The Role of the Drum in Shamanic Journeying

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The Power of the Drum

The Power Of The Drum

The drum is a powerful tool in shamanic journeying, connecting individuals to the rhythm of the spirits and facilitating deep states of consciousness necessary for healing and personal transformation. The sound of the drum has been used for centuries across cultures and traditions, with evidence of shamanic drumming dating back over 30,000 years (source).

The drum is considered a sacred tool in many shamanic practices, often handmade and infused with intention and purpose. Different types of drums are used in different cultures, with varying sizes, shapes, and materials.

When played with intention and purpose, the drum can induce a trance-like state of consciousness, allowing individuals to access deeper levels of the psyche and connect with spiritual entities (source). This state of consciousness is essential for shamanic journeying, a practice in which individuals travel to non-ordinary reality to meet with spirit guides, power animals, and other entities for healing and guidance.

The drum’s rhythmic sound can also have therapeutic effects on the body and mind, influencing brainwave patterns and helping to reduce stress and anxiety (source). Research has shown that shamanic drumming can slow down heart rate, lower blood pressure, and activate the release of endorphins, inducing a state of relaxation and peace (source).

Shamanic drumming has been used in a variety of ways, from personal practice to group ceremonies and drumming circles. Whether used for healing, divination, or celebration, the drum’s power to connect us to the spiritual world remains as relevant today as it did thousands of years ago.

In the next sections, we’ll explore techniques for incorporating the drum into your shamanic journeying practice, and tips for connecting with spirit guides and power animals (source).

History and Significance of the Drum in Shamanism

The drum has been an integral tool in shamanism for thousands of years, across many different cultures and traditions. One of the most significant aspects of the drum in shamanism is its ability to provide a steady and powerful rhythm, which guides practitioners into altered states of consciousness. This rhythm is believed to connect the practitioner with the heartbeat of the Earth, and can be used to facilitate healing, divination, and communication with spiritual beings. The drum was often made from materials such as animal skins and wood, and was considered a sacred instrument imbued with spiritual power. Today, shamanic practitioners often make their own drums as part of the process of entering into relationship with the instrument and the spirits it can help them connect with. If you’re interested in learning how to make your own shamanic drum, check out our guide on shamanic drum-making, or if you’d like to learn more about shamanic drumming techniques, check out our article on shamanic drumming.

The Role of the Drum in Shamanic Healing

The drum has an important role in shamanic healing. In shamanism, illnesses are thought to be caused by spiritual disharmony or a disconnection from one’s spiritual essence. The drum is used in shamanic journeys to connect the shaman and the patient to the spirit world, where they can gain insight and guidance to heal the spiritual disharmony.

Through the steady, rhythmic beat of the drum, the shaman and the patient are able to enter a trance state and access altered states of consciousness, where they can connect with the spirits who can assist in the healing process. The drumming helps to shift the patients’ consciousness from the physical body to the spiritual realm, allowing them to gain a deeper sense of understanding about the cause of their illness and the steps they need to take in order to achieve healing.

The drum is also used in shamanic healing to remove spiritual blockages that may be preventing a person from experiencing health and wellbeing. During shamanic healing sessions, the shaman may use the drum to break up stagnant energy and release spiritual blockages, facilitating the flow of energy in the patient’s body. This can help to alleviate emotional, mental, and physical issues, leading to a greater sense of overall well-being.

The drum is believed to have a profound effect on the body’s energy system, helping to restore balance and harmony to a person’s energetic fields. The rhythmic vibrations of the drum help to realign the body’s energy centers, known as chakras, allowing for an improved flow of energy throughout the body. This can lead to a greater sense of physical and emotional balance, facilitating the overall healing process.

The drum plays a crucial role in shamanic healing, assisting the shaman and the patient in accessing altered states of consciousness, connecting with the spirit world, and releasing spiritual blockages. By embracing the power of the drum, individuals can tap into a deeper sense of spiritual connection, leading to greater levels of healing, insight, and understanding.

The Science Behind the Drum’s Effects on the Brain

Scientists have studied the effects of drumming on the brain, and they have found some interesting results. One study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles looked at the brain activity of participants while they drummed. They found that drumming increased activity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is associated with focus, concentration, and decision-making. The researchers believe that drumming can help improve cognitive function and even help with conditions like ADHD.

Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that drumming could have a positive effect on the immune system. The researchers found that drumming increased the production of natural killer cells, which are responsible for fighting tumors and virally infected cells. The study suggests that drumming could be used as a complementary therapy for cancer patients.

Drumming has also been found to have a calming effect on the body. When we drum, our brain waves slow down and we enter a state of relaxation. This state is similar to the state we enter during meditation, and it has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found that drumming could be an effective treatment for anxiety and depression.

Drumming has many benefits for the brain and body. It can improve cognitive function, boost the immune system, and reduce stress and anxiety. If you’re interested in the healing power of the drum, keep reading to learn how to choose the right drum and create a sacred space for your practice.

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Technique and Practice

For successful shamanic journeying, proper technique and practice with the drum is essential. One of the first steps is choosing the right drum, which should resonate with the individual. The size, material, and sound of the drum all play a crucial role. It’s important to learn how to play the drum correctly, using both hands to create a steady rhythm. Beginners can start with a simple four-beat rhythm and increase the tempo gradually. Setting up a sacred space is also important to create a safe and positive environment. This can be done by using ritual tools, such as candles and crystals, and calling upon spirit helpers for protection. With consistent practice and dedication, individuals can connect with the rhythm of the spirits and gain insight and healing.

How to Choose the Right Drum

Choosing the right drum is crucial for successful shamanic journeying. The sound and feel of the drum can greatly affect the depth of the trance state, as well as the overall journey experience. When selecting a drum, there are a few important factors to consider.

Firstly, the size of the drum is essential. A drum that is too small may not produce the deep, resonant sound needed for shamanic journeying. Conversely, a drum that is too large may be too cumbersome to play comfortably for extended periods. Generally, a drum with a diameter of 14-18 inches is a good choice.

Another factor to consider is the material of the drumhead. The most common materials used are animal hides, such as deer, elk or buffalo. Each type of hide produces a different sound, so it’s important to choose one that resonates with you. For example, deer hide is known for its warm, mellow tone, while buffalo hide tends to produce a deeper, more resonant tone.

The frame of the drum is also worth considering. Traditionally, drums were made from wood, but nowadays, there are many synthetic options available. Wooden frames can add a natural sound to the drum, while synthetic frames are often more lightweight and durable.

When choosing a drum, it’s also important to consider the personal connection you feel to it. Take the time to connect with different drums, and choose one that feels comfortable and natural to you. You may be drawn to a particular design or color, which can also add a personal touch to your drum.

Choosing the right drum is a personal and important decision for any shamanic practitioner. Consider the size, material, frame, and personal connection when selecting a drum for your journeying practice. A well-chosen drum can enhance the trance experience, deepen the connection to the spirits, and add an element of beauty to your practice.

How to Play the Drum for Journeying

How to Play the Drum for Journeying:

Playing the drum is essential to shamanic journeying. It helps to alter the brain waves of the practitioner and facilitates a trance-like state necessary to communicate with the spiritual realm. There are different ways to play the drum for journeying, but here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Posture: Sit or stand with your back straight and relaxed. Keep your arms and hands relaxed as well, ready to move with the drum.

2. Grip: Hold the drum with one hand on the back of the drum and the other on the edge of the frame. The hand on the back should be cupped, while the hand on the edge should keep the drum in place.

3. Rhythm: Start with a slow and steady beat, around three beats per second. This helps to ground and center you before entering a trance-like state. Gradually increase the tempo as you enter deeper into the journey.

4. Intention: Set a clear intention before starting to play the drum. This can be something like “to communicate with my spirit guides” or “to gain insight into a specific issue.” Keep this intention in mind as you play the drum.

5. Duration: Play the drum for at least 20-30 minutes. This allows you time to enter a deep trance state and connect with the spiritual realm.

6. Technique: Experiment with different drumming patterns, such as steady rhythms, alternating beats, and varying tempos. Listen to your intuition and let the drum guide you.

Remember, playing the drum for journeying is a skill that takes practice and dedication. Keep at it and you will eventually develop your own style and rhythm that works best for you.

Creating and Maintaining a Sacred Space

When practicing shamanic journeying, it is important to create and maintain a sacred space in which to connect with the spirits. This space should be set up in a way that allows you to feel safe, comfortable, and open to receiving guidance. Here are some tips for creating and maintaining a sacred space:

Cleanse the space: Before beginning your journey, it is important to cleanse the space of any negative energy. This can be done by burning sage or palo santo, using crystals such as clear quartz or amethyst, or simply envisioning a bright white light filling the space and pushing out any negativity.

