There were many sayings in my early AA years that I heard over and over until I really heard them. This is the difference of listening and hearing. In my impatience and ignorance, I often cut people and quit listening, or just be quiet but really don’t “hear”. In my graduate studies I studied various therapies and the one that improved my own attention was that of the therapy developed by Carl Rogers called the “Rogerian Reflection”, that was both hearing the words and the underlying feeling behind the words and reflect back what they were feeling rather than what they said. Phrases like “sounds like you were really hurt by that” rather than attach to the anger. In my shifting into a real and authentic world the shift from my death grip holding on to ideas that clearly were not working for me, the surrender – letting go absolutely of what I believe and speak from what I know. The sweat lodges of our ancestors were where we burn away these “beliefs” and gradually shift from self centered fear coupled with false pride into a life of service – a shift of both attitude and behavior. Shifting from resentments, self pity and “entitlement” into living in gratitude and service. These changes come slow, and it took me twelve years of daily recovery meetings to “lose my mind and come to my senses”. Loving is attending to what we hold as sacred. Forgiving myself first for past behaviors and learning to take loving care of me first. They told me they would love me until I could love myself. In my walking the red road, I have had many amazing fire tenders. The fire tenders were the most important part of Ceremony, cooking the sacred stones that purify us and learning to stay awake and educate newcomers with kindness, yet able to bear the sword when necessary.

The Medicine of the Drum

The Medicine of the Drum

 by Patrick Pinson

When you select your drum or drum kit, you may choose from Elk, Deer or Horse.  We also have Buffalo and Moose available occasionally (at a slightly higher price).

The Cedar Tree

Most of our drums are constructed on a foundation of hand- wrapped Yellow Cedar rims.  Our rim makers harvest their own wood, striving to take only trees that are dead from natural causes, and doing so with reverence and respect.

The Cedar tree is a powerful healing tree, and the flutes and drums constructed from the Cedar carry a superior resonance and healing energy.  The Natives of the Northwest smudged with Cedar, used Cedar tea for healing and carved their totems and canoes from this sacred wood.  Many songs were written about the healing energies of Cedar, and when a tree was taken, all parts of it were used for the healing and survival of the People.

Willow Oak

The diva of the Willow Oak teaches mental clarity.  When you are inundated with worry, anxiety and repetitive thoughts, your mind acts as a screen that keeps you from sensing fully your own spiritual understanding.  Willow Oak mentally detaches you from your confusion, and gives you the central focus from a broader perspective.  The soul tone is G#, element is air and subtle body affinities are Mental/spiritual.  If you want to learn how to meditate, willow oak is a fascinating teacher.  It can relax your physical body, calm your anxiety, and aid you in releasing thoughts that run in your head like a broken record.  The affirmation is “I still my thoughts with compassion, and center on the Purity and Peace of My Spirit”


Quality:  Healing disappointment in relationships.  Spirit tone: D  Subtle body affinities:  Emotional/Mental, Element:  Fire

Maple helps you release disappointment and disillusionment at a change in form or the termination of a relationship.  You are encouraged to extend unconditional love to the other by affirming the positive qualities of that person.  Maple also tells you to focus unconditional love toward yourself and affirm your own gifts to the relationship.  As you do this you will experience more peace.  Unconditional love for another always connects you with that person and comforts you with your own strength.


Quality:  Understanding your Spiritual Purpose.  Sitka spruce can help you clarify your spiritual goals and prioritize the steps that you need to take along your path.

 The Deer

When we are working on the natural laws of circulation — the circulatory system, the Heart — then Deer is our Medicine.   Many of us are taught to figure life out, and live in our heads with little attention to our hearts.  We suffer from “poverty consciousness”, the belief that there is just not enough time, money or love to go around.

Deer opens the heart chakra, teaching us to trust and to empower the feminine quality of love and wisdom. Drumming with Deer reminds us that we live in an abundant universe with more than enough of everything.   Deer helps us learn the laws of circulation — when we feel unloved, it is time to love others and feel that love returned many fold.

The Elk

When we are working in the West on the Medicine Wheel — the Water, Emotions, Chaos, Shadow Self — then Elk medicine gives us the stamina and endurance to get through the edges — from the Known to the Unknown.   As we go through our fears, we expand ourselves and add more trust to our circle.   Trust is the lubricant that helps us take the “leap of faith” that leads us to unity with Spirit, and to a reclaiming of our original grace.

Elk is powerful medicine for healing child abuse and addictive patterns.  The Elk will bring up our unresolved grief, and help purify and cleanse us through grieving and crying our sweet tears.  The vibration of Elk opens the third Chakra, the belly, where we carry our fears and undigested values that interfere with our pure will.  The Elk is a communal animal, hanging out with members of the same sex except during mating season.

