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The Drum is a Woman!

Odu means womb and Odu refers to any opening between Heaven and Earth or the visible and the invisible realms of existence. Odu Osa Meji

This is the essence of the matter:  The creative power of women rests in the womb; her ability to open the door for the souls of the ancestors to move from the non-physical into physical existence.  In this manner women have the Power to “uphold the world.” Death is mitigated by the  guarantee of physical  rebirth.   The physical cycle of life becomes as fluid; eternal. 

In many African cultures women are seen as messengers of spirit because of the ability to directly interact with and transpose the non-physical into physical manifestation.  Consequently  most  African cultures considered women and the power of women as  inviolate. 

   They said they will praise the women, 
   They said if they praise the women the Earth will be tranquil.
   They chanted:
   Prostrate, prostrate for the women.
   Woman has placed you in the World, thus you are humanity.
   Woman is the intelligence of the Earth,
   prostrate for woman.
  Woman has placed you in the World, thus you are humanity(1)

Many traditional master djembe drummers will tell you that the drum is a woman;  A supernatural instrument given to the blacksmiths by a djin, a spirit of the tree. It is a  sacred womb and it’s purpose is to deliver messages from Spirit  and create healing.   The drum’s physical essence; a log, a box, a circular frame with an opening, meets the physical definition of  womb.  But does the drum, in this case the djembe, meet that critical defining aspect, “any opening between Heaven and Earth or the visible and the invisible realms of existence?”  The tacit is that the   womb is able to transpose what is non-physical into physical existence.

Modern science has been able to determine that drumming has a unique effect on the audio cortex of the brain, that part of the brain which processes sound.  They have determined that there are parts of the audio cortex which are only stimulated through sounds produced by drumming; the striking together of two objects, and this stimulation causes the release of endorphins. Music therapy is effective because people relax and enjoy the sounds, however, the sounds produced by striking are the only sounds that stimulate the release of endorphins.

We know that endorphins are the feel good hormones, and that the controlled release of endorphins can reverse depression and relieve physical and emotional pain.  Put another way, endorphins heal the body, mind and emotions, and the drum is an instrument of healing.  (2)

While many African cultures honored  the power of women, barriers were placed around the playing of  drums  of power such as the ngoma, djembe or bata. Many Master drummers  argue that women have their own drums to play.  There is some truth in this statement. Layne Redmond, in her book, When the Drummers Were Women, documents the history of women players of the frame drums in the temples of Africa and Greece.  While it is true that women played these drums it does not follow that only women played these instruments and it is logical to conclude and is truth that men played these instruments as well.
to be continued…

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