The Power of Drumming and Drum Healing Circles

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(This is a Guest Post from By Rick McBride)

Drumming is found in all societies and throughout time. It’s as old sticks and hollow logs, as old as rhythm itself. And it’s the rhythms of the Earth that stimulate, the rhythms of the body and of nature, of the woodpecker and cicada, the moon and the seasons that grounds us in to our time spent here in the physical world. Drumming raises the spirits, our own and those who inhabit the Spirit World, puts a smile on our face, and dares us to keep our bodies still. Drumming’s as visceral as sex, spiritual as the Grand Canyon, mysterious as deep space, and mystical as consciousness itself. If you’ve never joined in a drum circle, you need to do that now. Yes, maybe it’s true I don’t know you, but I do know you need to do that one thing, if nothing else, before you return to the Spirit World.

I am fortunate in that I get to participate in drum circles quite often and I’ve come to realize drumming is at once transcendent and unifying. Often times my hand drum will offer healing to those in the circle who are interested. And when this happens, I will typically point out that where the people in the circle might be tempted to think all we’ve been doing is pounding out rhythms on rawhide and singing a few traditional songs, we’ve actually been doing more. Much more.

It is in coming together through the beat of so many drums that we come together as one heart, and one mind. And they get it.

When someone comes up on the blanket for a healing, I point out it is through the focused intention of all the drummers that the healing energy of Spirit moves. Certainly, Spirit doesn’t need ceremony, or drumming, or anything for that matter, to send the healing energy. We do. We need to do something, as a way of asking, as a way of participating in our own healing to feel deserving of a good outcome. And Spirit helps us because Creator knows it will draw us deeper in to the Great Mystery. And to each other.

Long ago, before the AMA, before pharmaceutical drugs and robotic surgery, before Medicaid and a fractured Congress, healers knew that when someone rose up from an illness, it was for the whole village, not just the one healed. The people could see the power was still there, still alive, still cared for them and it would heal them when they asked in a good way. The drum played a significant role in that healing. And in the celebration of the healing.

When we sundance, the drum guides us on our journey into the Spirit World, it beats our hearts and moves our feet on the Earth so we can let go of those chores and move deeper into the Spirit World. And it brings us back to the material world when it’s time.

Drumming is joyful and makes us dance the Dance of Life, a primal ritual that magically frees us from the constraints of this deception called civilization, a human device designed to intimidate the mind and bully the heart. Drumming in a circle with others, or drumming solitary under a tree will connect you to the spirits, it draws them to you, it opens your heart and tears down the walls of your mind. It kicks open the doors of your very soul to let the light in. Be fearless in your drumming.

Drum for peace, drum for healing, drum for joy, drum for unity. Drum together, drum alone, drum for others, let others drum for you. Drum to lift yourself up, drum to slow yourself down, drum to ask and drum for gratitude.

There are social drumming circles, perhaps the most common group drumming you will find. And these come is all stripes and ability and they are positive and do good because they bring the people together and lift them up. Our drum circles are what I call “ceremonial drumming,” because I will call the directions and put us in ceremony so we can sing the healing songs. This type circle is not that common. Not that many people are trained to do this, not that many people carry the traditional songs. This means “no English,” by the way. Or Spanish or Portuguese, or French, and so on. But we sing the songs indigenous to Turtle Island because that is what the Spirits gave the ancestors and that is what belongs here.

Decide for yourself what kind of drum circle you’d like to participate in, social or ceremonial/healing. Find out who is doing what in your area, if it’s social what traditions might they follow, or are they open to all or none. If ceremonial, who is guiding the circle, from what tradition, and how do they know what they know? Get a drum, get involved. You’ll be amazed at the benefits to mind and soul.

Rick McBride is mixedblood Cherokee and leads drumming, drum healing circles in south Florida. If you have interest, please get in touch: