I have made more than one hundred drums, and very rarely a drum is for mystery more than for humans. This drum began as an custom order for a First Nations woman who occasionally was a guest performer with M’Girl. She preferred an antler handle to the crossed-stick holder at the back and so the drum came home to me.
This spirit animal and eagle came to the drum’s face when I first painted the hide. Although I have never been in a place of uncertainty with who I am painting and how—this creature would not take an ordinary reality form, but continued to shift between a bear and a wolf.
After the drum was returned I decided to redo the image and discovered I could not remove it from the deerskin—the earth pigment had become a tattoo. This deer was old; its skin crossed with scars and patterns of scratches. The strange creature and its bird companion began to look like some of the oracle cards I have painted for the Journey Oracle deck: shadowy figures shifting in and out of recognition.
The drum went out again to a new person who respected it deeply but found she could not live with it. It started on the wall in the bedroom—which is a great place to store a drum because of the quiet energy and lower temperature—but soon the drum was down the stairs into the living room and then out by the door in the entry way. Each time the woman could still feel the drum’s energy moving, as if in a continual shape shifting. And so the drum came home to me.
The painting continues to alter its appearance as if in continual patterns of light and shadow. I continue to feel unsettled about the creatures, wanting to re-establish the painting but not ever quite doing so. The drum’s voice is deep and rich, as old deer skins often are, and yet I do not consider it one of the “good horses” in my shamanic drumming herd. If you think this might be your drum, it might be wise to reconsider.
If you would like further conversation about this drum
email Kristen at firstname.lastname@example.org