Each human being is born with a wonderful instrument that can be used for healing, transformation, and magick: the voice. Since the dawn of time, people have employed this oldest and most accessible of musical instruments to praise deities, interact with each other, and celebrate the cycles of life. Recently, Western healers have rediscovered what witches and shamans have understood for millennia. By harnessing the power inherent in the human voice, you can balance body, mind, and spirit.
Chants are typically words or syllables repeated aloud for a particular purpose. Saying a rosary is a form of chanting. Witches sometimes chant rhymes in their rituals. The repetitive nature of a chant, as well as the actual words that compose it, act on your subconscious to generate the desired result.
Chanting may be accompanied by drumming, clapping, rattles, dancing, or playing musical instruments, specifically for the purpose of increasing psychic energy. At its height, chanting can stimulate altered states of awareness, including ecstatic trances.
Some chants have a religious focus. Om mani padme hum is a Sanskrit chant Buddhists sometimes utter in meditation. Another chant that is believed to align the body's energy centers involves repeating the Hebrew names for God: Yod Hey Shin Vahv Hey.
Gregorian chants seem to be particularly effective at charging the mind and body, probably because they include a nearly complete spectrum of vocal frequencies. Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a French eye, ear, and nose specialist affectionately known as “Dr. Mozart,” noticed that the ear was the first sense organ to develop. According to Tomatis, frequencies in the range of 2,000 to 4,000 cycles per second — those found in the upper range of the human speaking voice — are the most beneficial. These resonances stimulate vibrations in the cranial bones and the ear muscles, which then revitalize or “charge” the brain.
Some people prefer to intone a word from a language other than their native tongue, perhaps one with a religious connotation. A mantra is a group of sacred sounds repeated for spiritual purposes. The word mantra comes from Sanskrit and translates as “delivering the mind.” Among Hindus, it means “the learning.” Lama Govinda, a Tibetan Buddhist, taught that mantras are a tool for thinking, but thinking in a distinctively different way in which truth supersedes prejudice, preconditioning, and personal agendas.
The mantra is a mechanism through which you begin to see the spirit housed within your body. This spirit is also consciousness, and the essence that makes each person unique. By recognizing this spirit and returning to connectedness with it, you move from the material world into the magickal realm.
In the Upanishads, Om is thought to be the basis of all sacred sounds. This word contains the alpha and omega of energy — transformation and enlightenment. In the popular chant Om mani padme hum, Om represents the perfected mind, body, and speech that Buddha advocated. Mani signifies compassion; padme represents knowledge; and hum is the infinity within the finite.
Yogis use mantras in performing many amazing physical feats. Western witches intone mantralike words or songs to raise power and focus the mind. Speaking a mantra delivers the mind from mundane pursuits and enables you to reach a heightened state of awareness more easily. It also cleanses sacred space and fills it with supportive energy.
Benefits of Chanting
To understand the implications of sacred sounds a little better, consider the sounds that assail you every day. How does sound affect you? A honking horn will make you jump, for example, while the sounds of tinkling bells may inspire a smile. Through the use of sacred sounds, you massage your spirit with joyful noises that are uplifting and positive.
Dr. Alfred Tomatis developed a form of therapy that has been used in the United States and Europe to treat physical and psychological problems ranging from depression to autism. His techniques help patients improve their listening abilities and recapture the restful, sonic environment of the womb.
Chanting shifts consciousness because the vibration of sound has a measurable effect on the nervous system. Sound healers, including Colorado's Jonathan Goldman, use sound to activate and balance the body's energy centers, known as the chakras. Each chakra resonates with its own unique tone. Goldman says that the vowel sounds can be used as mantras to open up and “tune” the chakras, thereby enabling them to transmit harmonious, healing energy to the body.
“We can change our vibrational rate through our own self-generating sounds,” sound healer Jonathan Goldman believes. As individuals, we can use our voices to affect our own frequencies and energy levels. As a group, we can “adjust the planet to a new level of consciousness.”
Goldman recommends starting with the deepest “UH” sound you can make while focusing your attention on the root chakra, the energy center at the base of the spine. Then, at a slightly higher pitch, vocalize “OOO” and feel it vibrating in the sacral chakra. Next, direct the sound “OH” to the solar plexus. Continue moving up the body and the register, uttering “AH” in connection with the heart chakra. Let “EYE” resonate in the throat chakra, then “AYE” at the brow chakra or third eye, and finally “EEE” at the crown chakra.
The concept isn't so strange, really. You've probably had the experience of feeling joyful, invigorated, and rejuvenated when singing your favorite music. Sound waves can be focused to produce a range of remarkable effects, from a singer shattering glass with a clear, high note to a doctor using ultrasound to break up kidney stones.
Even the universe sings. Many people describe having heard the voice of the earth as a low, resonating hum. According to the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras, the planets revolving in their orbits around the sun produce sounds that he called “the music of the spheres.” Perhaps by attuning themselves to these universal vibrations, human beings can create harmony on this planet.