Full circle of the fire
The forger’s wheel,
An aureole cast of rivers,
of nets and hammer
Base phosphorus, copper and tin into gold,
the alchemy of the flame
and surrounding, stoke and
Hold up each creation,
All hopes made there,
hammered deep into
little dimples of sweet peace
To contain the world in
a handful of metal
that rings true, a life,
A new sound born
© 2016 – M. R. Baird
How can a singing bowl contribute to our relationships and the co-creation of communities and wholeness?
We have come to see that the very essence of this crafting of singing bowls is about the creating circle; a circle that goes through the stages of becoming a more coherent version of itself.
We meet harsh edges along the way and bring them to smooth…we listen and respond to what we sense and hear, often reflected through another and others…the hammering and firing or annealing processes are always asking us to be attuned to the fulfilment of reaching the promise of a true note…a sense of wholeness and homecoming. It is innate within us all, this sense of home. It rests not in the rightness according to law or impelled or imposed rules but ever in the depth of each one’s knowing. Along the way we come to meet aspects of ourselves that have stepped out of a harmonious or resonant field with the whole…the metal may be hardening or unmoving…the sound edgy or fractious. What is being asked for during these opportunities? More warmth? A different approach? The presence of another aspect or an invitation to something not yet met?
Through these actions we are engaging with a new awareness of ourselves in relation to what had previously seemed to be inert – a piece of metal…we begin to come to the awareness that there is no such thing. Each interaction or action has an impact on the outcome. We are with each other. There is a co-creation emerging. Here it is – what is possible in this moment? What choice is available to bring me, the maker and this metal towards a greater and more harmonious and evolved tone…or note?
Is this not what we also experience in our engagement in circles of co-creation in community impulses? Where is the listening and responding coming from? What choices are available in each moment as we give space and allowance to each voice…each note…each being that is willing to step forward to say “I am here. What can we create through being here together?“
A harmonic field is the resultant acoustic vibration that arises from a musical or other acoustic sound, ie a bird song, a deep thrum from a whale song, the impact of an elephant moving through it’s native territory, voices, sounds emitted unhindered by the effects of trauma? Sounds that are freely rendered and given and in constancy, received.
These spherical shapes that arise are available through an atmosphere that is free of electrical discharge or interference. What harmonics will rise and contribute to the wholeness of this circle? The wider circle?
originally written 3/17/2016
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to enter into an alchemical process?
A process where you yourself become one of the elements that is being forged and transformed?
Alchemy with heart, hands and... hammers?
I hadn't. Not really. It wasn't in my world of possibilities - yet.
When I first met Gabriella Kapfer I was oblivious to the amount of change that would ensue and I certainly had never entertained the idea of becoming a coppersmith!
I was a musician - yes.
I was a Smith - yes (by name alone at that time)
I was a somewhat hidden magician (energy worker and healer).
I loved and was intrigued by mystery (the unknown)
and potions (everything from flower essences to creating food that was infused with flavour and essential life force).
I did know, however, that the energy of what I was calling for was a total match for how she, Gabriella, was being, living, creating and generating through her work and life.
I had been asking for something different to show up....
And I had been asking for the magic that I was re-awakening to in my life to show up more...
And I had also been dropping my resistances to expanding my musical world and was willing to undertake a journey into the unknown...
AND I have always requested that more joy would show up in the world...
Little did I know that a singing bowl, a voice, a cello and a smile would completely and totally change my life!
Little did I know that my natural inclination to create harmony and beauty in the world would open up an exciting and unique way of bringing new life forms into existence.
A singing bowl, a tubular bell, a set of tiny ting-sha bells or even a gong.
Not only are these instruments beautiful to look at and listen to but they are resonant with vibrational life forces, life forces that create different possibilities for me, for you, for the land and the Earth herself.
Who would have known the difference that these beautiful sonic beings would make to so many lives....and also some deaths?
So, if you sense the energy of a yes around working with metal or sound but don't have a clue as to what that would look like or even why you would want to craft a singing bowl simply follow the energy. You may receive something you have been asking for ... and I would almost promise you it will not be what you think it will Be!