 The Horse

Horse takes us on the Shamanic Journey, keeping us in third dimensional reality so we may ride the vibration to the spirit world to get the healing we need for ourself and others.  Horse is pure energy — Like lightning, it can transport us quickly through the cracks and crevices to the other side.  Drumming with Horse will lead us to trance states and to the higher vibrations.

  The Buffalo

When we seek wisdom and guidance from the Ancient Ones, the Ancestors that came before us, drumming the Buffalo opens the door to that vibration.  Buffalo is associated with Wisdom and Abundance and is the source of the Sacred Pipe, as White Buffalo Calf Woman brought the Pipe to the People.

When we pray with the Pipe, we are joining the masculine Sky energy with the feminine Earth energy, and whatever we pray for will be given.  If we are manifesting from Spirit to Form, drumming with Buffalo is an ally in that intention, reminding us of the connection of prayer (Spirit) to form (Physical).

The Moose

Drumming with Moose is empowering the Feminine energies, as the Moose hangs out near the water and can stay under water for up to a minute while eating from the bottom of ponds and lakes.  The Moose reminds us to go into the through the feelings and take the nourishment available in emotional honesty.

The Moose is also associated with self- esteem, learning how to get our nourishment from the inside, and spontaineity, trusting our instincts to act in the moment rather than controlling future decisions through planning the results.  The Moose is a great protector of the child, and working with Moose can teach us to nourish and protect the Little One inside.

Mitakuye Oyasin
(All My Relations)

Awakening the Drum

Awakening the Drum

By Patrick Pinson, Cedar Mountain Drums

It is my great joy to create drums with prayer, respect and the knowledge I have learned through years on the Red Road and from twelve-step recovery from drugs and alcohol – Next year I celebrate my thirty-fifth year birthday free from alcohol.

I am a descendent of the Mingo peoples from West Virginia, and I have 35 years clean and sober using the 12 steps and the Red Road to find my way, which is following the path of balance, my heart and the drum. The way I have been told is that the spirits come in on the vibrations of the drum and our songs.

To dedicate the drum towards healing requires a Ceremony and to select a “keeper” of the drum, who is in charge of keeping the drum in good condition and wrapped in a red cloth when not being used. There are many ways to use a drum – some drums are community drums and some are dedicated for special use, often called “Medicine Drums.” When I make a drum that is someone’s “Medicine Drum,” I make sure that drum is untouched by anyone but I and I offer my prayers specifically for the person using the drum. In your drum, we have the spirit of the Elk Nation, whose medicine is stamina and endurance, and the special tree that provides the foundation for the drum – in your case, the rim is maple and the stand is cedar. The elk can help us go deep into our wounds and release the purifying tears that release the barriers to our hearts.

In finding our way back to the Red Road, the drum and our songs help us reclaim the sacred that dwells within each one of us. We are spiritual beings in a human experience. When we are abused in any way as children, we carry those wounds and the cycle of abuse that goes from generation to generation until the cycle is broken and we reclaim the sacred within. To forgive ourselves first for all the behaviors that led to incarceration and to send the shame of abuse back to the ones who abused us and to vow to break that behavior through a commitment to the Red Road.

The Red Road is a path of balance…a way of life that is free from drugs and alcohol. These addictive patterns and behaviors can be lifted from us through prayer and a willingness to go any length to change those dysfunctional patterns and to acquire those qualities we admire in our elders. The old ones teach us to live by the principles of the pipe which are helping each other, compassion for our brothers and sisters, quietness, respect for the four ridges of life (children, adolescents, adults and elders), respect – for ourselves and others, good health in mind, body, spirit and emotions and happiness.

Often an elder is brought in to do a special blessing of your drum. If no elder is available, then you can do the ceremony yourselves by sitting in circle and offering each one in the circle a chance to state their intention from their hearts. Call in the directions and honor father sky and mother earth, and be sure to call in only the highest spirits for our greater good. Often, I call in the warriors to keep away negative energy and to seal the circle. Everyone is given an opportunity to express themselves, stating what they wish to release and what they wish to bring into their lives. In our circles, we smudge ourselves and the drum with cedar or sage before sharing to remove negative energy. Once the smudging is done, we burn sweetgrass to call in healing spirits and open the circle with prayer. An offering of tobacco on the drum may be made by each who is a part of the circle – with this offering is a prayer.

The awakening of the drum is the awakening of the heart, as the drum is the heartbeat of our mother earth. It is important to work with the drum rather than on the drum. The drum is a teacher and has powerful medicine to give us when we respect and honor it. By honoring the sacred outside of ourselves, we reclaim the sacred that lies in the core of each of us. The best council I ever had from my Oglala teacher is to let go of “doing it right” and stay within your heart. When you pray from your heart, the spirit helpers show up – when we are in our heads, we tend to separate from each other with our opinions and beliefs. Ceremonies are to burn away the opinions and beliefs that separate us and get back in touch with the deep wisdom that we are all one heart.



