You are on page 1of 5

Drumbeat of the Rainbow Fire

by Michael Drake
The drum has been the guiding force in my life for many years. My journey into
rhythm began under the tutelage of Mongolian shaman Jade Wah'oo. Jade's ancient
knowledge of drumming and healing rhythms was most influential in putting together
my first book, The hamanic Drum! " #uide to acred Drumming. $ had a deep
respect for the power of the ceremonial rhythms and drum ways of Jade's tradition,
but $ had to follow my own path of rhythm.
Though Jade was my mentor, the drum became my teacher and creati%e addiction. $
de%eloped an insatiable thirst for its rhythms. $ became a rhythm seeker, learning
new rhythms from other drummers, from nature, and from dreams and %isions. $
e&plored the rhythms of many of the world's shamanic and spiritual traditions. $t was
only natural, at least from my perspecti%e, that rhythm, as a path, would lead me to
the rhythmic roots of all cultures.
"s $ learned the drum ways of %arious world cultures, $ found the same rhythmic
'ualities underlying all of them. (ike the colors of the rainbow, each culture has its
own hue or identity, yet each is a part of the whole. "lthough the focus or intent
differs from culture to culture, rhythmic drumming in%ariably has the same power
and effects in all traditions. The resonant 'ualities and attributes of these rhythmic
phenomena are uni%ersal and come into play whene%er we drum.
The sound wa%es produced by the drum impart their energy to the resonating
systems of the body, mind, and spirit, making them %ibrate in sympathy. When we
drum, our li%ing flesh, brainwa%es, and spiritual energy centers begin to %ibrate in
response. This sympathetic resonance lea%es re%erberating effects up to )* hours
after a drum session. These powerful effects can best be described in terms of their
influence on the subtle energy centers known as chakras.
The Seven Chakras
The spiritual traditions of the +opi, ,herokee, Tibetan, +indu, and other cultures
teach us that there are %ibratory centers within the human body. "ll describe
spinning wheels of energy called chakras, lying along the spine. There are se%en
major chakras situated along the %ertical spinal a&is from the genital region to the
crown of the head. They %ary in si-e, depending on their le%el of acti%ity. When
highly acti%e and energi-ed, they can e&pand to the si-e of a small plate. They can
shrink to the si-e of a penny when closed or shut down. When in balance, they are
about the si-e of a sil%er dollar. .ach %orte& of energy is associated with a specific
color of the rainbow, distinct parts of the body, and with particular functions of
consciousness. ,hakras function much like electrical junction bo&es, mediating
spiritual energy throughout the entire mind/body system. They are the interface
among the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of one's being. $mbalances in
chakras lead to imbalances in body, mind, and spirit. Drumming creates a %ibratory
resonance that acti%ates, balances, and aligns the chakra system.
The Base Chakra
The first or base chakra is red in color. $t is located at the base of the spine and is
associated with issues of basic health and sur%i%al. $t is related to the anus and the
adrenal glands. 0esonating the base chakra grounds the spiritual forces in the body
to the .arth and the physical realm of reality. When poorly grounded, your spatial
understanding is impaired. 1ou may stumble around physically, mentally, spiritually,
and emotionally. #rounding enhances your ability to function effecti%ely on a day/to/
day basis. Drumming also maintains a grounding .arth connection for those seeking
altered states of consciousness or alternate realities. 2ne of the parado&es of
rhythmic stimulation is that it has not only the power to mo%e your awareness out of
the confines of the conceptual mind into realms beyond time and space but also the
capacity to ground you firmly in the present moment. $t allows you to maintain a
portion of ordinary awareness while e&periencing non/ordinary awareness. This
permits full recall later of the %isionary e&perience. The base chakra is also known as
a storehouse for a fiery energy that, if awakened, rises up the spine, illuminating all
the chakras. $n the +indu tradition, this dormant energy is known as the 3kundalini3
or 3serpent fire.3 This spiritual flame within can be rekindled by drumming, thereby
igniting the 0ainbow 4ire of a fully acti%ated chakra system. With the rising of the
kundalini and the acti%ation of succeeding chakras, an indi%idual becomes more
highly conscious and spiritually transformed.
The Sacral Chakra
The second or sacral chakra is orange and is located just below the na%el in the
abdominal area. This chakra affects the se&ual organs. The functions associated with
this center are emotion, %itality, fertility, reproduction, and se&ual energy in general.
(ikewise, any problems in these functions can be identified and resol%ed through this
chakra. The physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the sacral chakra remo%es
any blockages that may hamper these functions. Drumming is an e&cellent way of
keeping your se&ual and creati%e energy %itali-ed, a great help in channeling energy
into your work and e%eryday life.
