When my husband, Andy, and I stayed in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, in October, Andy took the opportunity to purchase a new shamanic drum at an all-day spiritual wellbeing fair. He was lucky to come across an exceptional drum-maker and skilled shamanic practitioner who makes drums from his heart and soul. After careful consideration from an extensive range of choices, he made his purchase based on sound. The drum he chose resonates with a beautiful, clear beat, the quality of which I have not heard before on a shamanic drum.
If you’re thinking of getting a shamanic drum or other artefact, check out Driftwood Hollow Drums on Facebook or Etsy.
Since returning home, Andy and I have been drumming together regularly, quite often in the middle of the woods, offering our sounds to nature. Andy’s drum has a stunning skin that is reminiscent of the wall of a cave, so it was no surprise when he commissioned me to paint it for him with something related to cave painting. Together, we collaborated to work out the design and here is the final result, nothing like my own brightly coloured shamanic drum, as seen on my Home page.
The main figure on Andy’s drum is adapted from an original cave painting known as ‘The Sorcerer’. The original painting is difficult to make out, it was painted around 13,000 years ago inside a cave called The Cave of the Trois-Freres in Ariege, France. My version is slightly different, although the horses’ tail (appropriate as the drum-skin is horse) and the well-endowed nature of the figure are true to the original, a depiction of potency associated with the red stag in rut. The white dots around the figure also represent the magical potency of the shaman as transformation takes place. Is this a stag becoming a man or a man becoming a stag? Either way, the figure is dancing a shamanic dance of power and transformation, taking on the power of Stag. I also painted the tracks of the red stag going around the rim of the drum.
Andy asked for additional embellishments, the two deer running in the background and the hand prints. Here taken from Andy’s own hands, hand prints are commonly depicted in prehistoric caves. The textures in the background are simply the natural patternations of the drum’s skin. In order to showcase the wonderful light and dark areas of the skin, which is like a yin-yang symbol, the painted image has been kept to a minimum.
There are numerous theories about the purpose of cave paintings, of late, the belief is leaning more towards shamanic practices than hunting magic. Hand prints were created by placing one’s hand on the cave wall and blowing or spitting pigment to leave a stencil. Prehistoric hand prints can be found throughout every inhabited continent across the world and date back to 40,000 years ago.
In the case of using hand prints on the drum image, the idea was to imply the drumming process itself. Andy has had personal experience of ancestral beings walking into his body and drumming through him as he drums, so the two sets of hands represent himself and offer an invitation for otherworld participants to step forward.
A word about the beauty of the reverse of this drum, I love the way the skin cords have been gathered into a stick which becomes the handle. The maker has also embedded some crystals into the centre of the stick-handle.