by Lotus Linton, Ph.D.
There is a mysterious and intriguing relationship between water and sound, which the ancients knew about and utilized in their spiritual and healing practices. In Hindu stories of creation, Love and Desire come together to form the first Cosmic Sound, which is hidden in the Word and in the Waters. In many cultures and religions we baptize ourselves in water, we bury each other with watery rites, believing that after death we cross over the waters to the otherworld. These watery rituals are often accompanied with the sounds of bells, drums, bowls and horns, hymns, chants and mantras. Although we may have forgotten the ancient relevance of the connection between water and sound, it is a sacred relationship.
It has become an integral aspect of my personal path to rediscover the transformative powers of the sound/water connection. In my morning meditation practice I sing to the jars of water I have collected from springs and streams, rivers and waterfalls of the world. I seek out and intone sacred chants to the springs and waterways of my home region, the Pacific Northwest, and I take groups of fellow water singers with me to the holy wells of other lands. In many locations throughout the world I "Sing the Waters," continually discovering greater physical and metaphysical correlations between water and sound and their conjoined contribution to personal and planetary transformation.
My practice of water singing began in Bali many years ago, when I landed in the lap of the goddess Saraswati.
* * * * *
Deluged with a series of personal problems in Bali, I go to a nearby yet unfamiliar village to seek the help of a traditional healer. The afternoon sun dips into a sky of pink chiffon, illuminating the slight, lacey movements of the coconut boughs in black silhouette. Men with tools over their shoulders nod good evening as they return from the rice paddies. Women carrying baskets on their heads wave as though they know me. Chattering children chide me and my friend, Wayan, with sing-song chants and teasing interest. Derelict dogs bark at our unfamiliar scent. Wayan, serving today as my translator, brings me to the door of the village priest who is also a traditional doctor. I have been told that although Jero Kebayan is a humble duck farmer, he is known throughout Indonesia for his healing abilities.
Jero's gentle, graceful wife brings us tea and bids us sit on the mat in the open-aired living room. She and her two sons chat with us while we wait for Jero to return from the fields. When he does arrive, I see immediately why American friends who know Jero call him "The Wizard." He is a tall man for being Balinese, with a mane of white hair and a wicked-seeming smile of teeth stained red with beetle-nut juice. But his kind, sparkling eyes divulge his true character, piercing my own conditioned veneer to bore into the Soul. He is constantly nodding, watching me closely while he kindly listens to Wayan's translations, which he doesn't seem to really need.
After allowing Wayan to translate my traveler's woes, explaining my inability to rid myself of an intimidating opportunist, Jero takes me into his family temple, dedicated to Saraswati. As I remember from observing Balinese school children's rituals, Saraswati is the goddess of learning and knowledge. Wayan was healed as a sickly child by Jero and his goddess, Saraswati, and joins us to pay Her tribute in the small enclosure.
Nestled within the family living compound, Jero's tiny sanctuary room of concrete blocks is open to the melting light of the evening sky. It is decorated with numerous statues, thatched roofed altars, and fading cloths of black, white, and gold. Saraswati, it seems, is an adored member of the family. Parasols, ritual paraphernalia, and both faded and fresh propitiations of banana leaves, rice and flowers adorn the altar. Jero bids me to sit for awhile as he lights incense and chants into a vial of water. His deep singing is accompanied by bell ringing and periodic splashes of water on my head. Jero then dots my face and neck with the liquid and whispers to me while Wayan translates: "Be fearless. You will be all right. The goddess, Saraswati, is a good goddess for you. She favors you."
Suddenly, in one swift shift of perception, the elements of the room seemed bathed in light and I am inhaling the sweetness of a palpable Presence. Jero smiles and nods enthusiastically, knowing I have been touched. Wayan looks content and appreciative. Is this the Goddess descending upon us here in this moment? I don't know. All I know is that my heavy, fearful heart is lifted. I am calm. And I am aware of a deep, glowing affection for Jero and Wayan, a bond between us arising in this heavenly little room. Jero tells me my problems are over this night and kindly pats my back.
It is time to go. The air is teeming with the poly-rhythms of frogs in the rice paddies and gamelan musicians at their practice in the village hall. Night has fully fallen. How long have we been in this sanctuary of relief and bliss? I have lost my sense of time. We exchange a warm farewell, as though we are long lost friends now reunited, and Jero leads us to the door, standing in the light of a solitary electric bulb on his porch, to wave until we are out of sight.
