Sacred Sites Sacred Sounds

Sacred Sites: Sacred Sounds


“We are finding that the universe is composed not of matter but of music” – Professor
Donald Hatch Andrews. ‘Symphony of Matter’

SUBTLE vibrations saturate our universe. Our total environment is stimulated by invisible forces still outside the realm of scientifically measured or accepted models of reality. All of nature partakes in a cosmic dance of particle interactions and the flow of dynamic fields of energy.

As human beings, we respond to
these subtle forces and process their effects for evolutionary (or
devolutionary) outcomes, depending upon our state of being. Thoughts,
mind, feelings, emotions and creativity are the diverse products of
this all-pervading energy as well as physical form, growth and
development (morphogenesis).’ The concept was an ancient Eastern
insight which advanced biophysics has re-discovered; one that may
hopefully propel the salvation of our planet, ecologically,
environmentally and sociologically, if the message is one day absorbed
and ordained by those at the helm of our socio/ political/economic
cartels. But the road is rough and ‘status quo persists in the halls of
established academia.

A transition, however, is
occurring by virtue of those who care and those of a new generation,
who see little mileage in the overweighted materialistic credos of the
20th century. Matter is losing its magic and a move towards a more
expansive state of being is fast becoming a desirable attribute. Music
plays an important role in this scenario, since music is not only part
of the beauty of the spirit, but bridges the gap between the finite and
the infinite.

The Physics of MusicIt was a
universal belief that nature is structured on geometry and within the
creative pattern, an aesthetic proportion known as the PHI ratio or the
Golden Ratio, mathematically expressed as 1.618, appears significant.
The sublime architecture and art of ancient Egypt, classical Greece and
the European Renaissance echoed that understanding derived from Vedic
knowledge. A Vedic school of learning existed in the Egyptian centre of
Memphis circa 500 B.C. Pythagoras, the accepted ‘father of mathematics’
in the West, studied there for 20 years and later taught that the
principles of music and its harmonic structure was indelibly interwoven
within the Grand Design. Today’s computer generated ‘fractal’
geometries and mathematics have given credibility to such ancient
insights; the Golden proportion being significant in the spiraling
patterns that emerge e.g. in Mandlebrot sets.

The mantra ‘OM’ is credited by
the Hindus with being the sound of the primordial creative process and
in the Christian Gospel of St. John it becomes ‘The Word’. Sound (a
vibrational frequency originating in the Akasha (unmanifested light),
often termed ‘ether’, attracts together subtle elements that disturb
the atomic equilibrium of matter, rupturing atomic particles and
allowing a liberation of the etheric flow which is able to purify,
heal, generate growth patterns and act either as a powerful benevolent
force or one that can evoke destruction, according to the nature of the
emitted sound. In Brahman texts, the occult Vedic science of
incantations or structured prayer is called ‘Afantra Shastra’ and
explains how sound when correctly applied can have wondrous powers and
magical effects. This is the essence of the principle of sacred music,
ideally performed at places which allow a convergence of physical,
magnetic and ethereal forces; ‘laya centres’ which are the field
equivalents of opened chakras (energy centres) of the Earth. Often,
people entering such areas experience an opening of their own chakras
and experience altered states of consciousness in response to the
particular forces active at these ‘sacred sites’. Over the centuries,
humanity has been inspired to select these points of convergence to
erect temples, pyramids, standing stones etc. Christian churches later
followed in their footsteps.

The Druids, Egyptians, Greeks,
Mayans, American Indians and early Australian natives have all
participated in the upliftment of their civilizations and cultures
through harmonizing with the centres in widespread, ritual obsenances.

Australian Aboriginal culture
has become an area of increasing interest to many within and outside
Australia itself. Their visions speak of natural forces; topography,
high energy centres; telluric currents (‘the path of the Rainbow
Serpent’), healing, fertility and ‘increase centres’ and the
understanding that attitude, intent, ritual, and sound invocations can
effectively influence the immediate environment and living things
within it.

