Effective Core Shamanic Drumming Circles
By Susan Mokelke
© Shamanism, Spring/Summer 2007, Vol. 20, No. 1

A shamanic drumming circle can be a powerful way to deepen in the knowledge and practice of shamanism. Once you have learned the basic method of journeying taught in Michael Harner’s FSS Basic Workshop, it is important to practice to strengthen your personal connection to the helping spirits. This personal connection is crucial to the practice of shamanism. A drumming circle provides a consistent, supportive structure for this practice. Further knowledge can be gained by taking the FSS advanced workshops (refer to www.shamanism.org or workshop descriptions).

Drum - Horses
ŠPaul Erickson
This article provides a few guidelines for anyone considering starting a drumming circle. For established drumming circles, the guidelines can help to make your circle more effective. For people looking for a drumming circle, this article can help you determine which drumming circle is right for you.

These guidelines are directed to circles focused on Core Shamanism, shamanic methods not bound to any specific culture or perspective, as originated and developed by Michael Harner.

Most people will consider joining or starting a drumming circle after attending the FSS Basic Workshop. As a service, a listing of existing Core Shamanic Drumming Circles can be found on the Foundation’s website.

Drumming circles serve many purposes. Primary among them are:

  1. A supportive place to practice shamanism, especially journeying;
  2. Providing a consistent, regular structure for practice;
  3. Increasing shamanic knowledge by sharing with each other and through direct revelation from the spirits;
  4. Strengthening the participants’ connections to their helping spirits through practice;
  5. Healing for individuals and for the community.

Information about drumming circles can always be obtained through the classic shamanic method of journeying on it. If you are starting a drumming circle, your first sessions together might be focused on journeying to determine the focus, format, and guidelines for your drumming circle. However, that being said, we have found that the following principles help to create effective shamanic drumming circles.

When starting or joining a drumming circle, consideration should be given to:

  1. Who will participate in the drumming circle? What level of experience is desired? Will the circle be open or closed to new members once it has started? If closed, when will new members be considered?
  2. How will the circle be facilitated? A consistent, experienced leader? Rotating leadership?
  3. Is the focus and purpose of the circle clear and agreed upon by the members of the circle?
  4. What is the format of the circle? When, where, and how often will the circle meet? Will the circle have a fee? Will there be a general consistent format/flow for each session?
  5. How is the content of the circle determined?
  6. Does the circle make the ethics of shamanic work explicit? Does it abide by these ethics? Is the circle harmonious?
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Please consider joining the Circle and receive the Foundation's journal, the Shamanism Annual as part of your benefits.