* * * * *
Thus did Saraswati, The Flowing One, become a beloved reference and refuge in my life, as Her holy water, splashed and dabbed on my face, initiated me into the ancient practice of Singing the Waters. As Jero had predicted, all my complaints vanished that night. Since then, he has become my dearest friend in all of Bali and I visit him often, basking in his humble, wise, and brotherly love, and in our mutual affinity for his goddess.
Bali is the land of flowing water, falling from the mountains, coursing through river valleys, trickling through levels upon levels of rice paddies. Bali's particular brand of Hinduism is known as Tirtha Agama, Religion of the Holy Water. One is bathed in the pools of the temple or splashed with holy water during all ceremonies. It is the singing of the water, embuing it with the power of ancient chants, that renders it holy.
In the mystical and mysterious ways of the divine, that first encounter with Saraswati was echoed and affirmed several years later in the modest home of Babaji, a beloved sound healer in India whose healing skills and beatific eyes reminded me of my goddess-identified friend in Bali. Babaji informed me that the goddess Gayatri was "pleased with me." I felt quite pleased with Her to be so considered, but it was not until much later that I learned that Gayatri and Saraswati are two names for the same Hindu goddess! There in India, as upon the rivers of Bali, I was moved to sing sacred songs to the Great Goddess on the banks of the Ganges and bring bottles of Her waters home to my altar.
Although there are many angels and archetypes shining from within the religions of all cultures to guide and assist women in our awakening, Saraswati provides the personification of womanly wisdom itself, deep womanly knowing that our world desperately needs today. She is not only the oldest goddess known to India, but She is said to embody all the qualities of the other deities. Though Saraswati is commonly referred to as the goddess of education, learning and the arts, Her deeply feminine, "flowing" way of knowing takes us below mere mental knowledge and the accumulation of facts to the deep recesses and far more comprehensive intelligence of the Soul.
Saraswati is the dawn-goddess, dispelling the darkness of ignorance, chaos and confusion. The four sacred scriptures of the Vedas are her offspring. As in most cultural pantheons, She has been reduced in more recent history to the consort of a god -- in this case, the wife of the creator, Brahama. Yet, Saraswati's greater wisdom and spiritual superiority are still retained in the myths in which She serves as Brahama's teacher in all things, taming both the god's wandering mind and his entrenchment in material desires.
I believe Saraswati existed long ago as an actual human who attained an enlightened state. As often happens to such rishis, or Soul-realized ones, She was, over time, labeled a goddess by those of lesser understanding who were not yet able to grasp their own potentially divine nature. Still, I know Her personally to be a veritable Presence. Her wise and watery spirit, conveyed through image, story, and, especially, the direct communion approached through sacred chanting, offers deeper understanding of the ineffable workings of the Universe for those of us who are growing toward wisdom.
Whether we acknowledge Saraswati as a genuine and contactable divine Presence, or merely as an inspirational archetype to educe our own divine qualities, Her power is palpable. If we can plumb the deepest meanings of the imagery associated with Her, we can discover transformative secrets lying within the physical and metaphysical properties of Her two greatest tools, sound and water, and the tremendous healing power of the two conjoined. As a wisdom seeker and as a sound healer with a penchant for the sacred waters of the Earth, I find in Saraswati a personalized, tailor-made doorway to the Divine Feminine within myself. In one translation of Her name, Saraswati is "She who gives the essence of our own Self." Saraswati bids us to ride the rhythmic waves of Creation, upon which we arrive at the fountain of our own wisdom. This beautiful, evolved personage can guide our womanly quest for our own spiritual moisture and help us finally and forever nourish our brittle, arid, overly-masculinized world.
So let us explore together Saraswati's mysterious depths and allow Her to help us fathom our own. Let us observe Her, as women can do so beautifully, from the combined perspectives of mind and heart. Let us create a rainbow bridge between the masculine and feminine aspects of our nature and plumb the relationship between the old myths and our modern scientific discoveries. Let us allow Saraswati to reveal to us the secrets and true power of Singing the Waters for spiritual awakening and planetary transformation.
