Drum Dance

The Drum Dance is a Spiritual Visionary Dance that came to fruition by Joseph Rael, Beautiful Painted Arrow. 

“Joseph Rael, whose name, Tsluu teh koy ay, given to him as a child at Picuris Pueblo, means “Beautiful Painted Arrow,” is widely regarded as one of the great Native American holy men of our time. He was born in 1935 on the Southern Ute reservation to a chief’s granddaughter and a Tiwa-speaking Picuris native. At about age 7, shortly before his mother’s death, he went to live in Picuris near Taos, NM, where his visionary powers were developed until, at about age 12, he began to assist the village holy man in curing practices.


Joseph Rael, Beautiful Painted Arrow, wrote of the Drum Dance:

“I was given a vision in which I saw a Drum Dance. Men and women dancers were moving rhythmically back and forth on an open field from inside a giant drum that was being played . . .

“The drum was made from a hollow log with a skin on it. The people who were playing the drum said that when doing a Drum Dance, the dancers would bring forth greatness because the wood is greatness and is what the drum is made from. The dancers would dance the vibration of the sound, bouncing back (present) and forth (future) and returning to past memory, like the sound waves which were bouncing back and forth inside the hollow log of the drum being played. This would be a way by which all physical life would pick up the resonating vibration of sound by which to shift consciousness. This could create the necessary planetary changes because the planetary energies wanted to dance effortlessly between the present, future, and memory of harmony . . .”

“During the first day, the dancers release emotional hindrances to their personal growth . . . 

By the second day, fatigue starts to set in. As the physical body surrenders, there is . . . 

a sense of exhilaration, of transcending limitations and beliefs about oneself. The dancers begin to receive glimpses of other parallel realities.”

“During the third day, a golden plate forms over the heads of the dancers and another plate appears directly below on the ground at the feet of the dancers. From time to time, the energy spirals from the lower plate to the upper plate, connecting the Earth energy with the Sky energy . . .”

–from Being and Vibration by Joseph Rael, pp. 165 and 166

Joseph Rael, Beautiful Painted Arrow, introduced the Drum Dance at the Center for Peace in 1994.


Where to even begin on my experience at the “Drum Dance”. Too much to say. Too much to still soak on. So much to still be discovered. This was the most difficult Spiritual Visionary Quest to date of my life. I feel amazing and look forward to what’s to come and when I can dance again.

I had no expectations going into this. I had no idea what I was getting into. I felt the call long ago to dance and move my energy. To shift areas that resistance lived. My reason for going into this was deep. I may or may not share my “why”. We shall see what is to come out.

Leading up to the ceremony, the weeks brought on a deep wave of anxiety and depression. A restlessness, inability to go deep within. A need to just ride the wave and stay afloat.

As the day came to step into the Dance, with my new and extended family the call grew deeper and louder. The call and song of the wild drawing me in more and more.

Leading up to the ceremony I read books by Joseph Rael, Beautiful Painted Arrow to better understand the medicine and wisdom I was stepping into. I got to a point, where all I could do was simply just be. Spirit was bringing deep waves and patterns of heaviness. Areas in which needed to surface in order to shift. This was exactly what I had been praying for.

In my journey I have found that I was struggling to breathe deep down into and past my root. 

I was at a standstill with my energy. While facilitating on others there was a call to dance and shift my body to help it flow. This was the call and song of the “Drum Dance”. This is the very heart and beat of the drum.

Leading up to the drum dance you begin to clean up your diet and prepare yourself for the dance. Emotions, memories and patterns that are holding your back may begin to surface. Even positive and happy energy as well. We place this all into the “All That Is, Great Spirit.”

The day of the dance everyone arrives early to register and set up. The women sleep up the great hill of the Birdsong Peace Chamber in a fairy nook protected by the Grandmother Trees. The men sleep down below on the edge of the dance field protecting the fire, feathers and dance field. The Drum created by Joseph, carries the rhythm of the dance made from the hollow of a tree sleeps in the Peace Chamber. The Peace Chamber along with the entire dance are visions that Joseph had and brought to us. His visionary chambers span our globe. It is a true blessing to have a chamber so close to our area.

The dancers arrive and set up their rest area on the edge of the dance floor which is called the “Feather Line” The mens’ rest area is their sleep area. The women set up their sleep area up the hill. You are able to socialize with everyone during this time. You settle in, eat and drink lots of water.

I’d like to invite you to think of the earth as the great medicine drum our feet the mallet.

