Rhythmwood Story by Craig Perkins

Rhythmwood Story by Craig Perkins
8 April, 2014

Rhythm enabled the tribe to feel more secure in a haphazard

world. Severe weather, illness, accidents, all occurred randomly

beyond their control.

Jan’s tribe was moving across the plains, they moved in

step.  They’re throats were parched, they were exhausted. It was

was the rhythm of their steps that kept them moving. They had to

reach the foot hills of the mountains by sunrise.  Even a few

hours in the merciless heat could be fatal to the weaker members

of the tribe. They hadn’t slept for two days. They moved as if

in a trance.  It was that trancelike state that kept them

moving, moving to their goal.

The Guide looked towards the mountains, estimating

the distance they had to cover before the sun would rise, the

highlands where they were assured of some shade from the trees

and perhaps a little moisture to quench their parched throats.

He realized that at this rate of walking they weren’t going to

make it and it was necessary to increase the pace.  And as in

everything in life, the Guide held two sticks in his hand

and he created the rhythm that was going to enable them to make

it through.  It was necessary for the survival of the tribe in

general and this was just another incident of how this was going

to work for them.  He immediately and quietly increased the tempo

of the beat.  It was done in such

a way that it was a gentle increase so people

wouldn’t notice, wouldn’t disrupt their flow.  They generally

increased their pace slowly over a period of five minutes.  This

ability to increase the tempo just incremental, minutely,

gradually over a period of five minutes was something that took

many years to learn how to do and was not an easy task at all.

This was one of the reasons that he was the Guide, his

ability to work with the rhythms, to work with the beats.  And so

they set off at a faster pace, moving across the plains.  There

was just the minutest concept, the minutest inkling that the sun

was going to be up soon, but they could all sense it.  They all

trusted in the Guide and they all trusted in the tempo of

life.  They trusted his judgment that he would get them there on

time before the crushing heat of the sun would bake them on the

mesa.  As Jan was moving across the mesa, his thoughts wandered

back to a memory of a time earlier on, just after his birth when

he was being transported in a similar journey across a similar

mesa.  He was on his mother’s back and he could feel the beat of

her heart pounding next to him as he was strapped to her and she

was carrying him across the mesa.  He had been born only five

days before.  This was a perilous journey for a young newborn

infant.  And his mother accordingly set the newborn across her

breast close to her heart so that he too could feel the rhythm of

the tribe, the rhythm of her heart so that he would have the

security the calmness to make it through under the scorching heat

and he too was not having the nourishment.  It was very difficult because it was so hot and so intense.  So, he too would need the

strength,  he too would have to hear the beat.  And he could

remember that and he could remember the love of his mother’s

heart, he could remember the beat and the love that all seemed to

sustain him, to empower him, to move him, to give him the

strength to relax in that heat and survive and to become the

young warrior that he was today.  He started up from that thought

and the sun was just gently rising and they could already feel it

warming ever so slightly.  It felt good on their bodies to be

slightly warm because it was so severely cold but they also

feared what was going to happen.  Jan’s thoughts went back to the

training he received.  He was to be a Guide himself some

day and he too had his own set of sticks to help create the

rhythm, the beat of the tribe.  He too was learning the

responsibility of looking after the group.  It was a lot of

responsibility for a young child of thirteen, but he understood

and took the responsibility well.  His mind went back to the

first training he received when it was understood that at the

early age of five or six, he had the ability.  He had the

intuition and the insight and the Guide recognized this in

him and immediately set out that Jan would be his student.  He

took him out, away from his regular duties of the mother of the

tribe.  Jan could remember his first lesson and that was the

tapping of the trees.  The Guide and the Guide’s

apprentice always carried two sticks around with them and these

sticks had a great deal of sensitivity both to sound and they

could actually feel through their sticks and it was important

where and how they chose their stick because the sticks had to be

such that they could a vibration through them.  The sticks had to

be stiff yet porous and light, light enough to carry around with

them.  They always kept their two sticks in their satchel and

carried it around with them.  One of the jobs of the Guide

was to find water in the steppe regions and to find the water you

find the trees and the plants, the cacti and you do this by

tapping on them, and it takes a great deal of sensitivity.  You

tap on the trees and you can feel by the sound whether they

contain the moisture, whether they contain the sap also which is

edible.  And so this is one of the first lessons that Jan learned

from the Guide was the tapping on the trees.  Of course he

had to choose his sticks and he had to find his own sticks, the

tapping sticks, the rhythm sticks.  He did this by sending Jan

out for, preparing him for a day or two then sending him out on

his own even at this very young age to sit down and he sat there

for two days just listening, being aware and waiting for the

sticks to talk to him because he would just look around and he

had no guidance he just had some the sticks would choose him and

he had to be open to that and it took a great deal of sensitivity

and awareness to be receptive to their message.  He sat there for

two days and he had no understanding of what was really supposed

to happen and he was angry at the Guide for leaving him

there.  He didn’t know what to think, he didn’t know what to do.

