DOI: 10.14704/nq.2016.14.2.939

Medicinal Drumming: An Ancient and Modern Day Healing Approach

Sal Núñez


This article reviews the medicinal drumming praxis, an ancient and modern day ceremonial approach to psychological and spiritual well-being. A brief overview of similar, but culturally diverse healing modalities is presented along with a background on the evolution of certain Afro-Caribbean rhythms that are centerpiece to the drumming ceremony, and are used to activate and channel healing energy within a group setting. Distinctions between different drumming styles are presented and an explanation regarding the uniqueness of ceremonial drumming is offered. The conceptualization of the medicinal drumming praxis is operationalized into stages that sequentially unfold over the course of the ceremony. A discussion about the manner in which; rhythms, plant medicine, song, storytelling, colors, symbols and elements such as water, air, fire and earth, are used to produce an effect is presented. The effects generated by the ceremonial process and the tools used during a drumming ceremony are addressed. The process by which the facilitator (guide) ushers the group through the ceremony is explained and the manner in which the energetic current of the group is activated and molded during the ceremony is described. A discussion on generating and encoding intention into sound vibrations is provided. The capacity to stimulate group cohesion, unconditional positive regard, social connectivity, and well-being through ceremony is argued. The ability to elevate consciousness through drumming ceremony is explored. A discussion, on the use of ceremony as a sacred space that generates a pathway whereby the projection of constructive intentionality and communion with higher consciousness occurs, is presented. A previous evaluation of the model is offered along with a summary of a current training and implementation project funded by the San Francisco Department of Public Health is described.


ceremony; drumming; healing; consciousness; spirituality

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The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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