Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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Drumbeats on Memorial Day

Many of us have the opportunity to honor lost loved ones on this holiday. I myself lost my beloved grandmother on Memorial Day weekend in 2010. It was always striking to me that she chose then to go, considering that she was a proud DAR sister who would always enjoy the parade. One year she helped scatter flowers from the bridge to float down the Fox River,  in remembrance of veterans lost. I recall attending some of the parades when I was very small and we would go to visit. We would line up in folding lawn chairs along the sidewalk in from of her house, as that was where the parade would march past. I remember getting very riled up when I would hear the first booming of the bass drums and the rat-a-tat-tat of the crisp snares as they approached. I would be hopping from foot to anxious foot, waiting for them to get right up in front of us so that I could be enveloped in the wall of sound and lost in the rhythm of percussive thunder.

If you are one of the fortunate ones who do not have to work on this particular weekend and can get away with friends or family, a tribal drum circle can be a fun and empowering way to bond and raise some major energy. I have employed this at some Memorial Day family gatherings in the past and it proved quite effective. First, make sure that you let everyone attending know in advance to bring noisemakers, hand drums, shakers, maracas, what have you. Bring extras of your own if you sense that guests are in short supply. You can fashion a homemade shaker out of an empty plastic bottle filled with popcorn seeds in a pinch. Ideally, this is an activity best performed after a good feast and everyone's tummies are well-sated. Make sure that everyone has beverages to stay hydrated. Sometimes drum circles can take awhile before they are ready to settle down! If you are able to drum near a lake or other body of water, it can prove very inspiring. My favorite time to start is right at dusk, when the sun is turning the sky to magic time and the moon is on her rise. One year because of various planetary phenomena, the moon was a brilliant shade of pink that I don't believe that I have seen since. 

Get a good bonfire going in a fire pit if you can, gather in a circle and have a couple of brave leaders start off a basic beat. You don't have to follow a recognized song or pattern. Often what happens organically creates a lovely tune all its own. Encourage others to join in when they feel ready to build the sound. When you feel that things are really taking off and you can feel the energy rising, start a little circular dance with your drum around the fire. Chances are good that if people are feeling it, they will happily join you to an abandoned, free-spirited celebration. The song will tend to fade out and wind down on its own when it is ready, and when people are ready to have it be done. Take a moment before jumping into the next drumroll. Make a dedication to an ancestor and drum with intention. Chances are, they will hear you and start dancing along.

 

Resources:

"Old Chinese Drum Stock Photo," by nuchylee from www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

http://medusadrums.com/bio.htm

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJxZA-pG-o4

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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work was featured in Crone Magazine and the Marquette Journal online. She resides with a black cat named Bootsie, who always wants to keep her company at her computer.

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