He moved out and stumbled around.  He was kicking things and was

angry. He kicked a stone and the stone hit this tree and the tree

sang, the tree made a sound.  It was a beautiful sound that resonated.  Then Jan looked up and he saw the branches of the

trees and the branches of the trees seemed to be very attractive

to him and he went up and he felt this must be the sign and he

broke off one of the larger limbs and broke that limb in half

until he had two sticks about two feet or so long.  And he broke

the two sticks apart and he held each one in his hand and then he

struck the tree and it resonated and it resonated beautifully and

he could feel the dust in his hands from the stick and he peeled

the bark off the branches and it was a beautiful reddish wood and

he struck the tree, it seemed to sing.  And he struck the tree

from both sides with his wooden sticks and he could feel the tree

singing and he could feel it just vibrated so beautifully and

sang out all amongst the forest.  It seemed like as he knocked

the tree on either side and built up such a rhythm and a beat and

it seemed that the whole universe was aware and became alive and

it was like some understanding, something that happened inside

Jan’s head and he realized that this was the message that the

Guide was trying to tell him, and he had his sticks, these

reddish sticks, he called them the padauk sticks.  And these were

his sticks and when he came back to the village, all the other

tribes people immediately stopped what they were doing and looked

in his direction cause they could feel the strength of what he

had discovered and they could feel, they all sort of knew that

this was the new Guide, this would eventually be their new

leader.  They felt the resonance from the tree.  They had also

earlier on heard the sounds he was making from the woods and they

all knew.  They made no celebration of his return except for the

knowing glance and he felt that energy was there and he

understood the responsibility, he understood what his destiny was

to be.   From that day forth the Guide took Jan out every

day and worked with him, teaching him all the things that he

needed to know to help the tribe to survive…like tapping on the

wood to find out which trees to find out which had the moisture,

had the sap ready to run and it was very difficult.  He put his

ear just lightly up to the stick and tapped on it with the other

stick and so the sound came from the tree down his stick and he

could just feel it as it gently twitted against his ear.  And

then also when the tribe moved at night through the forest, when

it was pitch black, it was important that Jan would know the

different sounds of the different trees and he could guide them.

He would just go up in the pitch black and he would knock on the

tree and he would know the sound of the tree and he would know

that they were going in the right direction and it was a very

slow and laborious process but that way he could guide them

through just by memorizing the trees and where they were.  So

grandfather took him out and this is the way they mapped the

area, by the different sounds of the different trees.  Whether at

night or day, they could always find their way through the

forest.  Whenever they came upon a new tribe, there was no

language that they all spoke and therefore, there was no way of

telling what was true in the other tribes people’s hearts and no

 way of telling what was really going on and everything.  So what

they would do is, they had no universal language among the

tribes.  When they met members of another tribe, the first thing they did was the Guide would go up to the Guide of

the other tribe and wouldn’t shake his hand but they would both

put their hands on each other’s wrist so they could feel their

pulse.  That way they would know if there was an angry pulse they

would know what to expect.  If there was a soft pulse they knew

what to expect.  They would also put their hands on the heart of,

on the chest of the other people so that they could feel what was

going on.  This was the universal communication.  And then when

it was felt it was comfortable by the initial contact with the

medicine men then they really enjoyed meeting other tribes but

they had no way of communicating so the only thing they did was

through the different drumming ceremonies.  And this was the way

they communicated.  They would tell stories of how the seasons

went through the year.  The one tribe would take the time and

they would orchestrate this great display of describing in rhythm

how the entire year went.  There were frantic rhythms, there were

slow and there was sad when one of the children died in birth

there was a sad rhythm there was sometime fighting and violence

and all this was described and brought about in this beautiful

drumming communication.  And then when one tribe, they would

spend maybe two days presenting to the guest tribe how their

entire year went through the vibrations, through this drumming

thing and that tribe would understand the other tribe and then

they would spend probably another two days telling about their

lives and how that went and individuals would also have an

opportunity to come forward amongst all the tribes circled around

them and they would beat out the story of their lives so that

each person had a chance to communicate with the others and no

words were necessary.  There was something significant or

something important, about the fact that the rest of the universe

was very random in its sounds and actions and its chirping, and

it was only the human tribe that had that beat, that constant

beat.  And that’s what separated them because they needed to feel

that because they needed to feel above and beyond the animals and

nature.  They understood instinctively that this was something

they needed to hang on to for survival.  And part, of course, of

these celebrations was the beat and the rhythm.  Then, after

these four days of each of them communicating, they would each

understand each other.  They would see what was going on and then

they would join in this great celebration, this great dance where

they would join all the different sounds and all the different

dances and music they had.  They would combine them and merge the

different techniques they had in dancing and techniques they had

in customs.  They would share and give those different customs

back and forth.  The great celebration might last for a day or

two.  Then it was that sometimes the different tribes would

exchange the young bride for a young groom and there would be

intermarriages between them and there would be a connection and a

bond.  Then that tribe would move on, but they would always be

their friend and they would always remember that beat of that

tribe and they would recognize that.  And so this was like

friendly tribes.  And whenever they sensed from that time on

whenever they were moving, as they were moving through different

areas, if the scouts came back instead of a different tribe coming and they didn’t know who they were, they would send out a

beat through the talking sticks that would resonate through the

air with these tremendous sounds on these hollowed out log drums.