The Goddess of Sound
"The human species suffers from a pervading imbalance because the eye dominates the ear, which corresponds to male forms dominating the female. Many of our problems, ranging from unrest in our relationships to international conflicts, can be minimized through reevaluating the way we view, utilize, and relate to sound - and, consequently, to the feminine in our lives. The Yoga of Sound can help us find balance for ourselves, our communities, and our world.
Russill Paul, The Yoga of Sound
Picture Saraswati as a beautiful four-armed goddess in a pure white garment, sitting upon a lotus, rooted in Truth, the Supreme Reality that the lotus signifies. She is simply adorned, needing no jewelry except Her plain rosary, signifying the deep contemplation, assisted by chanting, that leads to union with the Divine. In two of her graceful arms She holds her veena, or Indian lute, upon which She plays the music of love and life. The first Cosmic Sound of Love and Desire, is OM. This original sound of all Creation is Hers, as is also the syllable Aim (pronounced "ime," as in "lime"), which depicts all streams of energy flowing in and out of the deep Self. Chanting either of these two syllables or any number of mantras associated with Her, brings one under Saraswati's direct influence. Because She exemplifies the potent quality of sound, both words and music connect us with Saraswati, for She is "the impeller of true speech."
Quantum physics now understands the entire Universe to be, at its core, infinite pulsations of vibrational frequencies. Despite the appearance of solidity we are -- everything is -- essentially, vibration. Sound healing is the therapeutic art that most obviously utilizes this truth. Using rhythm, pitch and timbre of the voice, the drum and other instruments or previously recorded music, the sound healer helps synchronize the rhythms of body, mind and heart, thus serving to relieve many common maladies, and open doors to the deeper Self, or Soul. Even such debilitating ailments as heart problems, chronic pain, autism, or depression have been helped or healed by these methods. Music therapy and sound healing are emerging today as viable complementary forms of medicine, yet they are truly timeless healing arts known for at least 30,000 years by the shamans and physicians of ancient cultures who could perceive the vibratory nature of reality beneath the surface of physicality. The enlightened ones of old, the rishis who created the Vedas, the sacred texts of India, understood well the healing power of sound. Their primordial chants and mantras are designed to have enlightening effect. Sanskrit, itself the Vedic language, is mantric in nature, its every syllable consciously utilized for healing and teaching purposes.
One of Saraswati's secrets, as the Goddess of Sound and sound healing, is the principle of entrainment, a core aspect of our world and all Creation. As clocks in the same vicinity synchronize to one rhythm, and as little babies' hearts beat in double-time to the rhythm of their mothers' hearts, entrainment is a strong steady rhythm (or frequency) overtaking a weaker, less steady rhythm. This causes the lesser rhythm to rise to the occasion, becoming more pronounced and vital itself. The entire Universe operates on this principle of entrainment, as the rhythms of all bodies and all systems affect each other. Whether we are talking about the gyrations of planets or the movement of blood cells, we can observe entrainment at work.
Saraswati's Gayatri mantra, the oldest known healing song in human history, is considered by many to be an extremely potent force, precisely because of its power of entrainment. In Vedic teachings, mantras are designed to awaken deep states of consciousness that already exist within us, drawing them forth from our own cellular memory and bringing them to life.
As a goddess of the most ancient origins, Saraswati is undoubtedly a tantric goddess, meaning She embodies the primordial and divinely feminine power of shakti. Shakti is the raw, liberating, creative energy that surges through all vibrations in the Universe and gifts them with purifying vitality. Shakti, when awakened within humans, is the energy of Enlightenment. Shakti is the immanent presence of the Goddess -- not above, aloof and transcending the physical world, as so many deities are depicted, but throbbing within every aspect of the created universe, humming inside the very structure of our cells and all molecules.
Saraswati is usually portrayed with a peacock sitting next to Her. In this sacred imagery, the peacock signifies the ego and the mind, the more masculine, worldly forces. It is important to note that She is not riding the peacock, but has tamed it, knowing that knowledge dominated by ego can destroy the world. In modern culture, subjugated as it is by the left-brain and the eye as the preferred modes of knowing and perceiving, the egoic peacock still reigns. Brilliance of mind is not yet tempered and balanced by the intelligence of the heart, and thus, our current reality is far too often driven by ego's insatiable needs, creating strife, war, conflict and misery in their wake. Saraswati, on the other hand, provides the healing salve and the antidote for this left-brainitis with which we find ourselves afflicted.