Patrick’s Blog.
We keep throwing money at the problem rather than fund a solution. In counseling school and my years directing Capital Campaigns I have learned the first step is to identify the problem. I would argue that part of the problem is our collective “no” isn’t believable. I have just looked at my checkbook to see what I am investing in. Where my treasures are is also my heart. Less and less of my purchases are “impulsive” and more and more are aligned with my deep core values.
In AA’s 12 steps, the first step is to admit my powerlessness, which is nearly impossible for the inflated ego. One of the tools I picked up which is in my “medicine bag” was that good ideas don’t raise money, crisis does. I must admit my powerlessness in order to create the space for spirit to enter. I am a spiritual being in a human experience and my first prayer is to thank my creators for the breath of life. To clear the air is to eliminate the clear cutting of our forests and practice the principals of harvesting and sharing as outlined in the wonderful book that I have given away many copies of “Braiding Sweetgrass”. If you honor and love yourself, you will take loving care of you and that ripples out to all you care about -this is my/your true nature. We take loving care of what we hold as sacred.. In drumming circles I have learned the art of letting go of attachment to “right/wrong”, good/bad, win/lose and just listening to my own heartbeat and to honor that, which will lead me into sync with others doing the same. This is the independent/interdependent way which replaces the co-dependent ways of putting self love last. Capitalism feeds on “jobs” and top down flows which are becoming trickles of $ What once served the people the people are now serving. More and more of my income goes out to taxes to fund wars and the pockets of billionaires. Cessation involves not taking the first drink. My yes means nothing until my no is believable. I practice this by the one day at a time practicing a balance life of work, play love and the support of good friends and functional community.
The Aluna is emerging and the old “hiding in bigness” is dying. Resentments have no life when we quit “feeding” them. Fund spiritual centers rather than churches, where the true nature of service to the down and out is carried out, eliminating “borders” and Uniting the divided once more.

Continue reading “Balance”

Autumn Equinox

One of my many past relationships was a hauntingly beautiful woman who studied with a Cherokee Medicine woman.  She was/is herself a sound healer.  Along with blessing my store, this Grandmother did classes in my home on working with crystals and stones and led students through the four ceremonies of each season and direction and the four elements of air, fire, earth, and water.  The forgiveness ceremonies of the eastern tribes including Cherokee Peoples as I have read and learned from this Grandmother, were done in the fall – the ripening time prior to the harvest. The Local Crank: Selutsunigististi (Green Corn Ceremony) The Green Corn Ceremonies were the time of year to release all “resentments” and forgive all people who have harmed us and as 12 step recovery Continue reading “Autumn Equinox”

Summer Solstice Sweatlodge

Our Summer Solstice Celtic sweat lodge Ceremony will be held on June 20th, and this lodge will be different than those in the past, in that those who intend to sweat are being asked to show up Thursday or Friday in order to prepare for the Ceremony. I hope to get out on Wednesday or Thursday morning so that I have time to prepare myself. We also ask that those doing the lodge bring camper, tent and sleeping bag as bear creek gets cool at night. Bring enough food for yourself and some to share, but leave nothing behind. If you plan on attending, you must let me know, as it looks like our lodge is nearly full. Women, bring a sweat dress, a towel, food and water and warm clothing. We have a large shop

with kitchen and bathroom and one refrigerator and one freezer with ice-maker, so coolers are nice as we have limited space. Those who want to be a part of the South Door Summer Solstice Ceremony can arrive later, but those entering the lodge must be here the day before the Ceremony. We have folks driving from back east to sweat with us, so please inform me if you can meet the above, and I will send the protocol.

We respect social distancing, so we ask everyone to honor their own beliefs and values. For me, I need touch to keep my soul alive.

My 20 acres are in Carson, Washington, and the address is 92 bear creek Lane, Carson, WA 98610

We have bear creek frontage for camping, If you plan on attending, I will send protocol, but if you are lodging, you must come for the weekend rather than in and out on Saturday. We welcome supporters who can watch after things during our lodge. Kelvin, Emily and Koru have been working hard to clean up bear creek and lots of preparation, projects and chores that can use a hand. All who attend are asked to sign a release form prior to Ceremony. We will have an orientation/talking circle on Friday Evening, so send me your email and Blessings, Patrick

