As a drum-maker it is not often that I am called to make drums for myself much these days, after all I already have close to 10 personal drums, so unless I am really called by spirit, all of the drums my hands make are going out into the world for others.
Just before the change of the new year I began to feel an inkling of what 2016 was to bring and part of it was an inner knowing that now is the time for me to get out and into my local community more. To create more in person drum workshops, more ceremonies and more offerings in general.
Some of these inspirations will take some time, while others such as my Red Drum Workshops were as easy as setting a date and booking them.
During this time I was out and about at my local suppliers when across the room I spotted a large, no make that giant handmade drum frame, the kind that some of our first nations people might use to make pow-wow drums.
As I stood there looking at this frame, spirit began speaking to me, whispering into my ear that I must build a community drum--a womb drum to be specific!
And so it was that the frame came home with me, followed by a series of wonderful synchronicities that not only brought me the most perfect piece of Elk hide from a dear friend, who cut it for a drum similar to the one I was making, but also many small confirmations that I was on the right track that came by way of my community.
And so I began, first by honoring the beautiful cedar drum frame and spending some time getting to know it's spirit, which is very gentle and loving.
Of course these things take their own sweet time and although I already had the hide, it too needed to be honoured and the time perfect for the creation of such a sacred healing drum. This is why the frame sat with me for close to 2 months before anything more was done.
And then finally, the day came when everything felt right to make the drum, and when I looked up into the night sky and realized that the moon was making her way into fullness I knew why! The February full moon was one of the most powerful moons in a long time, and each night that she was full the skies here were clear and bright with her light.
The first step was to stain the beautiful frame, or rather the bones of the drum with natural water-based wood stain made by a company called Saman that I use for everything. The colour of course was a deep burgundy red and instantly transformed the bones of the drum. next I drilled holes into the sides and made four handles for her so that she could be held on all sides, as well as making sure that she would fit the frame that a friend is making for her to hang on.
And then she was ready to come into form!
I made lots of rookie mistakes because I have never made a double sided drum this big before, so she is perfect is the most imperfect way, kind of like most of us, wouldn't you say?
Once she was made I was so overcome with joy, honestly there was nothing to say or do but admire her and slowly get to know her.
She dried in my kitchen surrounded by the sounds of our family life, as she say perched in the kitchen window with the eastern facing sun shining on her for days and days as she dried.
During this time I began dreaming of hall the ways she could join us in our community, and how she might be able to heal women in her work, and she whispered stories to me, and inspirations came in from friends who told me stories of other healing drums, and so as I prepared for two big ceremonies I knew that she would come along and that we would consecrate and bless her and her work in our community.
This past week-end I was joined by many, many wonderful women whose hands and stories blessed our womb drum. She held us in circle as we birthed more red drums out into the community, and as the women from our Red Moon Mystery school were initiated, and were held by each other is a full day of ceremony and spirit work.
We sprinkled libations of sweet honey mead onto her, we smudged her, and adorned her with cedar, sprigs of Heather, and our ancestral spirit bundles, and she held us as we touched her and welcomed her into our community.
It was a full week-end, but she is now ready for the next piece in her creation.....
I know there is so much more about her yet to come through, and I have seen how she might help to heal women if they could somehow slide under her frame as we drum her, so that their wombs can feel the vibrations of her healing heartbeat.
And so the unfolding of the Womb drum continues.....
From the Hindu goddess Kali’s red tongue, to the red robes worn by Mary Magdalene, each goddess has an essence of red that she carries with her, and in turn each of us also carries within us an essence of all the goddesses. This is our birthright as a woman, for it is the red blood that we hold within our wombs that enables us to give birth to new life, and it is this aspect that connects us to each other, as we all cycle through the aspects of life, death and re-birth...
Many years ago now, in a shamanic journey that I first saw the red drum. Initially it was a journey to ask for an image to place on a drum, but instead my entire journey was in red, my guides were red, the landscape was red, and when I saw a red drum placed into my hands, I knew that I was to make a red drum, and that the colour red WAS the symbol-the symbol of the Divine feminine...
Over the next months, giving away to years, the significance of the colour red would come to me in my work over and over again, teaching me and showing me a constantly unfolding path... Red has became the touchstone for my work as a writer, my business name, Red Moon Pathways and the Red Moon Mystery School.
Our book Moon Mysteries, was also self published by our company Red Moon Publishing. But one of the most humbling parts of my work has been in the making of Red Drums.
In her book When the drummers Were Woman Layne Redmond says “The drum was the means our ancestors used to summon the goddess and also the instrument through which she spoke. The drumming priestess was the intermediary between divine and human realms. Aligning herself with sacred rhythms, she acted as summoner and transformer, invoking divine energy and transmitting it to the community.” These powerful words sum up so much about the role of the drum for myself and for many of the women who come to my workshops and purchase these red drums. There is much meaning to be learned from crafting and using a sacred drum.
The sound of the drum is said to be the heartbeat of the mother, likewise the roundness of the frame in the context of my work represents the moon, and the wood coming from the ancient tree of life. When I gather women together for our drum making workshops I play ancient sounds of the frame drum and together each woman handcrafts her own sacred tool. We begin with the frame, which is the foundation for the drum and as the woman work in creating the drum each piece is blessed and held close to her beating heart.
It is also said that many of the ancient priestesses used drumming monthly, perhaps to facilitate her monthly blood flow and we know that in our older matriarchal cultures woman would drum while a woman was in childbirth allowing her to relax deeply and open for her child to be born, as the ancient sound of the heartbeat reminds her of her own birth. It is also said that it is this same drumming that takes us back to the heartbeat of the mother when we die, transforming us into the great spiral of life, death and re-birth.
Ancient drums owned by woman were specifically painted red using Ochre to represent blood, menstruation and birthing rites. It is in the spirit of this ancient tradition that I too dye my drums red.
Using beets and pomegranates as well as a natural mixture of pigments that I have mixed up over the years, I have managed to achieve a deep scarlet red in the hide that I use. Each drum I make represents an ancient tradition of women drummers, and priestesses, that tap into the ancient pulse of the red, and the divine feminine that runs in every woman today.
The woman in turn who either buy or make a red drum with me continually blow me away with the depth of their creativity, their passionate insights and willingness to dig deep inside themselves and see what resides in their beautiful red hearts.
Below is a red drum painted by one woman many years ago, she used her intuition and the feel of the drum’s landscape in the patterns she saw to create her painting on it, and this is what came. The significance of her image of it held much power for her and I know she spent many hours playing and singing with her red drum.
It is in the spirit of this kind of creation that I offer my drums out into the world, that makes my heart sing for the work that I get to do and I am thankful everyday for the strength of the RED that runs in my veins.
This post is dedicated to my dear friend Janine Suzanne Weber, who after a year of walking with cancer, went to the heartbeat of the great mother.
Janine painted the Red drum above after one of my workshops many years ago. She was a gentle creative spirit and woman who offered the best of herself to her friends and loved ones. She is greatly missed.