The vision at the drum circle.

Here’s something to know before you go to a drum circle or group meditation or the like: most people will not have a vision and they look askance at you if you have one. Though people attend these events to reach a higher vibration (or just feel like they’re doing something “positive”), they remain suspicious that anything really happens at these gatherings. I am not most people, and I did have an experience. I had no expectation of one, and I almost felt the need to apologize.

My friend and I entered into an open room with wood floors in a building in downtown Frederick. Like most of the buildings there, the floors were a little wonky, with areas that had settled along with the foundation and some areas that–despite the shine on the wood–were slightly warped. I was grateful that we could remove our shoes and just wander around in socks, which allowed my feet to better navigate the room. Cushions were available for us to sit on. Blankets were folded and stacked in one corner. A mother and her two daughters were there. A few guys were there. A man in a black t-shirt and black pants walked back and forth at the front of the room as more people found their way inside. Some of us had drums with us, mine a nice djembe, and some chose to sit without an instrument. A couple of the younger folks grabbed blankets and planted themselves in good locations for full-on sayasana, or “corpse pose.”

Anytime I went into downtown Frederick I thought of my daughter. It’s the last place she lived, though not where she died. It was not always a happy place for her, and I sometimes still got anxiety when I went down there. So I held onto happy thoughts of her and wondered if I would receive some kind of sign that evening. All I wanted was a vision of her face and maybe a feeling that she was okay. I got so much more than that.

The instructor told us what to expect from the evening. We were invited to get comfortable, to grab a blanket or cushion if we so desired, and to grab one of the small drums that were made available to us. This was before the pandemic began, so we were relaxed, not masked, and completely okay with being in a large group inside a big room. It was cold out, so being close to others in the room provided a little warmth, as well. The instructor said a lot of stuff about what we might see when we meditated and listened to the drums, either our own drums or the New Age-y soundtrack he was going to put on. As he stopped talking, started the music, and instructed us to close our eyes, I was thinking about going out for a chai tea on the way back to my car. My mind had already skipped past the meditation.

As in any other meditation or yoga practice, the instructor gave gentle instructions about adjusting our position, about letting thoughts pass into and out of our minds without grasping, and to pay attention to any new sensations or visions we had. I thumped my palm gently but firmly on the drum in rhythm with the soundtrack, but it wasn’t long before my attention was pulled away from drumming.

My spirit animal, the tiger, appeared before me. I found myself in a moonlit jungle, a giant white tiger looming before me. We were in a clearing. I’ve never been afraid of my spirit animal before, so I simply gazed on him with fascination. Suddenly, he drew himself up to his full height and roared at me, ordering me to prostrate myself before him. I fell onto my belly and stretched out in supplication and not a little bit of fear! Did my spirit animal mean to hurt me, I wondered.

When I was allowed to look up again, he was at the top of a stone staircase, surrounded by torches and acolytes serving offerings on the altar before him. I could hear the drumming. He indicated that I was to walk to my left, so I stood and began to walk slowly into the jungle. Then he was beside me, running; I ran to keep up with him. The two of us ran until we spilled out onto a bone white beach. It was deserted. Then I followed his gaze across the water to a small island, thick with palm trees and more white sand. Children were playing on the beach, with not a single adult to be seen. He turned his gaze on me again and roared, pushing me toward the water.

“No,” I said. “I’m not a good swimmer.”

He rose up on his hind legs again and roared down at me. I knew that he wanted me to swim to the island. Shaking, I obeyed him and jumped into the surprisingly warm water. I started to swim easily through the dark, indigo sea. I could hear the sounds of the children growing louder.

As I walked up onto the beach, a little blonde girl turned and waved to me. I looked around, thinking she was waving at someone else, perhaps at my spirit guide who had brought me here.

“Mommy!” she shrieked. “Mommy, mommy!”

My mouth fell open when I realized it was my daughter running to me across the beach. I swept her up in my arms and breathed in her scent. Oh! It was a welcome surprise to see her and to hold her. The most precious dreams a bereaved parent can have are those tactile dreams where you get to actually hold your loved one or hug them, however briefly. It felt as though I were there for hours; it felt like I was there for moments. Too soon, I had to swim back to the other beach where my spirit guide awaited me. When I looked back, the children were disappearing into the jungle on their island. I felt satisfied that my daughter was okay–not only okay, but peaceful and happy.

The chime rang out, signaling the end of our meditation. It had not lasted long enough, but it had been a full hour. I sat there, stunned. Our host brought the lights up a little. The teens with the blankets were sound asleep. Some people were rubbing their eyes. Others were beginning to fold blankets or gather their things.

Did meditation. Check. Next, dinner…,” their attitudes seemed to say.

My friend asked if I enjoyed it. I nodded and smiled.

“I saw my spirit guide,” I said. “And I saw my girl.”

As the instructor brought us back into the real world, he went around the room, asking what each person had experienced. I dreaded my turn, because most people were saying they saw colors or nothing other than shadows.

But I simply said, “I saw my spirit guide.”

The instructor was immediately alert. “Yes, tell us more.”

The looks people gave me were the polite equivalent of eye rolling. Lips a straight, prim line. Eyes hooded and disinterested. But I went on to describe my spirit guide, his actions, and my actions. I said that I had seen my deceased daughter as a child on the island. I said that I knew she was okay.

As the disinterested began to file out, I could see that even my friend was a little perplexed by me. The instructor and host walked over to talk to me. They wanted me to come back again and start to explore my intuitive powers and learn to work with my spirit guide, but it wasn’t long before the coronavirus began to spread through the country. I never returned, though I often thought about my experience. Was it real or was it my mind’s way of comforting me during a time of anxiety? (Though I can think of a lot better ways to comfort a person than to send a roaring white tiger to force her into a dark sea.)

Credit: Dreamstime

I left the center and was comforted, but I promised myself I would never again open up like that about what I had seen, certainly not while so many people were around. I was excited by my vision, but the last thing I wanted was for people to think I was some sort of kook!

I’ve seen my spirit guide again, several times, but no experience has been as profound as the one in which I swam to my daughter across a moonlit sea.

Namaste and happy Labor Day!


Shamanic Drumming

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