Drum Making with Carlos Gomes

cropped carlosdrumming

Experience the Journey of Drum Making with Carlos Gomes. September 28 to October 26th, Wednesdays, 6:30 to 9:30, A 5 week experience.

Drum cost: depends on the style and size of the drum…from $150. to $300.

We will share the cost of Carlos’s travel expenses, approx. $50. per person plus weekly donations for sacred teachings.

Come along on a journey to make your own “Moon Drum” with Elder Carlos Gomes.  Carlos is originally from South America where he received the sacred teachings of the drum from his Grandmother.  Having lived in New Brunswick since 1959 he has also learned from Elders among the Mi’kmaq, Wolastokijik, Ojibwe and other First Nations. Carlos shares his Grandmother’s sacred teachings, life experiences and songs and stories in his fun and engaging workshop. He has touched many lives and improved entire communities with his loving and empowering teachings. This experience is likely to be a catalyst in the understanding of your personal story as the making of a Moon Drum is a reflection of the story of your heart. These timeless teachings are powerful and will broaden your experience, gifting yourself with a life-long tool for spiritual growth. Spaces are limited, so call to preregister with Sue Hooper at 650-3333. $50.00 non-refundable deposit will hold your spot.

Drum-making Testimonial


The flyer says “the Grandmother Drum Journey is a time to reflect on self, share with others, celebrate the history of the drum and share in the stories and traditions. In creating your very own drum you allow yourself to think, feel, laugh and heal.” Another states; “the journey of the drum making is to each individual sacred and will bring you to a place within yourself which has not yet been discovered. Carlos will talk about the history of the drum and each part from the wood given for the hoop to the deer and bear. This is not just making a drum it is a healing and learning”. While these statements are true they do not begin to touch the complexity, the vastness and depth, the universality or diversity of what this journey is. It is about you and what you seek but perhaps more about what lies dormant or yearning in the stillness of your spirit, waiting to be released, to rise into the world and beyond on the vibration of a drum beat.


The journey is led by Carlos Gomes. Often when you see him his eyes and smile sparkle with mischief and delight and in them you might see a sprite of the forest, one of the little people he so fondly speaks of, hidden in the body of a grown man. The sprite belies the age of the man. No one blessed to be caught in the light of those dancing eyes will see a man of 70 years. He is many of the things that men often are: son, grandson, husband, father, brother. He is also a teacher, a healer, a scholar a peacemaker. He is also the magic and the freedom, the tenderness and pure love, the lacing and the tie that binds. He is Balm of Gilead lovingly smoothed on each of our own wounds. The soothing balm that draws us out from our fear, our pain, our insecurities, and doubts, that flushes our wounds and reflects us in the mirror of his acknowledgement and acceptance. He will see you. No matter how big or small you choose to be. He will see YOU and you may get from him exactly what you need, even if at first you are unwilling.


The group is diverse in age and creed, profession, socioeconomic standing, comfort level, what they bring and what they seek. The reasons we are here are varied, intangible and difficult to define. What no one ever knows, not even Carlos after sharing this journey with over 3000 people, is what each one of us will ultimately experience and receive from the teachings of Grandmother drum, how our inner landscapes will change and be projected into the greater world.


Carlos shares with us stories of his life, from childhood in the jungle of South America, to a teenage immigrant in Canada, to present day. He opens the circle with prayer and blessings, inviting Spirit and the ancestors to join and watch over us.


Over the next many weeks he will continue to share deeply personal stories with us, some humorous, some heartbreaking, some mundanely everyday, all honest and sincere. As the weeks pass and food and small talk are shared the group will grow more familiar and at ease. Some will open to flash us a glimpse of their soul, some will uncover the light they are and it will be a beacon in the darkness for another. Others will remain behind closed doors. Each is accepted lovingly.


Within the first week or two Carlos brings assembled hoops of either white or red cedar that he has put together in his workshop at home. Each hoop is constructed of 12 equal segments of wood, pegged and glued together to form a hoop. There will be at least 3 sizes to choose from, 12, 14 and 16 inch. Sometimes there is also a 20 inch option. Carlos explains the symbolism and the sacredness as we look anxiously at the hoops wondering which one will be ours. Often people end up with a hoop other than what they expected or intended but always with the one that is right for them. Some will see symbols or signs in the wood that tell them a particular hoop is theirs. Others are guided by spirit or intuition, a feeling. Some will choose with the help of a pendulum or meditation. There is no right or wrong, no best method. Many will feel a profound connection to the hoop they have chosen, or that has chosen them. The longing in others to feel of a fluttering of Spirit will drown any soft voice inside them. For some the hoop will be nothing more than a piece of wood.


