Links of the site are right at the bottom of the page)
The links for the 22 pages in this Tools & Crafts section
Let me preface this article by saying
I am not an official Drum Carrier/caretaker. I own two personal
Drums, but do not use them in public ceremony, nor do I belong
to a group. I do use my Drums for my own growth and enlightenment,
and at times during prayer. However I have attended Pow-Wow's,
Drumming Circles, and have my own experiences I can add to the
information shared here. Basically I can only express my own
experiences and the teachings as I understand them.
Please note that before any use of
a Drum one should smudge thoroughly. Some prefer to add a sprig
of White Sage and wear it behind their right ear to better hear
the spirits speaking and assure that the words heard are true
The Drum as Women's Medicine:
The Drum is sacred, it reflects the heartbeat of Mother Earth,
the hooves of the shamanic steed carrying the shaman/Medicine
Person into the journey and through other realms of existence.
It is between the beats of the Drum that we find the Silence
that is the oneness with Spirit. It is the shifting focus into
the Silence that allows us to shift worlds and move between
them. The Drum will take us there. It's rhythm sets a pace for
our own heartbeat for as we focus on it the heart begins to
pace the rhythm. This is a deep centering process that allows
us to enter into a sacred union. Drum Medicine is ancient, sacred,
and it can change the destiny of people with the revelations
it brings forth, the enlightenments one undergoes as they connect
to the world, Mother Earth, and Spirit.
Drums belong to Women, they are the
heartbeat of the Earth Mother, and produce a feminine energy.
At one time Women were the caretakers of the Drum and the Drummers
for they symbolize the womb...the renewal of all life and heartbeat
at the Center of Life. Drums are round, a container that vibrates
with life, a feminine form that has belonged to women since
the beginning of time.
Women have gifted the Drum to men
as well for use in their own growth and development, which includes
not only ceremony, but Drumming for journey work, dreams, and
Many pregnant mothers will Drum to
their unborn child as the child in the womb can feel and hear
the drum before birth.
Other uses of the drum will be discussed
briefly, but please note that to fully understand them and the
tribal uses to which they are applied, a study of the teachings
of that tribe is essential. It's like trying to understand the
masses of the Church without reading the Bible. You need to
see why things are done and each tribe has similar but differentiated
applications that vary. Some people do not carry this study
deep enough, and they simply prefer to have a personal Drum
to work with on their own and discover their relationship to
it as they grow. There's nothing wrong with that, but in ceremonial
use tradition and culture are vital to understanding the enactment
of the rituals used. For this insight I advise that you explore
tribal creation stories.
Shamanic Use of Drums:
Regular shamanic use of the Drum creates in the shamanic practitioner
a conditioning wherein after a few minutes of steady rhythm
they are easily able to produce the lighter states of trance
conducent to their work. The longer the session goes the deeper
into trance they delve, and they have
achieved a level of self-control there where they can determine
just how deep they want to go through intent and focus. Through
the Drum they are transported to the Above World or Below World
where their journey will begin. It's been shown in laboratory
experiments where Drumming produces a change or changes in the
central nervous system and sensory as well as the motor areas
of the brain being affected. Usually the shamanic practitioner
preparing to journey has an assistant that does the Drumming
for them so they are free to journey and do their work. The
physical demands of Drumming can interfere with the focus of
the journeywork and this is an ideal, but there are many shamanic
practitioners that prefer to do their own Drumming too. Some
opt to use CD's and other recorded material in lieu of the physical
Drum itself. In the case of having an assistant, the shamanic
practitioner generally will Dance to the rhythm, often with
accompanying rattles attached to his costume. Frequently they
will sing their Power Songs and call upon their Spirit Helpers
and Medicine in this way.
The Songs, Dance, and Drum's voice
are a monotonous rhythm in the sense that they are simple so
that there is more freedom to enter into trance and allow the
practitioners the ability to slip between the cracks of the
universe/stepping between the worlds fully aware of what is
taking place on both sides. Drumming is a sacred practice that
takes you deep within yourself. The development of a strong,
steady rhythm will aid you in spiritual growth. It helps raise
energy from the base chakra rising to the heart chakra and increases
the ability to nurture and care for others. It will bring up
powerful emotions so it is cautioned not to send that energy
out if it is an angry or violent emotional state you are in
so centering and neutrality or positive excitement are advised.
