shamanic drum and rattle

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Native American Shaman Drums and Shamanism
by Craig Chambers
copyright 2007

Shamanism is big in most Native American cultures. It serves a great function within the tribes and it has even begun making a way into more modern cultures recently. The Shaman is often considered to be like a median between our world and the spiritual world. They are able to use this power to gain knowledge and wisdom for helping people here in this world.

You may already know that drums play an important role in the Native American culture. You probably also know that there are many different types of Native American drums and each one has its own special, unique purpose. The Shaman drum is part of many Native American cultures. To understand this and how it works, you need to understand Shamanism and how it was used in many Native American societies. W

What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is a highly spiritual experience and not easy to understand if you have not seen the practice or studied a lot about it. Shamanism is defined as an ancient form of spiritual communication. It is believed to be tens of thousands of years old and has been used by many Native American tribes throughout history.

The Shaman in a tribe is like the doctor or healer. People would visit him when they had a physical or mental problem they were facing that they were unable to get rid of on their own. Shamans typically use drums and rattles to achieve an altered state of consciousness and enter their spiritual state. There have been Shamans in many different tribes all over the country that practiced Shamanism.

What Happens During Shamanism?
When practicing shamanism, one enters an altered mental state. This is done to aid in spiritual communication. Shamans have a very important function within the tribe. They perform spiritual and physical healing with ceremonies when they enter the spiritual state. This is used to heal members of the tribe and keep them healthy both mentally and physically.

The altered state that a shaman enters when he performs the ritual is called a shamanic journey. This shamanic journey is used to give the shaman wisdom and help from the spirits. The shaman feels he is actually going someplace when he gains the assistance of the healing spirits, which is why it is referred to as a journey.

What are Shaman Drums?
Shaman drums are an important part of shamanism. The drum is the horse that the Shaman rides into other realms with. Usually the Shaman drum is a hand drum since these are much easier to manipulate during the process. The Shaman drum is played by beating with a soft mallet to create a soothing, monotone beat. Sometimes rattles are also used along with the Shaman drum to further create the soothing sound and atmosphere.

The drum has an important purpose all the way down to each detail such as symbols or painting on the drum. The painting on Shaman drums is usually a "map of the universe" or spiritual power of some sort. Shaman drums kept for decoration should be respected for their wonderful power and use.