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Beat the drum until the drum beats you

The voice of the medicine drum

The first thing we notice when we play the drum is the drum beat, i.e. the sound of the drumstick hitting the drumhead. We could also say that the rhythm is the first thing we notice. It is normal for us to perceive information in steps, or in depths, if you will. First we perceive the obvious, then the nuances, and if we are interested enough, we hopefully perceive the deeper information.

Blowing Palo Santo into a Reindeer Shaman Medicine drum
Whishing a new Reindeer medicine drum welcome

Another example of this is our language. When we talk to someone we don't know, we normally focus on what is being communicated through the words being used. The person may tell us that "life is good today", and we may respond with words of affirmation such as: "that's nice to hear". The conversation may stay at this level. In Norway, this is what we call “talking about the wind and weather”.

Because we don`t know the person, it is not easy for us to hear if there is something else going on behind the words. On the other hand, when we talk to someone we know well, we can quickly pick up on the communication behind the words. If your closest friend say that "life is good today", you would more easily notice if it was said in a truthful and genuine way, or if there was a contradictory tone of voice or body language that gave you the feeling that things weren't so okay after all.

Two key things to discovering the deeper and nuanced communication are:

  1. The art of really listening

  2. Have a deeper relationship with what you're listening to

Get to know the medicine drum

Point #2 is why I say in all my workshops that the medicine drum doesn't become powerful just because you've made it yourself. You actually have to get to know it well in order for a potent bond to form between you and your medicine drum.

When I start playing a new drum, it is the sound of the playing that is prominent. Then I find certain places on the drum where I prefer to strike. Every drum has its sweet spot where it sings best ;)

Something that is important in relation to point #1; The art of really listening, is that you are comfortable. Being comfortable when playing your medicine drum means that you sit in a comfortable position and hold the drum in an effortless way. Once you've found the sweet spot to strike, you should strike only there. The main reason for this is that if you move the stroke around the drum, you'll have to focus too much on the stroke itself. This is exactly the kind of thing that will distract you from really listening.

When you're comfortable and you can strike without thinking, well then you'll be able to put concentration and focus aside, to effortlessly listen. That's when we will start to notice that there is a sound behind the drumbeat. This is the voice of the medicine drum singing. The deeper you listen and surrender to it, the more powerful it becomes, to the point where it feels like you are bathing in its vibration. When you have formed a deep relationship with your medicine drum, this vibration can be felt all over your body.

The journey of the medicine drum, without time and space

Trance tools have been used for thousands of years to open us up to a deeper consciousness. Some examples of these tools are the mouth harp, rattle, bells, and didgeridoo. What they all have in common is their monotonous voice. There are a variety of handmade drums, each with its own unique character.

Handmade shaman rattles on black background
My handmade rattles in different materials

When I drum, I often see it as the medicine drum taking me out into an ocean. This ocean is consciousness itself. Then it takes me down into the depths to explore and bring my focus to what is there. At other times I see forest and nature, and an entrance in the ground that leads into the forest's interior. How the drumming journey unfolds, and in which landscape, will vary from person to person.

Experiencing that time and space dissolves is something that may require some practice depending on your personality. Some people find it easy to let go of control and let themselves be led. For others, this is a matter of training. This is especially true for those who tend to be very analytical thinkers, who may find their critical voice asking too many questions along the way. This is precisely why point no. 2: Have a deep relationship with the person you're listening to, in this case your drum, is something that needs to be worked on over time. Just like your relationship with the people around you.

In the beginning, you can drum for up to an hour without experiencing the inner critic stepping aside, and therefore preventing you from floating away in your drumming journey. However, if you are consistent and spend time weekly with your medicine drum, you will eventually find that time and space cease to exist, even after just a few beats.

If you have a hectic schedule, I would recommend spending 20-30 minutes with the drum 3-4 times a week. Then you will form a relationship with your drum, without it eating up too much of your time. Make this a habit that you look forward to and that gives you a little break from everyday life.

Why you should let the medicine drum use you

There comes a day when you open your eyes after a drum journey that was supposed to last 20 minutes. But, much to your surprise, the clock shows that you've been "gone" for an hour or more. You may feel a clear sense of deep and satisfying calmness. At the other end of the spectrum, tears may come and you may feel painful experiences that have been allowed to come out of the ocean's depth, to the surface. You will most likely be left with insights and knowledge about your life that weren't clear to you before the drum journey.

Regardless of the feeling and insight you gained in this moment, you should enjoy it, because you have just experienced your very own authentic drumming journey.

Neckless hanging on shaman medicine drum
My handmade necklace hanging with my son's drum

Medicine drumming has a way of helping the ego to let go of the steering wheel, while opening a deeper experience of reality. In this landscape, you can access valuable insights and guidance that will benefit you and those around you. By using the medicine drum on a regular basis, the unlimited power that inhabits the drum will be able to use you as its tool to spread a deeper understanding, wisdom and love to the world.

I wish you many valuable and profound experiences with your drum :)

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