A few minutes before 6am the rising sunlight touches the crowns of the hemlock, cedar and fir trees that stand in the south, part of the hoop of Standing Ones on Echo Lake. They are illuminated, golden, I hear them singing a morning praise song. Osprey is already fishing – his cries seem in response to their song. Within 20 minutes the sunlight kisses the earth with good morning. My own yard is in shadow still while the trees that live here – Lewis, Carlton and Freeman to name a few, all have golden rays that dazzle in their crowns. So slight the breeze, the lake is still, many Swallow skim the surface for their breakfast.
Sweat lodge drums will be birthed here today. I am eager for this workshop, both buffalo and elk medicine have been called for. The hoops are deeper than a hand drum by more than double, made of cedar wood to withstand the moisture of the lodge. These Chen Chegas, the drum, are double sided with hide and extra energy is required to bring them into being. It strikes me that the added physical effort to birth a lodge drum is in keeping with the depth of an inipi ceremony. Birthing these drums is ceremony. The keepers of these drums walk in a reverent way, deeply understanding the responsibility and meaning of carrying their drums. With the drums come the songs – which are prayers sung for the People.
“Since the drum is often the only instrument used in our sacred rites, I should perhaps tell you here why is it especially sacred and important to us. It is because the round form of the drum represents the whole universe, and its steady strong beat is the pulse, the heart, throbbing at the center of the universe. It is as the voice of Wakan-Tanka, and this sound stirs us and helps us to understand the mystery and power of all things.” – Black Elk
The Buffalo medicine is a strong guardian, ever giving of all that is needed. It teaches us that there is always enough and reminds us of our obligation to act – our way in the world is supported and still it is incumbent upon us to shoulder our own load . Elk offers steadfast stamina – we can easily get from here to there. Elk teaches self-reliance as well as balance within a community. This medicine will carry one far. The Cedar tree spirit will strengthen the inner potentials of these four-legged spirits and the two-legged who will carry these drums. Cedar offers a protective healing energy.
These drums are not yet born but already so very powerful. I look forward to this day and to the day when I sit in a lodge and hear their voices beating with my own heart song and the heartbeat of us all – sitting in the Center of the Universe.
Two Great blue Heron are flying over, side by side above the lake – I don’t recall ever seeing two at once here before . I feel their gift and selfishly bid them to stay, wad in the waters, fish, build your homes here – it is always a good day on Echo Lake. Pilamaya, Pilamaya!