Our job is to sand our hoops, to sand and sand and sand and for some, to sand and sand and sand some more. The edge must be smooth enough not to damage the deer skin that will be married to it. Beyond that is entirely up to each individual to decide and know when their hoop is ready.


The action is of hand rubbing ever decreasing degrees of grit over wood. The process is of acquainting, of discovery, acceptance, uncovering, mending, the building of a bond. It is a slow, sweet, painful, beautiful love story unfolding. It is tedious, and frustrating, off putting and challenging. It is tender and devotional and spiritual. It is joyous and grief stricken. It is the slow and steady sanding away of the facades we have spent a lifetime building. It is the uncovering and smoothing out and sometimes filling in and repairing of the hurts and betrayals and disappointments, false judgements, wounds of various sundry nature that we all carry. The process will have the unpredictability of a winter storm but in the end, whenever that may be, each journey and each finished hoop will be as unique and as beautiful as an individual snowflake.


When the majority of the hoops are sanded Carlos shares with us the teaching of Black Bear. Bear is about contrast, about light and dark, shyness and fierceness, balance. We will be given bear grease to treat our hoops with. It is to be hand rubbed into the hoop in a meditative way while reflecting on the light and dark of our own personal lives. The bear grease penetrates into the wood and will protect it. The application of bear grease is as breathtaking a transformative experience as the unfolding of the wings of a dragonfly. It is an amplification of love. Each nuance, grain, pattern, design, symbol, flaw, colour variation, will be enhanced and made beautiful to the nth degree.


The first meeting after the bear greasing there is so much excitement as everyone shows off the accentuated beauty that Bear has brought to their hoop. We marvel at the transformation. The hoops will range from almost blank slates, pale and clear to picture books filled with images that the right imagination would tell a hundred stories from. For many by this time, the hoops have become real in the way of the velveteen rabbit, brought to life by unconditional love and attention. On this night, as on each before, there will be prayers and blessings, welcoming, invitation, smudging, drumming, singing, story telling, sharing, and breaking of bread, building of community, compassion, support, acceptance without exception. Carlos will send us home with Tung oil to be buffed onto the hoops with a soft cloth to seal and protect them. Layer upon layer, at least 3 but some will apply many more before the process feels complete.


Once the hoops have been sealed with Tung oil they are ready to receive the deer skin. Amidst the usual activities of drumming and singing, story telling and sharing Carlos gifts us with the teachings of deer and explains somewhat how the skinning process will go. This is an exciting but often ambiguous time in the drum journey. It is thrilling to anticipate the completion of our drums. It is sad to think about the completion of the journey we have embarked upon with this group and ourselves, the disbanding of the community we have formed over the previous weeks.


Many have come to fiercely love the look of their hoop and particular patterns, designs or symbols. The skin will hide some of these and forever change the outward appearance. Just as our own skin hides from mortal eyes all the intricacies that lie beneath it.


On the evening of the skinning Carlos arrives with even more paraphernalia in tow than usual. The deer skins are stiff sheets of raw hide, scraped and dried, ready to have circles and laces cut from them to fashion into drum skins. Along with a large plastic tote in which to soak and make pliable the hide he brings the tools we will need to complete the task; leather punches, awls, hooks for pulling laces, huge, wide rubber bands of various sizes.


The task of punching holes and pulling lacing through the wet hide and then weaving the groups of laces together to form families is challenging. It requires strength and gentleness and patience. There are often more students than tools and experienced helpers. We share, we wait, we help, we learn, we grow. All the while Carlos continues to talk with us. A thing which is plainly evident he greatly loves to do. When the laces have been woven together securing the skin in place the elastic bands are stretched around the outside of the drum to hold the hide flat against the hoop as it starts to dry. They will be removed the following day but our drums will continue to dry and rest, being turned one quarter turn each day, with the skins untouched, for 5 days.


We are not to play our drums until they have been initiated at a full moon Grandmother Drum ceremony, where they will be named and blessed and they along with the new drummers will be invited and welcomed into the greater healing drum community.


At the ceremony we are to present our drums with a gift. The gift is often a beater stick or a drum bag but does not have to be either. Sometimes members of the group will make beater sticks communally to share company, advice, experience and resources. The beaters will be as diverse as every other aspect of the drum journey. They will have in common some sort of stick and a padded end, likely nothing more. They will be large and small, fat and thin, ornately embellished, plain as vanilla ice cream and any imaginable thing in between.


On a full moon night we will gather among seasoned drummers with our virgin drums, around a sacred fire and under the watchful, loving eye, seen or not, of Grandmother Moon, we will name them and bless them and finally hear them sing.


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