The wide diversity of Australian
Aboriginal peoples and their varying dialects, customs and musical
expressions cannot be outlined in this article. But I would like to
present an aspect of one area, that of

Northern Australia, in which the
mythology and cultural expressions -of the Aboriginal occupants of the
Kimberley district provide some thought-provoking insights into an
ongoing mystery. Their sacred music and its religious application could
be connected with an historical event by which a one-time cultural
interaction occurred with Buddhist visitors to these shores.

The Mystery of the Wandjina

The Kimberley mountain ranges
stretch across the northern tip of Western Australia. Here, in some
distant age, mysterious enigmatic images of mouthless beings, some clad
in robes and surrounded by what appears to be a halo, were inscribed on
the rock faces of numerous caves. Sacred to the Aboriginal of the
Kimberleys, the images are revered as awesome beings who in primeval
times, wandered around the landscape, instructing the indigenous people
in the use of weapons and tools and initiating the tribal laws, rites
and customs, and after completing their task they disappeared into the
heavens or into the ground. They called themselves Wandjina, sometimes
spelled Wondjina.

The Wandjina have been of special interest and speculation to anthropologists, ethnologists, and
certain writers who have endeavoured to link them with extraterrestrial
visitors due to their resemblance to astronauts. No exact information
surrounding their identity or the idea which inspired their design
exists, and untold theories have been voiced. One more possibility may
be added to the existing collection of theories, based on my own
research and long time association with Eastern mythology and culture.

The Australian Aborigines make a
clear distinction been the works of art they consider their own and
those they claim go back to the time of their creation, popularly
referred to as the Dreamtime in all literature about Aborigines.
Mythical beings are reputed in most cases to be responsible for the art
that cannot be attributed to their own people. But the Northern
Kimberley tribes maintain that the ancestors of the clans arrived in
boats led by individuals called Wandjina, each with his own name. The
visitors painted their symbolic image on galleries and rocky caves. The
symbol of the sun is also represented on the walls of these caves where
the Wandjina appear.

Ancient totemic drawings were often anthropomorphic showing, for example, an animal’s head on a human
body. Relating to the Wandjina, this point becomes significant further
on. Wandjina images are closely associated with rain and fertilization,
the increase of natural species and the increase of the human race.
They are identified also with the image of a serpent appearing on the
rock art of the area. Among the Kimberley tribes the snakes are called
Unguds, the word ‘Ungud’ being applied primarily to a life principle or
‘vital force’, and the natives believe that the Wandjina and Ungud
paintings must be restored at the beginning of the wet season to ensure
that rain will fall and fertilization will proceed.

The well-being of all living things in the area is thus dependent upon the yearly restoration. It is
believed that the Ungud serpent was the totem of the Wandjina. Both
images are essentially symbols of life-giving power. The mythical
snakes live in water holes (water being the mother of life) and bear
various names according to the location and tribal language. But their
role in relation to fertility and regeneration appears to be consistent
throughout the country. To distinguish the snakes, the term Rainbow
Serpent is applied due to the widespread belief among Aborigines that
they are capable of assuming the form of the rainbow when they desire
to do so.

In scientific terms , a rainbow is formed from the interaction of the sun’s invisible rays with
molecules of moisture in the atmosphere acting as prisms that break up
the solar emissions into their respective frequencies, which are
perceived through our optical sensors as colours. As light is a vital
component for the sustenance of life, the serpent, symbolic of creative
energy, and the rainbow, symbolic of the sustaining principle in
nature, are siblings.

Increase Centres and Fertilization

It is an Aboriginal
understanding that the fauna and flora of the landscape has an
‘increase centre’ an area of high electro-magnetic energy where the
performance of correct rituals will increase the life essence or
Kurunba stored there and bring about the desired increase. If a
species, the increase of which is desired, is depicted on a Wandjina
Gallery, for example, the increase is assured. Such increase centres
exist along ‘the path of the rainbow serpent’ that is an existing
underground telluric current.

