Category Archives: Articles About Finding Yourself

Our conformist-oriented society makes it hard to find yourself! Thus, there is no greater challenge than trying to discover the authentic you. Here are some suggestions.

A Man With a Lightning Stick, And How To Find and Use Your Own

andy with lightning stick
UK friend and fellow seeker Andy poses with his Lightning Stick.

Every year or so good friend Andy over in the United Kingdom sends along a photo to let us know how he’s doing. This time he is displaying the Lightning Stick he obtained a few years ago. I remember it well, as it came from a farm where I used to live, and where one night I happened to see a wide arc of lightning hit a cherry tree on the hill behind my house. Next day I gathered the energized sticks and added them to the bundle which I carried for years. Most of those wonderful sticks are now in the hands of healers here and there around the globe.

If you know of a lightning-struck tree where you live, perhaps you could make a Lightning Stick of your own. I sure encourage you to explore this idea.

First, go to the tree and sense whether you feel drawn to one of the precious sticks that has fallen from it. If so, smudge around the tree, if you are familiar with that ceremony, then pick up the stick and be with it a while. Sit next to or lean against the tree and still your mind. Then, holding the stick, close your eyes and open your senses to any sensations. (This could take some time, or even perhaps a few more visits.)

If, at some point, you sense an energy in the stick, chances are that you are at the edge of a path which may open for you and on which you may discover some latent healing gifts. Perhaps you can take the stick along with you, after asking for the tree’s permission. But whether you recover the stick or not, be sure to leave a gift for the the tree in return, a pinch of tobacco, some bird seed, herbs, something of value to you and the Earth. From there, you can learn to shape and use the healing ally stick in many ways.

Now, I know that this may all sound rather obtuse if you aren’t familiar with shamanism, but if nothing else, it is sure a wonderful exercise in connecting with Nature in a unique, deep and reverent way. I am certain too that you won’t look at lightning-struck trees the same after that, either.

To help understand a bit more about this, I’ve written a short e-Book about Lightning Sticks, which you can download for free. Look for the link on this page of the Thunder Valley Drums Website. You can read even more by poking around the site a little, as I’m discovering more and more, largely from many anthropological books written in the 1920’s and since about how the ancient peoples relied on lightning tools, beginning with the shamanic cultures in North Asia (Siberia, Mongolia, and such), and spreading down into Celtic lands and into North America, among others. I’ll be adding more to the site and probably to the book over time, including a bibliography. Even if you are an accomplished healer, I think you’ll be surprised how knowledge of this kind can open new ways to enhance your practice…and your connection with Spirit.

Meanwhile I want to thank Andy for the photo. Good to see you again, my friend!

Aho & Namaste,

Finding Yourself Amid the Propaganda

find yourself“Find Urself”

They are the BIG THREE questions we begin to ask in childhood and continue to ask into old age. Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose?

Well, perhaps you have made some progress in finding your own answers to these questions, and if so, I congratulate you. It is a tough slog to dig out one’s true identity and to then honor it by bravely embracing it. It is the toughest chore on Earth.

I have no wish to dissuade your answers either. But I do suggest adding one more question to your list. If, after being satisfied with your answers, you find yourself still ill at ease in life, as if something is missing, then ask this: What or who influenced me to be the way I am?

Most of us will initially find a quick answer to that question. We will point to one or both parents, a minister, a teacher, a commanding officer, a kindly relative, or someone else we believe influenced us above everyone else. In most cases, this person or persons will have been role models, mentors, heroes or other inspirational types who urged us to be the best we can be.


But take it one step further with one more question: Were they, were you, brainwashed?


A compelling case for such a scenario was made 15 years ago by a controversial, frustrating, fascinating and provocative BBC documentary entitled, “Century of Self.” And, oh my! If you want to refine your answers, then you gotta’ watch this!

Here’s the synopsis of the Four-Part series as presented by the BBC:

“Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.”

Sounds rather tame. But fasten your seat-belts…and century of self documentaryprepare bandages for your ego. This is no timid beast.

