Deep in admiration of natures perfection, the man smiled slightly as he lifted the warm smoothness of the carved wooden drumming stick and began to play the rhythms that called out from his inmost being. As he began his journey the old apple tree before him beckoned like a siren, drawing him irresistibly in towards the rough, dark hole at its base. Slowly the man allowed his mind to become quiet and still, until all thought was absorbed into the intertwined beatings of his heart and the drum held by the rough twine bracing.
On and on the rhythm flowed, resonating through the cloudy, greyness of the day, permeating every nuance and aspect of the drummers life. He found his body growing strangely buoyant, and observed as if from a distance, as it slipped easily into the hole in the old trees gnarled trunk. Soon he was falling down, down among the thick tangle of roots and rich black earth. He reached out curiously, his hand sliding over the hard, round forms of stones and pebbles.
Looking about the drummer saw small creatures moving, eating and hiding among a myriad of tiny filaments and rootlets. Everything was extraordinarily clear and detailed as if lit by the midday sun. He kept moving, spiraling ever downward until soon all signs of livingness had vanished and he was enveloped only by an impenetrable darkness. Then the man noticed that he could smell the rich, ancient essence of minerals, secret crystal pools and water veins. Reaching out with his mind he felt a presence that could only be described as the flesh, bones and soul of the very earth herself.
The man, in his essence of pure spirit, experienced the totality of all lives, movements, realities. Nothing remained hidden, it was an awareness that could never be held, or named.
Then as he floated in pure potentiality, an effulgent form began to materialize and take shape before him. It was a great burning bird of light. From its beak issued forth a sound that toned like the very song of the universe itself and reflected in its flickering fire-eyes was the knowledge which men had lived, killed, sought and died for since the beginning of time.
The man felt vast, shimmering waves of the great birds heat pouring over and through his soul until it was filled beyond bursting. Then suddenly he began to spiral, faster and faster, until he too was all light and fire, a song pouring forth through a vibration that could no longer be defined . . .
The drum sounded on and on, its rhythm steady, unchanging . . . The man was aware of the surface beat as well as the deeper, hypnotic pulse of under-tones that wove in and out keeping a pattern all their own. A melody sounded into form, carried on the warp and weft of the living tones.. It joined up with the man, flowing through the undulations of his own soul song like a great wild river.
The man found himself riding the crest of the river until he was carried to the edge of a high precipice that reached out over a vast landscape. As his sight cleared and followed a range of high peaked mountains then dipped down onto a small crystal lake at their feet, the man noticed a creature of supreme loveliness floating serenely amongst the reeds and lilies.
A lone swan with a feathers as black as the darkest night gleamed like polished onyx as it turned beneath the sun. The creature gazed directly towards the clifftop watcher then dipped and curved its elegant neck, pointing at a vision reflected on the surface of the water. The man looked closer, staring hard before he was able to make out what was being shown there.
Horses ran across the vision, seeming to leap across every boundary of time or distance. They carried the beat and magic of distant drumbeats in the galloping rhythms of their hard black hooves. Behind them walked a spirit-woman of breathtaking beauty. She held a painted skin drum in her hands and effortlessly matched the horses proud steps as well as the mans own racing heartbeats. The woman's long dark hair streamed behind, a flowing raven cloak that held the shine of sun, moon and stars in each and every strand.
Then all changed, the man was no longer looking down from the precipice but was dancing in perfect unison with the dark haired swan-maiden. Drums and horses pounded about them, the hypnotic rhythms sounding out through all dimensions and worlds.. Eternity passed, a slowly turning sacredness, until the sky above sang, the swan-maiden cried out, and the still lake whipped up with a sudden storm as lightening flashed and thunder rolled in the heavens.
The man fell to his knees and reached out through the veil of sudden darkness for substance and tangibility. His groping fingers felt first, smooth layered stone, then, twisting, curling rootlets as he moved step by step up through a tunnel of rock and rich black earth. Soon he emerged into the light of day to find his body sitting frozen before a rough-barked old apple tree. The hole in the trees middle seemed to be glowing mysteriously with a gradually dwindling golden light.
Looking down the man was almost surprised to see the silent round form of a painted drum gripped tight in his hands. Then he noticed something else . . . next to his jean clad right thigh lay three strands of raven hair twisted around a feather that gleamed as black as the darkest night. Precious gifts that had come from a reality that lay as far away as eternity, and yet, just as close as the beating of his own heart.
The man carefully tucked the gifts away, rose to his feet and set out for the familiarity of his usual life, routine and home. On the distant horizon he thought that he could just make out the form of a large black bird flying away over the edge of the world and feel in his soul the faint, far off pulse of drum song . . . .