In this writing, I spent the summer in Connecticut attending to family business and focus on some personal time. After finishing our dome home, the opportunity to get away and focus on some much need personal and family time was presented. I brought my drum and rattle crafting supplies with me as I have learned to take my medicine with me every where I go.
I had much time to reflect on the life I created in Joshua Tree. It is a vastly, contrasting environment to Urban Connecticut yet, here in this 200-year-old city of Stamford, nature is still abundant. In this neighborhood where I grew up I have had the auspicious pleasure to be greeted by Parrots, Osprey, Turkey, Coypu and Deer. Needless to say, these animal allies were my guardians during this time of many cycles completing.
From Dome Home Complete to Whittling Sticks
In April of this year, we completed our Super Adobe (aka Earth Bag construction) dome home in Joshua Tree. It took 3 years, persistent commitment and a tremendous amount of physical labor.
All the while I continued to build Drum Making Journeys by evolving the artistry and medicine of the drums and I’ve also begun to craft medicine rattles. I continued to learn and grow my spiritual practice which has redefined my purpose as a Drum Medicine Woman.
I moved to Joshua Tree in 2011 to embark on an experience of modern-day homesteading. My partner Gabe and I lived in a couple of trailers (his & hers) with a porta potty as our toilet, an outdoor shower (outdoor propane hot water heater) and gas-powered generators for our electricity for the first year and half. Eventually, when we got our electric power line tied into the grid, extension cords supplied our electricity for our nighttime lighting and wi-fi signal. What we first anticipated to take one year, took three. Weather conditions, labor force, funds were the contributing factors that lengthened the process.
Leading crew and living on site with up to 5 crew members, were testing the grounds for our relationships with ourselves, one another and nature. Not one of us was immune to growth. We remained positive and with a “get it done” attitude. I won’t lie nor hide, there were for those few times I hurled the blueprints out of the trailer in fits of wanting to runaway and give up.
Self introspection, a strong communication structure for ourselves and the crew (aka Bonita Domes Code of Conduct) and being diligent with our physical healthcare were imperative for us to achieve our goal of completion. A holistic lifestyle was critical to our success.
Obstacles of growth were transcended and eventually life would find an even balance and rhythm again ….and again…..and again…..and yet again. A pattern of growth spurts, transcendence and balance began to emerge and was a reflection of the manifestation of our structure as illustrated in the three principles of dome building; Geometry, Arches and Friction: Growth, Transcendence and Balance.
Growth: Forming or sculpting the Earth in a pattern of sacred geometry. Transcendence: Stability getting taller and stronger with the principles of arches. Balance: Friction became the skeleton, the bones from which the core truth is held and resistance defied by strength brings balance. It’s an abstract correlation that worked!!! We saw this and remained persistent.
In October 2012, funds were running low and I was dedicated to minimal financing (this just means only credit card or cash. no loans). I sold my trailer and moved into what is now the shower house.
How do I blend my monetary needs with my sacred crafting? How do I transform out of fear? My worries turned into motivation and inspiration. This is medicine. Birthing drums is my medicine. As I delved into the drum and rattle crafting process, focusing only on the tasks of birthing a sacred instrument, I trained my mind, spirit and emotions to move through the process with me.
Most times when the hides would soak, thunder rain clouds would roll in. I created rituals with the bones, stones and feathers. Dialogs with each of the items directing their placement in the drums. Dates, timing, moon phases and weather patterns were recorded that coincided with the birth of the drums.
Themes within humanity and universal events were noted and translated into the expression of the drum being birthed such as low and high vitality days, solar flares. The presence of animal life and their medicines or messages were also taken into account.
For three years, I had the opportunity to sell my drums at 2 week shamanic training intensive that took place at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center just 2 miles from my home. My clients are those who have a spiritual practice for themselves and their clients. The drums began to present their personalities and titles or names were born into them. As I spent the two weeks vending and showing the newly birthed drums, their individual medicine called to the shamanic students passing by. I shared the stories of the medicine drums birth, its timing, the pieces used and anything else that was to be shared. Sometimes the stories resonated with the seeker whom was searching for their sacred instrument and sometimes the story of creation and birth was the only message the seeker was questing.
Inspiration to make rattles came from my partner Gabe. Gabriel is one of the people who is a talented natural craftsmen. Taking a scrap of hide and a hand whittled stick he formed his first rattle over a small rubber ball. Then he embellished it with feathers and leather. Now I enjoy filling the scraps of soaked hide with the desert sand. As I sit on the desert floor filling and forming the rattle heads, nature speaks to me and I take note of these signs. I start to sing heart songs and chants that make my body vibrate and hair stand on end. I’ve learned that when my mind is full of chatter and unrest, singing any song or chant clears the bit of discomfort within my body. Forming rattle heads has become a soothing medicine that has taught me how to find peace.
Of course, forming rattle heads is just half of the journey to creating sacred rattles. Finding sticks for handles becomes a quest that takes me many places, mostly in nature. In preparations to teach Sacred Rattle Crafting to my East Coast clients and brave family members, this time the quest took me to the neighborhood in which I grew up and where my Mother lived for 30 years. A maple tree was being cut down at a home on the same block and after the branches were gathered and cut to size, I began to sit and whittle the sticks.
During this Summer of 2014, coming back to the place where I was born and spent formable years, core family revelations were sometimes raw and humbling. I sat in the kitchen of my Mom’s home, whittling sticks. This became my medicine to carve away the old layers that were from the past. Music played while thunder storms let loose outside. Thunder beings clashed, buckets of rain cleaned the earth and refreshed my soul. A fresh, bright stick, smooth and ready for its next life is born!
In the following weeks, I was schedule to teach a Sacred Rattle Crafting workshop. As I drove more into the country of Connecticut, I began to realize it was the same route the bus would take me, as a child, every summer to go to Camp Francis Girl Scout Camp.
Along the way, a huge snapping turtle and a fawn lie dead on the roadside. I blew cornmeal out the window thanking the life of the turtle and the fawn and whatever message they had for me. Is this a sign of a cycle of life ending? Yes, then it is also a sign of a new life cycle beginning! In that moment I realized how the summers I had spent at camp, were a profound experiences that helped mold my love for the spirit of nature.
We made rattles and paho feathers and then blessed them with Sage. I sang a drum heart song of gratitude for the new life cycles of the turtle, deer and Sacred Rattles and their guardians.
I LOVE Drum and Rattle crafting!!! These Sacred Instruments continue to teach me how to live a life of dreams manifesting.
This drum is an example of the artistry and mastery that has fed my creative soul for almost 20 years. She is my personal Goddess Drum and some day I may share her beautiful birthing story with you.
Gabriel and I learned to a deeper meaning of commitment and trust for the building project, each other and ourselves. My personal integrity and confidence has been strengthened. I had to become humble and learn how to let go and not control everything. Embracing trust and evoking gratitude is the daily breath of being alive. “Holding on” or “letting go” is the esoteric dance. Nature, the animal life, weather patterns and constellations of the moon and stars have become the map guiding me on the next steps in life.