Last year I meet Carolyn Hillyer and Nigel Shaw at Shamanic Lands in London and heard about the drum and flute making workshops they are offering. After waiting patiently I was able to book a place and built my first drum with them last weekend.
After a long journey I finally arrived in one of the most magical and vibrant place on Dartmoor. In the fresh cold water of a little brook I washed away the stress of the day and start ed exploring the area. Old gnarly trees, the farm and the round house made it easy for me to imagine the lives of many generations before me. Part of why the workshop appealed to me was that longing for connection to the land and the ancestors.
When we started working on the drums, Carolyn talked about the integrity of the deer skins we were using and explained where the animals had lived, how their lives had been ended and how the skins had been prepared for us. I could feel how important that deep sense of honor and respect is to her. After the skins had socked in water over night the texture and smell of the deer was present at every step of the crafting process. Despite my many years of vegetarianism that felt very natural to me and much less confusing than the choice between a hundred type of chemically treated leather shoes in a shopping Centre.
I realized how much I love working with my hands. Do you know that moment, when your mind is catching up with your hands, whilst they are already finding the next solution? To be able to make things is so satisfying. For our ancestors that kind of work was probably hard and repetitive, but also a potential source of joyful creative meditation. That made me think about children using touch screens for hours every day. The richness of our senses is such a gift and most people are not even aware how fast modern culture with all its digital entertainment is moving away from it.
On Saturday evening we all gathered around the fire in the round house. Sitting on sheep skins we spend the evening listening to fascinating stories and playing music together. On Sunday we ceremonially blessed our newly created instruments and I could not believe how quickly the time had gone bye. The participants of the workshop had become like a small tribe that shared stories, skills and inspiration. It was great!
After the workshop I decided to visit different places on dartmoor and travel back slowly with a stop in Glastonbury. I had to wait for my drum to be completely dry before I could play it, so I spend time meditating with it, holding it, tuning in to it’s essence and how it want’s to be played. On Thursday I could finally play my drum! I walked up the Glastonbury Tor and played to the land, the sea and the sky, to the deer, the birds and the tourists.
For me the druidic path is vibrant and alive. It’s not about fancy names, costumes or trying to escape by focusing on the past. It’s a truly shamanic approach that honors all relationships and especially the relationship between the human realm and the land. The animals, plants, trees and rocks are all part of this shared field. It’s not a theoretical concept or philosophical idea, not based on believe, books or dogma. It’s the journey to deeper awareness of inter-connectedness and the inspired actions that this awareness creates.
In Druidry one of most important words is “Awen“, which means the flowing spirit of inspiration. Coming home after a week I felt the inspiration of the drum making journey flowing through me and decided to give it more space. I imagined a picture with a round house, a drumming ancestor and a deer when I had my eyes closed, just before falling asleep. I thought it would be difficult to draw an anatomically correct deer without looking at one. When I woke up in the morning two deer stood in front of my window. All I needed to do is take a photo and start drawing.
Thank you for your time and many Awen blessings to you!