June 1, 2016

Sacred Sound and Chocolate

Access Your Heart, Heal Yourself, Heal the Planet

If anyone has read some of my previous articles, you may have known I spent October through the end of March on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. In late December I had just finished some courses at The Yoga Forest and was looking at staying in Guatemala for another month. On the second-to-last day of the training, we were visited by a somewhat mysterious sound practitioner named Thomas. He had came to share the healing and gentle spirit of the cacao plant in ceremony* before channeling a sound journey. I had connected with cacao previously while in Guatemala (cacao being the plant that constitutes what we know as chocolate), but the way he led us into the experience was altogether new to me. He humbly asked us to place awareness into our hearts and allow an intention for the journey to flow; he then asked the Cacao Spirit to guide us all in the light of the Highest Good. What followed was a deep experience of sacred sounds with both traditional instruments (such as gongs, singing bowls, and wooden flutes) as well as a profound experience of the power of the human voice. Something within me was, should I say, set into resonance.

I’d been to shamanic drumming ceremonies before, but I had never quite experienced a full-on journey where my brainwaves were truly entrained into a trance and then into deep sleep**. I had always been too fidgety, or perhaps the shamanic drumming was not done properly, or who really knows. I understand that for some people, this type of brainwave science is already familiar territory; for me, it was a revelation. I had finally experienced something for myself that my left brain had been “taught” at some time or other. Thomas told us afterwards that he was co-facilitating a retreat and training in February, which he referred to as the “Yoga of Sound and Chocolate”. The alchemy of cacao and sound began to tug at my heart strings.

A week later he and his co-pilot, Paul Mitchell, facilitated a free offering of what we could expect of this “Yoga of Sound and Chocolate”. We came together and drank cacao, invoking the wisdom of the heart and that the practice be for the Highest Good. We then proceeded to open our bodies and voices through various physical and energetic exercises before sitting to chant mantras and sing beautiful bhajans. By the end of it my energetic body was so full of light and my heart was singing with ecstasy. A few days later, propelled by the will of my heart’s desire, I registered for their course.

There are many who have spent much of their lives deciphering clues in sacred texts to affirm the power and sanctity of sound. For the Hindus it is the vibration of “Om” or “Aum”, often referred to as “the un-struck sound”; in Christianity, one common text is from the Book of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Additionally, the word “Amen” is said to carry the consciousness of the Holy Spirit. (There’s a whole rabbit whole to go down with that thread of curiosity alone.) In his book, Healing Sounds, sound therapist Jonathan Goldman further expounds:

“Myths in many cultures speak of the universe having been created by way of sound. The Egyptian God Thoth was thus believed to have accomplished the work of creation by the sound of his voice alone. The Greeks knew this Master of Occult Wisdom as Hermes Trismegistus, “Thrice Great Hermes”, the scribe of the Gods. The sacred writings of the Ancient Mystery Schools were attributed to him as mediator of divinely revealed wisdom…The relationship between occult wisdom and sound may at first seem far removed. Yet, in the Ancient Mystery Schools of Egypt, Rome, Greece, Tibet, India, and other centers of learning, knowledge of sound was a highly refined science based upon an understanding of vibration as the primary causative form of the universe…

In the Ancient Mystery Schools, the priests and magicians were often also the musicians. Many of the great scientists of ancient times (such as Pythagoras) were also versed in esoteric knowledge. Their wisdom stemmed from an understanding of the universe that is only now being quantified in arenas such as quantum physics where the scientific and the spiritual can become one” (Goldman 11).

Thus, the science of sound was synonymous with the science of healing the mind, body, and spirit. The vast array of spiritual practices involving spoken storytelling, chanting, toning, and singing show us just how much a part of daily life and ritual the human voice has been in our history. Goldman wrote Healing Sounds in 1992, and we can see by the plethora of research and practices now being done in the West that we are moving closer to a more unified understanding of the esoteric and scientific worlds in regards to sound and subtle energy.

Flashback to my experience of the sound journey and the energy coming through Thomas’s voice. I had never considered, what with with all the available instruments laid around the altar, that his voice would join at all. It was not song or music; it was more like etheric toning of vowel sounds, in various pitches and timbre. (I later found out about the group of light beings, called Hathors, that often assist Thomas in his work, who came through in his voice during that journey.) As Jonathan Goldman talks about extensively in his many works, the human voice is so much more than our society typically allows. It’s a sacred instrument in human history that is available to us at any time, in any place, for profound healing and manifestation. (Some of you may have read my previous article about manifestation, I’ll revisit some of that later on.)