As the drum of the earth begins to softley rumble deeper. We all enter into the Sacred Sweat Lodge as well as a Water Ceremony and Blessing. We sit and talk and begin to prepare to dance.

On the dance field there is a line of feathers. We all stand on opposite sides of the feathers. We choose a feather and this is our focus point. The drum begins, the sacred songs and chants from our gifted drummers begin. We move forward blessing the path with sacred cornmeal. As we move forward we clear the path of the now leading us into the future. As we move backward we clear the path of the past. We continue moving back and forth. Our dance helps clear the way not only for self but for our ancestors and mankind. We dance for all.

My dance…

As the dance began and went on my head began to ache. As if Spirit were feeding a fire within my mind, I could not think. I had no option but to just be. I understood exactly what Spirit was planting. The release of thought. The Fire in my Crown and Third eye was so intense I could not have a thought at all. My eyes could not stay open from the intensity of the Fire. If my eyes were closed I had no balance. Spirit forced me to stay in the inbetween state of being. One of my why’s in dancing was to connect the Below, The Above with the in between. 

The “in between” is an area of great struggle for me and has been my entire life. I had no choice but to stay in the inbetween. Damn did it hurt. I cried, I sobbed. As I breathed in the Cosmos as I exhaled into the Earth. As I breathed in the Mother I extended into the Father. In that my heart would open. As she opened I cupped my hands and held her in and with my Sacred being and breath extended her out. Extending her out with complete trust and faith.

In my darkest days when my depression had reached a point of wishing to no longer exist. A voice would move in. The voice of Spirit whispering gently into my ear “keep going”. 

As my body became fatigued, rather quickly I became depleted. The drum beat gave my body the energy to keep going. Each time I reached my feather I was greeted with a vision of the Ancient Grandmother and Grandfather Spirit saying “Keep Going”. The wind would move in blessing my skin, fueling my body. The vibrations of the sacred chants encouraged us to not give up.

As a child on the sacred land in which I was born spirit spoke in the movements and dance of the wind. These are the earliest memories of my connections. I was reminded of the very depth of Spirit that lives within us all.

There were times when we rested. The drum would call us back to the field to dance. In the evenings during sleep time reality and the dream state blended together becoming unaware of what was and what was a dream. Comfort in not knowing carried me on.

During the dance my vision shifted. All was seen in a vibrational light and sound, a pulsating movement. The movement was so strong that at this point I had to keep moving or I would become sick. It was very interesting to notice that if I stood still my belly would begin to swirl with the same sensation as anxiety. The lesson in this is that energy must move. If energy is not in movement we become ill. This very swirl within was the magic of dance clearing my very being. There is no choice but to dance out that which is ready to flow.

There were moments when extreme emotions would bubble up; visions of the past, visions of unknown stories. Not to relive but to acknowledge. As the drum beat on, as my feet moved forward and backwards there was no stopping the emotions. The movement of the body, drum, song, breath and wind, the movement of all that gently and gracefully allowed the stories and emotions of the past to rise and flow. As these heavy parts moved throughout the body the Dance Supporters would smudge us and aid in what was needed. Underneath this release was a deep and penetrating openness to the heart. A beauty and openness that can only be experienced. What was tears and exhaustion transmuted into energy and love. This was the sacred dance in motion. I began to look forward to the rise of the heavy energy. I knew in my exhaustion and fatigue I was still strong enough to do the work. That my dance was powerful. That is our moments of depletion; we are our most powerful source. There is nothing left in us but room for Spirit to dance.

I began to see that all that is within this common reality.. I began to see the energy of below, above and middle flowing together. I began to see with not my Spiritual eyes, not my third eye. I began to see with no filter. I began to see the vibration of the blending, the weaving and braiding of all realities in the now with my normal day to day sight. In this I became aware that there is absolutely no separation. The separation that exists is that in which we create. 

How do we come back to a world with no limitations? We find nature and learn the sacred ways, the ancient ways. We work to let go of the ego. Knowing that this work is hard, beautiful and love is the very song in which the darkness carries.

As the dance came to a close. I laid on the earth with the dancers. Our Drum Chief blessed our skulls with Sacred Waters. I cried deep cries of gratitude and love. Every part of me, firmly grounded to the earth. I was handed a cup of water. I sat there crying holding the water for a very long time. As I sipped the water I cherished every drop, drinking the Sacredness of the Earth. The Sacred Waters, the blood of Mother Earth.

As the days move forward still unpacking the sacredness of the drum dance a long to return to the field and dance. There is no other place  I’d rather be, dancing with Spirit is where you can find me.

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