African Drumming Village and a Psychedelic Forest

camp maitres Tambour Afric 2012 - Mask Djouanible

A much needed communion back to nature, where the old concert becomes the new. Where synthesia and a heartbeat of sound enliven the Spirit and remind us we are still human, destined to rise and fall like the sun.

Trip Report – Day one
I took some time from work and left to head up to the African village camp setup in Brooksville, Florida. This was in the middle of nowhere, cow fields, wildflowers, hilly one- lane roads.

I set up camp right next to a running stream, which was narrow enough to jump over, along with a couple small bridges for crossing. My spot was close to bathrooms, showers, picnic tables and running water spigots  vs. the primitive area, which had none of the above.

For food I brought a gallon of water, 2 power bars, bag of nuts, 2 fruit strips, 1 banana and 1 apple, for Friday night – Sunday morning. Not a lot of food, but I wanted to rough it, and just see what happens. It turned out everyone offers and shares. I bought a 12 pack and 6 pack of brew and gave to a couple people who shared food with me, on a run we made to a local store miles away.  I was impressed with several of the camp setups, Moroccan lanterns, big tents with red/purple sheets, etc. I had the smallest, minimalist 1 man tent there and brought the least stuff. I have a backpack/hiking type setup, where everything fits in one bag.

My first night was mostly getting oriented with the landscape, meeting new people , plus hanging out with people I already knew from Orlando.

At night I went to an awesome bonfire drum circle until around 2:30am, then headed back to my tent.

Trip Report – Day two

For most of the day I wandered around talking to people and sat in on a couple of drum and dance classes.

Around 6:00pm is when the magic started to happen. I ate some magic mushroom chocolates, and sat by a stream getting ready for the impending adventure. Off in the distance, I heard some really fast drumming over by the African dance classes and decided that would be a great place to “cross the threshold into wonderland”.

I sat right in the dirt,  cross legged and took in the sights. Around 7:00pm, I began to feel overwhelming joy. That coming back home feeling started to take over as the emotions began to flow. The sun was making its nightly descent and for a time all I could see were the silhouettes of dancers kicking up sand while doing traditional African dance. The drum beats were fast and furious, presented by about 6 or 7 hand drummers. The last remnants of sun were grazing my face, as I kept splashing water on my skin. An indescribable primal feeling swept over me due to this intoxicating scene, like something out of National Geographic. I closed my eyes and saw a subtle collage of flashing colors, faces and some fractals.

Forever, this scene is engraved in my soul. The mere sound of tribal drumming helps bring me back to this point, and it’s a scene I plan to paint on canvas.

For a time, I wandered in a huge green field as the sun was setting.  This was magical,  with a lot of flowers and shifting bright green trees in the distance.

Going back into the woods, I sat on my drum in front of the stream where I setup camp. Off in the distance I could hear chanting and drumming, to the smell of forest and incense. While staring into the exposed tree roots, I saw a Gaia looking face in a triangular root that captivated my attention. Long did I stare into this cunning root, whose face would slightly shift, as I heard whispers around me and smelling the scent of deep earth and wood. This inviting root borne face appeared to have outstretched arms. As I gazed forward,  the entire landscape in my field of vision became deeper and bright green, much like the old stereogram graphics. In this woodsy, 3D space , I breathed deep and slow, while the ground and water breathed in unison with me.

All too short was this amazing space, until I felt drawn to get up and wander more.

Towards the smell of food I went, it was around 8:30pm now and I hit a plateau for the most part.

I broke my 6+ year Vegan/Vegetarian diet, and devoured some chicken with homemade BBQ sauce around a fire, it was too alluring to pass up in this state.

Later that night a performance was going on, with high energy dancing and ceremonial mask clad dancers on stilts, a sight to behold.

Finally around 11:00pm,  I settled in around the drum circle in a vast field with a black sky and bright stars. A decadent bonfire, dug into an earthen hole raged with all its might and looked mystical against the stars. A slight fog emerged, obscuring the division of earth and sky.

Slow and uniform we drummed like a heartbeat to kick off this tribal experience.

Several of the African performers were there and started off the vibe. As a sacrament , a bowl of water was offered as a receptacle for intention. The drumming intensified, as dancers and tribal folk alike circumambulated the fire. Some dancing, some shaking traditional jugs and shakers, some with drums dressed in colorful attire and headdress.

With a quickened Spirit, drumming amidst this communal ecstasy was really powerful and feeling the ground shake under you is an experience I long to duplicate and re-experience as much as possible.

As things settled down a bit later, an exotic looking gypsy woman sanctified the circle with a large shell of burning sage, then danced with a red scarp flowing against the backdrop of fire.

Around 3:00am, worn out from the events of the day and psychedelic mindset, I headed back to camp and passed out in my tent to the sound of drums off in in the distance and running stream water.

The following morning, I packed up camp to head home. I was still invigorated and felt somewhat wide-eyed from the night before, colors brighter, sounds more clear and extremely grounded to the earth.  Stopping on the side of the road next to a big field, I picked some wildflowers to dry between the pages of a printed journal I keep.

I loved the timeless feeling of this village setup with no set time/place to be. Wandering off to be alone when needed, or joining activities to spend time with others were both options. No computers or distractions. No talk about media or celebrities or mindless drivel.

There are several videos on YouTube available of this event!

A much needed communion back to nature, where the old concert becomes the new. Where synthesia and a heartbeat of sound enliven the Spirit and remind us we are still human, destined to rise and fall like the sun.

Camp Maitres Tambour Afric (Masters of the African Drum & Dance Camp) is a  three-day Camp that was held at Sertoma Youth Ranch in Brooksville, Florida  on Thursday, March 15th through Sunday, March 18th, 2012.  This event provided the unique opportunity to study African Drum and Dance, culture and  traditions with over 25 African Drum and Dance Masters from multiple African ethnic groups (Ivory Coast, Guinea, Congo, Senegal).  12 dance classes and 12  drum classes (djembe, djun-djun, ngoma, & sabar)!  Traditional instrument classes (Balafon, Kora, Dodo) & traditional African Song classes also! Children’s program workshops and nightly drum circles around the bonfire.  Performances by 4 different African groups!

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