To me my work with drums and drumming, is an inseparable aspect of being Shaman —
My people call a person that does the things I do a “Kham”, leading Khamlanies = healing and other rituals. Udega is another similar word but it rather describes a person working with herbs and potions.
Someone who uses drums and chants , who has one or more Spirit Guides, mostly in animal form that he or she contacts while drumming in order to find out what is wrong with a client is called a Kham. The word this culture uses is Shaman, also a Siberian word, Tunguse to be precise and descriptive for someone entering ecstatic trance.
In this culture I claim this word as a befitting description for me because it points not only towards what I do but also to my Siberian heritage and distances me from the also often used term “Medicine Woman” that implies Native American heritage and incidentally would be analogues to the word Udega among my people.
Shaman however is not what I do, it is what I am. It permeates every aspect of my daily life, my art, the way I teach at elementary and university level, the way I mentor my private students, and how I conduct public multicultural gatherings and rituals.
The musical aspect of my practice as a shaman involves drums and drumming as well as chants, traditional ones and others received in trance states and by extension movement and dance.
To me drumming in itself has different aspects that all fit onto a fluid continuum from light-hearted fun all the way to deep states of conflict resolution and healing.
Describing this continuum in more detail I want to first mention community based events that I facilitate and supply a multitude of drums and percussion instruments for:
There is the Bracebridge Drum Circle that gathers every Tuesday evening and provides everyday fun, good for you drumming. People come to jam together and also practice culture specific rhythms from around the world.
Next is the Frame Drum Circle, called “The Healing Drum” It is centred around spirituality and personal growth and I teach the use of the drum as a tool for relaxation and meditation, anger management and conflict resolution and -on occasion- I facilitate cathargic psychological ab-reactions for participants and lead them into profound healing states.
Even further along the continuum is my use of drums in shamanic healings. When I either drum with or for an individual client order to put him/ her and me into trance, so I can “see” into the body/soul to find an illness or dis-ease.
The last on the continuum is me alone, drumming and chanting, most every night to initiate and maintain altered states of consciousness and thereby see/find out about concerns I have for self and others. That is also where I receive most of my chants and where rituals are “born” as finished entities, ready to be used with the community and where the concept of much of my artwork comes from…..