Portland Pilgrimage and the Seventh Sister
Magical Drum Experience Portland – a Pilgrimage 3-5th May 2019
Well, where do we start?
On a beach in #Weymouth with intermittent drizzle in the air!
Four women convened and began to drum in the sea. They felt the call of the cleansing water, of the essence of #Yemanja – #goddess of the waters. The waves took them and their drums began to play. Here deep connections were formed with magical moments of shared sound in sisterhood. At one point, as I looked into Hannah’s eyes, I knew we had moved into a deeper place. We began stepping towards each other –knee deep in the water. A spark of heart magic welled up in me as we moved in unison, each beat building some sea magic around us.
The waters called me as I began to look into the sea and the drum began its stronger beats, they became more rapid as the water called for its song to be sung and I opened my mouth – who knows what came out.
Our #sisterhood had formed and our journey had begun.
The four became six and after a wondrous walk along cliffs and fields we landed in the 8 Kings pub on Portland for dinner. It was good food! We walked back in the dark, full bellied and like we were the only #women on earth, such was the emptiness of the roads and the land around.
The next day we rose and gathered around our house #altar –a mix of fox skulls, shells, feathers, ribbons and goddesses and a spider crab affectionately named 'Barry’ and our drums placed around it.
We opened sacred space on this New Moon with our intentions to be ‘here’, ‘together’, ‘receiving what we need’ as Sisters of the #drum. We intended to give to the land and the #sea and the #cliffs and the trees. We anointed each other in welcome and drummed together, for the first time, welcoming the energy of #Portland –which came in tangibly and was felt by all.
We packed up our portable altar, took our offerings and drums and ….as all good holidays require…went to the crystal shop down the road!
Once our tourist needs were satiated we took ourselves off to Church Ope – stopping first in St Andrew’s Church 13th Century ruins. It was apparently the islands first parish church until the mid 18th Century.
Starting life as a Saxon church it was bestowed to Benedictine monks in 1042. The church was torched by French raiders who landed at Church Ope but it was rebuilt. After a landslide on the cliffs in Southwell in 1734 the church was replaced by one further inland. It suffered bomb damage in World War 2 and was tidied up and excavations finished in the late 1960s.
As we arrived we were greeted with greenery all around. Nature had taken over this space which is full of crumbled walls, tombs emblazoned with skull and crossbones, an arch where the old bell tower used to be and more recent additions of stone spirals and places marking sacred areas. There are some ribbons in trees and evidence of a space recently used for fires.
As we dropped our bags we took drums in hand. Walking the land and drumming where we felt called. I was called to a large gravestone in which the energy of a woman appeared, she was happy that we were there. As we continued to connect Kim found herself sat in front of a grave with skull and crossbones. The feeling of piracy was there, and as the beach below was a smugglers beach, there could well be that energy around. I found myself enamoured by a tree and placed my drum in it to take a picture. I later found a leaf, well wedged into the handle and felt quite blessed by that tree.
On another visit I noticed ribbons in its branches too!
As I moved back into the central space I found my sisters perched on rocks or crouched at graves drumming. It was a glorious sight to behold, the sea and cove visible through the trees as we drummed in this secret place. Hannah had grown up around Portland and had never visited this church! We joined together, tuning into what this church needed and found ourselves gravitating to the edges of the building, drumming up a circle of women!
As our drumming reached a peak I energetically saw hoards of people wearing robes leaving the church and going into the centre of the spiral of stones on the other side of a wall. As the last person left, we all stopped drumming.
We gathered and ate strawberries in the sun, making our altar and tying bracelets, that Sue Yen had brought, onto each other’s wrists to mark our Sisterhood. We called some things into our lives and left ribbons and offerings in the space. It was a truly wonderful time.
We packed up and took ourselves down to Church Ope Cove. Apparently a place where Vikings landed! The beach is covered in beautiful smooth pebbles. It was once a sandy beach but the pebbles have come from quarry stones well worn by the sea.
As soon as we touched the beach we were off again. Exploring, drumming to the sea. I found myself on a rock in the sea watching as the tide came in around me on all sides. I drummed and sang and turned to see women all over the beach, drums in hand!
We created our altar again on the beach, in a semi-circle of stones that had been made into a wall and we sat together drumming. The sea in front of us with the tide coming it and the sound of water on rocks all around. As our drumming ended emotion rose and Debs found herself walking out to the sea once more to overcome with what the drumming had risen.
We stayed here for some time, the beach ours for much of it – save for a man with an easel painting the row of beach huts.