Set up an altar: Creating an altar can help to focus your intention and create a physical representation of the connection you are seeking to make. Your altar can include items such as spiritual or religious symbols, crystals, candles, feathers, or anything else that holds personal meaning or significance to you.

Choose appropriate music: The music you choose for your journey should be specifically created for shamanic journeying, with a steady rhythm and minimal lyrics. This can help to create a trance-like state that allows you to connect more easily with the spirits.

Use sensory aids: Sensory aids such as incense, essential oils, or a comfortable blanket can help to create a calming environment that promotes relaxation and open-mindedness.

Maintain the space: Once you have created your sacred space, it is important to maintain it by regularly cleansing, rearranging, and adding new items as necessary. This helps to keep the energy of the space fresh and positive.

Creating and maintaining a sacred space is an essential part of shamanic journeying, as it allows you to connect more deeply with the spirits and receive the guidance and wisdom you seek. By taking the time to set up a space that

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is intentional and conducive to your practice, you can enhance your journeying experience and gain greater insight into your spiritual path.

Connecting to the Spirits

Connecting to the spirits is one of the most important aspects of shamanic journeying. To enter the shamanic state of consciousness, it is necessary to find a quiet and comfortable place. Once you are settled, start playing your drum. Focus on the sound and the rhythm of the drum, which will help you to relax and release any distracting thoughts. When you are in a deeper state of trance, you can call upon your spirit guides or power animals. Your guides will help you gain insight and new perspectives on your problems or questions. Remember, the spirits are always there to help and guide you on your journey. Don’t be afraid to trust in their wisdom and to seek their guidance. By connecting with the spirits, you can gain a higher understanding of yourself and the world around you.

Entering the Shamanic State of Consciousness

Entering the shamanic state of consciousness is a vital part of shamanic journeying. Here are some techniques to help you enter this state:

  • Meditation: Meditation is an excellent way to quiet the mind and prepare for shamanic journeying. Sit in a quiet place, relax your body, and focus on your breath.
  • Rhythmic Breathing: Slow, rhythmic breathing can help induce an altered state of consciousness. Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and repeat.
  • Chanting: Chanting is a powerful way to alter your state of consciousness. Choose a rhythm, sound, or word, and repeat it to yourself.
  • Drumming: Listening to a drumbeat can help you enter a trance state. Close your eyes, let the rhythm of the drum flow through you, and allow yourself to drift into the journey.

It’s essential to remain focused and centered during your journey. Be open to whatever experiences come your way, and trust in the process. With practice, you’ll find it easier to enter the shamanic state of consciousness and access the guidance and wisdom of the spirits.

Meeting Your Spirit Guides and Power Animals

Meeting your spirit guides and power animals is a crucial part of shamanic journeying. These helpers on the spiritual plane can guide and protect you on your journey, and they have messages and teachings to share. The drum can be a powerful tool for connecting with these guides.

To meet your spirit guides and power animals, start by setting your intention before beginning the journey. Focus on your desire to connect with these helpful spirits. As you drum, allow your mind to relax and let the rhythm carry you into an altered state of consciousness.

As you journey, ask for your guides and power animals to come to you. You may see them, hear them, or simply sense their presence. Don’t worry if nothing comes to you at first – connecting with your guides can take time and practice.

Once you meet your spirit guides and power animals, take time to get to know them. Ask for their names and what messages they have for you. You may be surprised at the insights and wisdom they have to offer.

Remember that your spirit guides and power animals are always with you, even when you’re not drumming. Cultivate a relationship with them through meditation, visualization, and other spiritual practices. They can be powerful allies on your spiritual journey.

Gaining Wisdom and Knowledge through the Drum

One of the most profound experiences in shamanic journeying is the gaining of wisdom and knowledge through the drum. The rhythmic beat of the drum can induce a trance-like state in which the journeyer can receive deep insights and messages from the spirits.

During a journey, the drum serves as a conduit for communication with the spiritual realm. As the journeyer enters a state of altered consciousness, they become more receptive to the subtle energies and messages around them. The drum acts as a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds, allowing the journeyer to connect with their spirit guides and receive guidance and knowledge.

One way to gain wisdom and knowledge through the drum is to ask for guidance on specific issues or questions. This can be done by setting an intention before the journey, asking a specific question, or simply being open to receiving guidance. The journeyer may receive answers in the form of images, symbols, or messages that can provide valuable insights and direction.

