Connecting to the beat of the drum
Feeling inspired today to share some thoughts about my compulsion to play with drums. This post began as a journey around my connection to the beat of the drum and has meandered into a journey around my nature connection - which I guess makes sense as my spirit drum connects me to myself and I am a child of the elements..... in this blog I'm taking time to honour and share my gratitude to some of the people and organisations I have met along this path - people with whom I made connection and who have inspired me on my journey (please feel free to click the links as I shamelessly give them a plug).
I feel drums for me are linked to dance - I think that is where I first really connected - someone came to play djembe at rehearsals many years ago when I was in a dance company as a teenager and it connected with something deep inside. There's something about the beat, the rhythm that calls me to move or enjoy or have a go.
My personal relationship with drums began in the early 90's when I attended a celtic connections workshop for beginners bodhran. I loved the workshop and rushed straight out to order one. I took it to Canada (see pic) where we made music to dance to and I played it round the fire with friends.
Sadly my bodhran ambitions and ego took a knock after an unfortunate incident one new year (nearly 20 years ago and involving too much alcohol) - my mates took the piss - they never let me forget. It's ironic - one of the things I missed in Canada was the history I share with my lifelong friends and yet they can be really to the point - they know where to shove that sharp stick. They take no prisoners and my poor little unconfident self listened. This put me off until years later I had a word with myself and changed bodhran. I set new intentions and dowloaded lots of lessons on the internet but the time passed and I never followed these intentions through, never practised or watched the lessons. Perhaps the time to strike that iron had cooled. I do occasionally drag the drum out and attempt to accompany friends who are much more musically talented (and fortunately very patient).
I have always had a strong affinity with the outdoors and with nature. Whether this be through outdoor pursuits, growing food in my garden or deepening my connection to nature. Playing my bodhran was connected to this too as it was with canoeing and kayaking friends I joined round the fire. And indeed it still is, as the only time it comes out is on windsurfing trips. It seems to be connected to a water spirit aspect in my life.
Somehow I found myself on a Barefoot Breathing course - run by the wonderful Jackie of Flowerspirit and through this course the shamanic path opened to me - including journeying and travelling (it's a bit like meditation) on the sound of the drum. Connecting with spirit through the repetitive drumbeat is powerful. The repetitive drumbeat enables the brain to drop into theta wave state - that of awakened dreaming and so you can travel or experience an awakened dream state - usually with an intention or question set beforehand.
On returning home, I wished for a more local community - people I could meet and share experiences with - and of course the universe is a wonderful thing. A shamanic practitioner moved into the area and a local drum circle emerged (thanks Heather ;). Heather of Inner Earth Therapies runs drum circles in Oban and Lochgilphead as well as Way of the Raven and Medicine for the Earth shamanic training. Attending her drum circles is a great excuse to join others and experience live guided journeying - with of course - my personal spirit drum (more on that in a mo...).
During this time I also attended a sporadic, local, tribal drumming group which sadly didn't continue - I loved this but am 'feart I'm not motivated enough to continue without a group - I'm not up for setting one up either - if I indulge and purchase a djembe, is it just another aspect of my aspirational self? Another drum to gather dust along with my bodhran.
Anyway - one of the main points of these blethers is.... at Heather's local drum circle someone mentioned buying their own drum. I had a real hankering to make my own and had been introduced to a drum maker online through someone I met on my permaculture course (thanks Stephanie - and please note as an aside - it was the lovely Steph who designed my lovely logo :). We decided to ping the drum maker a message on the off chance she might want to take her drum birthing out on the road and come to Scotland.
She said yes, and after a whirlwind of a few weeks messaging, Ros Simons traveled all the way from Exmoor to run a drum birthing in Argyll for a group of us. We hurriedly erected Heather's yurt (in spite of gales and snow) then all braved the freezing cold (no stove and old sails and blankets on the ground) as we journeyed to meet our drum spirits. We sanded, crafted, learned how to tension and throughout the day our drums emerged.
With a red deer hide, personal messages painted round the rim, crystals tucked in and turquoise trim, creating my personal spirit drum was just the beginning of the journey.
I believe my shamanic drums are the drums that have been seeking me - waiting for me while I tinkered about round the edges of the drumming world. They bring connection, friends and powerful messages.
I still have to have strong words with my aspirational self - she is drawn to hang drums, tongue drums, frame drums - her voice can be quite demanding at times - I gently remind her that although I could do all these things, I don't have to and am indeed, unlikely to. Let others play these and I can be free to listen and dance to their beautiful music.
If you feel called to birth your own spirit drum, my dear friend Ros is returning to Argyll in a few weeks. See below for more info and please contact her to book (she will run another on the Sunday if there is interest as places are filling).
Musings from wandering about woodlands, paddling in the sea and meditating by rivers ...