Before you even finish Part One, “Happiness Machines,” you may begin to wonder if your answers to the BIG THREE were written by you, or perhaps by Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, the consummate marketing, public relations and propaganda guru who helped steer his uncle’s theories into the closely controlled, frenzied consumer society of today. In Freud and Bernays time (1920s), various interpretations of their work helped to inspire the rise of the Nazi party, consumerism, the birth of public relations and the infancy of corporations and political institutions as the prime manipulators and puppet masters of public opinion and individual identity. It is easy to see this influence gaining power in today’s society as, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court has come to recognize corporations as people. Later installments will explain how Bernays’ principles reached across time to help Bill Clinton, among others, get elected— and why the gambit is still working today in the moneyed elite’s tightly controlled 2016 presidential primaries across the country.

Here is a quote from Bernays’ book, aptly named, Propaganda:

“THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.”

One could nearly read that as if Bernays is writing a negative critique of the profession he founded. But he isn’t. He’s stating it as fact and as an introduction for how the elite can jump on his bandwagon to gain further control of people’s minds.

Starting to feel a sudden chill in the ol’ ego?

The only downside I see to the documentary is an absence of any mention of how the world’s various religions follow the same blueprint for establishing “market share.” But I think it’s clear. Churches may or may not follow Divine rules, but for sure they all follow Bernays rules.

So when it comes to finding the self, this is a series worth watching, and to then ask those Big Three questions again in your search for the authentic you. I’m betting your answers will change from what they used to be!

Aho & Namaste,

PS: By the way, I have an idea of who you are, and once you dig down beneath the layers, you may find, and in fact I hope you do find, agreement with me. You are much more and much less than what you think you are!

1.)  Here are some earlier thoughts about finding yourself, beginning with enlightenment (blog post, Nov. 13, 2013), walking the warrior’s wheel (post, Dec. 5, 2013), and connecting with Mother Earth. Also, I expanded this essay on my newest blog with a list of suggested activities for how to begin breaking through the propaganda barrier.

2.)  Link to the documentary, “Century of Self”:

Even In Autumn, Activity Is Blooming At Thunder Valley Drums!

Drum HintWhile it’s autumn in nature, it’s SPRING at Thunder Valley Drums! So get ready for many things to spring into action!

It’s been such a busy summer and early autumn that one of my favorite activities, writing here, has been dormant. I haven’t had time for Facebook or other social media interactions either. (I would like to thank all friends and acquaintances who inquired following my absence. I am fine! Loving life! And so is Diana! We’ve just been busy, that’s all!)

But while Mother Earth is preparing many of her precious beings in nature for rest and sleep in this hemisphere, I have been gearing up many surprises, including more blog action. It is nearing “bear time” in nature, but in this cave, it is not time for hibernating. The bear is the symbol, among others, of introspection, reflection and growth. So I’ll key in on those traits here on the blog and in other ways as you and I huddle in our homes to expand our awareness of Spirit during the colder months ahead. (The climate is not a requisite for sharing in this, though! So if you’re reading this in warmer climes, you are most welcomed in the circle!)

Here are a few things that will be coming your way very soon.

First, I will begin posting a weeklyShaman Cast,” which will feature an age-old method of divination to help you plan for the week ahead. With luck, it will be delivered in two ways– right here in written form on the blog and– ta-da!– with the revival of the Thunder Valley Drums Podcast! More details to come.

Next, I hope to begin offering more help to you as you explore the shamanic path. Many people have asked for more articles on techniques and methods of engaging in the practice of shamanism in daily life. I will start doing so with a series of articles pointing to specific things you can do to start your day, to maintain your center during your day, to ward off incursions of bad energy from others, to protect yourself spiritually, to dispel anger, to build your spiritual muscles, and ways to share these sacred moments with your children, family,  loved ones, friends, etc. to name a few. And none of them will take long to do, as I understand how busy you are, too!

You will also get some sneak peeks and insider info about upcoming projects, like the photo above. What is that? A bird painting? Spilled paint on a piece of wood? A cup holder? Well, let’s just say it’s none of those. But it (a future centerpiece ornament that will be transformed from what you see into a sacred symbol of a powerful totem animal) is resting in the photo on the largest drum I’ve ever made. It’s more than seven feet around! And made from a cross section of a real tree. (Right, that means the tree was more than seven feet around.) And here is another hint: The drum sounds like thunder– even when you tap it gently. I guess you would expect nothing less, right? After all, it will contain a LOT of lightning-struck power. That is what Thunder Valley Drums is all about!