Another way to gain wisdom and knowledge through the drum is to simply be open to receiving whatever messages or insights the spirits have to offer. This requires letting go of expectations and trusting in the wisdom of the spiritual realms. It may also involve facing and healing any fears, blocks, or limiting beliefs that may be preventing the journeyer from receiving the guidance they seek.

Through the drum, journeyers can also explore their own inner landscape, gaining insights into their deepest truths, passions, and purpose. The drum can help the journeyer connect with their own inner wisdom and intuition, gaining clarity and direction on their path in life.

In addition to gaining wisdom and knowledge through the drum, journeyers may also experience profound healing and transformation. The drum can help to release stuck emotions, clear energetic blockages, and bring balance and harmony to the mind, body, and spirit.

The drum is a powerful tool for gaining wisdom and knowledge in shamanic journeying. It serves as a doorway to the spiritual realms, offering guidance, healing, and transformation to those who journey with it. As journeyers connect with their spirit guides and power animals through the beat of the drum, they can gain deep insights, clarity, and direction on their life path.


In conclusion, the drum has played an important role in shamanic journeying for centuries. It is a powerful tool for connecting to the spirits and accessing altered states of consciousness. The history and significance of the drum in shamanism cannot be overstated, as it has been used for healing, divination, and spiritual connection in cultures around the world.

Understanding the science behind the drum’s effects on the brain can also be useful for those looking to deepen their practice. By entering a state of trance, the brain is able to access deeper levels of creativity, insight, and intuition.

It is important to approach the practice of shamanic journeying with respect and reverence. Choosing the right drum, creating a sacred space, and playing with intention can all help foster a deeper connection to the spirits.

Through shamanic journeying, individuals can meet their spirit guides and power animals, and gain wisdom and knowledge from the spirits. This practice can be deeply transformative and healing, and can help individuals connect to their true purpose and potential.

Incorporating the drum into daily meditation or spiritual practice can also be a powerful way to stay connected to the rhythms of the earth and the spirits. Whether alone or in a group setting, the drum can help facilitate deep healing and transformation.

Overall, the drum is a potent tool for those on a spiritual path, and can help bring individuals closer to their own true essence, as well as the essence of all things. By learning to connect to the rhythms of the spirits, we can begin to understand our place in the world and fulfill our highest potential as human beings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is shamanic journeying?

Shamanic journeying is a practice of entering into an altered state of consciousness through rhythmic drumming or other techniques, in order to connect with the spiritual realm and receive guidance or healing.

What is the role of the drum in shamanic journeying?

The drum is a key tool in shamanic journeying, as it provides a steady and repetitive beat which helps to induce an altered state of consciousness. It also helps to ground and center the shaman, and can be used to communicate with the spirits.

Can anyone learn shamanic journeying?

Yes, anyone can learn shamanic journeying with practice and guidance. It is important to approach it with an open mind and a respectful attitude towards the spirits and the practice itself.

How can I choose the right drum for journeying?

When choosing a drum for journeying, it is important to consider the size, weight, and material of the drum, as well as the sound it produces. It is recommended to try out different drums and choose one that resonates with you.

What is a power animal?

A power animal is a spirit animal that is believed to assist and guide a person during shamanic journeying. It is often seen as a source of personal power and protection.

How can I create a sacred space for journeying?

You can create a sacred space for journeying by setting intentions, smudging with sage or other cleansing herbs, and creating a comfortable and quiet space free from distractions.

How do I know if I am in the shamanic state of consciousness?

You may experience a variety of sensations when in the shamanic state of consciousness, such as feeling detached from your physical body, experiencing vivid imagery or symbols, and feeling a strong connection to the spirits.

What happens if I encounter a negative spirit during journeying?

If you encounter a negative spirit during journeying, it is important to remain calm and respectful. You can ask for guidance from your spirit guides or ancestors, or simply return to your physical body and end the journey.

Can journeying be done in a group setting?

Yes, journeying can be done in a group setting with others who share a respectful and open-minded attitude towards the practice. It can also be beneficial to have a trained shaman to facilitate the journey.

What are some personal benefits of shamanic journeying?

Some personal benefits of shamanic journeying may include gaining clarity and insight, receiving healing and guidance, connecting to spirit guides and power animals, and developing a deeper sense of inner peace and purpose.


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