“Music is the beginning and the end of the universe. All actions and movements made in the visible and invisible world are musical. ” (Hazrat Inayat Khan Sufi master)
“The flute is as old as the world.” (Ancient American Indian saying)
A study carried out with the aim of exploring the healing potential of music played through the Native American Flute, on different cases of deep trauma, presented an interesting point of view on the flutes, on the sacred music of the ancient peoples and all the deep respect of these peoples by the knowledge coming from the ancestors and from the invisible subtle worlds. Research has shown that there is an unexplained field within this ancestral musicality, which definitely seems to affect layers of the subconscious and help in the treatment of traumas and disorders initiated during childhood.
These traumas trigger a disorder called "dissociation" in which the individual presents a state of deep disconnection with the world around him, as when we claim to feel "dissociated" with concentration difficulties, anxious but since this disorder is a permanent state that can last a lifetime and trigger symptoms as diverse as panic, depression, outbursts of anger, nightmares and even amnesia.
In ancient cosmologies, healing means returning to wholeness. It is about facilitating the return to harmony and balancing the internal relationship, interconnecting this relationship with our relationship with the whole, with everything that can be seen and everything that cannot be seen: the individual (body, emotions, thoughts and spirit), nature and the cosmos itself.
Belief in the power of music is universal. Music is identified with world creation beliefs and has been used for prayers and healing in ancient mystical and indigenous traditions across times and cultures. Shamans, philosophers and mystics see music as a balancing, unifying and healing force. The use of music for healing can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history.
Music and Trauma
A nurse, Margaret Anderton, at the end of World War I, worked with wounded Canadian soldiers. She described treating “battle sickness” with music. She stated that “memories were brought back to men suffering from amnesia; the sharp temporary insanity eliminated; restored paralyzed muscles.” She described one captain in particular, "who was thrown into the air and then buried in rubble by a exploding bomb and was never able to remember even his own name until music restored him" . This early work was done with veterans who would likely now be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, exhibiting symptoms of dissociation.
It was after the Second World War that the therapeutic use of music was formally called “music therapy”. It has been used to deal with the trauma of combat, used successfully in reducing depression and aiding in the return of dissociated memories.
“Music is the most profound non-chemical medicine” (Oliver Sacks (1933 – 2013) – Neurologist)
Music in Ancient Spiritual and Indigenous Traditions
To describe the importance of music in these ancient cosmologies, it is important to recognize the different beliefs and their myths about the creation of the world. In this way we identify the universal concept that the world emerged from "sound".
“One Word, and the whole Universe began to exist.”
Granth Sahib (Sacred Scriptures of Indian Sikhism)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
"And God said 'Let there be light' and there was light"
jewish old testament
“Consequently, with that Word, with that Being, he brought this whole universe, everything that exists.”
There are many Native American tribes and therefore many beliefs about creation. However, there is a belief in many Native American traditions that this world was "brought into existence by sacred songs". During the Hopi Flute Ceremony, there are songs for “emergency” situations in the world. When the “emergency songs” are sung, reed flutes are used. It is important to note that both the "sacred music" and the "flute" are connected in this auspicious ceremony.
From the beginning, sound was considered sacred and imbued with special powers. Everything is created from sacred sound, everything is sacred, everything is alive and everything has a spirit and its own sound.
Natalie Curtis, who studied Native American music in the late 1800's, described that all things have "soul" and everything has its own sound or music.
Hazrat Khan, Sufi master and mystic, also described that each person has their own sound. Human beings, both in physical form and in spirit, are a sound or music.
As the sacred sound is part of the beliefs of the creation of the world, and the sacred sound is what all things are made of, it is understood that the sacred sound can facilitate healing, through the return to balance and harmony of our being. , as a sacred unity with the planet. Sound becomes the unifying force of healing.
In the description of a Navajo healing ceremony, a concept of Oneness is illustrated:
“Physical and mental illness is the result of disturbing harmony. On the other hand, the cure for the disease is to restore the patient's harmony. This is the purpose of the Navajo ceremony – to seek the preservation or restoration of harmony ” ––Bahti
The flute, in many stories, legends and ancient traditions, was associated with magic, mysticism and the ability to transform. It's easy to remember “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”, Mozart's “Magic Flute”, Krishna and his flute. The flute's ability to induce trance or alter states of consciousness was described by Plato and Aristotle. Whistles and bone flutes were discovered in the temple of Apollo at Delphi and Apollo is considered a god of music and a god of healing.
There is an old Native American saying that goes, “There has always been a flute, and there have always been young people. The flute is as old as the world.” Archaeological discoveries can give credence to this saying, as even today the flute is documented as being the oldest instrument discovered.
There is a well-known image of a hunchbacked piper depicted in ancient North American rock art. This image has been described as the "rain priest", "deity" and "shaman". All these beings are identified as having supernatural abilities.
