Tag Archives: drumming

drumming for the sun

i spent almost five hours decorating the tree. i approach the tree as art. i approach almost everything as art, but it’s a rare thing that anyone notices. the first one to notice was Steve when he told me many years ago that i make pretty food. sometimes i wonder if anyone really understands the consideration for beauty that i put into the tree or the trinket casually placed on the table.


we went dancing and drumming tonight. there was singing but it wasn’t human. i looked around and none of the lovely people in the drumming circle were singing or humming or vocalizing in any way.

but the voices were there and they were awesomely beautiful, dreamy and eerie and wonderful. it was also the first time i didn’t feel mortal — or rather, i felt as if i was in touch with something immortal?

kinda cool, that.

exchanging air

Last night, just a turn beyond the summer solstice, westlinwind took me to her drumming circle. We stopped first at the 500 year old white oak on the property. The oak has a little plaque on it stating that the tree has been living here since before William Penn took possession of this part of Pennsylvania known as the Brandywine Valley. She is a magnificent oak with limbs sagging from their own weight, each one larger than most of the trees we live with today.

As I approached her, her massiveness grew as my gaze angled upward. Reaching out, I placed my hands on her rough skin, closed my eyes and immediately felt the weight of her history; a slow, low, rhythmic pounding ran through my body as we breathed each other in, making me feel dizzy and delighted.

Drumming in a circle of women is an amazing experience. Drumming under a 500 year old oak tree who has watched centuries of creatures pass by, consumed with their short lives, is something else again. I had the distinct feeling that other women have drummed under her, matching drumbeats to heartbeats to pounding sap, sharing secrets, exchanging air.

We stood under her as one told of her known past, a surveyor’s mark, the efforts of men to help support her heavy limbs with cables and prayers. We circled her, placing our hands on her, feeling her rhythm change from the slow pounding I felt alone to a faster rumble, taking in our human hearts.

Breathe …

“Penn Oak” at London Grove Meeting

fun with drums

last night i quietly banged on my drum while my son strummed his guitar and his friend played the organ. this was an entirely new experience–the spontaneous playing of music. i had no idea what i was doing, but it didn’t matter. it was a very fine thing.

bang a drum

I made me a drum. I made a drum because a couple years ago I got interested in herbalism. I started reading up on herbalism which led along some windy paths that kept veering off this way and that, leading to some very irrational places. I found out I like these irrational places as they are far more intriguing than the plain old rational, by the numbers, scientific, if-you-dont-seeum-dey-aint-real places. I’m having fun poking around in places I haven’t visited since I was a child when I knew how to think magically.
One of the places that sort of go hand-in-hand with herbalism (not herbology) is shamanism. Many shamans use drums to get where they’re going. And one of these shamans runs a sweat lodge nearby and twice a year he has a drum making workshop that I somehow came across in my reading and just decided that I wanted to make a drum. Actually, I found I HAD to make a drum. Turns out that making a drum must have been on my “stuff to do before I die list” and I just didn’t know it.

So, I made a fabulous, wonderful, pretty damn good drum! Jim took a picture of all of us at the end of a very satisfying day.

Thank you, Jim!


the thing that Aisling said to almost everyone was to pay attention…

I’ve been noticing some things since the drumming/journey session, mostly that I’ve been very irritable and impatient.

not that that is a remarkable thing

I *feel* the energy in my body moving, most notably when I give myself reiki at bedtime or when meditating or in shavasana. But, all I have to do is *think* of energy and I feel a tingling sensation inside and outside. At night, when I place my hands on my heart chakra and hara, I immediately move into deep space…almost stuporous. I find I do not want to interact with anyone at the moment, and when I do, it is less than satisfying.

i want to sleep outside

well, it wasn’t a road trip…

but it was kinda interesting.

Since I’ve been studying herbalism, I find myself spinning off in lots of directions. I’ll come across a reference to drumming, Native American medicine wheels, tarot, shamanism…and of course this means that I have to check it all out, which is why I’m probably going to take longer to finish my correspondence course than anyone in history.


So I was googling something about shamanism and I came across a local shamanic drumming/journeying circle. wow. People do this in Paoli? So last night, with dear Krys, I took my first journey.

Now, I don’t get a lot of this stuff. I mean, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life thinking in a purely rational, scientific way. I don’t believe in god, devils or angels or those who claim to talk to them. I’m dubious about ghosts and I’ve found no evidence that we go on in any form other than carbon after death. The universe works according to laws and so do we. Behavior, even at it’s most bizarre, is lawful.

but then again…

This way of looking at the world is extremely limited. Some things just can’t be measured and relationships, whether they be personal, biological, chemical or something else entirely, are just too complex to be understood when you only look at them through the lens of scientific method. I suppose you could chalk up all the magical thinking, the mythos, pathos and “oh wow!” things in the world as by-products our overly large frontal lobes, but I think that’s a cop out.