The natives know that it is not
the actual paintings in the caves that activate the Kurunba but the
rocks on which they are drawn; the rocks being imbued with the ‘spirit’
of the entities depicted. Sacred works of art such as the Wandjina act
as powerful images, capable of stimulating and intensifying mind power
during rituals, similar in nature to Vantras or designs used in Tantric
meditative techniques. During rituals, the release of human bioenergy,
intensified and focussed mental energy and sound frequencies from the
special chants and instruments, effectively stimulates the energy field
of the rocks (the spirit of the rock) at the sacred site. The Kimberley
area is rich in crystalline deposits; thus the rocks have a high energy
potential. The energetic emissions from existing underground water
courses may also be effected.

These telluric currents or
‘serpent currents’ have counterparts in the Chinese ‘Dragon Currents’
and the ‘ley lines’ of Britain and each tribe holds responsibility for
its own section of line, visiting key sites at the appropriate season
and performing traditional rituals and chants. If the increase of a
certain species of fauna is desired, the bodies of the performers are
decorated with the design or symbolic representation of the animal to
be fertilized, e.g. snake, dingo, kangaroo etc. It is only the female
of the species, however, that is effected. The actors impersonate the
totem animal, thus identifying and promoting a resonant connection with
it. Plant down, with natural blood as an adhesive, is often used to
form the design; or ochre (blood of the earth) which has always been
intimately associated with ceremonies of fertility, the invocation of
rain, etc., by tribal people in many countries, who, like the
Aborigines, regard the earth as a living entity, its underground water
courses for example being seen in a similar light to the human arterial

In relation to sound affecting
plants, from the 1950’s onwards, tests conducted in southern India by
Dr. Singh, head of the Department of Botany at Annamalai University,
resulted in the speeding up of the movement of protoplasm in plant
cells by the application of harmonious music from various instruments
two metres from the plants for half an hour. Longer daily exposure for
several weeks resulted in positive changes in chromosomes; the musical
treatment actually increasing the chromosome count.

Dr. Singh’s work formed an
extension of the findings of the great Indian scientist, Jagdis Chunder
Bose, who devised sensitive apparatus to demonstrate plant reactions,
many of which resembled nervous response in animal and human life. In
the USA, in more recent times, the findings of research chemist, Marcel
Vogel, has further endorsed the work of Singh and Bose. Thousands of
years ago, sacred dances were practiced to generate energy to influence
crop growth.

An inter-connectiveness between
mind and matter is no longer regarded as mystic mumbo jumbo, but forms
a vital ingredient in present scientific research into low energy
electro-magnetic fields which have been found to influence the pattern
and organization of any living thing, the aims of nature being
wholeness, organization and continuity.

In an esoteric or ‘metaphysical’
context, the ‘creation of the landscape’ by the Wandjina would refer to
their activity surrounding the nourishing of the increase centres along
the existing telluric or ‘serpent current’-the science of geomancy in

In respect of the Wandjina, it
appears to be more than chance that the word ‘Wandjina’ can be formed
from ~’o Sanskrit words, ‘Vand’ and ‘Jina’. The Australian Aborigines
did not develop a system of writing their own language and the written
attempts to spell the word phonetically are the work of Europeans,
missionaries or Aboriginal trained by Europeans.

Thus ‘W’ could easily be VAND a root word meaning ‘saluting’ or greeting’: an acknowledgement of rank
or attainment applied to an initiate. JINA-meaning ‘conqueror’ in the sense of one who has conquered his own duality to obtain balance, liberation and wisdom. WANDJINA or VANDJINA would translate as ‘an initiated wise one, a ‘serpent’ or spiritual instructor, and comply with the Aboriginal tradition concerning the image.

Past Research

Sir George Grey is reputed to be
the first white person ever to have seen the Wandjina images in 1838.
His drawings and documentation proved extremely valuable for
researchers who followed him.

Sollas, author of ‘Ancient
Hunters’ has commented: ‘The shape of the head-dress and body of the
Wandjina images suggests an origin and workmanship other than native.
It is quite possible that the Wandjina figures owe their origin to
external influences. Visitors may have drawn the first prototypes for
some purpose known to themselves.’

