As I've made my way through this decade-plus of my glorious Re*Invention and Real*I*Zation, there has always been one touchstone on this journey that I've been able to return to, again and again, on a regular basis. It is the drum. Before I was a Witch, an Energy Worker, a Priestess in the World...first, I was a drummer, and in a very real sense, it opened up all the other doors.
I changed jobs in January of 1998, the year I began my Journey of Spirit. Through this change, I kept in touch with a co-worker in my previous job (at a photography studio). Miss W. and I had struck up a friendship, because both of us had a quirky view of the world around us - and we each recognized this. Without even knowing it at the time, she would be my first pathfinder. It was at Miss W's invitation that I went Sufi-dancing at Questhaven to ring in the new year that was 1998, and received my first exposure to Something More that was present in life. She would later introduce me to a marvelous circle of women who gather monthly, on the Saturday nearest the new moon, and I would experience my first feelings of homecoming. But, I digress...
In May of '98, Miss W. invited me to meet a woman who was teaching a drumming class at the Philosophical Library. Miss Verdante had set up shop in a back room, with a variety of drums. So at that class, I was joined by W. and a few other folks. We drummed. We changed rhythms now and again. There were times when I would make a mistake and (gasp!) lose the rhythm, or (gasp again!) change rhythms midstream...and it was completely okay. No one critiqued me. No one judged me. I was allowed to find the rhythms that suited me, and change rhythms now and again. For a woman just beginning to make her way through Shadows, this was huge.
But wait, there's more! Miss Verdante saw how I was struggling a bit with the small gourd drums, and suggested to me, "Why don't you try this drum?" She gave me a taller, larger drum, with a large head adorned with spirals, with thick black ropes securing the ring around the head and meeting in a large cable close to its base. So I played this drum, and found a part of myself. I played this drum, and found an aspect of my Voice that had been silent. I played this drum, and knew that I had always had this rhythm inside me; now was the time to remember it.
I was sad to see the drum go back home with her.
When we crossed paths again at the new moon circle, she brought that drum to the gathering. Soon enough, it came home with me. "Azaethlin" was the first drum I bought, and has been with me the longest. I still take it to the new moon gatherings, when I can go.
I started with one drum in 1998. Now I have six drums.
I started with one circle in 1998. Now I have two, and have drifted in and out of several others.
I had an awesome experience in 2003, at a Renaissance Faire, when I was with my coven: we had driven up to the Faire to look around. By and by, I found myself a group of drummers wailing away. I tried to resist the pull, but it was too much. I eventually had to excuse myself for a time and walk over, find a resting drum, and join in with the rhythm. I was part of a group of perfect strangers - men and women who didn't know each other from Adam's cats - yet we meshed our individual rhythms perfectly. When we finally came to a collective stop, we thanked each other with wide grins (and sore hands! lol) and dispersed back to our own lives. This taught me how people can come together in true community...the first lesson I was to receive in this, but far from the last. :-)
There is one drum circle that I gather with most consistently. It meets on the first Saturday of each month. It is a women's circle. It is a fantastic circle. I drum there, with two of my drum posse: "Chanel No. 5" (a djimbe that I purchased at that circle), and my hand drum, Anna Sexta. (You can check them out here.)
Now and again, I'm known to put down the drums and dance. I started dancing at the drum circle (I think) in 2002...which has also proven to be extraordinarily liberating.
But always, I return to the drum, and the playing of the drum, and the evocation of my own rhythm.
For first, you see, I am a drummer...and that, unlike everything else in my life, has not changed.