It started when a friend told me about EFT (emotional freedom technique or tapping.) The skeptic inside me said it was BS, but the other side of me said if it works, let’s try it. I read about it and watched this video and started tapping. And it works.

That led to research about drumming and healing. I downloaded some Native American drumming music and I’d lay on my bed with my earbuds in, and words fail to describe the peace and rejuvenation I felt.

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Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a live drumming circle at Prairiewoods. Our facilitator  was Hawkwoman. She brought some of her own drums, but Prairiewoods also has a wide variety of drums in their library. She took me to the library and the tops of all of the shelves were lined with drums of all colors and sizes.  Three others were in the room picking theirs. Hawkwoman told me to let the drum choose me. I looked at all of them not knowing how to do that, but I was drawn to a blue ceramic based drum in the left corner of the room. The others chose their drums and a gentleman named Luke asked if I wanted him to get one down for me. I nodded yes. He asked which and I said, “I don’t know.” He went straight for that blue one, grabbed it, drummed on it a few times, and said, “Yep. This is it. This is the one for you.”

We went back outside with our drums that chose us, gathered round a fire. I took off my shoes and chose to sit on the grass rather than in a plastic chair or on a rock semi-circle build around the firepit. As always, I needed to touch the earth.

Hawkwoman lit sage in an abalone shell for the sage smudging ceremony. This is a purification ceremony. Sage smoke releases negative ions in the air around a person, like waterfalls or the waves crashing the shore of the beach. It hooks itself to positive ions and neutralizes them.  The more negative ions around you, the more at peace you will be. This is why so many people feel such a sense of release and peace where there is running water. This is what happens with sage smoke as well.

We stated our gratitudes and intentions around the circle. I was grateful for the opportunity to attend, for Prairiewoods for hosting, for health and healing. My intentions were peace and healing.  We were asked if we’d like to bring anyone into the circle with us that could not be with us physically. I asked to bring my brother into the circle. As I said his name, for the first time since arriving at Prairiewoods, a crow cawed very loudly behind me and to my right. It was the only time in my three hours on the property that I heard a crow.

Then we started drumming. I didn’t know what to expect. Each of us had a drum and I thought maybe it would sound chaotic and disjointed with all of us drumming at the same time. That was not the case. Hawkwoman kept a low and steady beat. Luke was obviously a drummer because he provided us with very rhythmic and soothing beats. One girl seemed like she didn’t really want to be there. She wasn’t really drumming, but tapping lighting on the side of her drum. Another man, who had been to the circles before, was also drumming a steady rhythm, a slightly higher note than Hawkwoman. My own drum made sounds like rain.

I don’t know how long we all drummed together. The sounds overtook all other sounds. No cars, voices, phones, no negativity. Organically, the drumming came to a stop and we sat in silence. It was overwhelming and felt heavy and light at the same time.

Hawkwomen started drumming and singing. A few joined in with their own drumming rhythms. I felt I should be still. I sang a few of the verses with her. After the song, we sat in silence again.

We drummed again like the first time. Then Hawkwoman led us in a Drum Wash. We moved away from the fire and stood in a close circle. Each person entered the circle, said their name, we said their name back,  and we drummed while moving our drums up above the person’s head and down to their feet. It was an incredibly powerful experience. When I stepped into the circle, I stepped out from under the shade of a nearby tree to full sun. I closed my eyes and felt the sun warm my body and at the same time, I could feel the rhythms beating into my body from all sides. I wanted to stand there for hours.

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After we finished, Hawkwoman and I had a conversation. I told her that I’d been meditating inside of my sauna to the sound of drumming last week and four animals came to me in quick succession: butterfly, hawk, rabbit, eagle.  I felt like the order was very important when I had the vision, but I didn’t know why. As I was reading about animal totems and their meanings, I found there are four types of animal totems. A messenger guide, a shadow animal guide, a journey animal guide, and a life animal guide. I had no idea before today that this was true. I now see the butterfly is my messenger, the hawk is my shadow guide, the rabbit is my journey guide and the eagle is my life guide.

As we were talking, first one deer came, then two. Hawkwoman told me to pay attention, as they were likely messengers. I counted 14. As I made my way through the woods on the path, I came upon the sweat lodge that we’ll be using for a ceremony on June 7. A rabbit ran in front of the entrance of and scampered off to the right side and stopped to stare at me. I remember thinking that is probably significant.

I kept going on the path and made it to a labyrinth.  (As I’m typing this, a crow just flew into my back yard and cawed,) I took off my shoes and put down my phone and started walking. I kept a steady pace. I was mostly looking down but I glanced up and saw a deer staring at me. She was right on the edge of the labyrinth. I locked eyes with her and she didn’t move. The next time I looked up there were two. Then three. Then four. They stayed the entire time I made my way around the labyrinth. I sat in the middle and looked back at them. They just stood there, staring at me. I couldn’t help but cry at the enormity of it all.

“A deer’s senses are very acute. Its vision is designed for clarity at a distance. It is especially effective at detecting contrasts and edges in dim light. Its hearing is equally acute. Anyone who has deer as a totem will find increasing ability to detect subtle movements and appearances. They will begin to hear what may not be said directly.When deer show up in your life it is time to be gentle with yourself and others. A new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born. There is going to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures. ” –Ted Andrews,  Animal Speak

I stood and left the labyrinth. As I looked back, the first deer to join me stepped into the circle and watched me leave. I understand there is significance, but I don’t know that I understand the full message right now. It’s a lot to take in and learn.

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I’ve always paid attention to things that show themselves repetitively in my life.  One of those things is the number 14. So not only was it significant that I saw so many deer, but that there were 14 strongly suggests that this plays into the message that God has been sending me for many years now.

It’s a lot to take in and I’m still trying to unpack it all. What I know for sure is that I feel peace and I’m sensing a rebirth, like the butterfly. From my cocoon into my wings.  My word for 2014 (14!) is Listen.

And I am.