Seven Drum Song

Tarahumara Drum

Seven Drum Song

Introduction by Lynda Paladin

           David and I were in Scottsdale in September, 1981.  We decided to visit The House of Six Directions, owned by his old friend, Paul Hulderman.  It was a blow to David when Mrs. Hulderman told him that Paul had died after a long sickness. 

          David wandered around the shop aimlessly thinking of Paul and all the good memories he had of him.  Suddenly his attention caught a drum that was displayed for sale.  It was a Tarahumara drum.  David had always wanted to own one so he bought it without hesitation.

            When he had time to examine the drum after we were home he determined that the drum was a "vision drum."   Placed in the interior of the drum by the drum maker was a piece of the drum maker's finger and one of his teeth.  David was aware of this tradition because he had spent time with the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico.

          It was apparent to David that this drum must have been stolen by some curio gatherer and had been sold to The House of Six Directions.  Normally, a vision drum would never be sold because it was created for the specific purpose of facilitating visions by the Tarahumara people.

          Because the drum maker had invested in it so heavily by sacrificing portions of his body, his spirit was inextricably a part of the drum.  There was a psychic link between the drum and the drum maker.  If the drum fell into the wrong hands the drum maker's spirit could be manipulated through sympathetic magic.  Consequently, the drum maker was apprehensive about who possessed the drum and what their intentions might be with the drum that would affect him.

          David knew these thoughts must be going on in the drum maker's mind and set about to paint the drum and honor it.  He sent a shamanic dream message to the drum maker to reassure him that the drum was safe in his possession, that he was a Tuwisi dreamer.

Seven Drum Song

 by David Paladin

            Seven Drum smiled in his sleep.  He had heard it again, the far distant sound of his drum.  This time it sounded as if it had come alive with his spirit.  Awakening, he sat up staring at the small fire that warmed his area of the cave.  The sound was still there.  It seemed to ricochet inside his head.  Intuitively, he knew that somewhere his drum was calling, was being played by a Tuwisi dreamer, a shaman.  A tear rolled down his cheek for now he was free from the fear that an evil one would use his carefully crafted instrument to capture his spirit and cause him eternal torment.

            It had been four years since his drum had been stolen.  A few times before this moment he had heard its plaintive sound in his head and had listened for its message.  But always before it had ceased, leaving him fearful.  Now its voice rang true and he could feel his spirit singing the Tuwisi chant, proclaiming its freedom.

          He stood raising his arms and palms out as if to feel the vibrations of the drum's song.  From the north it came, louder in his mind, dancing a few steps he shouted, "Wiashtu sta!" in answer.

          Taking a sharp stone from the cave floor, he scratched the skin above his heart, bringing blood to the surface and leaving an opening in the flesh that his drum spirit could once more enter his body, making him whole.  He knew that a portion of his spirit would remain in the bowels of the drum to flow with the spirit of the Tuwisi dreamer who now played familiar rhythms in the sacred manner of one who had been initiated into the society of Yhelwa or "visiting shamans."

            Seven Drum knew that now he could mix dreams with whomever called upon the spirit of the drum for visions.  He was once more free to pursue his own dreams and would now take his place among the elders of his tribe.