the simplest and most powerful tools of the shaman and shamanism
is the hand drum. Drumming, either alone or in a group, can reduce
stress, energize the drummer and invoke altered states of
A simple heartbeat rhythm, the repetitive da-dub sound of a heart, can induce
calm and a zen-like state in the most hyper individual. Research shows
that drumming can cause alpha and theta brainwaves associated with
reveries and dreaming and bolsters the immune system.
Drumming regularly 'tunes up' the dreaming mechanism and can produce
'endorphine-like highs'. Some drummers use drumming to enter a state in
which they can contact their spirit guides, while others drum in large
energetic groups to relieve their work-week stress.
If you want to try drumming yourself, you can either locate a local
drum circle, or purchase your own drum and drum at home.
DRUMMING AT HOME
Drumming at home is simplicity
itself. Clear your
schedule for an hour or two, and shut off the cellphone. Turn the
lights down or off and use candles. You might smudge your area with
sage or sweetgrass to purify your area and yourself of negative
thoughts and influences before you begin.
Sit on the floor or on a low
chair, and hold your drum
in your hand, or for a djembe, between your knees. Start with a simple
heartbeat rhythm, repeated slowly. Dub-DUB. Dub-DUB. Beat the heartbeat
for several minutes, until you feel yourself relaxed and open. You can
continue this rhythm for your entire session if you wish, or begin
other rhythms as the spirit takes you. (If you are drumming with your
family, it's wise to have a drum per person, to prevent sibling
squabbling over turns.)
Try drumming for ten or fifteen
minutes at first; as
you gain confidence, you may want to drum for longer periods, or try to
drum yourself into a trance or quest-state. If you want to try
drum-journeying alone, take the precaution of setting an alarm so you
don't find yourself drumming through important commitments.
You can drum in an apartment or
drawing down the wrath of your neighbors; drumming doesn't have to be
loud to be effective. A small African djembe, lightly tapped with the
fingers, can be as effective in a small space as a loud bass pow-wow
drum out of doors.
DRUMMING IN A CIRCLE
circles typically meet in
music or new age stores; my own store, Esoterica,
has a weekly drum circle every Tuesday at 7:30 pm. People can bring
their own drums, but we do provide store drums for drop-ins that don't
own their own, or forgot to bring it. We also provide other hand
percussion instruments such as bells, maracas, rainsticks and 'croaking
frogs '- wooden frogs with ridged backs; these produce a 'ribbit' noise
when stroked with a wooden stick. Frogs can either be 'croaked' or
struck with the stick to make a thwocking noise.
The circle may have a
facilitator, or it may be a
gathering of peers. One person typically starts drumming, with others
joining as moved, in similar or complementing patterns. Little
experience is required to create really inspirational collections of
If joining a drum circle
already in progress, please
use some discretion. Hotdogs are not appreciated, although most circles
are too polite evict them. If your drumming is drowning out everyone
else, you are too loud. If it is your first visit, attempting to lead
the rhythm is showboating. Do not use a 'spare' drum without permission
or an invitation.
DRUMMING AS A QUEST
Some groups will use drumming as a vehicle to launch a spirit quest, to
travel astrally, to meet and talk to your spirit guide, or to contact
inner aspects of yourself. If the group you are considering is of this
type, make sure you understand the etiquette and protocols of the group
before you take part. Some groups have some participants drumming while
others journey, and some have all participants journeying with one
drummer, for example
Drumming is as old as mankind, and as recent as this week. Find a drum
or drum circle today and take part in this ancient tradition.