The alchemical journey of making of a singing bowl
In our practice of crafting new singingbowls for this time we reconnect to the tradition of the ancient bowl makers of Tibet who worked the bowls in meditation and prayer, infusing it with the spirit of the purpose it was made for. We perceive the process of the work with the elements of fire, metal, water, air, wood to be an alchemical process of transformation and incarnation. The incarnation – coming into form – of a very specific and unique frequency.
Our focus is not so much on the particular tuning but more on the quality, purpose and essence of the sound.
My own journey with making bowls has evolved over the last few years as I have been crafting bowls for my own work and others who have asked for healing bowls and bells.
Making a bowl is an adventure I become deeply immersed in:
The fire is crackling, the flames licking around the golden disc – a round piece of brass destined to become a singing bowl. It had been carefully chosen, cut out of a larger plate and filed into a smooth precise circle to get to this stage of being in its first fire, where it leaves its past behind and begins its new destiny as a singing bowl. I close my eyes listening to the fire and think of the person who has asked me to craft this bowl. For the purpose of this writing I will call her V. I feel joy, I see cherry blossoms and flowers. It’s spring in my inner vision while on the outside high summer is surrounding me. An uplifting energy. The golden disc in the fire changes colour, many colours – absorbing the rainbow before it glows and I take it out to cool down.
It’s blackened now and I need to clean it before I start the process of hammering.
Ash, air, water, acid all play their part in the early life of this singing bowl.
Before I start hammering I connect with V in prayer that it may serve her highest good and evolution in the frequency it brings through.
As I start hammering – spiralling out from the centre of the disc to the periphery and back into the centre – I am still filled with joy, cherry blossoms and nature and very soon a beautiful shallow plate stands before me.
As I continue working I perceive on the inner levels a shape that had been held in a particular form for a long time popping open like a flower bud, As I keep working and hammering – spiralling in and out – I perceive the flower opening to reveal a great light inside in form of a pistil and stamens - again like the inside of a flower. They grow and I feel that this is connected to V – who I am inwardly working with – beginning to stand up in her own power, light and authority. I perceive a little brown speck on the side of the pistil and wonder what it means.
I decide to stop and arrange to talk with V who lives halfway across the world at the next possible time.
When we get to talk she completely understands the images and she knows exactly what the brown speck means. In her life she is being challenged by circumstances at work and in her private life to step up into her authority and take her power but at the same time she is hugely challenged by all of the difficult issues.
I decide to take it slowly with this bowl. Big processes are at work here, time is needed for them to play out and integrate. We decide that we weave into this bowl the intention that the bowl may assist her and others with its frequency to be able to stand in their fullness and find the highest expression for her/their innate gifts, so they can shine and be fully expressed and received and make the greatest impact.
A few weeks later I take the bowl back to the fire with this intention and ask for grace in this process. The fire is strong. It dances with the bowl with both strength and gentleness.
As I continue the hammering, the bowl deepens. I feel V’s warrior spirit. We are reaching deeper into layers of her unconscious as the metal stretches and expands beyond its easy comfort-zone of the first rounds. Now the sound is also in stretch-zone. (I have frequently experienced that if the making of a bowl works with a deep process it invariably goes through a stage of ‘chaos’, where the sound is awful, dissonant, the shape a little crooked and you wonder whether it’s ever going to make it through!) This one is no different. As the hammer deepens the bowl, stretches the metal, I feel I’m riding waves of turbulence, but there is also determination, trust and strength. We ride the currents of turbulence for another couple of weeks before I feel the energy shift and I know I can pick it up again and bring it into the next level of coherence.
It has become a beautiful deep balanced shape of half a sphere in which it stabilizes.
With feedback from V I get that she really has been stepping into a new role in her work, has empowered herself in other areas of her life, taken big steps and decisions and is continuing to do so.
I now start to work on the bowl from the outside. I use a wooden hammer over a metal mushroom anvil to smooth out all the bumps. I am sensing a lot of support arriving for V as I work. Gifts being passed to her that she will now be able to use as she is coming into accepting her power and authority.
As I put the bowl into the fire for the last time – not in order to work it further but for it to release any of the struggle and receive the blessing and strength of the fire I find a sweet smell in this fire. Laurel leaves have found their way into the kindling. Wow. The smell is uplifting. I realize laurel is woven into the wreath of Victory. V, you are victorious!
