Arachnae's Metaphysics

Shamanic Drumming

One of 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 consciousness.

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 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 townhouse without 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.


Drum 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 rhythms.

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.


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.