BY KAYLA BABOOLAL
In many counties, the aboriginal people believe that the sound of the drumming is either the heartbeat of the earth – the Great Mother, or the beat found within the horse’s hoofs as she carries the drummer, or trancer, to the spirit world. Having a musical background, I find it hard to play myself into a trance, but being an island girl who ‘feels’ the beat of the music, I have found it very easy to trance to the sound of beating drums. The technique can be active or passive. Whether you do active or passive trance drumming, it is more than images you seek, it’s sound. I’ve experienced sounds (and visions) of past-lives and had the beats turn into the cry of an animal guide. Ultimately, for me, it is the ‘knowing’ that follows
If the drum is your mare taking you to the other world, listen to the beat of her movement. What terrain is she traveling on? Does it change? Do you cross water, a bridge… for the sound will tell you. Listen for her breath her voice, her message. Are you in a forest, alone with other animals who wish to speak to you, or have you traveled to the elders of another time and place? Is the language not your own, yet familiar? Why? How? Is this a past life experience calling on your own ancient knowledge? If the drum is the Great Mother, hear her heart beat, then expand your own into it, match your rhythms to hers, hear her breathing, listen for her voice and her message.
Active trancing during drumming is a unique and very different experience for each person. I usually start by sitting or standing and feeling the beat within me. Each cell begins to vibrate. I feel the movement of blood as my pulse picks up the rhythm. The moments between the beats catch within my lungs as my breath adjusts to the tempo and the energy starts to rise. My entire body hums. I feel a shift happen as I become ‘out of phase’ with this world, being drummed into the next. Your body moves and flows, becoming an instrument itself. As your body and energy shifts, so to does your perception. Shadows can turn to light, and light to shadow as movement takes form into guides or visions of what may come. With active trancing you dance the beats alive.
Passive trancing is similar, but has a different intensity to it. Here, you sit, and feel the beat not within your entire body, but within your energy centres. It starts within your muladhara, awakening Shakti, and as she journeys up your energy pathways, you may see glimpses of colours, get surges of emotions. When the beat reaches your third eye you get pulled back within yourself. The shift happens, but it is within you, as your eyes are closed to the physical world, and opened to the spirit one. It is a hard experience to explain, as those who do this can attest. But it also requires a complete surrender of self, and a stillness of the physical body.
Safe guards during ritual festival drumming: This, therefore, would be a good time to talk about safe-guards you should consider if you are trancing during Shamanic Drumming at an open ritual or festival where there are individuals you may not know well. As is the cosmic balance of things, some individuals generate more prana/mana/chi – life force than others. Other’s still, need to feed, through ambient or direct methods, on another’s life force to sustain themselves. There is no right or wrong in this and it will not be debated, however, if you are in a trance state, you may not be able to maintain certain guards and protection required against feeders. In addition, being an island girl, I am fully aware that there are those who work with the less-constructive aspects of light and shadow, and as you are in a vulnerable state, such ‘obeja’ men/women can perform questionable acts on you. I recommend having a grounder and guard. Someone you trust on a physical and spiritual level who will have your back and monitor your progress. Keep a vigilant watch.
There are several CD’s available on the market. I recommend the Sounds Series as it contains three different trance drumming styles and beats.