Pan-Celtic Hoofbeats: Moon Drum

Pan-Celtic Hoofbeats: Moon Drum October 3, 2018

It’s a full moon night. I’m a little tired, my throat has been scratchy for a few days, but I’m not actually ill. I’ve just feasted from an enormous pot of stew I made earlier from gifted vegetables, spiced up with some New Mexico green chiles. I would be lying if I said that I feel inspired at every full moon, but I do always make an effort. For years now, I have always lit a candle and rose scented incense for Epona on the full moon night. Sometimes I just go through the motions. I accepted long ago that it’s okay to do that. Sometimes when I do, things expand.

Photo by the author.

Epona’s shrine, which used to be in a barn, is in the front room of my current house. I light candles and incense there, as well as on the daily altar, where I pray to Rhiannon. (Macha is now sharing space at both locations.) I place a chair by the front window where I can look out at the moon, when I want to. I’m ready for something, or nothing. I sit down on the sofa for a moment, but a tune is forming in my head. Wordless and poignant, it calls me to take the drum down from the shrine.

I go and sit before the image of Epona, illuminated by the candle flame, and start singing the wordless melody over and over to a steady drum beat. My throat doesn’t trouble me at all. Eventually the song ends, but I immediately sense another one, and experiment with new notes. The melody is elusive, so I just improvise, and visions and messages come to me from several horse friends who have passed over. A happy day trotting under dappled shade on a long ride through the Scottish countryside. The joy of two horses who were closely bonded moving in harmony. Other horse friends who spent their summers in a big field that they loved.

These days I often feel fat, tired, and spent, but the bonded pair are sending me their strength in this moment. Then I am with them in a shed I used to have. There are large openings in each wall, so that the horses can see in all directions, and catch every breeze, while still enjoying the shade in hot weather. I am drumming there, too. Drumming for these beloved friends, as I used to dream of doing when we were together. At that time, I didn’t have a drum. Now I have only these dream horses, so I play and sing for them as we look out across the flat grassland of Colorado. It feels strangely timeless, it feels like every grassland that has ever been, and I am every drummer who has drummed for the horse goddesses. And then it ends.

photo – Steve Wilson (CC BY 2.0)

“Go to the moon for healing.” The words are placed clearly in my mind.

I take the drum to the chair by the window and sit down again. I lay the beater on the windowsill and drum with my fingertips. The three-beat canter, the two-beat trot, the four-beat walk. Trot. Walk. Trot. Cantering at speed now, they are all running to the water!

Now that we are at the water I pause, too, and look at the lovely moon. I live in a steep valley, rimmed with tall trees, so the moon is always high before I get to see her here in Oregon. I begin doing something I’ve never done, or thought to do, before. I start drumming my chakras. Holding the drum above or in front of each chakra, I find a different beat for each. Who knows what’s going on here! I just go with it. I learn a few things about them as I work, and it feels good.

thud, thud, thud
first chakra
the earth is solid under me
opening the second and third
the ones that often trouble me
they are better than I expected
oh, my heart!
grow stronger, spread wider!
oh, my throat!
anger breaks you!
speak with compassion!
the humming tone of the drum
over the sixth chakra
as if the seventh
is drilling down into it from above
and the seventh itself
the quiet whisper
of a swishing tail
shush, shush, shush

Internet Archive Book Images – public domain

Horse tribe, are you here? Are you reading this? Your rituals with The Great Mare may look nothing like my ritual. (My rituals don’t always look like this!) Maybe you love the warrior aspect of Macha, or see Rhiannon as a fairy queen. Maybe your offerings to Epona are given in a formal style, or you meet The Great Mare in a full-on rite I can’t even imagine. Maybe you work with one of the horse goddesses when you are with horses. Maybe you are a healer of horses, or work with horses to heal people. I believe that we are one tribe.

There is space in the horse tribe for all these things and more. It’s time we gathered up around one fire. Not to abandon what we are already doing, but to share what we can of it. The horse goddesses are calling us. Not to listen to my message, but calling us to listen for their message. Don’t turn away from this work. Be open. I don’t know what the work will even look like, but I believe that it is time for those who are called to Epona who protects the horses, to Rhiannon the sovereign queen of the land, to Macha who raced the king’s horses and cursed the men of Ulster, to come together and see what we can do as one herd.
Are you listening?

About Kris Hughes
Kris Hughes is a nice, older Pagan woman who loves the gods of the Celts. She doesn't claim to be anything in particular, but she might possibly be described as a hedge teacher, a writer, a part time Druid, an exiled Scot, a poet, cartomancer, ritualist, storyteller, or just someone with a lot to say about a lot of things. In the past she has been a professional musician, a farmer, and a horsewoman. She is currently writing a book, working title The Celtic Horse Goddesses: Myth, History and Personal Reflection. Her interests include herbalism, mythology, and British native ponies. She also blogs at her own website Go Deeper. You can read more about the author here.
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