I don't think I was quite prepared for what turned out to be the most amazingly emotional and spiritual journey.
Preparations started the week before with meditations to open us up to our drum spirits, mine made itself known on the first attempt. For Rich the preparations started long before that with the sourcing of our stag hides (from a managed culling in the Highlands) and all the work that went into them to prepare them for us to use on the day.
The actual day started early with a short ritual and then the work began. We had to mark out and cut out the circle shape from the larger skin and make holes around the edge, then the skins went into large buckets to soak. We added our own personal items to the water to infuse with the energies that we wanted, for mine I added rosemary from my garden, stones from Tintagel, shells from the sea and some water that Rich had brought with him that came from the land of the giants.
Then we had to make thrapping (good word) what seemed like a long and labourious task of cutting a very long strip of skin from the hide was in fact incredibly therapeutic.
Next came the creating of the beaters, again using stag hide and ash.
We also journeyed with our ash wood drum shells to bring our drum spirit animals into them, this was done lying on beautiful bear and reindeer skins whilst listening to Rich playing his own drum - just beautiful.
Probably the longest part was threading the thrapping through the skin and onto the wooden shell, pulling it tight and making the handles; long, wet (the skin had to be kept damp all the time) and slightly slimy...but amazing all the same.
We did have a short break in the middle of the day to eat some totally yummy venison sausages...
I don't actually have the words to describe how awesome the whole day was, not just because Rich was such a wonderful facilitator but how emotional connecting with the spirit of the animal was and just how spiritual the whole process was overall.
The hard part now is waiting for the drum skin to dry!
We did of course have a day full of laughs as well (it is us after all), mantra for the day "just once more" and Wayne probably wins the prize for the wettest drum making ever and Tracey for the neatest ;-)
What also amazes me is that Rich had three skins...and chose which one to give to each of us and each one was absolutely spot on.
A huge thank you to Rich for all the time, effort and patience he put into the day and the preparation, I cannot recommend his skills highly enough for anyone wishing to make the same journey, you will not be disappointed.