We have lost touch with the sacredness of sound, and the majority of us find ourselves surrounded by discordant, machine-induced sounds that cause disharmony rather than harmony of body and spirit. Most of the cultures who are more consciously tied to the earth use the power of song and dance to connect to each other and come back to a more harmonious place. For example, Bo, a Bushman doctor [shaman/medicine man], tells anthropologist Bradford Keeney:
When we get the big power, it often makes us feel like crying. Our hearts overflow with love and caring for one another. This is a time when no one can have a bad feeling for anyone else. It is one of the ways the dance heals our community. If, during the course of everyday life, people start feeling irritable with each other, they can call a dance to make everything better. The good feelings from the dance take away all the irritations and disagreements that come into daily life. In this way, the dance renews our relationships and caring for one another. (256 Keeney and Connor)
The dance not only unites the people, it also come from a place of beauty and connection. As Bo says,
It all starts with the understanding that the Big God loves us very much. He sends his love to us in a variety of ways. The major way is for him to first deliver his caring love to the animals, which long ago were inseparable from us/ He gives them his love in the form of a special song (texaitzi). That is why we have a giraffe song, eland song, elephant song, gemsbok song, and so forth. These are the gifts God gave to the animals. The animals, in turn, give these songs to our doctors when they are in a special state with second eyes and ears. The doctors may receive them in a dream or during a dance. When a doctor gets a song, he or she starts singing it. If this happens during the evening, the people wake up from their sleep, one by one, and go to the doctor’s hut. There they listen and learn the song. Everyone then starts dancing with happiness and gratitude… The strongest experience in the dance takes place when you turn into one of these animals or ancestors. It is even possible to feel like you have dissolved into the Big God. This is one of our greatest secrets. (255 Keeney and Connor)
The Bushmen know what many indigenous cultures knew – music can connect us to each other, to the animals and plants, and to spirit itself. Music is a part of us. As quantum physics shows, all things are vibrating, including each individual human body, and we are simply just a part of this overall song. Wayne Dyer reminds us that the word universe literally means, one song. The question for each of us is to figure out how to resonate with the greater whole – how to be the truest note, how to add the most peaceful verse, how to emit the purest vibration as we journey through our days.
Some Native songs demonstrate the beauty and respect for this earth through music. For example, one song by Sacred Spirit called “Yeha Noha” is about a Navajo creation myth, “a part of the origin myth describing a game played among the day and night animals in which the animals who discovered in which shoe a yucca ball was hidden would win a permanent state of daylight or night” (from comments here). In fact, “the Navajo shoe game is an event that is only held during the winter, which involves many different songs that were given to the Dine centuries ago by various animals and birds. In fact, Navajo elders explain that the very first shoe game was played by animals and birds” (from http://discovernavajo.com/dn.html).
If interested, you may listen to this Navajo song at this youtube link. You can hear the purpose behind the chanting, the peace behind the words, the acceptance of life, how things are, and how they came to be.
I’s also like to share this song (also on youtube) just for the emotion in the woman’s voice. I know little about it except that, according to the site, it is a Native American song, with Jackie Bird, a hoop dancer, singing with great emotion about the earth’s pain.
Another song titled, “Lay-o-Lay Ale Loya,” which, according to some sites, means “Sacred Circle Dance” shows the combination of music, dancing, and emotion. This is attributed to the Sami people.
Native Americans are not the only people playing sacred, beautiful music – all human beings do simply as a part of human life. Here are women in Israel playing healing music – simple, beautiful, effective.
For a feeling of peace and strength, listen here to Hein Braat from the Netherlands chanting the Gayatri mantra. A very basic meaning is the embrace of God to direct us onto our highest path. However, if you are interested, you should read the full meaning here.
Here is Lama Pasang Gelek chanting for enlightenment for all (with translation). This is very short, 53 seconds, and quite spiritual.
As they describe on this video, “The mantra Om Mani Padme Hum (literally: “Aum, to the Jewel in the Lotus, hum) is recited by Tibetan Buddhists to invoke Chenrezi, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Repeating this mantra accumulates merit and eases negative karma; meditating upon it is believed to purify the mind and body.” This is a song/chant one could meditate with.
For a different, equally popular, rendition of “Om Mani Padme Hum,” click here. Each of these has more than a million hits as it brings peace and potentially, enlightenment, to chant.
The Green Tara Mantra is chanted here, beautifully. “Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha.” One should repeat it 108 times (I will discuss the importance of the number 108 in a different post). This is also spelled, variantly, Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Svāhā / Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha. For a succinct explanation of the words of this mantra, try here, where they explain two possible interpretations: (1) Hail to Tara, the goddess of compassion, who delivers us from mundane dangers and suffering, who protects us from greed, hatred, and delusion, and who “leads us to see that true spiritual progress involves having compassion for others.” In essence, we are trying to become Tara, the enlightened bodhisattva, through this chant. A more literal meaning (which is explained more fully on the website), is (2) “OM! O Tara! I entreat you, O Tara! O swift one! Hail!”
A song that I find inspiring, also dedicated to Tara, is Deva Premal’s “Om Tare Tuttare.”
As Ted Andrews says in his book, Sacred Sounds: Magic and Healing Through Words and Music:
Modern society views music in two ways, as an art form as a commercial product. Music needs to be considered in a third way — as a power of universal force. It is a force that was treated with great respect in ancient times. They recognized that the physical emission of sound was an outer and audible agency of the inner transformation. They recognized that music was a relationship of one tone to another and that all life was the relationship of one individual to another. (30)
Music is the relationship of one tone to another, and each living thing on this planet is a tone, a pulse. We must resonate and harmonize with all of life lest one group overpowers the rest and the song falls apart. (Surely you know what I mean when I say this.) Play your part well!
I hope you enjoyed this selection of sacred music – please share any that you find inspiring, as I love to hear new music. Have a blessed day.
Andrews, Ted. Sacred Sounds: Magic & Healing Through Words and Music. Woodbury, Minnesota: LLewellyn Publications, 2007.
Connor, Nancy with Bradford Keeney. Shamans of the World: Extraordinary First-Person Accounts of Healings, Mysteries, and Miracles. Boulder: Sounds True, 2008.