Singing Bowls History & the Firebird Myth
In the beginning wind (‘lung’) moved the Great Silence & created Sound. In Creative Myths worldwide, sound is recognized as the womb from which the Visible and Invisible emerged.
The Bronze Age in Asia dates from 1600 BC. Small Chinese metal bowls were known around 11th Century BC and are the oldest objects described as ‘Singing Bowls’.
By the 6th Century BC the Chinese, being far advanced in the manufacture of metal alloys, made perfectly tuned bells. During the time of Confucius in the 5th Century BC, the ancient kings were ever careful about things, which affected the heart. It was said that sound vibrations came from the heavens & were interpreted by the heart, the place where harmony arises.
Nada is the subtle and perennial sound; Sound within Silence of Compassion & Peace.
Nada is the first stirring within, that heralds the beginning of the evolutionary process and from which radiates energy and matter :-
– space, formless atmosphere, fire, water and earth
– the basic constituents of the ever-evolving universe
Nada is also experienced by an unagitated mind that leads to eternal bliss.
In Tibetan Buddhism metal offertory dishes & chalices on altars in monasteries, are honoured ritual objects. It makes sense that they have a special sound, with the offering emanating from a harmonious cradle.
The singing bowls that I supply come from the North Western part of India, from McLeod Ganj, a hilltop mountain station which is a bustling Tibetan refugee town where His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides. Below there is a magnificent view of the Kangra Valley and the town of Dharamsala where the Tibetan Buddhist Parliament in exile operates.
According to tradition, the bowls are made of seven metals with each metal representing one of the Planets:-
* Gold – the Sun * Silver – the Moon
*Mercury – Mercury * Copper – Venus
* Iron – Mars * Tin – Jupiter * Lead – Saturn
The resonance of these articles is due to the fact that they are made out of these 7 metals. Each of them as you see are related to the planets which were the only ones recognized in ancient times. To the ancient philosophers all visible things were the symbols and representations of invisible powers, thoughts & ideas of the ‘Gods’ out there in the heavens above. The words “celestial’ or “heavenly” had a very a superior meaning. The expression “Astronomy” was something quite different from the science it is known by today.
Therefore something constituting many metals as in the forms of singing bowls, Tibetan bells, gongs or tingshaws, would alchemically give rise to Sound which would connect the listener with the far reaches of the ‘divine forces’ and bring the mind of the listener into alignment with unity of everything.
Hot metal was poured onto a flat stone and when cool, was beaten into the shape of a bowl. In modern times, the nomadic smiths seem to have disappeared and sadly, the secret knowledge handed down is dying out with them. Singing bowls produce as many different sounds as there are variations in their metallic content.
Every metal manifests its individual sound and harmonics – each offering it’s own exceptional medicine of sound – giving a sense of great peacefulness, space and paradoxically profound silence.
Each bowl has a life of its own and sings it’s unique song. The resonance flows around and through the body, sympathetically tuning it.
You can hum or intone directly into the resonating bowl. The voice reinforces what the ears are hearing & creates a circuit connecting the ears with the voice, resulting in a more focussed listening mode. The difference between hearing & listening now becomes obvious.
Two of the advised guidelines for meditation are the focussing on breath or alternatively on sound. The vibratory sounds of the Singing Bowl are ideal for stilling the mind & bringing it into a centred clarity.
Singing Bowls from the mythological "Fire Bird"
In his book, “Messages from Water”, Masaru Emoto demonstrates that not only thoughts, words, ideas and sound affects the molecular structure of water, but his research also proves amazingly, that there is a vibrational correspondence between metals, emotions and planets. It is therefore not surprising that the sounds of singing bowls made up of 7 metals, calms the mind and helps balance the stormy emotional tides that plague our human condition.
Masaru Emoto constructed a device and was able to measure the negative vibrations coming from people. They corresponded to the vibrations emitted by different elements. e.g.
vibrations created by irritation are equivalent to those of mercury
irritation / mercury / Planet Mercury
anger / lead / Planet Saturn
sadness & sorrow / aluminium
uncertainty / cadmium
despair / steel
stress / zinc
In ancient times the most sacred of all singing bowls were made of meteorite metal. This metal created powerfully resonant bowls which became precious ‘alchemical’ amulets. Coming from the sky, the meteorite was perceived to come from the auspicious Godly realm. When this ‘Fire Bird’/ Phoenix landed it shook the Earth with a meteorite force bringing omnipotent Godly messages for mankind which were interpreted by seers, oracles and shamans.
This event was so astonishing that astronomers, astrologers and mathematicians would travel to the site and interpret the conditions and positions of the 7 known planets seen in the heavens. And so these astrologers, priests, shamans, oracles, mathematicians of the earliest times would hasten to the emperor/king for him to disseminate the message of power down to his minions. The people would listen closely knowing that he was the great mediator and pacifier between themselves and the wrathful omniscient Gods. The communication from the ‘as above’ down to the ‘so below’ regulated human conduct and guided hearts. It was through the alchemy of sound (from metal bowls such as these) played in rituals and ceremonies that human beings could experience their divine connection.
The 7 planets were known as the Gods of the Heavens. The resonance of singing bowls made of 7 metals corresponding with the 7 known planets of the time, emphasized this connection with their Gods. These singing bowls are still to this day made up of 7 different metals, with their sonorous and beautiful soundwaves bringing one to deep inner Silence, sometimes even experiencing the numinous. (These correspondences are mentioned above).
In Egypt the capstone of the pyramids was made of crystal. Then the capstone of the capstone which was called the Ben Ben stone, was made of meteorite metal – known to be the conduit or the connecting link (the Phoenix/ the Firebird/ the Bird of Enlightenment) between us mortal beings and the eternal Gods.
To conclude – it is exciting to find well researched evidence linking metals, emotions & planets, making it clearly obvious why these metal singing bowls have a profound effect on us. The drum of the Universe throbs its eternal beat within us. May we listen to our heart with the same pulse and may we add to its creative rhythm.
The Firebird, The Phoenix, The Thunderbird
Firebird is a mythical sacred Phoenix, Bennu, Garuda, Peacock, Fung (vermillion bird), Quetzel Bird that can be found in the mythologies of the Russians, Egyptians, Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Hindu, Phoenicians, Mesoamericans, Native Americans.
The Firebird lives in a kingdom with a beautiful garden where golden apples grow. She eats these golden apples giving youth, beauty and immortality. When she sings, pearls pour out of her beak. The singing heals the sick and restores sight to blind people. In mythology, Firebird is compared to the Phoenix which rises from the ashes. These apples or pomegranates are the favourite delicacy of the Phoenix.
In the modern world the Firebird is a symbol of happiness and that which rises towards the Light.
The Firebird is a miracle of miracles, the most cherished dream, reward, happiness, which every person strives to achieve in life. One of the Firebird’s feathers costs more than a whole kingdom. The feathers are very bright and shiny – the embodiment of fire, light, sun. Its feathers have the ability to shine and their shine affects the eyesight of a person. Its wings like tongues of flame, and eyes glow like crystals. Characteristics of the Firebird also include the Lightening Bird flying through the air, glowing and shimmering with lights.
The “Firebird” (depicted as half woman half bird) ballet by Stravinsky opened in Paris Grand Opera House on 25 June 1910.