The vibrations of the Drum carry that beating energy to all
who hear it and they will feel it pass through them taking it
on. Think of War Drums and you will know what I'm talking about.
Drumming Power Animals:
Some Drum their Power Animals calling them forth through Dancing.
No matter how fierce the guardian animal spirit may be, the
Dancer is in no danger because the Power Animal is harmless,
it is the source of power and has no aggression intended, but
comes to you because you need its help. Shapeshifting is a common
way to stay connected on a regular basis to one's Power Animal.
If you ignore it they fade into the background of your life
and Drumming and Dancing are one way of maintaining that experience.
In this way the spirit of the animal receives an exchange of
energy allowing it once again experience physical form. You
possess the animal spirit, it does not possess you.
Group Drumming is done around a Mother Drum, one large enough
for 6-8 people or more who will beat out a rhythm together.
This is a strong reverberation and you can feel it at a great
distance. The voice of the Drum is deep and resonates to the
core of your being. In ceremonial use, the institution of "heartbeat
drumming" is used and the ritual is dedicated to Mother
Earth, peace, healing of individuals or issues, that type of
thing. A Drum leader is chosen for their experience and ability
to keep the rhythm going strong. A prayer of dedication is addressed,
offering cornmeal or tobacco to the Spirit of the Drum, and
the drumming begins. As the beat grows strong and even others
may join in by playing on their personal drums or dancing to
The rhythm of the Drum is best felt by closing your eyes and
listening to it. It sinks into your body and conscious awareness,
and you can "ride" that rhythm often finding yourself
projecting into a shamanic journey. The image of the beating
is that of the energy rising up from Mother Earth, and focus
is important because whatever you are thinking and feeling will
be magnified by the Drum's voice. When a session is ending it
can be difficult to let the rhythm die because your own heartbeat
and energy are so tied to it. During Group Drumming at least
2 members are drumming at all times, allowing the others to
rest, as these sessions can go on for hours.
Often there are accompanying songs
that are sung appropriate to the ritual ceremony and enhancing
the energy effects with a stronger focus. The vocal accompaniment
adds to the energy being raised and draws you deeper into the
ceremony. As the session is brought to a close, the leader moves
into the center of the circle so others will take notice. A
beat of 4 strokes and a final heavy beat is counted out by all
Drummers in unison to mark the ending and call those back who
have journeyed. It allows the rhythm to be broken and any light
trances as well.
The Spirit of the Drum:
Drums have resident spirits and those spirits recognize the
voice of the Drummer that is the caretaker of the Drum. In this
way they carry that Drummer's voice out into the worlds working
together as a team. A close relationship to the Drum is maintained,
and the caretaker understands the voice of the Drum as well.
They speak to one another. At times the Drum will call to the
caretaker and ask to be played. It's a two-way street for them
and the relationship is very sacred. During healing ceremonies
the Drumming calls in other spirits, spirits that will appear
before those gathered, look at the patient, diagnose and prescribe
what is needed to cure. There are instances where hospitals
have allowed NA Drummers in to perform healing ceremonies effecting
cures that doctors couldn't. Cures that are instant and difficult
for modern medicine to attempt to explain...especially to a
Board of Directors!
You *can* see these spirits when
they present themselves and they will speak, so it is this along
with other phenomena that is witnessed that demonstrates the
power of the Drum. Some of the other phenomena might be flashes
of light, little sparks of light, loud thundering noises, a
variety of things but they are seen, heard, and felt by those
who are gathered at these sacred sessions. People often see
the energy signature of the Drum itself weaving through the
group like a transparent ribbon of fog might weave along the
forest edge of a low valley meadow. It's beautiful to see this.
