Elaborating on my previous post from Coven of Gaia festival, I wanted to focus in on how I felt during my first experience with a feminine energy drum circle, and also reach out to the leader of the circle, Melonie Syrett aka “The Drum Woman” to understand what it means to be a part of and lead these powerful feminine spaces.
Photo: Liz Williams
What happens during a drum circle?
Surely it’s as simple as grabbing a drum and making some noise – how hard could that be? Well, I can tell you it’s a lot more involved than I initially thought. Firstly, Melonie led us through some guided meditation where we grounded ourselves, connected our ‘roots’ to the earth and held ourselves in place. She then took us through three drumming sessions and a group song, where we let ourselves freely express ourselves through drum beats, screaming, howling, humming, dancing, wailing… whatever we felt like doing in those moments.
I asked Melonie a series of questions on what her experiences are of different energies in mixed circles vs women’s only circles, what it means to drum in those spaces and how she ensures an inclusive space. I also offered my experience and asked for her advice.
Why take part in a women’s drumming circle?
“In my experience of running women’s drum circles there is a desire to connect, to be free, to step into unhindered self-expression. Often emotions come forwards as releases happen. That ‘wild woman’ is often freed and there is a shared sense of breaking off societal shackles of expectation and conditioning. There is a need for the connection and safe space that we create in our circles.”
How might this differ from mixed circles?
“In the past, mixed circles have dampened that freedom of expression on the verbal sharing space. It’s as if the vulnerable part of us still hides or holds back a piece. There can be a louder drum beat in the shared spaces and I have experienced a kind of pent up aggressive release from the masculine when held in a safe space. However, I run a community drum circle currently, where the energy is very different. The sharing is deep and the space is so sacred.”
How would you describe the circle we took part in at Coven of Gaia festival?
“I run Sacred Women’s Drum Circles in a way that I have developed in over 10 years of running circles for women and working with the power of the drum. Saturday was a glimpse into the magic of such a safe space. In an hour with such a big group we can briefly connect and share and we can begin to connect to the shared energy that the drums bring. Usually (which we didn’t get to do this time due to the size of the group) we do a deeper grounding and each participant has space to really share how they are at that moment. That leads us into the first round of drumming with an intention chosen from our collective need, then there is space to share and the circle evolves from there.”
How do you ensure an inclusive space when drumming?
“I welcome all who identify as female to my circles. I interchange my language from time to time to try and ensure all are catered for. The sacred women’s circle is a feminine space so there is a feminine aspect to my language, but the range of feminine experience is huge. Some people have wombs, some don’t, some have given birth, some can’t, some don’t want to, some bleed, some don’t…. Whether they are born into a female body or not. I try to ensure all feel held in a safe space and none feel excluded. It’s not always perfect but as it is a safe space where self-expression is welcomed, I would be happy to hear if someone needed including in a way I had not expressed. I think that’s the best any of us can do in this rapidly changing language-scape.”
My first experience in a Sacred Women’s Drum Circle
I found the energy to be palpable– I whooped, howled, danced, beat my drum, snarled, sang… it was a phenomenal feeling to be a part of this boundless feminine energy coming from us all. During the circle I felt elated, held and supported by the group, particularly when we were drumming to sustain ourselves. It was so interesting to experience it for the first time, but it wasn’t without some learning on my part. I found that while energy surrounded me, I seemed to give out a lot of energy and found myself quite drained afterwards. Almost wishy-washy is the only way I could describe it!
The second drumming session turned to focus on things outside of ourselves – conceptually we were drumming to sustain those in the world who are struggling (a choice made by the group). I think it was at this point that I started to feel drained, like perhaps focusing on that concept and holding the weight of it was too much for me.
I tried to bring my focus back into the circle and drum for those around me, drum for my friend beside me who was struggling, drum for those I loved. I think that in doing so as well, I ended up disconnecting a little bit from the group, and I didn’t re-ground or bring myself back properly. I think it was a learning experience and I think I will come better prepared to the next circle, with the core goal to reclaim that energy and take care of myself!
Melonie’s advice based on my experience:
“Usually if someone is feeling wobbly, I would encourage them to ground. To get their feet on the ground and spend time feeling it under their toes, or lay on the land, or find a nice big stone to hold. Drink water, eat something fresh like fruit. Gift yourself the space to come back. We called in the directions for protection before the circle started and we grounded and anchored into the land as a circle too. We slowly called our roots back up and closed-down our energy centres to finish. It may be that that process needs repeating [or] the connection to the group had not been released fully. I’d definitely say, seek out the group leader and tell them how you are feeling. They’ll be able to advise you in the moment and hopefully support you.”