it is as much fun as it looks, but there is more to it
than just an orgiastic gathering.
Drumming, both for the drummers and the
dancers, can induce a state of
trance. As a
drummer, I can tell you
that once the beat is set, it doesn’t take a lot of brain power to play
the rhythm. Instead,
your mind sort of shuts down, you
stop thinking about when to hit the drum.
hands continue to hit the beat they have been keeping,
but you enter a meditative state.
in this trance state, you are unaware of anything that may happen
you. All you are
aware of is the
beat. You become
state of being is hard to describe to someone who
doesn’t play an instrument, or dance.
had this same thing happen while playing guitar.
If you are playing a piece that you know
forward and backward, when you can play without thinking about what
doing, you can find your hands, feet, and body moving without conscious
is trance music, and anyone listening would hear you
playing the best you ever have. Because
you aren’t giving conscious thought to what you are doing, everything
from the subconscious. Your
mind goes on a break. You
same state where you perform magick.
enter this same trance state when they stop thinking
about how to move with the beat, and relax into the dance. Drummers and dancers both
tend to close their
eyes, and...leave. The
drumming can be
fast or slow, loud or quiet. It’s
how or what you play, it’s the repetitive rhythm that causes the trance.
in this state, the Witch can do many things.
Some solve problems, coming up with
to issues that may be bothering them, or others.
Others travel both in space and time. I know this sounds hard to
believe, but the
mind really is capable of doing the impossible.
people, when they go to their first Drum Circle, wonder
how everyone can stand to play the same beat for what seems like hours
end. The answer is
that they are unaware
of time, when they are in the trance.
in the trance, there are slight variations that happen, and slowly over
the beat does change.
really hard to explain something that must be
experienced, in order to be understood.
I can talk about the trance, and the
awakening that happens
when you drum or dance, but unless you’ve actually experienced it, you
can’t understand it. This
is where the
social aspect of the Drum Circle comes in.
of the things that happens frequently through the night, is the frenzy.
After playing a beat for twenty or thirty minutes or longer,
the drummers will sometimes begin to speed up.
increase in tempo just sort of happens. Rarely does it happen
because someone decides to speed up. The increase in speed
happens because while drumming or dancing, you and everyone else who is
participating, is raising energy.
is one of the most effective forms for energy raising, and is sometimes
used in ritual for just that purpose. When dancing or
drumming, you become connected to everyone else within the Circle.
You share energy between the individuals of the Circle.
there tend to be a lot of Priests and Priestesses drumming and dancing,
they can feel this energy as it begins to peak. You always
want to do something with the energy that you raise, and the natural
thing to do in a Drum Circle, is to go faster.
tempo starts to move faster, very slowly at first. It's
really only perceptible to those drumming or dancing. You
find yourself just a hair behind the beat at some point, so you adjust
to keep up. Everyone else does the same.
gradual speeding of the tempo continues, and may even plateau for
several minutes, one or more times as the energy builds. This
is a natural consequence of feeling the flow of energy that is around
the tempo begins to speed up, and take on a life of its own.
Both the drummers and the dancers begin to whip around at
break-neck speed, moveing faster and faster. The drummers
keep the beat the same, just playing faster and faster, untill they
can't do it anymore.
dancers dance faster and faster, fairly running around the fire.
Eventually, the energy builds so high, the drumming gets so
fast that no one can continue the beat, and the drummers simply pound
their drums in a drum roll.
energy is released, and all becomes quiet...until the next beat starts.
people are afraid to try drumming.
They think that all the drummers are
and have been playing for years, and they find it intimidating to pick
drum. Drums are
loud by nature, and the
new drummer thinks that any mistake they make will be heard by everyone.
quieter, instruments can be found at Drum
you’ll hear a flute
or two playing softly in the background.
Most of the time though, you’ll find
percussive variations. For
instance, bells, or claves will punctuate
One of the primitive
instruments that is making a strong
showing at Drum Circles lately, is the didgeridoo. This Aboriginal instrument from
Australia is nothing more than a
hollow tube that is blown into like a trumpet.
It makes a low, undulating hum that can
heard clearly under the
drums. A good didge
circular breathing, can play continuously through a drum set,
once in a while with high chirps for variation.
people (especially guys) are afraid to dance.
They fear that they’ll look foolish. I’ve heard some describe
looking like “an Epileptic on meth” when they dance. Since
the dancers are in the center of the
circle, they are afraid everyone will see them.
the social aspect of the Drum Circle comes to be. For
a lot of people, gatherings such as Drum
Circles are the only time they can be around other Witches and Pagans. Different Drum Circles
people, so you can find yourself in a completely different crowd at
old friends and meeting new ones is an inevitable
part of the Drum Circle. We are social creatures, and crave the company
others. At any
given Drum Circle, you
will find people who spend the entire evening watching and talking.
especially homemade mead can be found in abundance at
a Drum Circle. It’s
a chance for the
brewers to show off their latest experiments, and get opinions about
tastes. After all,
when you have a
gathering of diverse people, you get a good cross section of community
Circles will run for several hours, depending on location and time of
year. There can be as few as three or four, to several
hundred people in attendence. I have been part of Drum
Circles at large Pagan Festivals, that had three or four hundred
people, with 30 drummers playing for upwards of 100 dancers working
their way around the large fire.
Drum Circles are more structured, some more frenzied, and others that
are set up specifically for trance drumming and dancing. Each
one is different, if you go to one, and it doesn't appeal to you, try
another. Some group is bound to have something you like.
if you go to a Drum Circle, you should try to participate.
There are usually extra drums, or other instruments available
to play. Events like this are fun to watch, but they are a
lot more fun to be an active part of. Who knows, you may
discover a hidden talent for drumming or dancing.