Birthing the Sacred Drum

This Sunday was the eighth month of a shamanic study group that Gary and I are facilitating. We were really looking forward to this segment of the class as we get to be “midwives” again to the birth of new drum spirits for our “shaman’s in training”. This is a powerfully spiritual and healing experience for all involved.

Follow us in the creation process and see if it doesn’t make you want to give birth to your own drum. If you are not near Phoenix, AZ, we will travel to do drum birthing classes. Please feel free to contact us.

We were all born with a drum – our heartbeat. We hear the heartbeat of our mother in her womb, and the drum is the heartbeat of our Earth Mother and our Ancestors. Making contact with a drum awakens our sacred, awakens our soul.

The drum is a powerful tool for a Shaman. The Shaman uses the drum beat to access an altered state of consciousness to perform journeys for self, others and the earth and universe. We follow the drum beat to other dimensions and other worlds, travelling where no time and space exist. The drum beat also acts like bread crumbs being left along the trail that we can follow to return home to this reality.

I use the term “birthing” in relation to creating a drum, because it is truly a process of creation. Like human procreation, the drum is the combination of two individual spirits – the tree spirit and the spirit of the animal that contributed the hide. Bring the two together in ceremony with intent and a new spirit is conceived. Much like our human children, this new “drum child” has chosen you as a parent, to be your friend, teacher, mentor and healer. Each drum is unique and brings its own character to our lives. This group of participants have spent time over the last month journeying to meet the spirit that was to be born into their drums as part of their training exercises.

Before we begin the process, the hides and hoops, which we have purchased must be ceremonially prepared. We always take time to honor both the animal and tree spirits for their gift. Each are smudged (cleansed with the smoke of sage) and we journey with each piece to remove any trauma that may have occurred to the tree or animal and to negativity that may have been invested during the preparation process.

After “conception”, the process begins by actually cutting the head of the drum from a full animal hide, which is the easy part. The second stage involves punching sixteen holes evenly around the drum head using leather punches and hammers. Fortunately, everyone we’ve worked with has played nice 🙂 We really get to test our participant’s perfectionism patterns here. There are sixteen holes as we do a four direction tie of four groups of four gathered together like a medicine wheel in the back.

Next comes the lacing. There is approximately sixty feet of lace to be strung in a particular pattern across the drum – this is what I would call “third trimester” – slightly cumbersome and awkward. Throughout this time you are connected to the spirit of the drum, feeling it developing and growing within the circle.

Then, with great anticipation and expectation, “labor” begins. People laugh when I tell them they will spend a considerable amount of time in labor. Later they fully understand. The lace needs to be tightened to pull the head of the drum taunt. This is truly a labor of love as you pull and straighten the wet, slimy, lace across the drum, pulling and tugging, with sweat running down your face until you can pull no more. This usually takes several passes until you tie off the ends, cut the “umbilical cord” and thump this new spirit to hear its first cry. And then, like any proud parent, you sigh with relief. We all whoop and holler as each new “drum baby” emerges.

As the“drum child” is welcomed into this world with ceremony, tears of joy are shed, each person knowing that their journey has just begun.

(Click here to view pictures of some of our drum birthing classes)

The drum takes your prayers to Spirit. It contains within it’s circle, all that is, was and will be. All the answers can be found within it’s circle. As you awaken to and honor your rhythm through the drum, you awaken to inner growth and healing which manifests outwardly to heal the planet.

We are one voice. Mitakuye Oyasin (A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related).

Until next time –