Applying sacred sound in our daily lives, we can become more ear-oriented, and thus more attuned to the right brain, the feminine aspect in both men and women, which is, basically, the corridor to the Soul and the avenue to a more sacred way of being. Left-brain function is important, useful and valuable, but if it is not balanced by the softening qualities of the right-brain, we too often find ourselves in a violent, hierarchical world of human-caused pain. Orientating ourselves to the divine attributes of Saraswati, especially through singing the chants and syllables associated with Her, we can entrain our own frequencies of body, mind and emotion to the more refined, enlightened, and Soul-aligned energies of Her sacred being.
The Goddess of Water
"Through the ages pools, lakes, sacred wells and springs have been invested with magical properties. Many were believed to be the dwelling places of gods or supernatural beings, and so were seen as rich sources of both physical healing and spiritual transformation."
Jane Hope, The Secret Language of the Soul
Saraswati originates as the first of the world's many water goddesses. Perhaps it is because humans come from the watery womb, or that life evolved from the womb of the ocean, that we have always understood water to be a feminine element, representing spirituality itself.
Saraswati was once the name of a river, a mighty river with creative, purifying and nourishing properties, upon whose banks the entire Vedic civilization arose. The Saraswati River was the biggest and most important of the seven holy rivers mentioned in the ancient scriptures, yet it has long been dry, not unlike the dehydration of the Sacred Feminine for many long centuries in the majority of cultures upon the planet.
Although the Saraswati River exists no longer in the physical realms, it is remembered in the personification of this beautiful goddess, who is usually depicted near a flowing river with one or two swans at her feet. She often holds a lotus flower in one hand and a pot of sacred water in another, always clearly associated with the healing powers of water. One epithet for Her is "She having lots of pools." Saraswati is also known as the ocean of understanding, the vibration of consciousness itself from which all rivers of thought and energy arise and to which they all return.
Although water is essential to our lives and our health, even indispensable to our spiritual understanding, its gifts are often taken for granted, ignored or despoiled. Water resources throughout the world have been overused, polluted, fought over and wasted with little consideration for human health or ecological sustainability. So let us, as world-healing women and students of Saraswati's wisdom, take a fresh and appreciative look at this sacred substance that is so closely associated with the Divine Feminine. Let us learn more about its curative, transformative powers.
We begin by acknowledging that water is the most effective carrier of vibrations. Sound travels through water four times faster than through air. It is this transmissional power of water that allows dolphins and whales to communicate with each other through thousands of miles of water in a very brief period of time.
Science is also demonstrating that water has a memory, capable of retaining what it has "heard," or been exposed to. The ancient rishis and wisdom keepers understood this, for they had highly developed intuitive capacities to perceive subtle realms of electro-magnetic energies, capacities that have all but atrophied in the modern mind. The Maori word for water, for example, is wai, which means "remembrance" and water is understood by them to be the container that holds the memory of all that has ever been and will be.
This knowledge that water has a memory has been recognized for over 200 years by homeopathic physicians who "potentize" water by exposing it to the specific frequencies of healing substances from the plant and mineral worlds. Homeopathy relies on water's ability to retain the subtle, electromagnetic information that becomes encoded in its memory container.
Water's powers of memory are made quite visible in the photographs of frozen water crystals in Dr. Masaru Emoto's two volumes of Messages from Water. His pictures of the beautiful and brilliant six-sided crystals of frozen water, which have been "influenced" by the works of Mendelssohn or Vivaldi, stand in stark contrast to those from water that has been polluted by discordant rock music or toxic chemicals. Emoto's ground-breaking work vividly demonstrates that water's power of memory is especially sensitive to sound vibrations.
Water not only possesses the faculty to store information impressed upon it previously by a given frequency level, but it also is able to transfer such information to other systems. Evidently, it is the crystalline nature of water that renders it so potent in the storage and transmission of energy. Water researcher William Marks has pointed out that the water-filled cells within our bodies contain microscopic crystals that vibrate in harmony with the energies of the universe and our world.