The sound is magical. My feeling is that every time I play it, a doorway opens. The lower note provides the warm container and the high note reaches way up into the stars, activating the remembering of the gifts we have brought with us.
It’s mysterious. Not an interval I would have conceived or chosen. A tri-tone stretched over another octave – bridging the visible and the invisible, the conscious and the unconscious into a sound that is both warm and at the same time creates heightened awareness and alertness – a powerful assistant to raising consciousness – stretching us out of our comfort zone into alert strength and presence.
V is deeply moved. The journey has been a lot bigger and deeper than either of us expected when we set out.
I am also deeply moved by the journeys I get taken onto in the forge and the grace with which the elements work with us when we invite them and allow ourselves to be the instruments in this grand orchestra of the universal symphony.
A little story…… Quentin writes
Some time ago, Ton asked me if I would be up for making a large bowl for his group Del Silencio. I replied that of course I would and that it would be an honour to do so. “Okay – dat be great” he said.
The bowl was to be 40cm in diameter, and made out of 4mm brass. He said he’d get back to me with the intention for the bowl. In the meantime I sourced the metal, had it delivered — yikes! What a weight — then began scribing, cutting and filing. Filing, filing, filing. Four millimetres is slow work!
Ton was in Spain writing, so I waited. Time passed and then came the intention from Spain via Carolina, his wife.
Oh, I thought to myself, (screaming internally)… nothing small then! Could I even begin to contemplate the Bodhisattva of Compassion and ingest a crumb of its meaning. Gosh – how was I going to go about this? Time passed. I found myself walking around the prospect of starting, knowing, just knowing that I couldn’t begin the work until something deeper, more authentic, fell out of my head and into a better place of inner wisdom. I didn’t know what or when that would be, but I did know that I wasn’t ready.
Walking around the valley and over the fields where we live, I found myself one afternoon looking for a spot, a place where I could sit in the weak spring sunshine and sink into that alpha state of being not only’ in’ nature, but a part of it itself. A small ask, I thought, yet wherever I looked there was either no privacy or no sense of quietude. Wherever I walked there was farm machinery on the fields, or building noises or traffic, totally filling the sound scape. Everywhere the hand of man, I thought to myself. No respite. All I wanted was a short period of calm so that maybe, just maybe, I might be receptive enough for something to drop-in. Hey-ho, not today, walk on.
Further on in my walk I am on my way home, walking westwards. On my left a field of stubble and a view over to Old Sarum, and on my right a small piece of woodland. Cutting across the field and wood, a small power line. As I walk beside the wood and under the line, I hear the ‘thrum’ of a plucked string and then a tiny ‘thup’ as a small thrush falls at my feet. I go to the grass where it has fallen. Beak open, panting hurriedly, it eyes me with shock and terror. Its wing is probably broken. My heart is full. I carefully pick it up in my gloved hands and arrange its wing. Still it eyes me, panting. “Blessings on you, and on all of your kind.” I find myself saying this out loud, again and again, as if to soothe it, but perhaps I’m just soothing myself… What to do? What to do? I think this for only a moment, for in truth there is nothing ‘to do’. Nothing to be done. There is no vet, no shoebox in the kitchen that help here. The ground is iron-hard frozen and I’m reluctant to put the thrush back on the cold earth. Having its life-warmth sucked out of it in such an emphatic way seemed harsh. A few yards away I see a large stack of straw bales. I place the bird on a straw ledge, facing west and in the relative warmth of the setting sun. I walk home imbued with the mystery of the afternoon.
So, Guan Yin, Kwannon, Kanzeon, Perceiver of Sound, (perceiver of the cries of samsara), Bodhisattva of Compassion, in my inability to perceive you, you drop a song thrush at my feet. The process continues, interrupted by this, that and the other. Each incident is part of the mystery. This is a much longer journey than I had imagined, but ‘the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting’
Listen here for a broadcasted portrayal of Quentin's relationship to the crafting of singing bowls. Scroll to approx 15'20" into the programme http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03g89bt/Saturday_Live_Linda_Nolan/