Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske, Naturalist

The Nature of Rhythm

Life is about rhythm. We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood, we are a rhythm machine.” Mickey Hart*

I witnessed the power of rhythm once on a visit to a nursing home. I brought my bag of percussion instruments and handed them out. As I played my conga, the residents timidly starting drumming and rattling along. Meekness was soon replaced by big smiles as the rhythmic noise grew in intensity. Empowered and confident, some rose up and began to dance. They came alive! They were exhilarated, young, and soulful. I was reminded how Mickey Hart drummed with his grandmother who had Alzheimers. I had drummed at the bedside of mine.

“Percussion was almost universally used during such rituals of transition at birth, puberty, marriage, and death, when the spirit world is called upon for guidance.” MH*

Rhythm is a worldwide spiritual tool that is part of the human psyche. Every culture has percussion instruments…Hopi, Irish, Egyptians, Africans. Rhythmic beat is used to ease a variety of human ailments and to build a sense of community. In some cultures rhythm is used from birth to death. Modern Americans have begun to recover the healing power of drumming and the communal power of the drum circle.

In the last three decades, drum circles have become popular places to gather, meet kindred spirits, pray together and reclaim a sense of community. Within the drumming circle, a togetherness is created as we interact with each other in non-verbal communication. We share deeply when we communicate rhythmically.
“For the shaman, the drum is not so much a musical instrument as a vehicle for transportation.” MH*

The drum led me to my spiritual practice of shamanism. As my roadmap, I ride the drum into the Otherworld to communicate with allies and find my way back bringing strength and power to heal the body, heart, mind and spirit. Humans and the divine intersect within the drum. At this crossroads lives harmony, strength and healing. The drumbeat calls you home to fully inhabit your body and be in tune with the rhythm of your soul.
“The voice of the drum is a spirit thing.” MH*

I was pulled into the drum as a child. My parents enrolled me in a drill team in fourth grade and I spent the next six years marching to the beat of the drum. I remember feeling the surge of energy pulsing through my being as our feet pounded the earth. Entranced by the drummers, weaving the patterns of the drill, we moved as one to the beat. I carry that beat within me still. At that young age I learned to listen, focus and meditate on my own inner drumbeat. I sensed the power of unison and my contribution to the whole.

I’ve spent my adult life listening to the drummers in nature…the whip-poor-will, cicada, woodpecker, bullfrog, wingbeats, raindrops and thunder. I feel the rhythm of the flowing creek, the seasons, the sunset, my own heartbeat. We each have our own inner beat. Humans are constantly percussing. We are essentially rhythm machines, moving through time to beating hearts, breathing lungs and pulsing blood. To lose track of these vibrations is to lose oneself.

“In the beginning, there was noise. Noise begat rhythm, and rhythm begat everything else.”
— MH*

Listen to your own unique rhythm and honor your internal timing. Connect with the planet’s pulse and know your place in the world. The Earth spins in a rhythmic universe, a place where every entity moves, spins and vibrates from the subatomic level up. This simultaneous beat of all life on our planet is the heartbeat of Mother Earth. To be in tune with the universal language of rhythm is to be in harmony. Whether we drum or rattle, vibrate crystal bowls or gongs, ring bells or dance to the beat, we are transformed.

*Mickey Hart ~~ percussionist, Grateful Dead drummer, visionary, musicologist, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, author of Planet Drum; Song Catcher; Drumming at the Edge of Magic… a Journey into the Spirit of Percussion; and Spirit into Sound…the Magic of Music.

Go to pattuholske.com for Earthcamp’s 2015 Schedule of Elemental Weekends and Gathering of Shamanists. See Pat’s Wild Wreaths and Prayer Wheels crafted from Ozark native plants at willowrainherbalgoods.com.