And the other tribe would answer with their beat that was

indicative of their own tribe and that way they would know that

it was a safe tribe.  And if Jan’s tribe sent out a beat and the

other tribe answered with something other than that which they

knew then they knew they would have to be ready for battle or

ready to run or whatever was necessary.  So, all these thoughts

were going through Jan’s head as they were moving across the

mesa.  It had been a very dry season and this trip across the

mesa down south to the warmer weather, to the warmer conditions

had been very, very difficult and very dangerous.  So far they

had lost one tribal member and it was a great, sad occasion and

they didn’t even have time to do the necessary rites because they

had to move on.  So, as Jan’s thoughts drifted back to all the

training that was necessary for him to do and be and in this way

he avoided the pain, the parchedness of his throat, the total

exhaustion of his body as they moved across the mesa to the

rhythm of the tribe.  There was something interesting about when

they went through these deep hardships.  It’s like everybody went

through this intense physical pain and hardship and barely had

strength to move but it was also during this time that people had

a deeper sense of purpose, a deeper sense of knowledge, a deeper

sense of unity, of pulling together, of survival that was

strengthening to the tribe, so there was always good that came

out of these ordeals and there was always good that came out of

the abundant times when food and water was plentiful.  There was

always the balance.  There was always the moving back and forth.

The connection between the tribal members was indescribable.

When you shared the joys of the intensity and the abundance both.

The whole tribe was one family.  You couldn’t tell who was

related to who, they were all so close.  Jan had his own mother,

but he also had many mothers in the tribe and many fathers in the

tribe and many brothers and sisters besides his own.  They could

feel whenever they came together at different times they could

feel afterwards if Jan had been away with the Guide

learning for a few days and he came back and there was something

so real about his brothers and sisters.  There was some

connection there that was totally beyond words.  It was a bond

that they could feel from their hearts even at about 100 ft. away

they could feel that connection that pulling together.  They were

so happy to see each other.  It was such a warm and beautiful

feeling that came about.  Whenever he met his brothers and

sisters and friends, they would always put their hearts together.

At first their hearts were beating rapidly together with the

excitement of seeing each other, but then as they became calmer,

they would sometimes embrace for an hour or so on end.  They

would feel their hearts and feel that connection and their

heartbeat would soon slow down and actually begin to beat at the

same rate and it was like this warm, glowing energy would come

from that heart region as their hearts would finally beat at

exactly the same rate and it would pulsate through their very

beings and they would then after a period of time when they felt that whole beautiful golden energy of the beating of their pulse

at the same time they would sit down and face each other and then

they could feel that same magical heartbeat, that same energy

between them as their hearts were beating in synchronicity.  And

they could always have that beautiful, warm connection which was

the sustaining force of the entire tribe.  Jan learned that it

was part of the job of the Guide to help create the strong

and beautiful children and part of that was the ritual of the

husband and wife coming together to create the child.  Although

Jan was too young to really understand all about that, he knew it

was his responsibility.  He understood that the Guide

would come to the bride and groom’s sacred area and they would

have their embrace and they would feel that embrace between their

hearts just like they did as brothers and sisters and they would

feel their hearts coming together at that beat and the medicine

man would help them to use that energy to synchronize both the

bride and groom’s energy and the beat of their heart until they

felt that energy moving down through their bodies.  They would

come together and as their bodies linked together they would feel

that same energy, that same energy of the universe, the pulsating

of their hearts, the rhythm of their bodies coming together to

help create the most powerful child, born out of the highest

energy.  Of course, the Guide would leave, he wouldn’t be

part of this, but it was part of his job to guide them to have

the most harmonious and beautiful energy together when they were

creating the new child.  As the morning sun started to pierce

down on them, everyone had a great deal of faith in the medicine

man but they also knew that they were not quite at their goal and

there was just a subtle apprehension in people’s hearts but they

had such faith that they would make it through as a group as a

tribe that their rhythm and their beat would allow them to get to

the mesa.  They felt that they were secure in that knowledge.

Everything in the universe was haphazard, the chirping of the

birds, the breeze, the way everything grew. Everything in the

natural surroundings was random. The tribe held on to the rhythms

they created. Rhythm gave them a sense of connectedness in a world of seeming randomness and

haphazard acts of the world around them. It was the rhythm of their

lives that gave them hope and an order to the


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