172 The Transformation Drum

Drum making is a lengthy, somewhat painful journey. My hands were raw and achy. Hours and hours passed, cutting and pulling the lacing.

If I back up to the year that Mom died, 2007, it could be called the year that I cried.  The year that I transformed.  I did not cry for my mother, quite the opposite.  I cried for myself.  Her transformation to the next stages transcended any experience that I had ever entertained.  It was a form of ecstasy, for both of us. 

I had a lot of growing to do, and so many questions about how spirituality and religion differ.   It felt like one had nothing to do with the other.  In many ways, my experience with death was a window into what I was missing. I poured myself into reading about all ways of accessing God, into many practices and journeys.  

I focused on myself.  Much like finishing high school and the first two or three years of college, my time was very “self centered”.  I cared about my path and my purpose, where I was, and what was important.  I am here again.  None of these periods of growth have come by choice.  Just like Christmas for the Grinch, “It came just the same”.  Like a snowball, it started small and grew as it rolled.

Back in the year that Mom died, the Transformation Drum was born.  It is made of elk hide, pulled from soaking in water outside of the basement of an Indigenous family.  We cut the hide to shape, and punched the holes ourselves.  I remember pulling the lacing with Amye.  It was taught that this was a cooperative journey, one where the formation of the drum was an effort of the group of creators.  I imagine that I helped her pull her lacing tight as well.

Drum making is a lengthy, somewhat painful journey.  My hands were raw and achy.  Hours and hours passed, cutting and pulling the lacing.  It was a meditation, a journey, a transformation in itself.  The drum is an expression of my years of experience.  It dried over the next day or two.

And then it waited.  A year, maybe two years, it sat naked and waiting for paint.  Drums do not have to be painted, but this one cried for color, and begged for meaning.  I worked on the design, studied, and pondered my themes.

Transformation.  The center is the sun sign. The colors are red and black, with a tiny touch of white.  Spirals, journeys, movement.  Spiral snakes for sun rays.  Spiral ravens holding red suns in their beaks.  The story of the Raven returning the sun to the people held me, like I myself was soaring into the universe, placing the glowing orb in its final home.

And this year, the drum is complete.  I added the decorative lacing, the symbol of ancestry, crow feathers, and beads. I embellished the drum beater to match.  There are three crow shaped beads, three for the Trinity. I often sit and stare at it.  It is a form of Eternal beauty.  It speaks to me.

It speaks to me of transformation, how we journey to the many layers of the Divine.  It speaks to me in its drum beats, the melancholy of my heart, how I long to be reconnected in every moment, how it burns in my chest when I look closely.  It reminds me of Mom, of the Divine Mother, and the mother that I am.

Author: Michele Plumb Stowell

Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.

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