So, this is not a science based article I am writing; it is a traditional and spiritual based article. It does not refer to the specific kind of drums which are used by the mainstream to make great music. It only refers to sacred, or spirit drums.



For me, a drum without an invited spirit living in it, is just a beautiful drum. This drum is not something you play; it's something you ride. It is also a "key-spirit" that opens doorways to other realms. Siberians said their drums were spirit horses they rode to the other world. Many other cultures feel the same; drums are things that allow you to meet the spirits. Spirit drums take you "to the spirits" and "bring the spirits to you." The drum is "an instrument" but for many of us it is the meaning of the word "instrument" used also as a tool much like you'd call an instrument used in surgery. It is both "musical" and "a tool." More importantly, this kind of drum is a Spirit Being. The tone of the drum, its singing voice, opens pathways; it takes you somewhere else. So, this kind of drum is not just a drum. It has a spirit imbued into it; a spirit who has agreed to work with the drummer. A spirit which was deliberately called in, and imbued into the drum, by the drummer. One of my drums is imbued with a spirit known as Life and Death. Spirit drums have many tasks they perform. Like people, sometimes they like to work, other days, they'll refuse to do anything for you. One day, they'll gladly open a pathway, another day, no-go.

Science will say those pathways we talk about are pathways of the brain which lead to altered states of consciousness. Someone else will say those pathways lead to your subconscious or unconscious (unknown) mind. And I will say they are just pathways to other realms where we can go "in" and "they" can come out. You see, some of us feel (personally know) that spirits and humans collaborate in order to do the medicine work they do. Just like the drum, you are a pathway too-- for them. The power goes both ways. But how ever you define it, in the end, doesn't really matter. These kinds of drums are sacred and powerful. When a drummer dies, her drum is given into the care of another, or, the spirit within the drum is released. Some drums were cremated alongside the drummer in a sacred act of release in tandem.

I say "drum" but I have many spirit drums (and rattles and objects of stone and other regalia) and they each do a specific thing. Each has a spirit imbued into it. Some remove asekis (spiritual intrusions.) Some are retrievers that bring back hidden parts of our souls. Some unravel curses. Some are for exploration. Some are for spirit release; de-possession. Some are for guiding the dead back to the Beauty World. Others are for protection and still others are for healing the earth, the animals and some are for healing the spirits themselves. But all are healers; all are keys that open the doors to spirit. All are symbolic power brokers that in the proper hands can heal the psyche (the spirit) and in doing so, heal the body and mind. Medicine People, Doctors, Kegywor, Siberian Shamans or any expert who worked with The Spirituals, across the globe in all cultures, were the first psychologists. Many used drums for their work. All used power objects, or ritual objects, which honed their focus-- their power.

The 220 or so beats per minute is what we use to "travel" to those other realms when we become visionary. And a drum's power lives in the vibrational tone ***between beats*** It is not the beat itself, but the resonance between the beats that has the power in it; the hum. That is what takes us "there." That is the sound you focus on when seeking an altered state or reaching out to the spirits to bring them in; the hum between beats. To maintain that hum, you must strike the drum at or close to the 220 beats. So, weakly beating a drum will not do it. Or beating a drum without the sonic driving tempo and power behind it won't do it. Not keeping a beat will do nothing for you. Beating without intent and focus, will bring you nothing. You have to put your "power" and intent into it; charge it up and keep the hum going. And you will find the hum and the power builds. The hum is the voice of the drum; the voice of the spirit that lives in it. The hum is also what connects us to The Creator, or Creative Force; it is the path we follow to the other realms. Some say it is both The Creator's Voice singing "with" the spirit of the drum's. Others say the healing medicine itself lives within this hum. The best "drum" healers are the best drummers. The best "drum" spirit "talkers" are the best drummers. The best drummers can take you on a journey you will never forget. It is a skill.

Everyone knows music heals and transforms. Everyone knows "tone" is transformative too. The symbol for medicine is almost exactly the same for music in ancient Chinese glyphs. But a Spirit Drum? This kind of drum is no ordinary drum. And once in the hands of someone skilled, the spirit which was called in by that drummer, in collaboration, and imbued into that drum, will come into focus and act in astounding ways. In the end, however you want to define it-- as a physical change in the human brain brought on by "music" or a conscious and autonomous Being doing a specific magnificent task, many of us feel, or better, personally know, "it works." So, to some us, a drum without a spirit is, well-- just another beautiful drum.

Photo credit: Dustin Naef. Drum: Life and Death.

Adisi Waya