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Steven Ash
from: Steven Ash
Category: Sound Healing

Sacred Drumming Ancient Sound Healing - Part 2: The Essential Foundations of Sacred Drumming

Medicine drumming is very different to entertainment or social drumming because the intent of the drummer using the drum beat as a healing tool is both investigating a cause and bringing a change. A protocol has been developed in many cultures that both protects and enhances the overall experience and this protocol I am calling the essentials of sacred drumming.

The two distinct sections of this protocol are smudging and the medicine wheel.

Smudging can be carried out by wafting the smoke of aromatic herbs such as sage, Artemisia or frankincense in the body energy field in order to cleanse the unseen dross that is held in the mind and memory around the body. In some cultures especially those of the Pacific Islands toning clear sounds around the body is used in the same way as the sweet smoke. The medicine wheel is a form of prayer or invocation in which archetypes are arranged in seven directions, the four points of the compass, above, below and within.

 In the foundation of all the natural energy medicine systems from around the globe there is this medicine wheel code called in Africa the circle of life, in North and South America the medicine wheel or the Seven Sacred Directions. The traditional Aurvedic medicine of India call it Vastu; In TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine it is the Bagua and the generative cycle of the five elements; and in Tibet it is the sacred mandala or Tanka. The theme of all these ancient and deeply shamanic systems is the same; firstly each one of us is in the centre of our universe, where the veils of the soul are condensed within a physical form. Secondly as individuals we are here for a reason, to sense out from our centre and to grow from our understanding of the resonances between our inner world and the outer universe, “Awaken whilst you are in this body for everything is within it” are the words of the master Jesus from the book of love. Sacred drumming is one method for exploring and clearing away anything that ought not to be held with in the soul body so that our soul purpose can be realised.

“From earliest times the communication with Heaven has been the very foundation of life. This foundation exists between Yin and Yang, Heaven and Earth, and within the six points, the four cardinal directions, Nadir and Zenith” Chapter 3 ,Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen (2697 BC)

 “The sages combined water, fire, wood, metal and earth, the four seasons and the eight winds, the four cardinal points, the Zenith and the Nadir, and they held them as inseparable and constant. They underwent changes and transformations by mutually influencing each other” Chapter 13 Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen (2697 BC)

The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal medicine is the foundational text for all students of Traditional Chinese Medicine and here it states twice that each of us is made up of, and receives information from the six sacred directions (in this text it excludes the seventh direction of within). It is one small step to state that since each individual is standing in the place from where this observation is being made, that “each human is in the centre of their own universe” and how similar the above is to the saying below from the Native North American wisdom keepers.

“A true Cherokee knows that no matter where he is he is in the centre of the universe”

The four quadrants in conjunction with the perpendicular axis have been used in many ancient cultures to provide a means for creating sacred space because each of the seven directions has a distinctive spiritual component and clear aspect of personal learning.

Each of the directions has a realm of influence relative to colours, season, time of day and time of life. Spiritual guardians, plants and animals are connected to a direction. Since each one of us stand in the centre of our own universe within the medicine wheel we send intention out in all directions, saying that everything in all directions is Sacred or Wakan.

We let this living prayer go round and round, adding more power and intention as we go, if you forget an item do not go back keep going forward, sun or clockwise and keep adding to the sacred and generating brew. The Medicine Wheel prayer imprints a constant recognition into your sub conscious of your place in the universe. Stir it into your home, workplace and Inner life. You choose the colour and qualities according to your experience or belief, I have placed the qualities of my understandings of life into the directions below as an example not a rule; you place into each direction your vision of the universe as you see fit.


Colour is yellow. Archangel Raphael

Time of day is noon and the element is Fire

Teaching comes from the plants animal and mineral spirits.

Sense organ is feeling

The season of summer, child and youth

Awakens laughter, creativity, growth, expansion, healing and release of pain

Animal guardians the dog and deer

Stones Topaz, Yellow calcite, Limonite and Honey quartz


Colour is black. Archangel Michael

Time of day is sun set and evening and the element is Water.

Teaching comes from those who have gone before us, our ancestors.

Sense organ is listening

Season of autumn and adult

Awakens cleansing, insight and prayer

Animal guardians the bear and badger

Stones Black tourmaline, Iron stone and Jet


Colour is White. Archangel Gabriel

Time of day is night and the element is Earth.

Teaching comes from Angels, Spirit Guides and White Buffalo Calf Woman

Sense organ is taste and smell

Season of winter, old age and death

Awakens Wisdom, stillness and purity

Animal guardian the buffalo

Stones White quartz, chalk or flint                                                                 



Colour is red. Archangel Uriel

Time of day is the sunrise and the element is Air

Teaching comes from the living teachers.

Sense organ is sight.

Season of spring, conception, gestation and birth

Awakens new beginnings and the conception of life and ideas.

Animal guardians are the eagle and hawk.

Stones are Rose quartz, Jasper, Carnelian and Ruby.


Grandmother Earth

Colour is green

Direction is down below the feet, the oceans and landmasses.

Time of day is now especially daytime.

Teaching comes from gratitude, nurturing and substance and drawing up.

Sense organ is our digestive, absorbing and eliminating systems.

Season is now, being in tune with the elements of her cycles, weather & pulse

Awakens appreciation, gratitude and service to Earth Mother.

Animals are those that live within the earth.

Stones dark green Jade and Black Tourmaline.


Grandfather Sky, the sun, moon and star nation

Colour is blue

Direction is above your head, the stars, sky, clouds and air.

Time of day is now and especially night time

Teaching comes from prayer, meditation and drawing down.

Sense organ is the brain, pineal gland, lungs and breath.

Season is now, being in tune with the happenings in the Heavens.

Awakens prayer, and connection to spirit and Heaven Qi.

Animals are the birds and flying creatures.

Stones Aquamarine, Lapis Lazuli, Blue lace Agate and Sodalite


Colour is pink or violet, your spirit guide or guardian angel.

Direction is centred within looking out.

Time of day is constantly remembering from where you are coming from.

Teaching comes from feeling gratitude and appreciation.

Sense organ is the source of the breath and feelings.

Season is staying in the moment and enjoying all around you.

The inner world awakens you to your connection to the source.

The animal is you and your animal guides.

Stone is any special mineral that helps you to stay centred, your favorite friend.

In order to become effective as a medicine drummer a level of preparation is necessary for the process of entering and moving between the veils for you to work in safety. You will stay at the level that you choose, relative to the degree that you wish to take in committing yourself to the deepest and yet the highest possible order. The drum takes you into the experiences and areas beyond the veils, you may call it going into trance or journeying. The factor that we will be addressing in drum medicine is that you will be doing it with others and therefore you are responsible for the outcome; so you will need to develop a quality of integrity that allows you to stay ahead of anything you may meet on route. I recommend that these two protocols are used before and after a drum healing session.

If you are interested in a more in depth exploration of smudging and the medicine wheel have a look at the chapters in my book Sacred Drumming and explore

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