Well, so much for being alone in a stranger’s house. The fates shifted the pieces in the kaleidoscope of my life, and suddenly I am sharing the house with an exotic dancer.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Yesterday evening, I went to a drum circle with a friend. I’d never been to one before, and I was curious to see what sort of healing I could expect or feel, so I invited myself along.
The first part of the ceremony was a spiritual cleansing. I’m not sure what we were being cleansed of — negativity, perhaps. She did us one at a time, having each person stand with arms outstretched. She worked on some people for what seemed a long time, maybe six minutes, pulling out the unclean bits, heaving some bits away, stomping other bits into oblivion, and then she finished the cleansing by going over the body with the healing smoke of sage. When she came to me, she had me stand with my right arm up and my left arm down. Slid whatever it was that she found down from my right hand to my left, then gently tossed it away. She spend a minute or so with the sage, and that was it. I’m not sure why she gave me a different stance, not sure why she spent so little time with me. Maybe she sensed my lack of engagement (whatever the others felt — peace, healing, spirits, love, the end of pain — apparently passed me by since I didn’t feel anything but interest). Maybe she didn’t sense much negativity in me, or perhaps she simply decided I couldn’t be healed.
It’s possible there’s not much to be healed. My mental chatter has died down, I have little to say, no conflicts to be conflicted about, no ailments. I like living in the moment, not thinking too far ahead. More importantly, for the first time in a long time, I’m at peace with myself and with the world.
After the cleansing, we beat drums to summon the spirits, then closed our eyes and went on an inward shamanistic journey. We were supposed to find a way into the earth for this journey, so I replayed a dream I had when I was in my early twenties. In that dream, I went deep into the earth. Although I was descending, it felt as if I were ascending — I took an elevator down, then got out and walked up three steps to another elevator, went down a ways, then got out and walked up three steps again. After the final descent/ascent, the doors opened into an amphitheater with a woman standing at an altar-like table. And from somewhere, a voice boomed, “You are now six hundred feet beneath Death Valley.”
Despite this great mental portal to otherwhere, I didn’t go anywhere. I just lay there listening to the drumbeat, noting the stray thoughts that drifted through my mind.
Afterward, everyone else recounted their journeys. One person went to a beautiful garden. One went to the Grand Canyon. Others had symbolic visions or could see the spirits we had summoned up. Me? I had very prosaically thought of food. (I guess I was hungrier than I imagined.)
Did these people really feel/see the things they said they did? I don’t know. It’s possible, maybe even probable, but the whole thing seemed like some sort of interactive stage play to me.
The part of the evening that was mine alone occurred during the final drumming phase. I watched the shadows of the drummers on the wall and ceiling, and they looked eerily shamanistic, almost animalistic. I enjoyed the play of light and dark, and then it was over.
When my friend pulled up in front of the house I am staying, I noticed that the lights were on inside, but I couldn’t remember leaving any lights burning. Then a woman came running up to the car, asked if I were Pat, and introduced herself as the house-owner’s daughter. Apparently she needed a place to stay for a couple of days. So much for my being alone. Still, we had a nice visit, all part of my going with the flow of what comes my way.
I’d intended to text the house owner this morning and ask her if she still wanted me to stay but changed my mind. I figured there was no point in putting such thoughts into her head. Alone or not, I’m in a lovely house, have my own bedroom and bath, a place set up for my computer, and food to eat. The woman knows her daughter is here, and if the woman had a change of heart where I was concerned, she would have let me know. (Or maybe not. She’s a nice woman and knows I needed a place to stay for a couple of weeks. Besides, she plans to have me attend her book club meeting next weekend, though I am not sure if I’m the guest of honor or a sacrificial goat.)
The strangest thing that came of my evening was this morning when I was waiting for the dance studio to open. With nothing else to occupy myself, I planned this blog and wondered how to explain the drum circle. A newspaper happened to be lying at my feet, and a title of an article was visible. The title? “Drumming Circles for Healing.” The article was about the shamanistic healer who had conducted the ceremony the previous evening.
The article quoted the healer, who said, “monotonous drum sound brings one into a state of higher consciousness, which in turn can open passageways for healing.”
I’ll have to take her word for it.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.