Manataka American Indian Council
The drum who had a woman chase it
By Carol Perez Petersen
I have a drum passed down from a Blackfoot woman who is now in the spirit realm. It is a hand drum with a northwest stylized painting of a killer whale on the hide. The drum has a higher the most tonal pitch something I’ve come to love because you can hear her sing above the others. I was invited to a drum circle at Grandmother Eagleheart’s Rainbow’s End. She said it was the first time for a full moon drum circle and my first time to make the trek.
About thirty of us showed up and we gathered inside because of the winds. The drums began to speak. I have never in all my drumming years of participation experience the profound nature of Drums leading their handlers such as the way Killer Whale breached the waves.
I became the instrument for the drum to sing through me. My left hand held the drum while my right wielded a two beat heart rhythm. The drums were making all kinds of rhythm language and I felt the presence of wolf spirit enter the circle. We were hearts on a hunt. Energy flowed in a circular and radial movement weaving images seeking its level, while the spirit of the drum tapped the body’s surrender.
I was chasing the spirit in the drum. He entered the room packed with people and the only chair available was next to me. I teased, “You can’t sit here,” and he smiled, and then held his drum in the opposite hand. He is a lefty later I found out. He is a highlander, a Tokala, the open side of our drums echoed inside one another.
I sang barely audible over the breathing of wolves on the run. Suddenly my hand quickened tempo, suddenly a chase began. Over the snow packed land a woman ran with a spear poised for its mark. There were wolves to the right of her, stringing close to the edge of day. With a hawk overhead piercing the sky, killer whale took a spin and the spear met the eyes of a seal. All in a flurry, wolves, hawk and whale greedy for morsels of flesh. Quickly beside her he slit the seal, bearing its heart, and then sounded
the drum spirit of creation with powerful singing praise for the offering of food.
To the west, to the woman, to the whale, and the seal and the water
To the east, to the wolf, to family and to the day and to the earth
To the north, to the hawk, to the spirit and to the messenger who speaks the truth
To the south, to the man, to the heart, and the fire and to the one who gives it away
to the sun.
The drums were beating louder and stronger the skins held firm and tight. This was the moon when “She Carries Turtle” received her name. The drums had been singing for a few hours. A child of three cried out Yes on a sixteen count. Yes, Yes, Yes the child sang. Yes, Yes, Yes the earth and the sky said the same.
We are one drum for the moon and one drum for the dream and one drum for life and one drum for you
Thirty women and three men chased drums on the night of the first Scorpio moon in April. They were pounding earth mother with animal spirits running with love and energy in all directions. Moment by moment a settling of spirits took over the handlers who became still to them. The drums hovered above our heads and glowed like halo’s. Then Eagleheart spoke, “Send the wave out to Mother,” and asked Bear to sing it. We cried all together Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma to infinity one hundred and forty four times.
We stood in the house of the rising sun on the rainbow medicine blanket at Rainbow’s End. The drums came to lift the heart of the seventh seal and it was done.
Carol Perez Petersen
Clan Mother Deer Nation
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