In myth, legend and practice, the Indian flute is described in terms of the sacred, healing, transformation and love. In a Dakota legend, the flute was brought to humans by the supernatural "Elk People". It was "imbued with the sounds and power of all living things..." and expressed "the divine mystery and beauty of love".
The Native American flute is a unique musical instrument, according to legend the oldest. It is imbued in ancient indigenous and mystical spiritual traditions, beliefs include the flute to the power of sacred music. It is these songs, these prayers, which are used to maintain and restore the delicate balance of harmony when it becomes out of balance. To heal with “songs” and prayers is to keep in harmony something as vast as the cosmos and apparently as limited as an individual.
This research was carried out with adults over 18 years old, between men and women. One group had different types of dissociative trauma and the other group was composed of adults without trauma. For both groups, tests were carried out with a specific sacred music played on the Native Flute and another “placebo” new age music.
RESULTS OBTAINED (Participants' responses to listening to the native flute)
“It felt like it was flying…”
“It took me to the woods…”
“… tied it all together.”
“How can people feel this way? I wish I had this instead of Xanax... it feels so good. It felt like when I was on morphine…hey…something totally peaceful. It must be like when people die.”
A participant with Dissociative Disorder described having recurrent and uncomfortable dreams of bears chasing her. During the experience she described that while listening to the flute music the bears started chasing her again and she ran, but this time they caught up with her. She declared her surprise and happiness that in picking her up, they held and protected her.
Shamanic Characteristics Identified in the Research
There are four characteristics of the work done through shamanism, as described in Eliade's scholarly work.
- connection with nature
- Relationship with the Spirit
- Space-time phenomena
The answers obtained from the analyzed participants related to shamanic characteristics:
“It was like being on a trip…”
“I took myself to the forest at night. I had animals protecting me…”
Connection with Nature:
“I was in nature, I was of nature, like a part of it, … a tree”.
“I was in touch with nature, the sky, the wind, as an evocation of all those things”. “As if I were a wolf howling at the moon.”
Related to Spirit:
“… I felt spiritually touched.”
“… It felt like a call to ceremony.”
One participant with dissociative disorder reported hearing the words "Come home, come home" and "It's safe... so the body can feel peace" . When asked: “What do you think it is: go home?” She replied: "It was about my soul... for her to come home."
A participant in the Group of research participants without trauma, reported having returned to a life lived in Africa, one hundred and fifty years ago, during her mother's funeral. This participant appeared to be of African-American descent, although she said that she had never been to Africa. She described the flute music as being "ceremonial" and how the experience was "beautiful". She repeated how peaceful and beautiful the “ceremony” was.
There seems to be an anthropological parallel in the concept of “loss of soul”, present in several indigenous cultures of the world with trauma-related dissociation disorder. For indigenous culture, soul loss can be partial or total. In psychology, this is described as the loss of memory, affect, or sense of personal identity. In indigenous cultures, the process of reconnecting with one's self is often assisted by a shaman, in soul retrieval practices.
Shamanism, considered one of the oldest forms of healing, continues to use "sounds" and "music" to communicate with and access the spirit world, and this type of use of music for healing is still practiced today in various tribal societies. and non-tech around the world.
The Importance of the Musician
How significant is the flutist? A significant number of survey participants reported having previously heard other Native American flute music, describing that this particular music affected them differently, more actively. The extent of the healing effect has something to do with the flutist, his attitudes and intention, it seems to be something beyond the technique and skill of playing. Further comparative research will help in this determination.
Hazat Khan, a Sufi mystic wrote about the influence and characteristics of sacred music. He also wrote about musicians. “The effect of music depends not only on the proficiency, but also on the evolution of the performer. Its effect on the listener is in accordance with its knowledge and evolution; for this reason, the value of music differs in each individual.”
There are significant ethno-musicological implications of the study to be explored further. But through this experimentation it was identified that through what can be qualified as shamanic or sacred sound, a return to wholeness (ie, interconnectivity) can be potentiated by experiencing different states of consciousness expansion. The search for totality can be guided by a psychologist or through the search for more subtle ways. Sound touches deep, going far beyond words and intellect. Through all this study of ancient music and flutes, the conceptual paradigm of dissociative disorder can be expanded to be understood not only as a psychological orientation, but also as a spiritual misalignment oriented within a cross-cultural worldview. Dissociation, the human mind, the concepts of spirituality and consciousness can begin to be explored and understood in hitherto unforeseen ways, through sound.
The effects of sacred/shamanic flute music on trauma and states of consciousness – Lenore L. Wiand, Ph.D.
Native Flute Blog
Complete Breathing, Vagus Nerve and Playing Flutes
Breathing and Flute in Chinese Medicine
Lord Hanuman and the Breath
Rumi – Masnavi: The Lament of the Bamboo Flute
The boy and the flute – Lenda Nambiquara
History of Pan
Hariprasad Chaurasia and the Bamboo Flute