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Through his workhe has guided thousandsin the healing artof ceremonial drummingand here he shares thebasic tried-andtested pro-gramme that he uses withhis own groups "African and Asian cultureshave been practicing com-munity percussion forthousands of years. NowAmericans are fast joining'drum circles,' informally orthrough organized centers..."So wrote Harriet Barovickrecently in Time Magazine.All over America,people of all agesare taking up drummingin astounding numbers.At a grass roots level, smalldrummingcircles are gathering ..... Since there are no prerequisites todrumming, anyone can join in andexplore rhythms with hands anddrumsticks as an exhilarating way ofcommuning. While some drummingcircles are content to jam and make alot of rhythmic noise, others prefert o e x p l o r e i n t r i c a t e p a t t e r n s o f rhythm, and still others gather forshamanic drumming.Shamanic
Shamanic drumming circlesprovide the opportunity for people oflike mind to unite for the attainment of a shared objective. The drums draw individual energies together. you should smudge the spaceand all participants. focus.The drummers can then smudgethemselves and their drums. opens the energy channels ofyour .1: FORM A CIRCLESimply join together. unifying theminto a consolidated force. you are struc-turing an energy pattern that will con-tain. so individuals should alter-nate the responsibility of setting thetempo and leading the group. but that powerrecombines and multiplies on manysimultaneous levels in a group ofdrummers. This can easily beaccomplished by passing a smudgebowl clockwise around the circle. forming a circle. Thebasic steps that I describe here I havefound most effective.By creating a circle.drumming is a time-hon-ored method of healing and helpingothers.Synchronized drumming is the mosteffective. There is powerin drumming alone.2:CLEANSETHESPACENext. The sacred smokedispels any stagnant or unwantedenergy. and amplify the powergenerated by drumming.Smudging cleanses the mind andenvironm ent in preparation for spiri-tual or inner work.
Light the herbs ina fire-resistant receptacle and thenblow out the flames. inviting each direction to participate and assist in the ceremony. Ifyou wish. andface to purify the body. thenNorth.body. facing firstthe East. a n d o t h e r f o r m s o f shamanic practice in order to accom-plish significant aims. then South.The facilitator can lead the group inthis process.Sage. and sweetgrass are traditional-ly used for smudging. you can include Father . Then use afeather or your hands to draw thesmoke over your heart. throat.Invoking the Four Directions or elements is an ancient shamanic ritepracticed crossculturally to accessand honor the powers of creation.3: CALL TO THE DIRECTIONSAt this point. mind.Conclude the smudging by thankingthe plant whose body made thecleansing possible. Rotate clockwise. smudge your drum bypassing it through the smoke. but any driedherb is acceptable. windhorsecan be increased through smudging.d r u m m i n g . Next. and raises your personalpower or windhorse. then West. I like to have the partici-pants stand and face each direction inunison. you may wish to invokethe powers of the Four Directions. andspirit. According toMongolian shamanism.thyme. cedar.
is the most effective.4: DECIDE ON YOUR INTENTHaving invoked the Four Directions. It isthrough our attention that we influ-ence and direct the aspects of ourexperience and the world around us. Thisrapid "eaglebeat" creates the sensation of inner movement.Skyabove and Mother Earth below asthe fifth and sixth Directions. Allforms and eventsin the material world have their source in the spiritw o r l d .metrono me-like pattern with precise-ly regular intervals. Intentis a kind of decision making thatdirects the focus of our attention. It isprojective in nature and carries yourintention. All participants should focus theirattention on the group intention orgoal during this round of drumming. A steady. 6: FINDING . at around 180beats per minute (or three beats persecond). which.It is the responsibility of the facilitatorto set the tempo. prayers. and awarenessinto the spirit world that underliesand sustains our physical reality.5: PRAYERROUNDThe next step is to commence thefirst or "prayer" round of drumming.it is important to form the group’scollective intention or goal˜what youdesire or expect to accomplish. ifyou allow it. will carry you along.
