Between a Drum and a Heart
The drum was a quake in the night and, throughout the ages of time, used by mystical and musical hands for millennia. What made it so spiritually catalytic? Our ancestors swore by the sound it emitted, a deep rumble, like a stampede of endless bison thrusting their hooves into the Earth’s surface with a brilliant boom. The drum was important in many ways to many generations and it is easy to see why it continues to connect us to the spirit. It has the rhythm of the Earth and the beat of our hearts.
Drumming dispensed to our ancestors a way to communicate with a higher consciousness beyond the tall borders of our mind’s threshold. It was the force and bridge in spiritual and mystical practice, and also the antidote for inflicted bodies of disease, illness, and pain. The force was brought up through the roots into the middle of a great circle of people. Speaking with the spirits was a virtue; it brought imagination and belief into the same living stream. It kept the traditions firm in the heart of the people.
In my mind’s eye I picture a tall black night sky littered with stars that are randomly flickering from their homes and nestled below the horizon, and the round huddling group of people all gathered around the drums. Some are sitting; some are jumping from the ground, being enthralled by what is coming. It starts off as a low tremor residing in the deep pit of the heart, reminding us of the first sound we all hear in the womb—our mother’s heartbeat. A steady beat that is finite in its aural presence and warmth. It is constantly predictable; each beat falls after the last. As the rolling vibrations descend, lowering the sound into the ground, the spirits of all who are present are being fortified by the energy from below. Borrowing strength from the Earth and feeling the solidity of each hit to the membrane, the mind and hearts of all who participate are linked. They are linked through the space of everlasting time, the energy from all these different hearts all beat to the same drum. They are all dancing to the mother of all.
With the tone and rhythm roaring from the drum, it’s easy to become lost in the rolling trance of the drum beat, the continuing crash of bison hooves, and the undulating of the heart. The sound is thunderous, frequently staggering. Roaring up through each individual is not only the emitted warmth of the heartbeat, but the truth behind our intelligent design. The stretched bison hide, the membrane, it is stretched over a stiff circular piece of wood; held on tightly by a rope bringing the pieces into tension with each other.
Imagine if everyone could hear each other’s heart beats thumping with the blood that gives us life. Practicing and strengthening our connection to what lies beyond brings a sense of fluidity to our lives; our ancestors knew this. They used that which had formidable strength within each beat and could drive all the energy in the hearts of the people to become one. The beat of the drum is the beat from the center our hearts, which is why it is so recognizable to us. It reminds us of the feeling of safety and warmth that we received from our young mothers, but also of the spiritual connection we often forget or shove into the ungraspable fear of the unknown. It has and will continue to be a vital tool for the endless humans willing to believe in their roots, their hearts; all those willing to pass it down will continue their personal spirituality and connection through the young.
Koby Sommer attends Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, North Dakota. He has always had a passion for the environment, leading him to major in environmental science. He also has an interest in music, which has been a cornerstone in his life since high school. Throughout the years, he has continued to fall in love with the rhythms of our planet and the way musical instruments are used as tools to heighten our consciousness. Koby sees the drum as the aural base for all life, which explains why his devotion to our planet grows with his love for music. He would like to thank Mickey Hart, whose love for aboriginal music opened a Pandora’s Box in his musical endeavors.