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)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dave Stringer and Healing Chants

Dave Stringer Performs at The Yoga Barn, Bali
An excerpt from my new article on the unifying power of chant in Newsvoice.se .  It is a feature about respected Kirtan singer, Dave Stringer, who recently performed at the Yoga Barn. Stringer discussed singing in gibberish to be therepeutic in a way that reminded me of a practice used by some shamans.

In certain shamanic chants or mantras bits and pieces of words come through in a vocal soup that makes little sense to most. Still, some believe there is a healing force that can be traced to the quality, shape and combination of the sounds themselves.

After learning about Kototama, an ancient study of sound, I was made aware that certain vocal sounds can stimulate while others sedate and that different combinations of vowels and consonants have symbolic and universal significance--it can start with how you utter your name--the name being each person's principal mantra for life.

Hasto cielo mantchini cinchi cinchi medicoy

Mediconche coy na mi hapa morish vwa miquay



In this way, may be sounds do make up a world language like Stringer suggests--most musicians call music a universal language for a reason, and the words used in their songs don't have to make much transliteral sense.

To access the healing power of sound, there is an implied delinking of the mind involved, which is simply another altered state or pathway to the second attention.
The most interesting aspect of Stringer was his personal history and how he came to discover the therapeutic power of song. As a youngster, Dave would sing gibberish to himself—uttering a string of vocal sounds that often made no coherent sense– “it appeared and I just followed it,” he recalled.

Dave described this practice as a spiritual communication process from within, “it was the kind of nonsense that was meaningful to me,” He acknowledged there were possible shamanic elements to these non-linear vocalizations. And he came to consider them as ways to take negative emotions and to release and replace them with positive ones.

Dave discovered Kirtan later on while traveling in India... as a study and practice that gave structure and definition to the inner processes that he had privately engaged in all along. In a sense, Kirtan validated the gibberish.

“It gave my life a rich meaning—I could transform what was dark and difficult into something brighter and allow it to spread. So I went around the world singing.”

The full piece can be found here

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