Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The World Drum and a Mysterious Fungal Brew

Last weekend we spent a few days at Wildways, celebrating a 60th birthday, meeting some Norwegian shamanic drummers, taking part in a special ritual and bidding farewell to the World Drum.

If you read my husband's blog, you will know the we encountered some of our Druid friends and the World Drum by chance during a walk around Avebury, and again whilst on holiday in Wales.
This weekend we met the Norwegian man who had a vision which inspired the World Drum and its travels around the globe.

The community at Wildways mainly identify as Druids. I don't claim to know a great deal about the particulars of Druidry, but from what I've gathered through talking to people it involves a great reverence for nature and a philosophy of peace, tolerance and love to one's fellow beings. Druidry used to be practised in Britain many hundreds of years ago, and records detailing exactly what it meant to the ancients of Britain are scarce and possibly propaganda (i.e. those written by the Romans). This means that the people callings themselves Druids today must intuit and/or create some of their practices. They also, of course, do look to the past of Britain, the traces of which still often show themselves in the landscape through stone circles and barrows.

At Wildways, they have built their own stone circle...

As they have also built themselves a roundhouse out of mud and thatch...

It was within this roundhouse that we were lucky enough to be a part of a Norwegian chaga ceremony.

Chaga is a fungus that grows out of birch trees. It is non-hallucinogenic, but apparently contains a huge amount of anti-oxidants. Correctly prepared it is used for healing purposes, both of the body and of the spirit.

It is harvested and then simmered or, if for use in a ritual, boiled over a fire.

The ritual itself was led by four practitioners (I want to call them shaman, but two of them were clear when asked that they do not use that word about themselves) who stood about a central fire drumming.
We were told that the ceremony could be used to deal with sorrows, which is just what it did.

As soon as I sipped my chaga I started to cry and cry. I thought a lot about this year and the loss of my first loved baby. I cried for her and all the things in life she will never know. I cried for my husband and the loss of his first child. I cried for myself and my wounded heart. And I cried for all women, men, couples similarly wounded and heart-broken.

Whilst the ceremony was taking place, the practitioners drummed and sang. It sounded ancient and new all at once. The sun set, and the roundhouse grew dark. The fires leapt and smoked. I thought about the obscurity of the future, and how we cannot know what it holds.

(You can get an idea of what their music sounded like by visiting the website of one of their bands and getting a CD.)

The next day, I woke up feeling lighter and more hopeful.

The druids and friends from Norway bid farewell to the World Drum (which is going on to Belgium) in a closing ritual led by Philip Shallcrass (aka Greywolf, who is the most lovely, lovely man), this time held inside a beautiful yurt.
I don't drum, but it was fun hearing everyone together. I clapped along.

You can see Will here, in the red jumper. He makes beautiful drums all from scratch and by hand. You can also see Morten, another of the lovely and beautifully kind Norwegians we met, wearing a little black cap. 

The World Drum

I came away feeling amazed at the kindness of the people we met, and their willingness to help others for no reason or gain. Two of the drummer practitioners told us they offer healings for people, but never charge. I told a few people about Lyra and they listened with sympathy and compassion, rather than reacting as if I had said something terrible or taboo.

It was strange, telling that tale in with the other stories of who I am. It made me know - again - the sad truth and foreverness of it. But the weekend also reminded me of all the vastness of the world, all the friends waiting to be made and the adventures waiting to happen. And it reminded me that I am starting to have adventures again, now, this year.

There is still magic and wonder and goodness, and I can still be a part of it.


  1. Thank you Nomi for sharing this. Beautiful written and it made me cry both of sorrow and joy.

    1. Thank you Morten.

      It was so lovely to meet you! Your smile is infectious :)

      I hope our paths cross again

      Love x

  2. It sounds wonderful, Nomi - I wish we'd been there. Perhaps next year... And yes, there is still magic and wonder and goodness, and you are still part of it.

    1. :)

      thank you xxx

      See you on Dartmoor...

  3. Nomi, you're a star. You shine, sparkle and brighten lives.
    Much love and many blessings,
    Philip/Greywolf x