SHAMANIC DRUMMING – CONSCIOUSNESS ALTERING DEVICE

“Oh! my many-coloured drum
Ye who standeth in the forward corner
Oh! My merry and painted drum,
Ye who standeth here
Let thy shoulder and neck be strong.
Oh, painted drum who standeth in the forward corner
My mounts – male and female maral deer.
Be silent sonorous drum,
Skin-covered drum,
Fulfill my wishes
Like flitting clouds, carry me
Through the lands of dusk
And below the leaden sky,
Sweep along like wind
Over the mountain peaks!”

Tuvian (Syberia) poem, approx 1500 years old

“Laboratory research by Nether has demonstrated that drumming produces changes in the central nervous system. The rhythmic stimulation affects the electrical activity in ‘many sensory and motor areas of the brain, not ordinarily affected, through their connections with the sensory area being stimulated.’ This appears to be due in part to the fact that the single beat of a drum contains many sound frequencies, and accordingly it simultaneously transmits impulses along a variety of nerve pathways in the brain. Furthermore, drum beats are mainly of low frequency, which means that more energy can be transmitted to the brain by a drum beat than from a sound stimulus of higher frequency. This is possible, Nether states, because ‘the low frequency receptors of the ear are more resistant to damage than the delicate high frequency receptors and can withstand higher amplitudes of sound before pain is felt.’
Recent research on the shamanic spirit dances of the Salish Indians of the Northwest Coast supports and expands Nether’s findings on the CAPACITY OF RHYTHMIC DRUMMING TO INDUCE AN ALTERED STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS. Jilek and Ormestad found that drum beat frequencies in the THETA wave EEG frequency range (four to seven cycles per minute) predominated during initiation procedures using the Salish deer-skin drum. This is the frequency range, Jilek notes, that ‘is expected to be most effective in the production of trance states.”

~ Michael Harner

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