Due to the reign of modern medicine we may forget that we have this incredible tool for healing and manifestation; many of us are told as children how and when it is appropriate to use the voice. Without getting into a blame game, I would say that there is a significant amount of programming that prevents many of us from full vocal expression for fear of shame, judgment, or even punishment. In fact, the suppression of the throat chakra is one of the biggest blockages I have come across in many of my friends and loved ones. Energy workers and body workers alike may see similar patterns in others and themselves. Tightness in the jaw, lips, tongue, throat, neck, and upper back are common physical symptoms of what is usually an energetic blockage. Are we speaking our truth often enough? Are we verbalizing our dreams and desires? Are we in touch with the vibration of our own voice in its full range?

I firmly believe that my own unique body is designed to take care of itself, energetically and physically; when I scrape my knee, my body knows how to heal itself. Why not apply this philosophy to the unique vibration of my voice? After all, the key to our self-healing lies within! (Anyone ever hear of “the lotus is within” or “the kingdom of heaven lies within”?) It’s very simple, really, to begin to unlock the magic of your voice. What you may need is a dash of courage, faith, an open heart. There’s endless practices with which we can experiment, exploring harmonics, frequencies, devotional music, chant, throat singing, and even the way life force (chi, or prana) moves through us as we create sound. Remember, though, that just as every person’s body might need different foods and eating habits, every person may respond differently towards types of sound medicine.

However, before you start chanting “Aum” for hours on end, you need one more piece of the alchemical formula: the intention. Goldman outlines two formulas in his book, Shifting Frequencies:

Visualization + Frequency = Manifestation
Intention + Sound = Healing

Why is this important? It is important because, as Goldman describes, sound is “a carrier wave of consciousness”. He explains:

“…depending up on where an individual’s awareness is placed when he creates a certain sound, the sound will carry information on that state to the person receiving it. If, for example, you are angry and you create a sound, even though it may be a pleasant sound, you will be sending anger that is incorporated into that sound. This will be perceived on some subtle level by those receiving the sound.

I like to think of this as the intent or purpose behind the sound. With this word ‘intent’, we are really talking about the consciousness of the sound being created. This encompasses the overall state of the person making the sound and involves the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of that person. The intial understanding of intention involves our conscious mind” (Goldman 18).

Anyone who has ever studied magick or manifestation may have experienced the power of intention. Reiki practitioners also know of it, and in my personal experience it is this reason that it is encouraged to remain zen while giving a treatment. (After all, Reiki, is a form of energetic vibration.) However, there is a deeper level of “intent”, to which Goldman clarifies: “A more advanced understanding of intent involves what may be understood as alignment with the purpose of our higher selves, or the ‘Divine Will’. It is that aspect of consciousness that is able to align with the sacred energy of sound” (Goldman 18-19).

Thus, it is most beneficial for us to come into alignment with divine energy, with what some may call All That Is, God, Great Spirit, or Higher Power, etc. We find there is wisdom in asking for that divine alignment as an intention all on its own (“May this be in resonance with Divine Will”, for example). In Reiki we may experience this type of intention as we speak the five precepts and open our flow. This view of “intent” may be easier to enact for many in the healing arts because it lessens the participation of the egoic will to “heal” someone, to be responsible for an outcome, etc.

Ultimately, what this all means, is that we have more manifestation power than we have been led to believe! Empowering ourselves and those around us to use our unique voices for self-healing is the first step towards shifting more fully into our highest vibrations, which ultimately also aids our communities and our planet to do the same. The assistance of Mother Cacao helps us discover our heart’s desires, and as many of us esoteric junkies may know, “Love is the Law, Love Under Will”. When we begin to resonate with our heart’s truest desires (or what the entity Bashar calls our “highest excitement”), we find ourselves in alignment with Higher Will. This state of alignment (a form of “intent”), combined with vibration of any kind, is one of the greatest tools of the Magus–the Visionary. (You!)

Access your heart, heal yourself, heal the planet!

