Excerpts from: Steve Nelson


Indigenous peoples of the world have for millennia gathered under the light of the Full Moon to dance and make music. Tribal members with drums and other instruments form a circle around a small group of dancers.

The beat of the drums brings celebrators into tune with the rhythms of nature. The dancers evoke and raise powerful currents of life energy.

Group communion invokes the light of the soul. A mystical union can then occur that brings insight and power to realize heart felt aspirations. The drums and the dance naturally raise, harmonize and transmute primal energy. This energy then becomes available to power individual and group intentions that quietly go on the air. There is no need to speak them aloud. The drum music provides a carrier wave for all prayers and wishes that accord with the spirit of the One.



A drum circle or rhythm circle, simply put, is a group of people gathered into a circle for the purpose of making music. It can be as simple as three friends in a living room. The makeup of the group, along with the instrumentation and the skill of the facilitator, determines the direction the circle will take. Often some people will choose to dance in the middle of the circle.

A commUNITY drum circle, in contrast, grows out of a realization that rhythm is a language that can unite the diverse elements of humanity. Rhythm succeeds where words fail. The same principles (of rhythmic entrainment) always apply, even in a culturally non-specific context.

Specific religious references are AVOIDED, so as not to alienate anyone based on religion, but to allow all to experience the liberating forces of rhythmic entrainment. As in the drum circle, so in life. It’s vitally important to return now to what music is supposed to be all about; healing the spirit. When the circle works as a team, everyone benefits, because we all hit THE GROOVE, where the energy flows, time stops and we all evaporate....that bliss only occurs when the circle works as a team. Those principles carry over into everyday life.




Recent scientific research on the healing effects of drum circles points to amazing possibilities. Specifically it has been proven that participating in drum circles increases the number of beneficial macrophage cells or “killer cells” in the body. These cells are those responsible for seeking out and destroying specific disease organisms. (See USA Today article below titled The Rhythm of Life).

New AIDS research shows a definite link between macrophage cell numbers and susceptibility to disease. This connection was reported late last June after numerous women prostitutes in Africa were found to have an immunity to the AIDS virus. Research shows that what distinguishes these women from those who are susceptible is an extraordinarily high number of killer cells. Though these women are repeatedly exposed to multiple strains of AIDS, they remain healthy because their killer cells neutralize the viruses before they can get a foothold in the body.

.....Other healing and transforming effects can occur when people join together in drumming. Those who’ve been depressed can recover their overall will to live through this kind of celebration.

Celebration isn’t just for having fun, it is the chief way whereby the peoples of all ancient societies have safely evoked and transformed collective psychic energies that can otherwise cause discord and chaos.



The rhythms of nature need to be honored as much as the light of the spirit. Nature and spirit can be reunified through celebrations at special times and places.

.......In the metaphysical view there are low grade astral powers that can overshadow individuals on the physical who are out of alignment with spirit and nature and move them to do very bad things. Emotional repression, mental disturbance and addictions provide hooks for these astral forces. The weakest link in the psyche is targeted. Individuals all have their blind spots and areas of vulnerability more or less. Gathering in groups to sing, dance or otherwise freely celebrate is a way to heal these vulnerabilities and break the spell of the astral shades. Individual blind spots and repressions often automatically cancel out or are let go in group celebration.

......Drum circles have been forming all over America and throughout the world in the last few years. My experience of the drum circle is that it is something like a lens for transformation. The energy of the circle depends on the energy of the surroundings, the more energy the better. The energies of psychic discord are transformed into harmony and feed their power into the circle. Then the drum circle gets stronger and expands its field of influence outward to take in more discordant vibrations. These in turn are assimilated and harmonized and the positive and enjoyable energy of the circle is augmented. Dancers within the circle move these energies into more subtle dimensions.



The weekly meetings of my men’s group always begin with a drumming music circle and this seems to prepare the way for everything else. It doesn’t matter how I feel when I come in, I always feel good after the drumming. My preference is to shake a rattle or tambourine rather than drum but I appreciate how that the drums are an essential foundation for the music circle. Our meeting centers around a circle of twelve river rocks like in the Native American medicine wheel. (There are twelve in our group). At the middle of this circle of stones is a smaller circle of seven clay guys standing with arms around each other. These surround a candle that is lit with group intention. A 7-8 minute hour glass is turned for each person to “check in” before the open discussion. We close by standing and oming in a circle or do more drumming.



“Rhythm,” as Gabriel Roth says, “is the mother tongue.” Rhythm is a universal language known to every one, even the youngest child, if we can just ‘remember.’ So in a very objective, yet beautiful way, an interactive rhythm event puts us all on an equal footing with each other and brings us closer together.

A community drum circle is a collaboratively self organized musical event created, ‘in the moment,’ by all the people who participate. When we, as a community, drum together, sharing our spirit in the form of rhythm, it changes our relationships for the positive. As we play together, we give ourselves a rhythmical massage, an emotional release and a healing.

The release and healing is different for every person that is in the rhythm circle, and it happens whether we are entraining ourselves into the circle by drumming, or standing outside the circle and listening while tapping our feet and clapping along with the music. The quality of the music produced in an event like this is not based on the rhythmical expertise of the players, but on the quality of their relationship with the other people in the circle.

The result is those magical musical moments where one powerful voice is created out of the many. In those moments, the players stop worrying about keeping time because time, as they know it, has stopped. In its place is a living breathing entity, expressing timeless joy, passion and release through the power of rhythm. That is the beauty of a community drum circle.

- Arthur Hull



By Anita Manning, USA TODAY 08/13/2001


A study led by neurologist Barry Bittman of the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, Pa., found that patients who took part in group drumming, or drum circles, experienced increased levels of disease-fighting immune system cells called natural killer cells. Bittman, who also has done research on the medical benefits of laughter, tested blood chemistry of 111 healthy people in a series of experiments. Participants in all groups experienced a drop in cortisol, an indicator of stress, Bittman says, but only the group of active drummers had a significant increase in natural killer cells. He attributes the change to the stress-reducing benefits of self-expression, camaraderie and the rhythmic drumming. Group drumming is being incorporated into stress-reduction programs in workplaces and medical centers, he says. The studies were sponsored by drum manufacturer Remo.


by Steve Silberman

Come slip into the Drum Circle and join the rhythm.
Travel with us to different places, always with our drums
and our ears tuned to hear the beat of the next
Drum Circle.

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