There’s a certain kind of medicine that drums carry for those of us that are descendants of the African Diaspora (and for most humans).  It’s not just about the sweet release of rhythms reverberating in the body expressed through limbs and core, though that carries its own kind of healing. The mightiest medicine lies within the remembering and reconnection drumming activates. This is the heartbeat of our ancestors and in keeping it alive we strengthen our connections to them, to ourselves and to each other.

On Saturday, July 8th we welcomed four members of the Legacy Women to Earthseed Land Collective. They drove down from NYC, a car full of drums, sticks, tambourines and other tools for percussion and inspiration.  As hosts and participants, we were there to learn how Mother Africa continues to live in the Caribbean via two genres of resistance and persistence:  Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba and Afro-Dominican Congos and Palos.

I imagine there are many ways this could be “taught” to eager students, and this kind of intellectual learning has its merit, time and place.  Our journey, however, was an embodied learning consisting of rich story-telling, time-traveling, full-body and spirit invigoration.   As one of our elders, Mama Dimples reflected:

“This is how you worship, release, praise and par-tay…call it what you want and it gives you what you need. The Holy Spirit was present throughout the day and evening.  Much needed healing was given and received by all who attended.  We honored our Creator, Ancestors and each other…Asé”

This visit from the Legacy Women was part of a Visiting Artist series that we launched this year.  They were the 3rd artist in the series, which previously featured Jeanette Egan “The Art & Magic of Gourds” and Stephen Hamilton “Traditional African Weaving”.  Each of these sessions has proven to be a multi-layered, multi-sensory and multi-generational gift to all who came close enough to experience.

During our closing session on Saturday we sat around a circle, shining bright with sweat and delight, and listened as Manuela Arciniegas, their founder, offered words of affirmation and gratitude. One phrase lodged deeply in my heart and will stay with me for the long road ahead:

“We know we’ve entered into Maroon space when love is given without withholding.”

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