The Navel Chakra
The third chakra is located just abo%e the na%el in the solar ple&us and is related to
the digesti%e organs. 1ellow in color, it is the seat of the will/your power center. $ts
energy e&presses personal power, which is called hiimori 5windhorse6 in the
Mongolian tradition. $t is associated with action, assertion, empowerment, and ego
mastery. $t is the area where chi or life force is stored. Malfunctions in the na%el
chakra may lea%e you feeling tired, powerless, and withdrawn. hamans tend to
belie%e that this is a %ery important chakra since the accumulation and maintenance
of power are fundamental to shamanic practice. Many shamanic cultures place great
emphasis on drumming, for the drum unites masculine and feminine energies,
generating the force that wea%es the web of life. Drumming culti%ates life force
energy in the lower energy centers of the body, which is then stored in the area of
the solar ple&us. This energy can then be directed back to the higher chakras or
toward healing and creati%e endea%ors.
The Heart Chakra
The fourth %ibratory center is the heart chakra and is located in the center of the
chest between the two nipples. #reen in color, it influences the heart and is
associated with lo%e, compassion, and affection. This chakra forms a bridge, linking
the upper three chakras to the lower three. Drumming acti%ates the heart chakra,
thereby balancing the descending higher chakra energies against the ascending
lower chakra fre'uencies. 4rom the heart, these harmonious energies resonate
outward into the web of life. 0esearchers ha%e found that drum rhythms affect the
heartbeat. The heart's pulse may speed up, slow down, or gradually entrain with the
pulsation of a drum rhythm until they are locked in perfect synchroni-ation. $n fact,
many shamanic cultures use a healing heartbeat rhythm pulsed at around si&ty beats
per minute, which is the a%erage heart rate of a person at rest. The heartbeat is one
of the reasons that people so strongly and naturally connect to the drum. .ach of us,
after all, enters the world, ha%ing spent nine months listening to a heart/drum in the
womb. We are imprinted with rhythm from the %ery start, and rhythm is the
heartbeat of life. hamans around the world belie%e that the drum is coming into
power again to awaken our hearts, for we must now learn to li%e from the heart. We
ha%e been li%ing from the na%el center, using our ego and will power for mastery,
control, and con'uest. $f we focus on the heart center, we can hear di%ine will. 2ur
actions then spring from di%ine will rather than the ego. To li%e from the heart means
to walk the 3rainbow path,3 to walk in balance like the colors of the rainbow, to
respect all pathways to wholeness. The rainbow symboli-es unity, wholeness, and
balance. Mongolian shamans belie%e that this balance, called tegsh, is the only thing
that is truly worth pursuing in this world. When humans lose it, they create
imbalance within the web of life. $t then re'uires the unity of all colors, all cultures,
working together to bring the web back into balance.
The Throat Chakra
The fifth energy center is blue and is located at the base of the neck in the nook
where the cla%icle bones meet. 7nown as the throat chakra, it is associated with the
%ocal cords and the thyroid gland. $t is the chakra of communication, telepathy, and
creati%e e&pression. 8ne&pressed emotions tend to constrict this energy center.
Drumming acti%ates the throat chakra, greatly enhancing self/e&pression, creati%ity,
and telepathic communication with others. More importantly, drumming opens your
ability to hear and recogni-e the truth of your inner %oice. 1our inner truth is your
sense of what is correct/your innate tendencies and inclinations. $n e%ery situation,
we should be humble, open, and recepti%e, suspending all pre%ious judgments in
order to grasp the inner truth of the matter. $f we rely on the truth of our inner %oice
to guide us, our actions will be in accord with the times.
The Brow Chakra
The si&th chakra is that of the brow, third eye, or place of 3shamanic seeing.3
(ocated between and slightly abo%e the eyebrows, it is indigo in color. This energy
center is closely associated with imagination, inner %ision, and psychic abilities. $t is
related to the pituitary gland. $t functions as a link between the inner world and the
outer world. Malfunctions of the brow chakra commonly manifest as headaches and
eye tension. 0esonating this chakra remedies any problems in function and opens the
door to a reality separate from the ordinary world. 0hythmic drumming enables us to
percei%e and journey into the inner realms that shape and direct our reality. 9ast
worlds of e&traordinary richness and comple&ity emerge when the brow chakra is
acti%ated. "rchetypal figures symboli-ing transpersonal and spiritual 'ualities arise,
such as images of deities, spirit guides, or power animals.
The Crown Chakra
The se%enth or crown chakra is located at the top of the head. The +opi call this
energy center kopa%i, meaning 3the open door3 through which higher spiritual
knowledge is recei%ed. The crown chakra is associated with the pineal gland, the
color %iolet, full enlightenment, and union with the cosmos. Drumming acti%ates this
chakra, thereby facilitating a state of unity consciousness. 2ne's sense of being a
separate indi%idual gi%es way to an e&perience of union, not only with other
indi%iduals, but also with the entire uni%erse. The benefits of attaining this state of
unity consciousness include rela&ation, healing, more energy, better memory, greater
mental clarity, enhanced creati%ity, and communion with the resonating web of life.
