This is an ongoing US and global project to help enthusiasts, scholars, practitioners, and curious parties learn more about shamanic living in a contemporary culture. The space here is devoted to sharing info, experiences and opinions about all forms of shamanic expression covering shamanism's multiple permutations. Among subjects explored are traditions, techniques, insights, definitions, events, artists, authors, and creativity. You are invited to draw from your own experiences and contribute.

What is a SHAMAN?

MAYAN: "a technichian of the Holy, a lover of the Sacred." CELTIC: "Empower the people...by changing the way we think." MEXICAN APACHE: "Someone who has simply learned to give freely of themselves..." AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL: "...a teacher or healer, a wisdom keeper of knowledge... (who) takes people to a door and encourages them to enter." W. AFRICAN DIAGRA: "views every event in life within a spiritual context." HAWAIIAN: "...human bridges to the spiritual world and its laws and the material world and its trials..." QUECHUA INDIAN: "embodies all experience." AMAZON: "...willing to engage the forces of the Universe...in a beneficial end for self, people, and for life in general."

-- from Travelers, Magicians and Shamans (Danny Paradise)

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Chant

Chanting is described as a part of the shaman's toolbox, although we haven't gone into it much. The Kam in our reading uses the chant to take a hold of Dr. Kharitidi's consciousness. The healer I met in the rainforest relied on chant as a central part of his ceremonies. Chanting a mantra seems like a natural complement to the drum and creates a point of focus for the mind.

Major religions and many mystical traditions use some form of chant in their rituals. On a secular level, many modern day music group singers have gained icon status based on the quality of their voice and the power of their songs. I believe there are shamanic elements at work here that can explain this.

Sometimes the content of the message being conveyed creates meaning for the listener, but oftentimes I can enjoy and be carried away by a beautiful vocal pattern without having to know the words. When my mind is clear, I can tap into what feelings are being expressed indirectly by grabbing onto and riding different pieces of the melody--chant, like all music, is there both as a reinforcing agent and transformational one. It is a powerful arrow through the heart of the hearing sense; its tip can pierce all the way to the feeling sense.

Here are excerpts from two articles about chanting--one by a Hindu, the other by a Pagan:

The Power of Chanting By Swami Vasudevananda

The sages who gave us the ancient Vedic mantras and hymns were evolved beings who had either attained or come very close to a state of pure consciousness. In their meditations they heard perfect words and sounds - sublime mantras, sacred wisdom arising from within. They passed this sacred wisdom on to their disciples by singing it.

Chanting also has significant effect on our bodies and minds. Like everything in this universe, our body is made up of vibrating energy. Even though our body appears to be dense, every cell of the human body has its own frequency. All the different parts of the body, all its cells, want to move in unison, the way a shoal of fish or a flock of birds does, always moving but never bumping into each other. When this natural rhythm and harmony is disrupted in the body, that's when disease and disorders arise. However, when the vibrations of the chant sound within our bodies, the cells themselves respond; they resonate with the pure vibration of the mantras so that harmony can be restored.

Gurumayi says, ''When you chant the Name, it actually moves through your whole being - purifying you, bestowing grace, and making you sacred''. As chanting bathes us in its purifying sounds, it opens our hearts; it opens us to receive the outpouring of grace from the guru. Baba Muktananda, Gurumayi 's guru said, ''Chanting is a magnet that draws God's power''. http://www.gurumayi.com.au/power_chanting.html

The Power of Chants
Date: 2004-04-12 By: Christopher Penczak

Here are some tips in using music in your own circles:
* Find traditional chants and more recently composed ones that you can use. Metaphysical stores often have a section of pagan music, song and chants.
* If you visit larger pagan festivals, you may be taught some of the traditional chants if you don’t know them and can’t find a recording. Many are passed along through the oral tradition of pagan gatherings. Take notes and write down lyrics so you won’t forget.
* Use simple melodies with a limited vocal range so everybody can sing them without straining their voices.
* Try setting pagan poetry to familiar melodies, such as well-known holiday songs. Sometimes they sound silly, but they can be a great way to focus everybody on a melody they already know sung with different words.
* Use simple beats and rhythms to keep the group focused – or use a drum to help induce an altered state. Beats that fall on even numbers (based on groups of two or four beats) are more direct and dynamic. Some consider them more masculine. Beats based in 3, like the familiar waltz pattern, are considered more feminine and have a connection to the triple goddess.
* Feel the music as you perform it. Let the vibration fill your body, heart, and mind. Let it move you. When you are open to sound, you can make the experience very healing or energizing.
* Don’t be afraid to be loud or to make a mistake. Sing with feeling and worry about the technicalities later. If everyone is into the chant, that’s more important than sounding perfect. Don’t make anyone feel bad if they don’t have a perfect voice. Remember the circle is about Perfect Love, Perfect Trust, and celebration.Keep the spirit alive when you chant and when you pass the cakes. Each is an opportunity for love, compassion, and transformation. Many blessings on your magical path and I hope music lightens your step and opens your heart.


Still Waters said...

Very interesting post Night Sings. I've looked at vibrational healing in the past.. specifically overtone singing or chanting. This is where the singer actually creates two tones at the same time while singing. It is a very ancient technique that has been brought back and is gaining popularity.

One of the famous chanters is Jonathan Goldman. It is said that the vibrations created by chanting can carry one into other realms.

I agree with you in that the words aren't always important (if there are any words at all). Some chanting seems to just strike chords within me that allows me to journey very easily.

For those that are interested.. there is The Third International
Sound Healing Conference this November 14 - 18, 2008 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There is a Shaman from southern Sibera, Russia who specializes in chanting presenting there. More info is at : http://www.khoomei-shaman.com/

for more info on the conference you can go to: http://www.bizspirit.com/soundhealing/so_index.html

There are others there who are famous for chanting as well. I am trying to go.. if anyone else might be interested.

Night Sings said...

Thanks for these links. I completely agree about the chords or frequencies that create windows for journeys into our second experience. There is even a musical term, "window frequency" that suggests certain sound waves take on a physical form and literally "move" the listener to experience emotion. Also, I notice that the rainforest healers use a rhythmic percussion instrument of some sort to accompany their chanting. Simple patterns of vibration in the background seem to be consistent trance-inducing component.

Have you decided if you are going to the conference? I think that would be a fascinating excursion.