12 steps and the Red Raod

Fall at bear creek

Patrick’s Blog.
The west direction and the slow decent into darkness is the time to both forgive ourselves and learn from silence and solitude. In attaining mastery over anything requires this “hero’s journey” – the decent into our darkness. From my surrender to alcoholic insanity and learning to lend a hand. AA taught me to discern the difference of lending a hand and giving a handout. By loving and forgiving ourselves first, we learn the noble truth of it is in the giving that we receive. The fall is learning and practicing fire tending. How to warm up and slow down. We first learn to tend our souls fire. Learning and practicing nurture. Step seven of the 12 steps is “we humbly asked spirit to lift our barriers to love”. I can’t “fix” myself. Humility is seeking to deflate the falseness and to surrender the past. I love the words from the healing song “Pacha Mama” – “Theirs no high, theirs no low, there is nowhere you need to go, just inside of you is a star, saying just be as you are. We carry the light into the darkness.
. Acceptance is the key to all of our problems. the soul tending is going into nature to heal. Going into the silence and darkness are what Grandmother bear and the trees are teaching us in late September.. Nature is wearing her coat of many colors as she reminds us to go within. We had a great sweat lodge, and prayed to the stone people to lift our spirits by letting go of the toxic poisons, anger and underlying tears, opinions, and beliefs we have ingested.
We line our lodge with cedar boughs on the earth. The stone people and the cedars can take our rage and anger and transform them. When we clear the belly of self defeating beliefs, we access our hearts songs. From lead to gold. From rape into noble passion – gratitude, Hope, kindness and love of life and art. Living a life of heart and meaning means following what has heart and meaning. The drum, drum making and drumming have taught me that. Together we can do anything. United we stand, divided we fall. Take down your barriers and let the emotions flow – letting go of worry and doubt and remembering the words of great teachers like Maya Angelou: “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody”.. And that begins with me.

All is well and all will be well

The mysteries of Nature

They can be a great help—–words.  They can become the spirit’s hands…and lift….and caress.“The Spirits Hands” – Meister Eckhardt 

I wrote this in 2013, and edited it..

bear creek medicine wheel

What a wonderful weekend we had in the beauty and mystery of bear creek and nature.  Words, silence, space and drumming.  On Saturday, as we were sitting in circle by our medicine wheel

, and a doe and her faun came to visit us.  Spirit was there, and magic was afoot.  Bear Creek contains the mysteries, which exists in the present moment.  The Mysteries is where truth meets beauty and heals the people and culture.  Mysteries can put us in a hypnotic trance or altered state.  The term mesmerized came form the research of Franz Mesmer who began this work in the 1700’s and was most popular in Europe, Germany and America.  Benjamin Franklin was involved in a scientific study to prove the presence and healing power of “animal magnetism”. (including the indigenous people’s belief that animals have powers and can heal us.) I have been mesmerized many times in nature.  The verb mesmerize is to hold the attention of (someone) to the exclusion

of all else: “she was mesmerized”; “a mesmerizing stare”.  The 28 classes I teach a year is all based on the sacred circle, or wheel that is eternal.  In order to earn the “gifts” of each direction, we must learn about releasing the victim/predator consciousness and move from wannabes and “I need to” toward willingness, which sets in the center of the circle. (your own hoop)

In recovery, acceptance and willingness are the keys to earning the promises much like the medicine wheel, and the gifts of the four directions which have to be earned through will or Volition.

Volition has five steps

seeing the ball turning

The first step of volition is attention.  In my years of play therapy I practiced the Zen of “ball watching”, often referred to as tennis.  My teacher was an ex professional tennis player and holistic studies master. We would go three to four times a week for hours with the simple agenda to hit the ball to each other.  I hadn’t played like that since childhood, and was resisted to the idea, since my agenda had been to “beat” someone, and then to sabotage myself. I slowly broke my addiction to competition with others and began to come to my senses – in this case my eyes. His mantra was “to see or not to see”. He would often catch the ball and ask me which way the seams were turning? I went from “I don’t know” to actually seeing the ball, and not get caught up in planning results (looking at where I wanted to ball to end up rather than seeing the ball) and noticing I was holding my breath.

and what my breath was doing, teaching me to be totally absorbed in the ball, truly seeing and detached from thought…seeing each moving shot anew.  This would lead me into an incredible state of concentration, where time disappeared, my body started making moves that I had no idea it could make, all following my commitment to see the ball.  I have entered t

I have entered that same state on a day of fly-fishing.  The path to the mysterium is the walk into nature. Angeles Arrien in her book “The Second Half of Life” refers to the gates of wisdom, the passages we are invited to pass through, and one of these is the clay gate, which is about sensuality and sexuality, calling this gate “the gate you will never understand”  The creative fires in me were awakened this amazing weekend.  I am in town for a day, and I head back out to bear creek to feed my soul and spirit.  The four places to tend to the soul’s fire are the deep woods, the mountains, the desert and the seashore. I am learning to tend my souls fire by being in nature. Blessings, Patrick