For three days, I had navigated my life in silence, spiraling into the world of
Spirit. Silence has a way of supporting that. Finally, the image came. Previously in journey, I had been told I’d be guided in painting my drum. Now the paints and brushes lay spread on the table before me. I allowed my mind to drift rather than spinning with questions and self-doubt.
For many who walk a shamanic path, the drum is considered the most powerful and sacred of tools. Known as the Spirit Horse, we ride its beat and vibration into alternate realities much as if we were riding on the back of a magnificent stallion. So how exactly do you choose your drum, or how does your drum find you? How does one forge a relationship with this sacred being and hear what it wishes its role to be?
In silence, Spirit often speaks the loudest - guiding and revealing. For me, that was how the birthing process started. I had purchased a drum that had since sat wrapped in its packaging on a desk for no less than three months. It was clear that birthing this drum was going to be a Spirit directed process that would require dedicated time.
Perhaps you’ve just been gifted a drum or decided to buy one. Whether you’ve purchased a synthetic Remo Buffalo Drum or been gifted a hide drum of Elk, Buffalo, or some other powerful being, know that how you bring your drum into use is a sacred process. This birthing involves journeying to the Spirit of the drum with your spirit guides for direction. Begin the dialogue. Ask how your drum wants to be of service, if or how it wants to be adorned, and how and when it wants to be dedicated?
How ironic it was that the birthing process of this drum would come through silence. The Spirit of the drum was clear. While other drums have called to be fully birthed into a community, this drum would first be painted, sit in sacred space, and first played in the frigid darkness of a winter night. Only then would it be willing to sing in circle.
The process of birthing your drum will be personal. Connect with its personality, feel its energy, and don’t rush the process. The relationship you have with this beautiful being will be as strong as the intent you put toward it. It is a sacred tool. Treat it as such. Hold it dear and respect the power it carries. It is the beat of your drum that will connect your heart to the heartbeat of this Earth.
Helpful Hints for Acquiring a Drum:
Why Attend a Drum Making Workshop?
Surrounded, I stood in the darkness of Skull Valley. Ancient Junipers revealed strangely familiar ancestral faces. Each twisted Manzanita, not unlike a labyrinth, traced the story of my life’s journey. Out of the shadows created by the rising moon appeared the image of the weathered grandmother who would later come to weave her wisdom into my dream time.
Why? I questioned. Why, in everything surrounding, do I always find the depth of my soul revealed? The dark haired medicine woman spun around, grabbed me firmly by the shoulders, and said, “Don’t you know? You, my friend, are a Shadow Walker. That IS your gift.” In that moment, I knew no truer words had ever been gifted me.
The shamanic path is one of relentless initiation and self-examination. While we welcome the beauty of forging relationships with nature and the compassionate spirits who support her, we're also charged with excavating the depths of darkness within ourselves for illumination and transmutation. We shine in the light, soar on the wind, and dance through the fire. Yet, we also see through the eyes of the Shadow Walker – the one who's mission it is to explore what lies beneath the surface in order to identify and confront our deepest wounds and fears.
Those who choose the shamanic way understand this darkness is sacred space that holds the potential for deep healing. We commit to navigating this realm, and all those we enter, in cooperation with Spirit and always with permission and integrity. We do not manipulate at will or invade uninvited. We support the potential for healing to occur and honor each soul’s right to chose their path. The Shadow Walker is one who deeply explores in search healing and revelation while holding strong to a clear code of ethics and committing to never harm.
If you're now ready to stand in the footsteps of the Shadow Walker and confront fears that may be limiting your personal power, consider joining me, Gina Millard, for my upcoming workshop, "Journeying Through Fear for Change" on Sunday, March 18th. Completion of a beginning shamanic journeying workshop with an approved instructor is required for participation in this class.
There’s that word, Shamanism. Perhaps it keeps popping up for you with a familiarity or pull you can’t quite explain? It grabs your attention, you get distracted with life, and then it’s lost until you receive the next reminder. Spirit has a way of doing that. At first, it nudges gently. Because Spirit is patient, persistent, and purposeful, the next push may likely be more noticeable and less deniable. Understand that Spirit is calling your attention – calling you back to your roots and back to the wisdom lying dormant within your soul.
