“That’s a great Green Man. But you’ve put screws through his eyes!” “Yeah. We do reverence things. But we’re also intensely practical.”


There’s a suburban house in Potter’s Bar that has a long garden at the back. You enter the garden through a portal. I wasn’t expecting this when I wrote yesterday’s blog, but I can’t be surprised when I walk through it and find another world. There’s a fire hut, a teepee, a fairy labyrinth. It’s beautiful and well looked after in a haphazard fashion. It’s a place of healing. It’s the centre of a community.

Last time I was in Potter’s Bar it was as a young Christian, buoyed up by the holy spirit, some 20 years gone now. God it feels like another life. I spoke to the Christian Union of an all girl’s public school, about The Importance of Reading the Bible. As a teenager I had consumed the whole thing, so at least I was someone who loosely practiced what he was preaching. Although I must’ve just passed my eyes over a lot of it as it doesn’t seem to have stuck. And my vague memory of the talk I gave is that it was more anecdotal than pious or helpful. Who would ever suspect that of me?

I’ve come back here many years later to do some shamanic drumming. That’s the extent of my expectation. It’s with someone I’ve only recently met. She has similar proclivities to me. We get on brilliantly and if she rates the drumming, then I’m up for it. Even if I’ve not been drumming before. I’m a drum virgin.

How pleasant to be in a group of people where I’m comparatively young. It doesn’t happen much these days so there’s a nostalgia in being called “young man” by loads of the people in the garden. Perhaps it’s the moustache, which I can’t bear to shave even though I just found out the pendulum swung away from me on that job. (Rare for me to have such a positive feeling for something and still see it tugged out from under me. But it’s the way of it. Back to the wall.) The drumstick can replace my head for a while. Part of my intention today is to drum away the near misses.

This is very English shamanism. Everyone gathers and has tea beforehand. Tea and chit chat. Then we all go into a yurt and drum lots round a fire pit. We call on a few directions, go on a spirit journey. Another cup of tea? I get told I’ve got the spirit of Salvador Dali in me. I’m a bit Spanish and I’m sporting a ‘tache. But he adds “you don’t look anything like him. But he’s with you.” Considering he posted one of his turds to his mother, I wonder what his spirit will make me do.

As the day goes by I end up getting involved in healing some people. There is good work done by good people. I can see people coming out of dark places. “Mind and body can work together if you let them,” as a dear friend said this evening.

After I witness a very complete healing – essentially an exorcism carried out effectively, but with jokes – the Shaman gets me up to help heal someone. I’ve got no clue what I’m doing, but I’m told it won’t be coming from me, just through me. So I surrender to circumstance as best I can and end up huffing over some poor woman until I’m insanely dizzy from hyperventilating in this tent full of smoke. But the dizziness helps with my surrender from intellectual control, which is also part of why I’ve come, and before long I find myself unthinkingly channeling low bass droning into her back. My self-monitor is gone. I’m taking instructions from the drum behind me. Afterwards the Shaman tells me I have a healer’s instinct. If I accept that, I also have to accept that I am channeling the spirit of Salvador Dali. It would be pleasant to think I’ve got a healer in me. I do spend a lot of time trying to heal those around me. It’s something of an obsession. So in the interests of my desire to heal better, if anyone wants a turd, just get an SAE to me and if Dali’s here when I get it I’ll see what I can do, and meet your watch for good measure. Hurry now. Get on your stilt-elephant.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

One thought on “Drumming”

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