I miss birthing shamanic drums

Apr 22nd, 2018 | By | Category: Articles

One of the things I used to really love doing was to birth shamanic drums.

There is nothing like the arrival of a new hide and drum frames, the connecting with the spirits of the animals and trees who have given their lives so that drums can be birthed. Sitting with these spirits, getting a sense of them and then of how the drums will be formed is one of the parts of this path that I love best.

Sometimes I would birth drums because my allies and the spirits of the animals and trees asked me to, other times I would birth them for people who had requested a drum be birthed for them and at others it would involve supporting and guiding students to birth their own drums.

I love the ceremony involved: the laying out of the hide, sitting with it, knowing how it is to be cut, which parts will form the drum and which the lacing, sanding and polishing the frame, listening to the spirits to see what, if anything needs to be added to the water the hide will soak in, maybe herbs, crystals, stones or something else from the garden, the smudging of everything, hide, frame, tools and the bodies of those present.

And then of course the creating itself: laying the wet hide face down on a soft surface, slipping the first piece of wet lacing through a hole and then into its partner, lacing gently around the drum, weaving loosely, then the pulling tighter of the lacing, round and round until there is no slack left to pick up, and finally the intricate weaving to form a handle that may be held whilst playing.

Weather permitting the drums are always hung outside where they can gather the energy of the elements as they dry, if then not inside by an open window. There are some who say they cannot be touched whilst drying but I love to touch, to tap gently, in order to hear their voices begin to come forth and in the doing so to connect further with the spirit and personality of each drum.

The very first time I birthed a drum I did so with friends, none of us knowing what we were doing but at the same time, all of us instinctively knowing what to do. The whole time I was working I was aware that it was not my first time, that I had done this before, and that I was not alone, I had help. I also found myself singing, not something I knew but which I recognised on some deep level and which I was later given as my power song. Right from the very start as I worked I had been putting my power into my drum.

Most of this you will notice is written in the present tense despite the title and my first sentence being past tense. Sadly I no longer birth drums. It has become too expensive to import frames and hide and try as I might I have never been able to find any raw materials locally. It also began to feel wrong to have to transport spirits outside of their own environments in order to work what them and so I stopped. In my heart though it is still happening, still living and breathing, hence the present tense.

As a shamanic practitioner it has always been vital to make my own tools wherever I can and with oddments of hide still in storage I am now exploring the making of rattles so the spirits of the animals may live and work on.



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