We packed up and walked up the 160 steps back to Rufus Castle. Apparently this was built to stop attackers. We stared out over the view of cliffs, woods and cove and the sun was shining brightly.
We made our way (by bus!) down to Portland Bill and ate amazing food at the Lobster Pot before making our way down to Pulpit Rock and along the cliff edge to a secluded space. Our altar emerged again, each time it came out it grew in size as we collected sea twisted twigs and shells from our journey. And the drumming began again.
We sat on the cliff edge drumming out to the endlessly roaring sea; we drummed to the horizon, to the sea birds, to the beauty of the day. We found ourselves dancing and jumping and standing on high rocks and at some point we each noticed that we had gathered a crowd above us, looking down…somewhere on a Portland Bill Facebook page is a video of us! Zuzana lay down and basked in the sun, in the sound and more.
We spent so much time here, enjoying the company, the view, the connection to the land. I’ve been here before and drummed alone. I know that this space is magical…but with a group of sisters holding space for each other, there is nothing like it!
From there we made our way across the fields and again came to high cliff edges with beautiful grassy walks. At one point you can see the sea on either side of you; such is the lie of land and the width of Portland as an island.
We walked up and came across some sheep and pigs. Here we decided to create our final altar of the day. Before this journey began I pulled a card from Georgie Catlings Yoni Oracle deck and found the Yoni of Compassion. She has a ritual for new moons to let go of grief and pain and hurt. We took out the sticks we had gathered on our journey and tied sheep wool and paper with our words around them, the intention being that what we wrote and wove around the stick was that which we wanted to leave behind. We burned what we could and threw our sticks over the cliffs. Releasing that which we no longer wish to carry.
Then we tried some hilarious photoshoots – trying to get us all in as the sun went down over the sea. It was the most beautiful of sights. And then we began to move again, watching the sun go finally down, down, down and I drummed as it finally disappeared.
We made our way home and ate. This was the end of our first full day. It had been glorious.
Throughout that day, we had each noticed the sense of someone else with us. We started a conversation about it and everyone had felt the presence of someone more than us. We realised there had been 7 seats at the Lobster Pot table, table number 16 (1+6=7) the night before, 7 pieces of red string…7, 7, 7…it was undeniable.
The next day I rose at 5am. I went downstairs to see if any of the sisters had made it too and both Sue Yen and Debs were there, tea in hand, biscuits packed! We left the house at 5:15 and took ourselves down to Church Ope, this time we took a left and walked along the mid line cliffs, finding the perfect spot to sit and watch the sun rise over land and sea.
We had our warm drinks and we began to drum in welcome of the sun. Watching it burst above the far out land was magical. We watched it completely rise before taking our leave and jumping back into bed for a few hours!
We gathered just before leaving the house around the altar. We thanked the house and the island of Portland for all we had received. We stashed our belongings in the greenhouse and took ourselves off for another walk.
This time on the highest cliff points above Church Ope and along East Weare. We set up our altar, Zuzana sharing that she had felt her grandmother with her throughout the trip. Kim sharing that this morning she had pulled out a 7 sisters mandala card from her deck!
We spoke about the presence of this seventh sister – we thought perhaps it was Nicole Bird, a beautiful woman who had made a drum with Debs, Kim and I and sadly passed a month ago. It could have been the energy of Portland, it could have been passed sisters… We drummed. We drummed to connect to the 7th sister, to the 7 sisters, we drummed and drummed and drummed.
We walked back and collected our belongings. We took our leave of Portland and made our way back to Weymouth. We found ourselves in Rendevous bar for lunch as Quayfest was on at the harbour. Music flooded the space and as we slowly adjusted to the sensory overload of people, sound and business we realised we were sat and table number 7!
You could not make it up!
We took ourselves full bellied, around shops and onto the sandy beach at Weymouth and set up our final altar. Debs presented us with a ‘Sisters of the Drum’ stone and we drummed up our final drumming. Closing our circle. Closing our adventure and pilgrimage. Wondering where this magic will take us now.
I’m still landing from this glorious trip. I saw a friend last night who said I looked amazing, radiant. I feel it. I felt that connection to the land, to walking, to having bare feet in the sea so much. I felt the space. The freedom. The openness. This trip has well and truly filled up my cup. It has created lasting friendships between women from all walks of life and I am so grateful.
There will be another Magical Drum Experience coming soon. If it is something you might be interested in joining please register interest at email@example.com or join our facebook group Sisters of the Drum