deeper into the spaces of the house. Since this teacher was himself a student of Ken McLeod, who has written much about releasing karmic patterns, I believe this dream is giving me a clear next step to begin a meditation practice specific to this topic.

I also drew a Journey Oracle card, asking what the Oracle had to tell me and show me of my beginning focus in this work of karmic repair. I saw card # 34, which represents this time of year: the autumn equinox. The phrase Called to witness feels very strong. The image seems to really be seeing me, not as I would like to appear but as I really am. I understand that I must truly witness the pain of others in order to begin to connect with my own.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why exhibit art?

Some weeks ago I had a show of my painted shamanic drums and journey art on Cortes Island. It was not until yesterday that I understood why I exhibited this particular kind of my art. It was not, I discovered, for the more obvious reasons of sharing my work, or making sales, or finding new connections--however valuable these reasons are. It was so I could show myself the collected history of this work and by so doing, see the meaning embedded in their context and effort.
When I returned to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from a one year sabbatical spent in the Canadian Rockies and west coast of BC, I attended a weekend workshop held by a recent participant in a session at the Institute for Shamanic Studies in New York. I was very frustrated by that experience because I could not visualize an entrance to the Spirit world and therefore did not 'journey.' During the second day I was told by another participant who was journeying to his helpers on my behalf that "it's the wrong drum, she has to make her own."

This story is known by all who visit my website and read about my journey drums, but what is not known is that for the next four years I conducted 5 stone divinations--talking with stones by asking a question and then gazing into their patterned surfaces to see creatures whose presences are an answer to the question. From these divinations I made journey sketches which later became wheels of spirit-filled drawings.

These five questions were: How can I journey to the Spirit world if I cannot find the entrance? How will I recover missing sight? How can I follow this way? Who are my people? and How will dreams come true? What I realized during the drum exhibit is that these five questions tracked my transition from being a university teacher oriented to urban life and values--to a person living away from the art scene on a remote island where everything is alive and always talking. I discovered that what I was presenting through my art to my community was how, 22 years ago, I came here as the result of a spiritual journey with stones.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Shamanic Drums for sale

The Night Drum
This 14" hoop drum of Cortes Island deer and spruce wood was made during a demonstration at my recent shamanic journey art and drum exhibition: Staying Awake in the Spirit World. Although I thought I had several skins to choose from, only this one, with both the bullet entry and exit holes, was available to me. A drum containing the hole of death for the deer, and the hole of life as food for the hunter, is destined for special work. I do not try and arrange such magic--it naturally happens when the drum head can only be fitted onto the skin in such a way that includes this.

The Singing Child Drum
This large drum of island deer hide and spruce wood has a remarkable voice. The beat has a deep, resonant tone, while the drone--the continuous sound upon which one journeys to the Spirit world or does healing work, is a clear high tone like a bell. I have never heard anything quite like it. I imagine this is because the drum is a rare combination of a very thin skin from a young deer stretched onto a large frame, giving an unusual amount of surface to support the drum's harmonics.

Read more about these two new drums for sale by going to purchase a journey drum on my website: www.journeyoracle.com.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What is the Spirit world?

My art exhibition at the Old School House Gallery here on Cortes Island opened last weekend to lots of interest and questions, but oddly to my view, no one asked me "What is the Spirit world?" I think this would be a most important question to ponder, since how can we be awake in someplace we cannot find? Maybe everyone already knows what this is...certainly I did not when I first experienced shamanic journeying in a Michael Harner style workshop in 1984.
I have come to understand the the Spirit world is this world--nature--with the veils removed--our veils that is. The stones still speak, and do so to us, if only we could hear beyond the noise of our thinking; beyond our veils of science and religion and culture. This drawing is a stone divination; a conversation with an oracle even older than our history with divination cards.

In this Spirit world I have learned that everything is made of vibration. Sometimes I take a drum out into nature, and sit upon the ground, and hum and sing into the painted deer hide while ever so lightly passing my fingertips over the surface. Birds come near, a snake might pause to taste the moving air with its tongue, a breeze ripples the surface of the pond in the same rhythm as my breathing...we are all made of the same sound.