The Return of Horse

Because I’m going to start doing more formal shamanic work, it became time to get a new drum. I’m still keeping the small goatskin drum I made for my Earth month a while back for practice purposes and backup as necessary (plus it’s quieter, good for apartment living). But I’d been told a while back that once I was ready to start practicing seriously, that I’d need to get a new drum for that. The timing was good–this is my last splurge for awhile, since I’m now a full-time student as of this week.

I chose to go to Cedar Mountain Drums, which is in my neighborhood. I’ve been there a few times, including when I got the kit to make my first drum. A couple of weeks ago, I went to a drumming circle they held there and had a chance to play a number of drums. I hadn’t been sure what sort of drum I was going to get, so this was a good opportunity to try out different sounds and creations. The one that I kept gravitating towards was a large horsehide drum on a cedar frame; the sound was lovely, other than a tiny, barely perceptible vibration at the end of the note.

So when I went today to get my own drum, I headed towards the 17″ unbleached horsehide on cedar frames. I was fortunate in that the owner of the shop had just made a few yesterday, and though they were just a wee bit damp still, they had a very lovely sound. It took me a bit, but I settled on one that had not only a nice voice, but also a good energy to it as well. I picked out a beater as well, and was ready to go. I paid, brought the drum home, and it’s now sitting up in the ritual area along with the smaller drum:

I won’t be playing the new drum yet, not until the Equinox when I’ll be doing a private anniversary ceremony, since it’ll have been a year since I first started on this path.

I do highly recommend Cedar Mountain Drums if you’re in the market for a drum; the owner has 17 years experience in drum making, and runs a very good business.

It is appropriate that the drum ended up being horsehide. I’m finding myself reclaiming some things from when I was younger, things that I had rejected or gotten burned out on. One of these is my relationship with Horse. Horse was the second totem to come into my life, after Wolf. When I was a preteen, not long after I turned twelve, Horse came in to the point that s/he temporarily replaced Wolf for a few years, staying with me until near the end of my senior year of high school.

This was an incredibly awkward time of my life. I was not the most socially adjusted teen in the world, and ended up being picked on more than just about anyone in the school. It wasn’t any one thing; I simply didn’t fit in. Most girls my age had been interested in boys and clothes and makeup for a few years. I was more interested in grubbing around in the woods, reading books about animals, and collecting Breyer Horses. Being in a small town with a small student population that was particularly prone to cliquishness, I didn’t have much in the way of friends. So I ended up spending a lot of time alone.

There were various attempts, over the years, to try to get me to conform in one way or another–a new haircut, an attempt to show me how to use makeup, an inquiry as to whether I should maybe try to make friends with such-and-such clique (who had never shown anything but contempt for me). None of it worked. I tried a few times to be like other people and blend in–and the results were usually disastrous. I simply didn’t get it, and wasn’t interested enough to try any harder.

What Horse did was support my independence, and show me that I didn’t need to conform. Unfortunately, I ended up blaming Horse in part for what I perceived as too much sheltering and the continued proliferation of my social awkwardness–instead of taking responsibility for my actions, as well as understanding that I wasn’t responsible for the emotionally abusive words and actions of my peers. So I ended up pushing Horse away once Wolf came back late in high school. For years I denied any connection with Horse whatsoever.

What was I so afraid of? Honestly, I think I worried that I would lose what independence I did have, and get sucked into some life that I didn’t want to be a part of. I wasn’t secure in myself at all, even into my twenties, and it took moving out on my own, along with some hard life lessons, to really begin to formulate a solid sense of self. Sadly, some of that was so wrapped up in being a Wolf person that I ignored most other totems, and deliberately avoided Horse.

Now, as I’m approaching thirty and looking back at the last decade, I’m beginning to reclaim some of the things I let go of which in retrospect were things I really do value. I don’t blame myself or castigate myself for my previous actions; in a way, these things had to happen for me to learn. But now I can look at them with more confidence, and not be afraid. I can still make boundaries with the things that I know even more don’t suit me, but still accept that other things are alright.

This includes Horse. I feel very honored that s/he has chosen to come back into my life. I’m hoping we can talk more about my experiences as a teenager and how they shaped who I am today. And I’m looking forward to Small Horse’s guidance as my drum.

Plus I’ll see what Horse has to say about the future, not just the past. I’m aware, for example, that the hide that is on my drum almost certainly came from a horse that died in a slaughterhouse. This is a charged issue; on the one hand, it’s been considered a victory that horses are no longer able to be legally slaughtered in the United States. However, this has led to an unexpected side effect–horses are now being shipped further away into even less humane facilities in Mexico. I wonder what Horse and Small Horse will have to say about this issue.

I am grateful for the return of Horse. May our relationship be renewed, and be healthier than ever.

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3 thoughts on “The Return of Horse

  1. Thanks as always for sharing more about your interactions with your guides. Always enlightening.

    I’ve started looking into purchasing my first drum, too. I’ve seen some great things online but I’d prefer to purchase one locally if possible.

  2. Isn’t Cedar Mountain Drums a great resource? That looks to be a very beautiful drum and particularly appropriate for shamanic work; the drum is often called the “horse of the shaman”. It should serve you well.

    I came to shamanism thru drumming. Perhaps that is why I was chosen. I bought a frame drum from Cedar Mountain a year ago (20″ Elk hide, realms of water and emotion). It has been part of a number of ecstatic experiences.

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