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 a Khamlanie = a healing and/ or other rituals. Udega is another Siberian 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 order to help, heal, or otherwise aid the community.
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 Siberian people.
Shaman however is not what I do, it is what I am.
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 my 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 cathartic psychological ab-reactions for participants and lead them into profound healing states.
Next there would be the Native American ceremonies and other events I attend and also participate in as a teacher, setting up my teaching tent and bring drums for the people that gather around. Aside from other teachings I teach drum songs and chants. And we of course have the big Pow Wow drum there. I am a Drum Keeper, have received a 4 foot in diameter grandfather Drum from one of my clients… I bring that to events for the community to use. – See a pic about all the kids around it on the previous post about me in schools……
In the Longhouse we sing and dance to the Mohawk water drum, that the Sachem plays. We accompany him with horn rattles..Even further along the continuum is my use of drums in shamanic healings. When I either drum with or for an individual client in order to put him/ her and me into trance, so I can “see” into the body/soul to find the cause of 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…..
How the healing Drum works
One of the most powerful aspects of drumming and the reason that people have done it since the beginning of being human is that it changes people’s consciousness. Through rhythmic repetition of ritual sounds, the body, brain and the nervous system are energized and transformed. When a group of people play a rhythm for an extended period of time, their brain waves become entrained to the rhythm and they have a shared brain wave state. The longer the drumming goes on, the more powerful the entrainment becomes. . All of the oldest known religious rites used drumming as part of the shared sacred experience.
It is interesting to look at these ancient drumming practices from the perspective of the latest scientific research into the functioning of the brain. Using electro-encephalographs, scientists can measure the number of energy waves per second pulsing through the brain. A system of classifying states of consciousness according to the frequencies of these waves was created.
Normal outwardly focused attention generates beta waves which vibrate from 14 to 40 cycles per second. When awareness shifts to an internal focus, our brain slows down into the more rhythmical waves of alpha, vibrating at 7 -14 waves per second. Alpha is defined by relaxation and centering. Dropping down to 4- 7 cycles per second the brain enters the theta state in which there is an interfacing of conscious and unconscious processes, producing hypnagogic dream-like imagery at the threshold of sleep.
Theta is the source of sudden mystical insights
and creative solutions to complex situations and is
marked by physical and emotional healing. People with a preponderance of theta brain waves are also able to learn and process much more information than normal. Without some form of intensive training, it is hard to stay awake in theta–one slips quickly down into delta. This is the slowest brain wave frequency, 1-4 cycles per second, the state of unconsciousness or deep sleep.
The brain is divided into two hemispheres that are basically split in their control of the thinking process. The right brain functions as the creative, visual, aural and emotional centre. The left brain is the rational, logical, analytical and verbal administrator. Generally, either the right or left brain dominates in cycles lasting from 30 minutes to 3 hours. While one hemisphere is dominant, the memories, skills, and information of the other hemisphere are far less available, residing in a subconscious or unconscious realm. Not only do the right and left brain operate in different modes, they also usually operate in different brain wave rhythms. The right brain may be generating alpha waves while the left brain is in a beta state. Or both can be generating the same type of brain waves, but remain out of sync with each other. But in states of intense creativity, deep meditation or under the influence of rhythmic sound, both hemispheres may become entrained to the same rhythm. This state of unified whole brain functioning is called hemispheric synchronization or the awakened mind. As the two hemispheres begin to resonate to a single rhythm, a sense of clarity and heightened awareness arises. The individual is able to draw on both the
left and the right hemispheres simultaneously.
The mind becomes sharper, more lucid,
synthesizing much more rapidly than normal,
and emotions are easier to understand
and to transform.