Last night I had my first journey, albeit not a very long or intense one. But it was a definite success.
I was practicing drumming last night upstairs in the ritual room. I had had to stop after a bit as the rawhide that I’d used to tie the goatskin onto the drum frame apparently still had tiny cow hair stubble all over it. The vibrations of the drum and my generally sensitive skin meant that my hand got irritated too quickly. So I took time out to wrap the cords in yarn; I wanted to use something not-animal, spiritually neutral as it were, since I already had a nice balance with the cow, goat and deer skins, and they didn’t seem to want another one added in. This made for a much softer grip, and the drum still sounds good.
I began drumming again, and managed about 10 minutes before I got into a decent trance, a bit deeper than what I normally get with guided meditation, though not as deep as what I can achieve with trance dancing. This was a rather nice victory, since although I’m pretty good with altered states of consciousness in meditation and dancing with someone else drumming, I wasn’t sure how I’d do as my own drummer. Not surprisingly, the rhythm worked similarly to that in drum circles, and the fact that I was drumming didn’t change that. In fact, it allowed my body a rhythm even as I was sitting down.
I wasn’t really planning on journeying, but I ended up there anyway. I’ve been intending to talk to Wolf for a couple of days about something private, and she* decided to take the opportunity to plop me down and talk already! I saw her quite clearly, though I wasn’t sure whether we were in a cave or a tent; it wasn’t very well lit and my visuals during meditation aren’t always as clear as what I hear. She told me to stop drumming as I’d hit the right level of trance and she wanted me to concentrate on her.
She told me what she wanted to tell me, then made it clear that I needed to go back downstairs and implement what I’d been told when and as I could. So I did, and oddly enough I didn’t get that woozy feeling I sometimes get from coming out of a trance too quickly.
I am rather pleased; I was a little concerned, to be honest, that I wouldn’t be able to hit a deep trance while sitting still. However, for having drummed for no longer than a quarter of an hour, and given that my arm wasn’t even beginning to get tired, I’m pretty hopeful, and I’m looking forward to honing my skills with this particular method of journeying. It’s nice, because it allows me to go places that I’ve been before, but it puts more of the variables in my own hands, literally. I don’t have to worry about having the drumming stop too soon, as happens with in-person drummers and drum CDs. I also don’t need to be aware of people running into me as occasionally occurs dancing at drum circles. I can control the temperature and the general ambiance, the drumbeats distract me from any outside sounds, and I can pretty much go uninterrupted. I’m glad I’ve been able to recreate alone the same essential experience that I’ve used so many times before in a group setting.
* Usually I refer to totems and other spirits with gender-neutral pronouns. However, if they show decided preferences, I use the appropriate pronouns. Some have been known to shift sex from visit to visit, as well as color and even subspecies. This isn’t surprising, given that I see totems as archetypal beings that are comprised, among other things, of all the biological information about an animal. So Wolf may show up as a male grey wolf one day, and a female black wolf the next.