Functions of the Shamanic drum
The primary cross-cultural function of shamanic drumming is to induce altered states of consciousness for both journey and embodiment trances. Shamanism is the intentional effort to acquire and nurture ongoing relationships with personal helping spirits by journeying into realms where the spirits dwell. The reason for developing personal relationships with spirit helpers is to gain wisdom, healing techniques, and other vital information that can benefit the community.
When a spirit is invoked, there is often an accompanying rhythm that evolves. Shamans frequently use specific rhythms to summon their helping spirits for the work at hand. Shamans may have a repertory of established healing rhythms to treat a variety of conditions, or improvise a new rhythm, uniquely indicated for the situation.
"From the shaman's perspective, the drum is used to call on his or her helping spirits for entry into and support in the spirit world. The drumbeat also serves as an anchor, or lifeline, that the shaman follows to return to his or her body and/or the exit the trance state when the trance work is complete. The other specific uses of the drum are diverse and determined by culture. Each culture has its own pattern of rhythms that serve the different functions of ritual and ceremony."(n2)
Drumming Promotes Healing
Like the colors of the rainbow, each culture has its own hue or identity, yet each is a part of the whole. Although the function or intent may differ from culture to culture, rhythmic drumming invariably has the same power and therapeutic effects in all traditions. The resonant qualities and attributes of these rhythmic phenomena are universal and come into play whenever we drum. The sound waves produced by the drum impart their energy to the resonating systems of the body, mind, and spirit, making them vibrate in sympathy. When we drum, our living flesh, brainwaves, and spiritual energy patterns begin to vibrate in response.