Posts Tagged Shamanism

Shamanic Drumming

Shamanic Drumming – Prayer of the Soul 
Indigenous cultures (Native Americans) have been practicing drumming rituals for thousands of years. People all over the world are taking up drumming in astounding numbers. At a grass roots level,  some drum circles simply jam and make a lot of rhythmic noise, others however prefer to explore the prayerful ritual of shamanic drumming.

Shamanic drumming is a time-honored ritual utilized to heal and nurture the soul. Shamanic drum circles provide like minded people an opportunity to unite for the attainment of a shared objective. There is power in drumming alone, but that power is elevated and multiplies on many levels when celebrated in a group. The drums draw individual energies together, unifying them into a consolidated force. Synchronized drumming is the most effective, so individuals should alternate the responsibility of setting the tempo and leading the group. Most circles have found the following formula useful in setting both the intention and establishment of a circle.

Formation of a Circle

Simply join together, forming a true circle. The creation of a circle, creates an energy pattern that helps contain, focus, and amplify the power generated by the drums themselves.

Cleanse the Space

To begin, smudge the space and all participants in preparation for the spiritual or inner work to come. The sacred aromas dispel any stagnant or unwanted energy and opens the chakras. Sage, cedar, or sweetgrass are traditionally used for smudging, but any dried herb will suffice. Ignite the smudging agent in a fire-resistant receptacle, blowing out the flames. Use a feather or your hands to draw the smoke over your heart, throat, and face to purify the body, mind, and spirit. Next, smudge your drum by passing it through the smoke. Have the drummers smudge themselves and their drums by passing the smudge bowl clockwise around the circle. Conclude the smudging by blessing the smudge pot.

Call to the Directions

Drums 2At this point, you may wish to invoke the powers of the Four Directions (Wind-North/Fire-East/Water-South/Earth/West). This is an ancient shamanic rite practiced cross-culturally to access and honor the powers of creation. A facilitator can lead the group in this process. Haveeveryone stand and face the corners together. Rotate clockwise, facing East first, then South, West, and finally North, inviting each Direction to participate and assist in the ceremony. If you wish, you can include Father Sky above and Mother Earth below as the Fifth and Sixth Directions.

Form Your Intent

Having invoked the Four Directions, it is important to form the group’s collective intention – what you desire or expect to accomplish that evening. Intent is in essence the why of the circle. In establishing an intention, the group opens itself to a myriad of possibilities; in sight, sound and spirit.

Prayer Round

The next step is to commence the first or prayer round of drumming. All participants should focus their attention on the group intention during this round of drumming. It is the responsibility of the facilitator to set the tempo. A steady, metronome-like pattern with precise intervals at around three beats per second is the most effective. This rapid “Eagle Beat” creates the sensation of inner movement, which if you allow it, will carry you along with it. It is projective in nature and carries your intention, prayers, and awareness into the spirit world that underlies and sustains our physical reality.

Finding Unison

Outdoor circleThe time-frame for this varies from ceremony to ceremony. It is best to trust your intuition in this process. When leading a group, move the beater around the drumhead until you find the sweet spot and the drum begins to sing and hum. Eventually, you will hear the sound of the drum moving around the circle, while resonating through the other drums. At this point all begin to sing in unison. The experience is indescribable. It is here that you will swear that you hear voices chanting and the sounds of different animals. You sense a connectedness to the spirit world. Try to hold this energy for as long as possible. This phase  usually reaches a crescendo and eventually wanes, with the drums again sounding out individually. This is usually the point where the facilitator signals the end of the first round with four thundering beats.

Healing Round

Once the group intention has been introduced, commence the second or healing round by drumming the pulsating lub-dub, lub-dub of a heartbeat rhythm. Stroke a steady heartbeat rhythm at around two beats per second. The magnetic pulse of this rhythm draws power from the spirit world into the circle itself. Each participant must surrender all attachment and clear themselves of any emotional obstructions if success is to be achieved. It is best to close your eyes and focus on the sound of the drums. Let the drums do the healing. The drums will shape the present energy into a powerful vortex that will spiral out into the fibers of Mother Earth’s web. When the power reaches an ebb, signal the end of the healing round with four booming beats.

Giving Thanks

Commence the final or thank you round of drumming with the even cadence of the eagle-beat. Sustain a tempo of three beats per second for one to five minutes. Participants should give thanks for all prayers answered and receipt of the intention by the spirit world.

Closing the Circle

community drumFinally, signal the end of the drumming with four resounding beats. It is important to conclude the drumming circle by rotating counterclockwise, thanking each of the Directions for their participation and assistance. This counterclockwise movement will close the energy vortex and signal that the sacred time of focus has ended.

Many have found this basic formula to be very effective in a myriad of environments and situations. Feel free however to adapt them to serve your own needs. Rhythm is a very personal thing. Experiment with different tempos and rhythms. Spirit will guide the way, I assure you!
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