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FOOTNOTES + ABOUT DIANA

*Footnote 1: Cacao for ceremony is no stranger to the Mayan heartland. There is anthropological evidence of cacao being used by Mayan shamans, and Mayan glyphs speaking reverently of the origin of the cacao plant. (There’s even one belief that its DNA is not of this planet.) However, anyone who has studied or been to modern Mesoamerica will have experienced the deep wounding of the Mayan traditions and peoples by meddling outside influences (United Fruit Company, World Bank, U.S. politics, the Catholic Church, to name a few). Much of the Mayan spiritualism seems missing there, despite the prominence of traditional clothing and Mayan dialects; we can look to the very recent civil war that ravaged Guatemala to see how that might have affected the indigenous culture and morale. That’s not to say that traditions haven’t survived–there are still elders teaching the Mayan ways.

Overall, at least from my experience on Lake Atitlan, the use of cacao in ceremony has therefore become revived only by the influx of gringo spiritualists in the last two decades. Outside Guatemala this could be different, but I haven’t yet spent enough time in those places to know personally. Nowadays, at least on the lake, rather than only being used for traditional shamanic ceremony, this heart medicine can be found in rituals and practices ranging from yoga and meditation to ecstatic dance and song circles. Maybe you’ve already seen or experienced it in your local community. (In San Marcos, where I stayed on the lake, it is not uncommon to see cacao being used for everything, in snacks, mixed with coffee, dessert, etc.) Using cacao before sacred sound and music practices is a beautiful way to open the heart and enter into a deep space of prayer, connection, and unconditional love. My pursuit of this practice has led me to where I am today and what I hope to offer in the world.

A final note on cacao: it is also a conduit for faster, yet gentle absorption of many medicinal plants. I enjoy making medicinal teas as the base for my drinking cacao.

**Footnote 2: Some information on entrainment, from Goldman’s Healing Sounds, pgs 14-15

Entrainment “involves the ability of the more powerful rhythmic vibrations of one object to change the less powerful rhythmic vibrations of another object and cause them to synchronize their rhythms with the first object”. This phenomena means we can change the rhythm of our brainwaves. Here are descriptions of various brainwave states that Goldman describes:

Beta waves: 14 – 20 Hz; found in our normal waking consciousness

Alpha waves: 8-13 Hz, during daydreaming or meditation

Theta waves: 4 – 7 Hz, states of deep meditation and sleep, as well as in shamanic activity

Delta waves: 0.5 – 3 Hz, states of deep sleep and in profound states of meditation and healing.

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Sources

The St. James Bible, John 1:1

Goldman, Jonathan. Healing Sounds: the Power of Harmonics. Healing Arts Press: Vermont 1992.

Goldman, Jonathan. Shifting Frequencies. Healing Arts Press: Vermont,

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Notes from Diana:

This is just a brief exploration of some ideas relevant to the field of sound healing and the use of the human voice in esoteric practice. There’s much more to be said, but as people have written entire books about it and travel the world facilitating workshops on it, I desire to be selective when writing articles for newsletters! My hope is that through experiential exploration (and maybe some more left brain reading, if you like that kind of thing), we all can make scientific and spiritual observations of sound and music. I am eager to learn from others, so if there’s anything in this field that you are working with or have some excitement about, I’d love to connect.

A note about the word “healing”:

When I use the word “healing” I am referring to the process of assisting the various physical and energetic bodies of a person to move through a transformative process. We often can become lost in a paradigm where “healing” is “fixing”. For me, this is not so. I prefer to see every person as whole and holy, as in the Wise Woman healing tradition. Therefore the “healing” is less about some product or outcome and can become more about allowing and accepting, with love and compassion, the process taking place.

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ABOUT DIANA

Diana’s current highest excitement is the magic of sound and cacao as well as connecting with plant spirits of all kinds, living consciously, and loving fully. Her studies originated in music and live performance of theatre and dance, until a few years ago when her focus shifted to spiritual study and esoterica. She just returned from Bali, Indonesia where she was working daily with sacred cacao and sound in an intentional community of likeminded individuals. She has a lot more to say about all this, and is eager to share in offerings for personal, community, and planetary healing. These offerings include sacred cacao ceremony and workshops with meditation, yoga asana, pranayama (breath work), chanting, toning, in addition to sacred song circles, sound journeys, and creativity workshops. She is in NYC and NJ for the summer to facilitate and share in these spaces.

She also practices group or individual sound therapy with various instruments, including, of course, the human voice. Additionally she offers Thai Massage, Reiki, Tarot readings, and gives private yoga instruction. Cacao can be part of any private session.

For more information, comments, or to schedule a private session or group practice/workshop, she can be contacted at diana@fireflysociety.net.

Peace & Blessings!