Shamanic Drumming Blog

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thunder Medicine

I love the sound of thunder. It is so powerful and primal. It resonates to my very core. Nothing heightens my senses like the voice of the Thunder Beings. Whenever I hear the rumbling thunder I take a moment to acknowledge and thank these divine beings for the work they do and the blessings they bestow upon the Earth. 

Every spring the Thunder Beings arise in the Sky and adorn themselves in cloud, thunder, lightning, wind, and rain. They are the force behind all weather changes and sustain life on Earth. They travel in the clouds and lightning and speak through the thunder. Their medicine and gift is balance, change, and renewal. The Thunder Beings are a force for both dissolution and re-creation. They are nature's way of breaking down the archetypal patterns of an old cycle in preparation for a new cycle. Divergent polar forces pull apart obsolete patterns, allowing new patterns to form. "In all traditions it is Thunder Beings who govern nature and all life; they are the creators. They sustain balanced life, and destroy imbalance, the cause of suffering."

The Thunder Beings bring the storms that nourish and renew the Earth Mother. Thunder Beings create a storm to overcome static tensions, clearing the way for the rainbow of peace and harmony. The greater the obstructions to harmony the more destructive the storm must be in order to clear away those obstructions. Storm represents that moment when the clouds gather, lightning strikes, and the rain bursts forth, a quintessentially creative moment. Storm quickens the emergence and manifestation of life. 

The Thunder Beings proclaim the sacred union of Father Sky and Mother Earth through bolts of lightning. Like thunderbolts, we humans are a bridge that connects Earth and Sky. Like Mother Earth and Father Sky, we are both yin/female and yang/male in nature. Only when yin and yang are in balance within us, are we able to effectively channel usable energy. Achieving balance requires that we release our fears, plow old habits under, and cultivate new growth. By asking the Thunderers to assist us in achieving balance we learn how to tap into their energy and utilize it creatively. We learn how to revitalize ourselves and grow. Mongolian shamans believe that this balance, called tegsh, is the only thing that is truly worth pursuing in this world. When humans lose it, they create imbalance within the web of life. It then requires the unity of all colors, all cultures, working together to bring the web back into balance. 

Within all traditions, we supplicate the Thunder Beings to bestow their enlightenment upon us as the lightning enlightens the earth. Whenever I supplicate the Thunder Beings for assistance, I make an offering of tobacco or cornmeal. I call upon them only when there is a real need. I approach them with humbleness and humility, becoming like a hollow bone through which their life force may flow to be used as needed, then returned to the Earth Mother.

In the Plains shamanic traditions, a person who is visited by a Thunder Being in a dream, a vision, or in person becomes a heyoka or "contrary." Customarily, this heyoka then begins to behave in ways that are contrary to the conventional norms of the dominant culture. The heyoka behaves in such a manner in order to awaken society to innovative and better ways of doing things. Thus, the heyoka becomes the human counterpart of the Thunder Beings, who continually break down the existing order and create a new arrangement from the pieces. 

Thunder Drumming

Because there is such great turmoil in the world today, it would be beneficial if more of us established an intimate relationship with the Thunder Beings. We can relate to them in storms and nature, but primarily we must seek them within. The drum can help us immeasurably in this quest. The drum personifies the creative spirit and energy of the Thunder Beings. The drum, like the Thunder Beings, is a catalyst that unites masculine and feminine energies, generating life force or chi. It quickens us with the vital energy needed to confront the world's dissonant negative energies and transmute them into peaceful, balanced, and harmonious energies. The drum is a safe and powerful vehicle for traversing the inner world, which is a microcosm of the outer world.

I recorded a CD to support the listener in making shamanic journeys to reconnect with the Thunder Beings. Thunder Beings Journey Drumming is available at Amazon. This unique shamanic drumming CD presents four rhythm archetypes from the I Ching for practical journey work. The four drumming tracks contain the archetypal rhythms of the Thunder Beings: thunder, lightning, wind, and rain. Each track has 15 minutes of uninterrupted solo drumming with callback, providing a means of exploring and developing the inner self. We can journey within to access information and energies that can help awaken us and restore us to wholeness. Entraining to these primordial rhythms, we experience them directly and discover our rhythmic interconnections. Through the integration of these rhythmic patterns, we reconnect to our core, enhancing our sense of empowerment and creative expression. 

Humanity is the nexus that unites Mother Earth and Father Sky. It is our destiny to bring them into accord, to harmonize the cosmic and the terrestrial. It is our fate to stand between Earth and Sky. When we resist our fate, we suffer. When we accept it, we are happy.


1. Samudranath, Cities of Lightning, Lightning Bolt Press, 2000.