Finding My Drum

drumSlow and steady the beat begins
Welcoming the ancestors and the four winds
Beckoning wisdom from beyond

The cadence quickens
The intensity builds
Spirit takes over the rhythm
My mind becomes lost in visions

I become one with my drum
I become one with Spirit
I become

– Kerri Hummingbird, 2013

When I met my drum for the first time, I did not recognize my lover. I did not feel worthy to play this powerful instrument with its deep baritone vibrations. It felt too large for my novice hands to command, too amazing for me…a person just beginning on the path of shamanism…to identify as my own.

I sheepishly brought it to Journey Circle. I asked my mentor, Gerry Starnes, to play it for me…to play it for the group. Its magnificent music had to be shared by others! But how could I play it among a group of people I so respected and admired?

The first time I played my drum at Journey Circle, my heart pounded in my chest. To play this mighty drum softly, respectfully integrating its music with the community voice, was my sole focus. I listened intently to the rhythms around the circle and tried to match them with my own tapping. I adjusted how much force I used to drum, trying to match the volume of the other drums. I did not want to overshadow any other drum in the circle, I did not want to stand out or be heard…and yet, I wanted to be heard. My mind churned and my heart pounded and I began to perspire with nervousness. Finally, I took a deep breath and relaxed. I let Spirit take control, and the most amazing thing happened: my drum’s song joined the community song in exactly the perfect way.

My greatest teacher has been my drum. The hypnotic music we make together liberates my mind from its ceaseless churning, and leads me to a land where Spirit weaves fantastical visions to show me the wisdom I seek.

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