I move thebeater around the drumhead until Ifind the sweet spot and my drumbegins to sing and hum.UNISONThe timeframe. resonating through each person’s drum.When leading a group. It is best totrust your intuition in this process. Isense that each person is connected . Thedrums begin to sing in unison andthe experience is indescribable. Ican hear the sound of my drum mov-ing around the circle. however. Eventually. varies fromceremony to ceremony.
and the drums start doingtheir own thing again. This magnetic pulsedraws power from the spirit worldinto the drum circle. lub-dub of a heart-beat rhythm. It is best to closeyour eyes and focus on the sound ofthe drums. commence the second or"healing" round by drummi ng thepulsating lub-dub.7: THE HEALING ROUNDOnce the group intention has beenintroduced.to the spirit world. The drums will shape availableenergy into a powerful vortex thatwill spiral out into the fibers ofMother Earth ’ . Each participantshould clear his or her mind of every-thing. Let the drums do the heal-ing. I try to hold this energy dynamic for as long as possi-ble. This climactic phase eventuallywanes. This is usuallythe point where I signal the end ofthe first round of drumming withfour thundering beats of the drum. You must surrender all attach-ment to the desired outcome toachieve success. Stroke a steady heart-beat rhythm at around 180 beats perminute (or 90 heartbeats perminute since one-heartbeat equalstwo beats).
s web. thanking each of the directions for their participation and assistance. They expedite communica-tion with helping spirits and draw them in. The .When you feel the power ebbing.This counterclockwise movementwill close the energy vortex and sig-nal that the sacred time of focus isended. My intention is to pro-vide a foundation upon which thereader can then build.8: GIVING THANKSCommence the final or "thank you"round of drumming with the evencadence of the eagle-beat. Sustain atempo of 180 beats per minute forone to five minutes.signal the end of the second round ofdrumming with four booming beats. Participants should give thanks for the needs metand the needs they are asking to bemet. They facilitate amerging of the physical and spiritualrealms.Drumming circles open portals toalternate realities. however.I have found these basic steps bevery effective in a myriad of situa-tions. to adaptthem to serve your own needs. signal the end of thed r u m m i n g w i t h f o u r r e s o u n d i n g beats. Feel free.Experiment with different tempos and rhythms.Rhythm is a very personal thing. It is important to conclude thedrumming circle by rotating counter-clockwise.9: Finally.
According to Dr. the study demonstratest h a t g r o u p d r u m m i n g a c t u a l l y increases cancer-killing cells." Other studies havedemonstrated the calming. substance abusers. whichhelp the body combat cancer as wellas other viruses. and enableshealing to begin. focusing. including AIDS. shared consciousness with all our relations. and fully attunedthrough the drums can transform theworld and manifest what is needed tobenefit all beings. "Groupdrumming tunes our biology.MD. emotionally disturbedteens. The primitive drumming circle is emerging as a signifi-cant . Even small groups of people of onemind. Led byrenowned cancer expert BarryBittman.A recent medical research studyi n d i c a t e s t h a t d r u m m i n g c i r c l e s boost the immune system. Bittman. one purpose. autis-tic children. Itdevelops a continuous. traumapatients . and prison and homelesspopulations.and healing effects of group drum-ming on Alzheimer ‚ s patients. orchestrates our immunity.drumming circle alsolinks the consciousness of each par-ticipant to the entire Web of Life.
com/ . He has studied with master drummers from the Native American and Mongolianshamanic traditions.therapeutic tool in the moderntechnological age.Michael lectures and gives workshops aroundthe USA. rhythmist. To learn more. log onto Michael ’ s websitehttp://ShamanicDrumming. © 2002 by Michael Drake Michael Drake is a writer. and ceremonial drummer of Cherokee descent. He is amember of the United Lumbee Nation andauthor of The Shamanic Drum: A Guide toSacred Drumming and I Ching: The Tao ofDrumming.
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