When you gather people in a circle around a fire and add the rhythmic beat of the drum, the result is the perfect environment to develop social bonds. Learn how to use these community-building tools for the healing drum circle.
We cannot underestimate the \impact of the circle, fire, and drum on the development of human society. In fact, these tools are the fundamental building blocks that create the ideal environment for learning. Let’s look at how the synergy of a circle, the hypnotic effect of a campfire, and the drum’s rhythm create a sacred space for the foundation of culture and society.
“Fire brought man together, drums built communities.” — Dan Shinder
Campfire and Drum Circle
It’s essential in these modern times not to forget the power of these ancient tools. Perhaps we should emphasize more than watching TV? There are some excellent reasons to bring this practice back.
Fire and Drum
Building and maintaining a fire was a necessity. A natural place to gather is the ring around the circle. They found more uses than warmth and cooking. The need for healing was also a primary driver of early culture. So, it is only natural that they use the healing drum circle as a focal point.
We don’t know how our ancestors discovered the Shamanic State of Consciousness, but they learned how to use drums and rattles around a fire to induce a trance-like state. The investigation of consciousness had several purposes. They sought answers to the unknown, and the cause of illness gave impetus to using plants for medicinal remedies. The use of plants by ingenious people is the source of modern pharmaceuticals. They were curious, just like us.
Rhythm and The Healing Drum Circle
The reasons for the drumming vary. It ranges from merely being a time to gather and unite. Or it can be to provide the focus for a particular goal like healing. The social etiquette for the circle depends upon the purpose. The rhythm can alter and coordinate the heartbeat of those present. If the group is to create a community, the rhythm can be very free-form.
Some circles are large, with twenty or more drummers, but this isn’t necessary. One person can be just as inspiring. The hang drum is a newer addition to this arena. It brings a range of notes into the mix of rhythm.
Campfire and drum circle (1) are the perfect combinations. The fire becomes a focal point. It’s a place to prepare food and provides warmth and safety in the darkness. The drum is the heartbeat. The drummer is like the conductor of an orchestra. They regulate the mood of the group.
As an essential tool for building a community, the circle is ideal. Everyone can see everyone else. People can join in or sit in reflection. One of the nice things about this environment is no training is necessary. You come as you are.
The campfire and drum circle brought people together. At night, fires provide safety. They are an inviting and practical focal point. Not only does it provide light and warmth from the cold, but it also provides heat to cook. The initial purposes may have been warmth from the cold and food cooking. As mentioned, the campfire and circle are the perfect social format for everything, from music to important meetings. Fire provides light, and the circle gives equal access.
The additional social contact provides the to develop language to communicate. Describing, naming, and formulating ways to share thoughts was necessary. Here is where we find the origins of the healing drum circle.
Flames provided one form of protection from predators. Drumming is also a way to deter curious animals. Watching and listening to a campfire has a soothing effect on the mind. Add these ingredients together, and you have the catalyst for positive social interaction.
Original Community-Building Tools
The drum is a natural community builder; it synchronizes our heart rate and breathing with the rhythm. This synchronization helps people connect, making a fire and the drum powerful forces in developing culture.
It is no surprise that the two primary tools for exploring awareness are the heartbeat and breath.
Campfire and Drum Circle — Mnemonic Memory Tools
If a fire can bring people together, drumming can provide a purpose. Here, the goal is to develop the full use of memory since writing on paper was not common.
For instance, a Shaman (2) or teacher controls the drum beat tempo and volume in the Shamanic Journey. They become the conductors of a symphony of spiritual exploration. In this way, sound and movement are powerful mnemonic learning devices.
Sacred drumming and dance are at the core of many indigenous cultures. They use it to pass along a wide variety of knowledge, from growing and using plants for medicine, healing practices, and spiritual exploration. A great deal of information can be passed along orally from generation to generation. They could do this because they understood the tools to unlock the power of memory. That’s right, rhythm and melody are also memory tools.
Ancient cultures took time to develop learning tools using rhythm and music. They found music and dance are mnemonic tools that help memorize data. In this way, it can communicate intricate kinesthetic and cultural knowledge. It becomes a foundation for both learning and community-building tools.
These tools are also great for raising the level of your vibrational frequency. The drumbeat synchronizes with your heart and the heartbeat of those around you. So, using the drum raises the vibration of everyone involved.
The Rhythm and Dance of Silat
Silat (3) and Kuntao (4) Indonesian martial arts are examples of how music can be used as a training tool. These martial arts use a framework that combines Gamelan music and martial arts techniques into an efficient martial art. It’s a practical application of mnemonic learning.
The classical movements of Silat incorporate peripheral vision, giving the practitioner the characteristic far-away stare. It is the tool that helps to connect the parasympathetic nervous system, which activates the sympathetic nervous system in fearful situations like combat. This system is our fight, flight or freeze reaction. It helps us avoid danger. To Disengage this system seems counterintuitive, but it is necessary to engage the higher thinking function. You need the parasympathetic nervous system to analyze the ever-changing combat situation.
The sacred dances encoded various martial arts principles. So, when the dancer performs their dance, they practice their fighting art. No matter the situation, they can move with proper alignment to counter any attack.
With the Parasympathetic in charge, you can move in perfect alignment on time and in the right way. Training with music ensures proper body. It facilitates fluid movement and seamless application of the techniques. When combining all the elements, the practitioner can control fear and anger in a combative confrontation. It’s a distinct advantage in a combat situation. As a result, the physical conflict becomes a dance, albeit a deadly one.
The rhythm of Gamelan music also provides the perfect space for the healing drum circle. After practicing the art, everyone involved provides a healing message.
Many Western cultures that occupied Indonesia forbid the practice of their martial arts. Since they Concealed their martial arts in the dance, they could practice in plain sight. Ha ha! The untrained Western eye observes interesting dance-like movements.
It does not compare with Western ballet. Nor does it appear to have the punctuated movements many in the West associate with other martial arts. The Indonesian martial artist has an unblinking stare. They move with unusual, jerky, awkward, and even ugly by Western standards.
Community-building tools take many forms. A test of fighting skills is an example. It is a way of creating a cohesive hierarchy based on fighting skills. It’s no different from how Western culture uses boxing and MMA to build community.
The Essence of The Healing Drum Circle
An essential component of the circle is its synergistic effect on people. Healing techniques like Reiki use this principle extensively in the movements and Sigils. It is helpful for the Shamanic Journey and other forms of physical, mental, and spiritual healing. You can use it too.
The rhythm of the drum provides a communal focal point for chanting healing mantras and sutras. This technique has found a home in the modern drumming circle movement. Indigenous tribes around the globe use the campfire and drum circle as a focus for healing.
You don’t need a group of people to enter the healing circle of rhythm. Every rock-n-roll drummer will tell you once you are in the rhythm of the music, it is nirvana. But even if you don’t have professional-level drumming skills, you can still enter this sacred space with your drum by yourself. Chances are your favorite songs have drum tracks.
The healing drum circle is still a powerful tool for the modern age. We use drumming and sacred dance as a part of the blended learning process at our weekend retreats. And, when possible, we prefer an open campfire. The campfire and the drum are still excellent community-building tools.
The rhythm we create with instruments has a way of unifying people. It makes people move and dance in unison. That’s a good thing.