Shamanism has been practiced in every corner of this earth for tens of thousands of years. While it is not a religion, it can well support any faith you hold. It’s based on the knowing that everything is vibrating energy. Everything has life force energy and, on some level, communicates. Shamanism provides the tools which allow us to know how listen and communicate on a soul to soul level with trees, animals, weather and all that surrounds – living or dead.
Each of us had ancestors who lived close to the earth and communicated with Spirit. That wasn’t a choice. For them, it was about their survival. They had to know when to plant, where to hunt, when to harvest, and what plants held needed medicine. Our ancestors knew their relationship with Spirit was ever-present and would guide them through their lives and beyond.
This is the essence of Shamanism. This is the knowing that's carried deep within. Shamanism is never about learning something new. It’s about awakening ancestral memories and knowing that is held deep within your soul. Your Shamanic awakening is actually a remembering – a re-birthing of knowing and being. Celebrate this awakening and all it has taken to get you here.
Stepping back onto your Shamanic path is a powerful experience. Sitting in circle and being part of a shamanic community will be an invaluable part of your growth and development. To support this process, I’ve created an online Facebook community, "Spirit Calls", dedicated to sharing experiences and exploring Shamanism. Click here to join this group to support your personal shamanic journey.
If, for whatever reason, you're unable to find a "Beginning Shamanic Journeying" workshop that supports your awakening and works with your schedule, click here to learn more about private mentoring sessions. Whether you begin as a member of a class or through individual mentoring sessions, you will then be prepared to step into a shamanic community through area drum circles, journeying development experiences, and deeper shamanic classes.
The scent of fragrant evergreen fills the air. Bells are ringing. Candles glow both welcoming travelers and marking the miracle of light through the nights. Family and friends are gathering with some seeming present only in our memories and dreams. In this time of deep tradition, we feel and hold our loved ones in spirit close.
Tonight I mix the molasses cookie dough that only comes through the long since faded recipe in my grandmother’s script. “Don’t stir too long,” I inwardly hear her whisper. In each stocking, I place a round, ripe orange while I smile my grandfather’s smile. I gaze up at the night sky while wrapped warm against the wind and remember trips home from Brooklyn on Christmas eve and know my father is ever present.
On this Christmas, I wish you warmth, love and the knowing that each of you are surrounded by your loved ones and distant ancestors in spirit. Hear their laughter. Feel their touch. See the flicker of their light reflected all around you, and know that the greatest part of them shines through you.
Shine on, dear ones. Shine on.
Each of us is a living medicine wheel moving through the seasons of a lifetime that extends far beyond the boundaries of the physical body. Each of us is a unique blend of energies. We feel them swirling, pulsing and, in some cases, lying dormant until their time to awaken. These energies are felt inwardly just as we notice them in nature. We each reflect the ebb and flow of the seasons, the power of the elements, the mystery of moon phases, and the cycles of all of life. We are a living medicine wheel; one that reflects the lifetime of the soul.
As it is with each of the elements, fire lives within us. It ignites, warms, singes, and destroys - always with the promise of transformation. Shaman’s fire is the ever-present burning within each of us who walk a shamanic path. It is the glimmer of light in the deepest darkness. It is the push that dares us to explore, walk to the edge, and open our heart to Spirit.
Shaman’s fire is an ancient memory that flickers deep within our souls. It teaches us to dance through the initiations of our lives - sometimes fearlessly and often with great hesitation that echoes with our fears and those of generations past. Whether a mere spark or a roaring flame, shaman’s fire is both the reminder and the fuel.
Spirit is alive within us calling. It speaks through the strength of Bear, the mystery of the stars, and the wisdom of the Earth. It whispers with the knowing of ancestors, through the darkness of winter, and the wonder of our dreamtime. It teaches through the power of silence only when we stop to listen.
Stop for but a moment and honor the flame within. Honor the medicine that is your soul.
If you're hearing the Shamanic call and are looking for a place to begin, join me in my Beginning Shamanic Journeying workshop January 27. You will learn the history of Shamanism and how to form a relationship to your spirit guides through the process of journeying. You will also step into a community of those wishing to explore, share and develop their soul's calling.
* To learn more about the medicine wheel, look for future blogs and look at Sun Bear’s, Dancing with the Wheel.