Personal Use of the Drum:
While I've explained briefly what some of the uses are there
is a process by which the individual can undertake a personal
healing through Drumming sessions. The Drum allows you to enter
the Silence, and it is there that one can see what the Winds
of Change are calling for. As you keep rhythm and balance it
with your own heartbeat, you come into unity with the Web of
Life and All Our Relations. The Drum will begin to "speak"
to you in its own voice and through that it will tell you what
you need to do to heal yourself emotionally, spiritually, physically,
or mentally. It is used as a therapy tool and has been for generations,
now being introduced by psychological professionals as well
through their own NA heritage and wisdom.
A fine book written on this subject
is: "Listen to the Drum: Blackwolf Shares His Medicine;
by Blackwolf Jones, M.S., C.A.S. & Gina Jones; ISBN: 1-881394-07-7
I find this book to be invaluable for anyone going through major
change in their life on any level. It's easy to read and simple
Sacred Drums come in several different styles and each serving
a purpose. There are Drums for personal use, for healing, for
ceremony, and they take many forms. The following list will
give you an idea of the diversity and uses.
If you are interested in the ritual
use and construction of Drums I suggest acquiring the book:
"Sacred Beat" by Patricia Telesco and
Don Two Eagles Waterhawk; ISBN: 1-59003-030-3 And you may eventually
want to make your own, but at the end of this article I will
list some resources to order them from, or you may want to explore
your local NA craft stores and musical instrument supply shops.
Often the Pagan/Herbal shops have drums for sale too.
Earth Mother Drums:
These can be as large as 20' across and 10' deep, a hole/womb
carved out and capped. This type of Drum is made to dance upon.
The energy of the dance goes out into the world and other dimensions
as it reverberates into the Earth Mother. They are seen as the
belly of Mother Earth, and can serve as a Kiva. The soil that
is removed is mounded to the sides representing Air, Fire, Water,
Two headed Drums with a lower tone one head amplifying the other.
Allow the voice of the Ancestors to speak to us, and those who
Dance to it take union with the Ancient Ones of the past, present,
Drums containing water and played with a "wet head".
They offer a variety of tones and amplification, are carved
from stone, shells, wood, or lava, and have skin heads. Most
will hold around 5 gallons of water or more.
These are generally around 15-18" in diameter, light enough
to sustain in one arm for extended periods and provide an adequate
volume. They are very popular and less expensive than the rawhide
heads. Some have synthetic (mylar) heads while others have rawhide/skin
heads. The synthetic head is less susceptible to temperature
and humidity than the skin heads are. The synthetic drums are
available at most music stores and called "REMO" Drums,
or Pre-Tuned Hand Drums.
*Note: I have a two-headed hand
Drum attached to a little stick. On each side of the drum are
strings with a tiny stone at the end. I know there is an "official"
name for it and I want to say it's something like a tamboura
but I can't be certain so I just call it my Centering Drum.
When the stick is held between the palms and you rub them together
the drum turns and the little stones beat out a rhythm. It's
very portable, has a very sweet voice, and I love it. It's great
for entering into meditation or journey work, and it's excellent
if you are traveling as it slips easily into a purse. The overall
height is about 7" and the diameter of the head is about
6". I apologize for not recalling it's official name but
if you see one of these you may want to pick it up and give
it a try. I believe it is also
used in Asian teachings and in martial arts so someone who is
familiar with those practices may know what they are called.
SOME RESOURCES FOR DRUMS:
Heartbeat Drums Rodney Scott 3555 Singing Pines Road Darby,
Mt 59829 406-821-4401
Moondance Drums P.O. Box 8592 Missoula, MT 59807 406-721-8434
Shares the Mother's Heartbeat Bill Shoemaker 4302 Center Street.
Apt. J302 Tacoma, WA 98409 206-572-4696
Tarwater Drums and Rattles Hawkwind Renewal Co-op P.O. Box 11
Valley Head, AL 35989 205-635-6304
Thunder Studio Drums P.O. Box 1552-9 Cedar Ridge, CA 95924 916-273-3253
Copyright: Cinnamon Moon & River WildFire Moon (Founders.)
All rights reserved.
constructed by Dragonfly