My drum … I’ve been waiting for her for 45 years. Elen, the deer goddess, has been my patron and mentor all my life. She has taken various names and guises for me over the years but always the Lady of the Deer Trods has shown me her paths. Another of her names is Elen of the Hosts, the lady of warriors, the warriors of the rainbow who Arthur meets as he sails through the Caers of the Lower World in his journeying.
The drum is both a caller and weaver. I have worked with drum for all my life but I’ve never had a drum made drum her skin.
I’ve worked with Gwydion all my life too. Again he comes in many forms and with many names. His tree is the Ash, the tree of keys, keys to doors visible and invisible.
Elen is Doorkeeper, keeper of doors and thresholds: one of her names is Vivien, threshold keeper.
My drum’s frame is made of the wood of tree of keys. My drum’s skin is made of the hide of the threshold keeper. When we work together we will sing the ways across the thresholds, the ways between the worlds.
I could not make her by myself. Phil Cowley Jones helped me. He found a man to shape the wood; Lynne Cowley fleshed the skin and made it good: then they took me to the yew tree.
Lynne kept the fire.
Fire and water, earth and air, they helped us.
I cut the wet skin to fit her bones. I took the purple ochre and dressed the skeleton hoop in royal colour. I took the red sinew-veins that carry the blood of song and threaded them to link the skin to the bones.
Phil gave the song-cords tension that they may speak and sing.
And she is done.
Like Math ap Mathonwy and Gwydion we built the body for the spirit to enliven.
Elen, my drum, has all the voices of the Earth for whom Elen of the Hosts is guardian. Elen-drum is that huge Lady in little, she is my size and knows how to waken New voices within me. I’m at the beginning of a new path, new way of working, she will sing me on my way and lead my feet on the path. I could not make her body on my own, I needed Phil and he was there for me. Thank you, drum-smith.