Crystals, and thus water, are transducers as well as transmitters of energy, having the ability to take one form of energy and convert it to a higher form of energy. Crystals are also "acousto-luminescent," having the ability to convert sound waves into light.
Healthy water, or vital water, is beautifully structured, like the crystals of Dr. Emoto's photographs. It has a strong 3-dimensional microstructure that collects and transmits information. It is this structure that allows water to communicate and to nourish.
As water flows through our body it creates mini-whirlpools, or vortices, which stretch its molecules and make them more sensitive to absorbing the energy. The same vortexian phenomenon occurs on sub-cellular levels as water flows through the semi-permeable membranes of living cells. Recent Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Alexis Carrel, has stated, "The cell is immortal. It is merely the fluid in which it floats which degenerates. Renew this fluid at intervals, give the cells what they require for nutrition, and, as far as we know, the pulsation of life may go on forever." It would seem that the real Fountain of Youth is pure water, sufficiently structured to do its intra- and intercellular jobs.
Water flowing through natural landscapes has similar properties and powers. Unimpeded, "living" water does what the wind does, what the sap of trees, the blood of creatures and nebulas do. It flows in spiral, vortexian patterns, becoming recharged and revitalized as it continually tumbles over itself on its journey downstream. Properly structured, living water, cradled in the forests, flowing down from the mountains, surging in the seas and bubbling up from the springs, is the health-giving blood of Mother Earth.
Water that is channeled into straight pipes or polluted with chemical contaminants becomes damaged and dead. Damage to water goes hand in hand with a loss of vibration, since it is vibration that makes the difference between living and dead water. Thus, once again we are brought to the feet of the Goddess of Sound, the goddess of vibration.
As Viktor Schauberger, forester and brilliant inventor, once said, "What we do to water, we do to ourselves." We could add, "What we have done to our water goddesses, we have done to ourselves," for the abuse and neglect of our planet's waters, polluted now beyond measure, is coincident with the denial of the Sacred Feminine and Her way of being that holds all the elements, all the gifts of life in deep reverence. For this we suffer on many levels, both individually and collectively.
As we continue to pollute the waters of the planet and to ingest non-living, stale, chemically treated, sterilized and pressurized water into our systems, we are playing with a time-bomb for ourselves and our children and all future generations. Even though we may improve contaminated water chemically and free it of bacteria, it will still possess the electromagnetic oscillations of certain wave lengths which can be precisely traced to that water's original contaminants. Thus, the water will still be energetically polluted. Water that cannot behave properly, that cannot attend to its infinite functions, affects the health of body, mind, society, and all of nature.
Physics now dances in the enlightening realm of the goddess. As Victor Schauberger has said, "The Upholder of the Cycles which supports the whole of life, is WATER. In every drop of water dwells a Deity, whom we all serve..." And as we know by now, one of Her names is Saraswati.
In the end, our discussion of water, sound, and Saraswati brings us back to our own spirit -- it is the very core of our consciousness that we must upgrade. To bring water back to life, humanity must come to life. We must see with new eyes, hear with new ears, sing with new voices. These are the attributes of the Divine Feminine through which we recognize that both our bodies and our planet are over 75% water and through which we can honor the beauty and holiness of that correlation. Water is not an ordinary commodity, but a magical, blessed foundation for all life on Earth. We must once again learn to relate to it, and to all life forms and elements, as sacred.
And by relating to water as sacred and holy, humanity can learn the methods by which we might maintain water's livingness. We have both the ancient teachings and the modern research, both the necessary spiritual and scientific knowledge already at hand. We know how to allow water to flow feely and regenerate itself without impediment. We can revitalize the polluted and stale waters we have inherited from technologies which do not serve our health or the health of the planet. In sacredness, with our hearts full of gratitude, we can Sing the Waters into health and ourselves into new ways of being.
The Goddess of Sound and Water
"A river sings a holy song conveying the mysterious truth that we are a river, and if we are ignorant of this natural law we are lost."