So please know that we are excited and ready to be of service in any way possible. And please keep checking back or subscribe to the blog so you’ll know when these and a LOT MORE activities begin! I’m so excited and looking forward to sharing with you!

Aho & Namaste,

The Simple Beauty of a Drum Circle That You Can Join

make friends
The circle grows…

There are too many drums of war. Not enough drumming for peace. Let’s change that.

It’s A Love Thing!

A drumming circle is beautifully simple because it doesn’t matter where you are! You can join in our drum circle, or one that is near to you, or you can even start your own. And the beautiful part is– you don’t even have to be in the same room, or even the same country!

Our drum circle typically has about 10 to 20 people, including locals and other friends around the world. What? Oh yes, the circle can encompass any people, anywhere. So far we have not connected via Skype or other service yet, but we hope to in the future. We all just agree on a time (adjusting for different time zones around the planet), and then start drumming!

It’s intention that matters, and when people join together with the intention of sharing peace, healing and joyful celebration of life and All That Is, it becomes a sacred circle around the planet and around the universe.

We drum for those who suffer, for those who have lost their mooring, for those who lead, for those in need, for LOVE, for help and healing, for the Earth, for each other, for anything… for JOY! Drummers will add the names of those who need special help and attention into the center of the circle, and you can do the same. Just hold the person in your mind while you drum. And one can do the same for a precious pet that is ill, or a country, or the planet.

Be sure to surround yourself with spiritual protection before you begin, and to generate your inner Light into the sacred space where you are. Light a candle. Ask that the surrounding space be cleansed and protected, and ask the Mighty Warrior Angels of Light (or substitute the names of your own guardians) to surround and protect you and those around you and the sacred space you occupy. If you are familiar with smudging, it’s a perfect time for that, too, along with a ritual water cleansing. Or do the things you normally do to set your intentions and clear the space.

And here is another cool thing. You don’t even need a drum! You can clap your hands, or tap your feet, or drum your fingers on your knees! Or perhaps you would prefer to sit in the circle and add your beautiful energy without drumming. It’s all about intention, so join in!

It’s a love thing.

Aho & Namaste,

Spiritual Superhero Week Flashback

Wow! The blog has suddenly exploded with posts!

I am moving posts over from the old blog, and so far have over 100. I can’t help but share a trip down memory lane with you, though, for some that I consider special. So I’ll go back to 2012 and post the five special “Spiritual Superhero Week” entries from that year.

So here’s the first post from that series:

Day One: Spiritual Superhero Week
I have dispirit thoughts to share today. But stick with me for a minute, and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

I have been thinking of Martin Luther King throughout this day devoted to his memory and works. At the same time, I was working on a series of ideas that I would like to present, one for each of the days of this week. So it’s only fitting that the first should be presented on ML King Day.

My next line of thinking involved what it is that I do as a shamanic practitioner and drum maker, and other things I love. For example, comic books. That’s why I produced and posted the Malinda Maeko comic some time back over on the Thunder Valley Drums Website. (The link will open in a new window and may take some time to load, as it is graphics heavy.) People seemed to appreciate it (particularly the way shamanic drumming was presented), and many commented that they would like to see more such spiritual comic books and comic strips in general. Well, I’m no artist, so I’ll leave that up to those with such talents and spiritual orientations.

But I do tinker with digital clippings from old comic book illustrations from time to time, and over the weekend decided to do a series of one-panel takes on a theme of what it would be like if Thunder Valley Drums sponsored a series of superhero ads about spirituality and social consciousness, from my point of view of course. Just having fun, but with an underlying hope of contributing some thoughts to possible ways of helping bring our world back into balance with itself.

This first one attempts to do both. And to honor Rev. King, too, with a phrase from his time.

TVD Dynamic Spiritual Duo

Aho & Namaste,