Cancer Lunar Cycle: Elk Medicine Drum

While the last lunar cycle was a wild ride, this cycle has played out in a concrete and almost ‘simple’ way, in the form of making an elk medicine drum.  Here’s how I’ve used the lunar map to frame my experience.


New Moon: what is new?
I speak and move my New Moon prayers at the Dark Moon Gathering of the Victorian Four Seasons Journey, a deep dive into the gifts of Darkness and Mystery and a most “precious spell in time.” It is always powerful to set forth my prayers in loving witness, adding them to the prayers of dear sisters.
My intentions are a flow-on from the previous cycle, and all I have learned and digested about speaking my truth, and what stands in the way of that.  My Dark Moon prayer is ‘I let go of the fear of what will happen when I speak my truth.’
The Lunar Affirmation for the day is ‘I connect with my heart and nurture my New Moon seeds within.’  Yes, so deep within that later, I can’t remember any of the words I’ve used!
For days I try to recall the actual words I spoke in that moment.  In the previous cycle, the words of my intention were an anchor, offering much insight into what was unfolding and what was getting in the way of me living my prayers.  It’s like I’m missing a vital reference point.
I can’t orient to the unfolding to this cycle in the same way – I have to trust my prayers are held with bodily intention.
Crescent Moon: what is emerging and birthing?
Under a Crescent Moon I fly to Canada to visit family.  To be reunited with my own family.  I bleed the day after I arrive.  There is a sense of being ‘home.’  Made it!
The idea of making a medicine drum here in North America had arisen in previous cycles.  It’s difficult to travel overseas with rawhide – the risk is that a drum will be confiscated or fumigated.  This visit to Canada is relatively brief, and given my short timeframes, I am conscious I’d have to act on the drum idea expediently if I am serious about making it happen.  I do a bit of research online and find a tanner who feels right.
And I become clearer and clearer that it is Elk that is calling.  Elk with its medicine of stamina, persistence, power, intuition, sisterhood and grace.
First Quarter Moon: what is gaining momentum and growing?
I make the most of a kid-free day, driving in to the other side of Winnipeg.
Entering the humble tanning place is like entering another world, an alternate reality.  The sights, the smells.  Dealing with skin, shifting it from one form to another, a visceral alchemy.  This is magic in a way the West has almost forgotten.  This is the intersection of life and death from which we so often wish to protect ourselves.  And I was only witness to the end results, not the process…
The Bison hides are incredible – the size, and just the feeling!  I appreciate the stories of how the deer skins are reclaimed and transformed.  Many times hunters simply discard them in the woods.  These hides have been given a second life.
This is hand-crafted, chemical-free tanning.  Hides where the knife marks are present, hairs still remain.  I’ve never seen hides where the handiwork of the tanner is so present – they are rough and real.
My heart is set on Elk.  I don’t bother arguing with it, even though the price tag is significantly bigger.  I trust in the feeling of rightness.
One hide calls me.  And one frame, slightly lopsided.  Red Oak.  One of the powerful medicine trees of the indigenous folk of this land.
“Strength of character and courage.”  Both Elk and Oak seem very Leonine in their qualities – I look forward to learning more about them/my medicine drum in the two upcoming Leo lunar cycles!

Waxing Gibbous Moon: what is increasing and blooming?

I have a read of the simple instructions the tanner has sent me.  I am inspired by a picture of different kinds of lacing, and feel the call to try one.  Seems fitting to try something new, in creating this drum for this new work here in Canada – whatever that is…
I make a template, using the frame, working with the lopsidedness.

Full Moon: what intensity is to be embraced?

The day before the Full Moon I take the Elk hide outside, and lay down on it.  I journey to meet Elk, this Elk.  He is a two-year old buck.  I have so much more to learn about these majestically-antlered creatures.
He will lead me when I drum.  I am to visualise him whole-unto-himself, and follow where he leads.
After the drum journey, I cut the hide and lacing, ready for soaking under the Full Moon.  I write medicine words on the rim, and tend to the wood with beexwax and olive oil, in a most satisfying poiesis.  It feels so so good to nourish the oak, to smooth it and offer it nourishment.  Deeply pleasurable and so simple!
I set the hide and lacing to soak, and head off to a family gathering to celebrate someone’s birthday, a fitting Full Moon activity for this Cancer New Moon cycle. Above us, La Luna rises in beauty.
In the morning, I wake early.  4.30am early, cos that’s what time dawn is here in the Summer!  I call the directions, set sacred space.  Use books as oracles, and journal my thoughts.
Then I weave a brand new way, having to trust over and over again that this unfamiliar form of lacing will work.  The thought that ‘this won’t work’ arises over and over in my mind, and I have to simply acknowledge it and keep going!  I’ve never seen a medicine drum not work, and I know I can trust in the process, but for all that, the negative thoughts continue!

Third Quarter Moon: what harvest is to be celebrated?  What change is called for?

Just before the Third Quarter Moon, I take part in a Pride march here in this conservative town.  I feel the connection between the women’s work I do, and the 2STLGBTQI work – making it safe to live authentically and with respect/honour. Challenging the patriarchy within and without. Solidarity means a lot here, as the culture changes slowly.
I am bemused at the feeling that the Elk drum wants to come along to the march, but I go with it!
On the day, I am walking and drumming away, appreciating hearing my drum for the first time, and an indigenous man hears the sound. Instantly he asks if he could have a turn.  He is able to sing and drum so the two-spirited woman in the jingle dress can keep on doing her healing dance!
I feel so appreciative of the indigenous culture that has kept their drumming lineage alive, where my European drumming lineage has been broken, and we are having to piece it back together. Re-Member it with our Bodies. Grateful for those who know the power of voice and drum.
Feels like some blessing on this drum. Feels like the drum/elk spirit got itself to where it wanted to be.
May I always hear its Call.
And under this Third-Quarter Moon, I sit down to write this story, reflecting on how the threads have been laced together with grace.

Dark Moon: what waiting and resting is necessary?

Under the Dark Moon, I drum, and I listen.
Blessed Be!
♡  ♡  ♡

Sarah and I are facilitating a frame drum workshop once again on Saturday 14th October.  More information here!