Friday, November 2, 2012

#111. Notes About Drumming

ARCHIVE. For a list of all my published posts:

This post is the 11th in a series of blog entries beginning with #101-- a collection of notes and essays from my files all dealing in one way or another with the emerging new religious consciousness. They are mostly things I've written over the last decade to clarify my own thoughts but which I now want to make available for anyone who might be interested.

Post #111 is about the basic rules or procedures involved in what has often been called a "talking-staff council" but nowadays would probably be called "communal meditation." Like so much else having to do with authentic ritual, we owe its survival to the Earth's native peoples. I wrote this list in June, 1995, at the request of some members of a drumming group I've belonged to for about 25 years.  

If you have questions and think I might be of help, you're welcome to send me a note:


Notes about DRUMMING

1. The basic rule when drumming is, “Do you own thing, but stay with the group.” No need to do anything fancy: it’s the heartbeat of the earth, communion with all the powers of nature.

2. The second basic rule: talk only when you have the talking-staff. The one and only exception is when you want to affirm someone else’s words (which it’s good to do often): “Ho!”

3. Follow the Quaker rule: “Don’t plan ahead of time to speak or not to speak.” Let the Mystery speak from within you. Expect to be surprised.

4. It helps if you talk in the third person-- from the Mystery’s point of view, so to speak. This works something like dreaming and active imagination techniques which help us to contact deeper levels of consciousness within us.

5. It is important not to edit or censor whatever wants to be said. Don’t be bothered if you lapse into the first person, or if what comes out is incoherent or gross. Whatever wants saying is acceptable in the sacred circle.

6. We drum at the solstices and equinoxes and quarter days throughout the year: transitional times and sacred seasons when we are closer to the mysteries of life.

7. “We do this,” as Native Americans say in the sweat lodge, “so that the people might live.” In the words of the Byzantine liturgy, “on behalf of all and for all.”

8. We try to stay awake, attentive and supportive for whoever is speaking and whatever is going on. The audacious assumption is that our personal efforts have cosmic repercussions.

9. We start by greeting one another, giving ourselves an Earth name; then setting up a sacred space, smudging-- inviting all the spirit-powers and energies of the world to join us.

10. We do everything in a sun-wise order: greetings, smudging, passing the talking-staff, passing the water bucket and sacred food at the end, dancing, whatever.

11. You’ll know we’re coming to the end of the session when the talking-staff is passed in the opposite direction; that’s your last opportunity of the evening to talk with the staff. Usually, by not necessarily, our final words are brief and often take the form of a thanks-giving.

12. We maintain the sacred circle until after the water bucket and special food are passed. Whoever provides the feast afterwards also blesses the water before it is passed and starts the sacred food around right after the bucket is passed. The special or sacred food is usually something which contains the essence of the season. These are simply other forms of communion with “all our relations.” 

13. All this may seem weird, but it is our culture that is at fault. People have been doing this sort of thing for thousands of years. Outside patriarchal culture, it has been familiar in one form or another to “everyone, everywhere.” 


No comments: