Category Archives: Thoughts

The Journey Ahead for 2018

redbud tree It IS About The Redbuds


The promise of a fecund, fertile land coming back from a long winter’s sleep. Such are the things we contemplate as the Winter Solstice arrives.

Beginning Dec. 21, the sun seems to halt its month’s-long decline and pauses for four days while rising four times from the same relative place on the horizon. To the Celtic peoples, so I’ve read, it was a time of great rejoicing because– at last!– the sun was preparing for a certain miracle.

So those four days were a time of celebration! And of sacred reflection.

The Celts apparently called it the time for standing still, just like the sun seemed to be doing. Most assuredly, the Celts may have found it difficult to stand at all if they had imbibed much tasty mead during the partying! But almost as certain for them was the assurance that the quartet of days would present times of reflection on the year past and the hoped-for miracle on December 25 and the year ahead.

The miracle– return of the sun! For it is on that day that ‘Ol Sol slowly begins to reassert its dominance of the sky and the birth of spring in less than 90 days! Daylight begins to last longer even as the snow continues to pile up across the landscape.

So I hope you will give a try at honoring the stillness of this season like the old Celts did. It’s fine to have a cup of cheer, but take some time to look back over the year behind you. And then look forward. The promise of a fresh New Year awaits. Can you make it the best year ever for yourself, for those you love, for all peoples and for this Good Earth?

It is a good thing to pause and take stock. Then, before you know it, the redbuds will replace the snow.

Aho & Namaste,

redbud photo effects

Happy Holidays!



yule pole in healing center
The recent Yule Pole made by the Advanced Shaman Training class last week as we studied Celtic ways of healing.

Dearest Friends,

It has been a wonderful year, thanks to you. You have resonated with these drums (and other items), and have chosen to purchase one, sometimes more. When you do that, I  consider you to be a member of our circle, not because you had to pay for a drum or something else but because you have demonstrated yourself to be a seeker of wisdom and a lover of Truth. That’s exactly what we strive for, too. So it’s only natural that our circle welcomes all such people.

In doing so during 2017, you have kept me wonderfully busy, even to the point where I must now advise, for those who have not yet ordered a drum, that I won’t be able to accept any more holiday orders because of the current backlog. For that I apologize.

All in all, though, it has been a year to remember. And then some! I review photos, some of them from this year, on the Thunder Valley Drums website, poke around in the many, many photos we have taken of your precious allies over this and previous years, and it becomes evident just how many people are awakening to a new realization— that the world needs help, and that you are willing to provide it through the exploration and expression of a deep spiritual longing to independently connect with Spirit. As my beautiful soul mate puts it, you have decided to “not let the world be your drummer!”

And now we come to the final dawning days of one year and the beginning of the next. It is a marvelous time to enjoy family and to pull in all of those we love to join around the hearth. At least that is the scenario we are taught to follow. But not everyone has these circumstances— time, money, or even a loving family or friends— to enjoy during this holiday season.

If that’s your situation, I completely understand and offer you the love you should have. We regularly drum for you and often we sense your situation. It can reflect the scene of your being posted away from family, or being called to work throughout the season, or even being in a situation where circumstances are not the best for you right now, a “rough patch,” or any of many, many other circumstances that can make you feel left out.

Well, please know this. We drum for you and we hold you in our hearts. Our lives are good and settled right now, but we have experienced the rough times in the past, just like you are going through now, and all we had was the love that bound us together. We have plenty of that still, and plenty to share.

So we hope you will accept the love that awaits your open heart. And keep your chin up. Low points in life are akin to the high ones, both are transitory.

Your new day is coming.

Peace to you, love to you, love to all. Love all around.

Aho & Namaste




A Note From Stian in Santa’s Playground

A scene from Bodo Norway
(Photo courtesy, Stian Berg)

I’m sure that this is Santa’s playgound!

And some people have all the luck by getting to live there.

It was great to hear from friend Stian once again this week. You’ll recall it was about a year ago when this shamanic practitioner began sending notes from his hometown in Bodø, Norway following his purchase of a drum.

This time he writes:

 Hi my friend. Now Christmas is coming again so I wish you a happy Christmas. Here in Norway, I'm doing well. Drum is also good ? Now is the dark time back. Even though it is dark, there is a lot of nice light out with reddish sky when it is day. It has been snowing a lot today so it will get a little lighter outside. This year I will celebrate Christmas with my old dad. It will be cozy. Hope you and your family are doing well.

Your friend Stian
Bodo Norway harbor
The harbor in Bodo Norway. (Photo courtesy Stian Berg)

I keep replying to Stian that he lives in paradise. What a spectacular country! Surely it’s where Santa goes to hang out and have some fun.

Thanks, Stian!

Aho & Namaste,

The Heartbeat of Love

You will recall from an earlier post that customer/friend Kim sent in a photo of her wonderful Hummingbird-type drum that had been painted by Glenn Lewis. Well, what you may not know is that during the beautiful process of bringing forth a drum with the energetic help of a customer, I inevitably ask if s/he would like to send a photo of him/herself with the drum. Ta-da!

Kim submitted these wonderful photos some time back. This is LOVE all around!

a thunder valley drums customer with her hummingbird-type drum

She writes: “Me, near my special apple tree. Did a ceremony today. Still no drum name.
Calling it Houdini’s drum for now.”

She brings up an interesting point, naming a drum. Presently she’s calling it by the name she gave to the seagull who visits her deck often and whose likeness is painted on her drum. Many many people I correspond with also name their drums after animals, be they spirit animals or pets or favored types.  Well, an apple tree is an exquisite ally to have while playing a healing drum. The tree offers the promise of rebirth, and its fruit heralds the sweet and tangy taste of what is said to be its restorative  powers. Its obvious that Kim knows her allies well, and shares the love she feels for them.

And then, a few days later, I received a very special envelope from Kim that contained twoa customer with a Hummingbird-type drum notes, one for me and one for Glenn Lewis, such a beautiful surprise, and heart-filling.

I simply can’t express the overwhelming love and gratitude I feel for Kim and her family, and for all of you who step into the circle of exploration and extend your trust to me to help make a drum for your journeys. We may not know each other in person, but we are never alone on the path. It is proven at nights sometimes when we can all go within and hear the heartbeats inside and outside across the miles, across continents and far beyond the bounds of space and time.

Indeed, we all have one heartbeat, and it spreads love all around the big wide circle of All That Is.

With deep gratitude, Aho & Namaste,




Running Around In Circles

Drombeg Stone Circle Ireland
Dromberg Stone Circle, Ireland, courtesy of Tracey (see story below)

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to run around in circles! There are sacred circles around the world, some of standing stones or little stones, some of old groves, some of cut wood, some of the boundary between a fire and the chill, and nearly all of the heart.  The circles are a place for reverence, ceremony, protection, connection, love, family.

And that’s one reason why people treasure drums so much, I think. The round frames with the deep sonorous sounds resonate deeply within our cellular memory, our DNA. In shamanic practice, the drum can reunite us with ancestors in the great circle.

And that is why I love to make drums– for the circle. They always create circles of friends!

Here are some examples. The customer purchases a drum, and a friendship begins. The drum extends the circle to the customer/friend. The friend takes the drum and the circle to more friends. Beautiful! So, you will always find many friends in the circle, like the one pictured above, Dromberg Stone Circle, in Ireland. It’s located near to Tracey and Barry’s home in West Cork.

And here are Tracey’s photos of Barry opening the new Hummingbird-type drum she gave him as a birthday present and to help start him on his way to the study of shamanism.

customer barry opening his drumlooking at his new drum

The drum was painted of course by Glenn Lewis, our resident artist, and features the image of Green Man.

Here is Tracey’s reaction upon receiving it:

Hi Bob,
Just to let you know…the Green Man arrived this morning!! We are absolutely thrilled- it’s SO beautiful and the sound is AMAZING even now.

Barry would like to email you personally and will do so tomorrow. We will get some nice photos at the weekend and forward them on. In the meantime I attach pics of Barry receiving the drum today…

Can’t thank you enough Bob – it’s everything we expected and much more 🙂

Be in touch soon.

Kindest regards


Here is our photo of Barry’s wonderful drum…

close up of barry's drum

Tracey followed up with another email after I had asked her about Celtic shamanic practices in Ireland, since our Advanced Shaman Training Class here is studying that subject now. She sent the photo above of the circle, along with these fascinating insights:

Hi Bob,

Great to hear from you !

In terms of Celtic healing, the druids were of course keenly attuned to the cycles of nature – much as tribal cultures all over the world are. Trees are richly symbolic in Celtic druidism and it’s interesting to note that the Oak is associated with the month of May, which is the month of the Bealtaine fire festival heralding in the summer and the fertility it brings. This imagery carries over to the Green Man as you know, the vines associated with him are many times of oak. In ancient times, each Celtic tribe had it’s own sacred tree or totem and druidic wands were usually made of rowen wood.

When Christianity arrived in this part of the world, the old Celtic feasts were quickly overlaid with “new” Christian feast days – one such example is St Brigid’s day, celebrated on Feb 1st (Imbolc fire festival, half-way between winter solstice and spring equinox). When I was growing up in the 1980’s it was still traditional, even among staunch Catholics, to leave out a scarf on the eve of St Brigid’s day. It was said that if one had a sore throat the scarf was to be wrapped around your neck and you would be healed. It’s really interesting how the old Celtic traditions merged with the Christian feasts here, and even more heartening to see a revival of more intuitive, wisdom based spiritualism here.

I have a nice picture of a stone circle in West Cork called Drombeg that you might like which I attach – It’s a really special place, like a mini Stonehenge I suppose but very accessible and only about an hour from where I live. Of course, celebration of the winter solstice at Newgrange and Dowth is a massively important in the Pagan calendar here, we are hoping to go this year. The stone circles were almost like a giant sundial, tracking the cycles of the year. Most contained an altar stone, used for ceremony and, possibly sacrifice in ancient times. Many times human remains were found there, so they were possibly burial grounds also.

Here are a few links that you may find informative also (article in the Irish Times)

I’ll think some more on this and forward on any other info I have – please be aware that Barry & I have only recently began to explore a neopagan belief system and are by no means experts.

Be in touch soon.

Kind regards,

I have always loved to make drums! And now you see why. Friends around the world…in one big circle! Special thanks to Tracey and Barry… and to you too!

Slán leat!

Aho & Namaste,