We know that sound is vibration, and vibration is sound. Saraswati's very essence reminds us that everything in Creation has its own vibration and thus its own sound. And we know that water is the rememberer, the transmitter and the transducer of this sound. When sound is used in healing the body of a person or the body of our Earth, it is water that responds most lovingly and completely to that vibration. Learning to understand water, we better understand how it is that sound "works" to balance and heal us and our natural systems. Spiritual growth is a movement into ever higher frequencies of consciousness, and water is both a transducer and a rememberer of that movement. In this sense, both the physical and metaphysical aspects of Saraswati's power transcend any notions of Her as an outmoded entity or superstitious tale. The Enlightenment She bestows upon us is that of increased energy, more spirit, higher frequency, improved fluidity, and greater light.
I participate in Saraswati's watery rites by giving thanks each day for the water I drink, bathe in, and look out upon in this world. I potentize clear, pure drinking water with sacred sounds, songs and chants of many cultures as well as with appreciative thoughts. I drink this revitalized water to enhance my physical wellbeing, helping the body to entrain to new rhythms of optimum health. I send sung water home with my friends, my family members, my clients. I sing to the waters in the bath, in the garden, or in the soup I stir.
And I Sing the Waters of the world. It is time. Dr. Emoto tells of the Shinto priest in Japan who recently gathered numerous chanters to successfully purify the polluted waters of the temple lake. Drunvalo Melchizedek, reporting on avante-garde technologies, heralds Sufi masters from Turkey who are now mass-producing "chanted water" to clarify pollution on many continents. He describes how participants each brought jars of dirty, polluted water to a global ecology conference and watched them clear within minutes from the influence of the Sufi sung-water. Brooke Medicine Eagle, sharing the spiritual teachings of her Crow and Sioux grandmothers, imparts a "waterfall song" to her students, insisting that it is by singing to the aspects and elements of nature that we establish communication and become bonded at the heart level with All-Our-Relations in the elemental, mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. And Algonquin women are gathering sisters of all cultures on all continents to sing an ancient woman's water song for revivifying the planet's waterways.
Even science has now discovered its own version of Singing the Waters, demonstrating that we can erase contaminant information within water and revitalize it by returning it to its natural spiral motions or by exposing it to various energetic influences, especially sonar treatment. Vital, high-frequency water, reintroduced to polluted farm streams, entrains them to be living again. When used for irrigation, this revitalized water produces higher crop yields and stronger, darker, richer, more flavorful food. After drinking revitalized water, the coats of sheep grow curlier and softer. Revitalized water used in industry rids pipes of slime, sludge, mold and incrustations. The world-renewing possibilities are endless, once we attune to Saraswati's song of wisdom that takes us into a new, soulistic realm of being where we truly love our planet and actually care for her resources.
When I sing to water -- rivers, oceans, waterfalls and springs --enhanced energy returns to me in the process, and I am propelled into ecstasy. Water sings back! And this is another of Saraswati's great secrets. This interchange of energies between voice and water is reciprocal and it is deep. I am transformed. I am renewed. I am edified by this ancient form of communion.
Having practiced sacred sounding for years now, I have been witness to my own transformation in the increasing harmony arising in my emotional and mental fields and vast waves of spirit taking over the body itself. This is Saraswati's doing. Sounding the waters of the body with appropriate chanting, toning, humming and drumming, as well as employing both sound and water in ritual practice, enhances spiritual awakening. Singing the Waters of Earth contributes to human evolution and planetary survival.
We are entering the Aquarian Age and its sign, of course, is the Waterbearer, often shown as a woman holding a jug of water. How fitting! There is another astrological symbol for the age, which is two parallel jagged lines, representing energy, electricity, or the illuminating power of Saraswati's shakti. In Hindu cosmology, the name for this new eon we now enter is the Age of Diamonds, emerging from the dark, pressured, egoic Age of the Iron Man into a time of great Enlightenment and beauty. We are due for a mass awakening, and it is women of spirit, in all cultures, who are the vanguard. Saraswati's path of wisdom can light and wet our way. Sacred sound in the water of our bodies could be the very catalyst to activate our hitherto unused strands of DNA, stimulate the electrical currents of shakti, bring us into balance and wholeness, and serve the evolution of the species as we are bathed in the sound and water of the greater Self.
The advanced practitioner of water-song magic wields the magnificent force of Sarawati's shakti, this ultimate power of the Divine Feminine. Aquarian energy is spiritual power. Women dancing in the light of the Goddess hold the keys to the kingdom (or queendom) in our healing voices and the waters of our cells. We rise up singing!
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