Then I come across string theory, the theory of everything…and I think, hmmm…this stuff sounds an awful lot like what shamams are talking about…it’s all relating…dimensions, alternate realities, energy, vibration, communication between plants, animals, and even us confused, arrogant, disconnected humans.

maybe there is something more…

So, what the hell…I’ve decided to let a little mystery in and broaden my outlook on the world as I know it.

But this is really hard. I don’t know how to “let go.” I don’t trust enough to loosen my grip and let the rational go. So, my journey was very difficult. I had a lot of trouble finding a way in. But…something was going on. Whether it was in my head or somewhere else, I don’t really know. It was a little frustrating in that no one spoke to me. I got the feeling that they (whoever, whatever they were) were disappointed that I’d been gone so long. I had to go it alone and find my own way, which meant I just sorta wandered aimlessly, climbed a strange tree and did a little body-gliding down to the ground. I did meet up with a very large and ancient elk. He let me ride on his back, but he didn’t speak to me and he was so very serious that I had no idea what was expected of me or if there was a place for me at all. Maybe I wasn’t quite “there.” I never truly felt disconnected from my body on the floor.

back to regular ol’ linear time…

The drumming was interesting. One woman had an amazing frame drum that looked to be about 3 feet in diameter. Very cool drum! Lots of drums all beating out the same (or nearly the same) rhythm has a cool effect physically. My innards were starting to vibrate in sync with the drums which was very pleasant. I enjoyed the “whale” song cd that Aisling played…I do believe it’s one of her compositions. Aisling leads the circle. She’s a shaman, musician and web-designer. She’s very down to earth and is one of those people who seem to make easy connections with others. And, she has amazing hair. I liked her a lot. There were about a dozen people there, including Krys and I. The group, as a whole, seemed very welcoming with a nice, collective sense of humor. Almost everyone shared their experience, which was fun. I didn’t think I’d have the nerve to “share,” thinking I’d be too shy/embarrassed to say anything, but I did. I guess I’m just not convinced that I’m over my horrid shyness and fear of speaking in front of others. I don’t quite believe I’m actually getting okay with myself and no longer putting excessive stock in, or handing over my power to others.

I just might do it again.

ice cream and vodka dreams

how can it be? a child just turning 21 can be so comfortable with who she is…with no doubts that she is on the right path with the right people, about to do important things. i can hardly remember turning 21. my son was 2 years old and my husband and i would split up later that year. it was all a blur then and my vision hasn’t yet cleared.

i know more now. i managed to marry 3 men, raise 2 men, bury my mother and her entire family. i made stupid mistakes, compromised much, made little headway, and traded art for bread. but i did survive. with regrets.

somehow, i am in a good place now. i could pursue what i love. drawing. painting. digital art. food. herbalism. yoga. but do i? too many years of barely making enough money to buy food and pay rent has crippled my ability to do what i want. i could rely on brni to pay my way. i should. but i can’t. i’m too afraid to take the risk.

and if i don’t? there just isn’t that much time left to goof off. i’m on the downward side of the slope and i need to hurry if i expect to die happy and fulfilled. what is my problem here?


maybe tomorrow i’ll go out, find that store the drumming circle spoke about and buy a big-ass drum!

but now, i think it’s time for some ben & jerry’s and a glass of vodka.

thoughts of women drumming…

eighteen women, hands pounding hearts rhythms.

the celebration centered around the birthday of one of them born 80 years ago. she told of her life sharecropping, of an integrated farming community, of the ignorance and violence of those who perceived the threat of peaceful coexistence. she quietly spoke of her years marching and serving and raising many children and the joys of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. she towered over me when she embraced me as if i were a necessary and welcome part of her life. this regal woman i knew nothing of until i entered the drumming circle.

awhile back, westlin wind asked what grace meant. grace is sue angry.
and the others…
and the shine in kate’s eyes as she nestled on the floor in the center of the safety of women…
and my computer damaged hands relaxing into the beat…

the night was full of love, sorrow, humor and ceremony, but it was all so easy and natural, that it hardly seems worth mentioning.

all that counted was the beat of their drums in the night.

beat of my heart

so i need to integrate my lovely drumming circle experience. and of course, this won’t be easy because of all my complicating factors (insert appropriate psychological deficiency here). and then…i worry about my lost ability to discriminate between twinkles and lambs. at least i know who eats oats and ivy. or is that whom?
(thank you for the rythmic evening, krys&kate…*smooch*)

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