4eelings of peacefulness, timelessness, and spiritual well/being are common, along
with a oneness of feeling and purpose with the totality of a dynamic, interrelated
uni%erse. This e&perience of mystical union with the cosmos is said, by many of the
world's spiritual traditions, to be the final reali-ation. ,onsciousness redisco%ers its
true nature and recogni-es itself in all things. Drumming is a simple and effecti%e
way to induce this profound state of consciousness.
Resonating the Chakras
$f we focus our attention on the indi%idual chakras while drumming, we can
e&perience each energy center becoming acti%e, balanced, and aligned with the other
chakras. The basic steps are as follows!
1. 4irst, select a location where you will not be interrupted. $t must be a 'uiet
space, at least for the duration of the e&ercise. "llow yourself fifteen to thirty
minutes for this e&ercise. $t is best to dim the lights and sit comfortably in a
chair or on the floor, keeping your spine straight.
2. :e&t, you should smudge the space and yourself with the smoke of an herb.
mudging cleanses the mind and en%ironment in preparation for spiritual or
inner work. The sacred smoke dispels any stagnant or unwanted energy,
opens the energy channels of your body, and raises your personal power or
windhorse. "ccording to Mongolian shamanism, windhorse can be increased
through smudging, drumming, and other forms of shamanic practice in order
to accomplish significant aims. age, cedar, and sweetgrass are traditionally
used for smudging, but any dried herb is acceptable. (ight the herbs in a fire/
resistant receptacle and then blow out the flames. Then use a feather or your
hands to draw the smoke o%er your heart, throat, and face to purify the body,
mind, and spirit. :e&t, smudge your drum by passing it through the smoke.
,onclude the smudging by thanking the plant whose body made the cleansing
3. The ne&t step is to calm and focus your mind by performing a simple
concentration e&ercise. ,lose your eyes and focus on the breath as it enters
the nose and fills your lungs, then gently e&hale any tension you might feel.
,ontinue breathing with a series of e%en inhalations and e&halations until you
are calm and rela&ed.
4. 2nce you are fully rela&ed, begin drumming the steady lub/dub, lub/dub of a
heartbeat rhythm pulsed at around ;< beats a minute 5or =< heartbeats per
minute since one heartbeat e'uals two beats6. This slow pulse tempo has a
calming and centering effect. ustain this healing rhythm until the end of the
5. ,lose your eyes and focus your attention on the physical location of each
chakra, one at a time, beginning with the first one at the base of the spine.
9isuali-e a red disc of light, about the si-e of a sil%er dollar, at the base of
your spine. $magine this energy center pulsating in sync with the heartbeat of
your drum. 4eel the sound of the drum %ibrating at the base of your spine. "s
the sound resonates this area, e&perience the base chakra awakening,
balancing, and aligning with the other chakras. +old your attention on this
chakra for a minute or two, and then allow the image to fade.
6. Mo%e up to the second chakra and repeat the same focus and imagery. $t is
located about two inches below the na%el and is orange in color.
7. Mo%e up to the area abo%e the na%el in your solar ple&us and focus on the
third chakra, which is yellow in color.
8. Mo%e up to the center of the chest between the two nipples and focus on your
heart chakra, which is green in color.
9. Mo%e up to the cleft in your throat and focus on the throat chakra, which is
blue in color.
10. Mo%e up to the area between and slightly abo%e the eyebrows and focus on
your brow chakra, which is indigo in color.
11. Mo%e up to the top of your head and focus on the crown chakra, which is
%iolet in color.
12. .nd the e&ercise with four strong beats.
"t the completion of this e&ercise, sit 'uietly for se%eral minutes. ense the rush of
sensory input pre%iously blocked out by the sound of the drum. >athe in the soothing
afterglow of physical and spiritual well/being. Take ade'uate time to process the
e&perience. 1ou may feel %ery spacey and lightheaded. Mo%ing energy up the body
from the base chakra to the crown chakra is %ery powerful. $f you would like to
ground the energy back down into your body, close your eyes and focus for a few
moments on the base chakra. 9isuali-e roots e&tending downward from the base
chakra deep into the .arth. When you feel grounded, open your eyes and jot down
your e&periences in a journal.
The Rainbow Fire
The 0ainbow 4ire symboli-es illuminated mind, clarity of all aspects of consciousness.
Metaphorically, it describes the aura of iridescent light that radiates from a fully
acti%ated chakra system. This prismatic illumination within allows us to fully integrate
the wisdom of all se%en centers of consciousness. $t clears the mind of illusions and
obstructions, transforming thought patterns of confusion to re%eal inherent clear
mind. The fire of clear mind is e%er present within each of us, and to remo%e any
obstruction of its clarity is the duty of all people, so that each may find the way to
unity and harmony. Drumming is one way that we can culti%ate the fire of clear
mind. The drum's beat ignites the 0ainbow 4ire within, illuminating the path and
showing us the way. With clarity of mind, we can readily percei%e what aims are in
accord with the cosmos, not wasting energy on discordant pursuits. Through the
insight and understanding of illuminated mind, we can bring enlightenment to the
,opyright 5c6 *<<* by Michael Drake