In every culture the planet over women have been using drums for ceremony and ritual, it is only in recent history that owning and playing drums became something mostly men did.
“Because drumming was recognized as an ancient source and symbol of the power of female technicians of the sacred, drumming was banned. Henceforth divinity was to be exclusively masculine. The suppression of women was directly linked to the suppression of the goddess.” ― Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm
Symbol of the divine feminine
THE WOMAN'S DRUM IS RED.... And so it was that many years ago now, in a spirit journey that I first saw the red drum.
Initially it started as a spirit 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... 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..
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, and of course is in the name of the Mystery School.
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.
Over the years I began to teach small workshops of women how to make their own Red drums, and I offer them for sale on my web-site, as well as running a leadership program for women who are leaders in their own communities who want to pass the Red drum teachings along!
Now 10 years later we have started a thriving and growing community of Red Drum Carriers!
Living and working on theunceded Indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.