Did you know Mother Earth has a younger sister?
I did not until I began to paint this new drum.
Her face was always there, but for me, a drum painting tells a story. Not just a single being–human or creature–but someone in relationship. This is one of the ways I know I am really seeing what has come.
Actually the baby turtle came first.
But only the front so then what? An egg shell?
At least a white one half of something.
The greatest surprise was discovering that in the pigment of the deerskin itself was one brown hand and one white hand. And that the woman had one brown and one white eye. These were not my intention, but rather my discovery, my realization. The shroud of pale blue is a bruise in the animal skin. So is the brown skirt and sleeve.
When I pay attention, the story in a drum seems to tell itself.
But I am not entirely the spectator. Much unfolds technically before a drum is dry, and oiled, and ready for paint. The construction of a drum has much to say about who enters its story. This drum was all about turtles from the beginning.
I have never tied this kind of hand-hold on the reverse of a drum. The interlacement patterns inside the cedar withie are from my ancestors of English and Scottish descent. Interlacement patterns are made of one continuous line and therefore have no knots. No place for energy to become stuck. But my people were also sea travelers. And the wall knot and Portuguese sennit lacings that tie in the turtle are long time sailor’s craft.
When I place the turtle in my palm, and lace my fingers beneath the sennits, I feel this dome of smooth stone and a little wiggle of hard, elaborate detail. Seems a perfect metaphor for the story of the turtle bringing a lump of mud back from the depths of the primordial sea, from which the earth and all life begins.
And when I drum
Just like in that story
It’s turtles, all the way down.
And then there she is, a faint shimmer of vibration,
Mother Earth’s younger sister.