J. Bradshaw, writing for
Australia in 1892 states: Royal Geographic Society of ‘Some of the
human figures were life-size, the bodies and limbs very attenuated as
having numerous tassel-shaped adornments appended to the hair, neck,
waist, arms and legs: but the most remarkable fact in connection with
these drawings is that whenever a profile face is shown, the features
are of a most pronounced aquiline type quite different from those of
any natives we encountered. Indeed, looking at some of the groups, one
might almost think oneself viewing the painted vaults of an ancient
Egyptian temple. The sketches seemed to be of a great age, but over the
surface of some of them were drawn in fresher colours, smaller and more
recent scenes, and rude forms of animals, such as the kangaroo,
wallaby, porcupine, crocodile etc.2

The origin of much of the
Australian Aboriginal culture still remains a mystery. Until recently,
the Aborigines have always been regarded as little more than the
exceptional survivors of prehistoric man, a view based primarily on the
materialistic aspects of their culture, its ‘hardware’. Yet every
anthropologist and ethnologist who has dug below the surface of ancient
Australian culture and folklore has found subtle connections with
Eastern metaphysics.

The Aboriginal Initiates
communicate intuitively with the Dreamtime, the time of their creation,
by tapping into a universal reservoir of information containing their
racial memory. The Hindus call this reservoir the Akashic Record, which
many researchers in physics have identified with the long sought-after
Unified or Universal Field. There is little reason to doubt that these
pristine people are able to impart their special vision to those whom
they choose to be the recipients of their ancient knowledge.

In a culture without written
language, music and poetry form a vital part, sustaining a deeply
religious view of life for thousands of years.

Australian Aboriginal music
consists of songs accompanied primarily by instruments of percussion,
though the pattern varies from region to region. The music is
transmitted from generation to generation through oral transmission,
there is no written text. Each song dictates the variations permissible
in the ritual performance accompanying it and if it is sung in
association with secret rituals or cults, its efficacy depends largely
on adherence to the advocated method.

A musical ensemble comprises ~’o
singers, each with a percussion instrument, a pair of sticks or
boomerang clapsticks and sometimes a didjeridu player.

The Didjeridu or Didgeridoo,
correctly named ‘Yidaki’ and related in principle to the Long Horns or
‘Dungchen’ used in Tibetan music is a hollow wooden tube 1.2 to 2
metres long and one of the oldest known wind instruments. The
distinctive timbre and playing technique is unique to the Australian

The ‘didge’ is made from a
branch of a tree which has been eaten hollow by termites, a wood-eating
ant found in northern parts of Australia, so the didge was originally
played only by the peoples of the North. The branch is cut to the
desired length, the bark stripped away and a comfortable mouthpiece is
often made from beeswax. The instrument is decorated with figures and
patterns significant to the clan and language groups who use the
instrument in their songs and ceremonies.

The didjeridu provides a
continuous and uninterrupted basic drone which can be modified by
changes in wind pressure, mouth shape, articulations with the tongue
and diaphragm movement. The drone provides rhythms for dancing and
singing plus a tonal bass for the vocals. Other sound effects which may
be required by the story being enacted or the ceremony are achieved by
using the tongue and vocal chords.

The sound is achieved by
‘circular breathing’ where the player breathes in through the nose and
quickly breathes out through the mouth. It appears a difficult
undertaking but the technique becomes automatic with practice and is in
its effect, similar to the Yogic fast breathing method of ‘Basinka’.

The sustained vibrations of the
didgeridu affect both the player and the immediate environment. A
prolonged performance is able to create a meditative ‘theta’ rhythmic
state of consciousness for the player which is allied to the Aboriginal
‘dreaming’ state, allowing information to be received intuitively which
is normally inaccessible in the ‘beta’ or thinking state. Healing may
be accomplished with its correct use. By sounding a long slow resonance
into the instrument, a strong and steady air flow to the lungs
oxygenates the blood, causing the heart rate to slow. Breathing
efficiency is improved by cyclic breathing for many reasons. For one,
all air is inhaled via the nose so that the air is filtered and warmed
more to body temperature by the time it reaches the lungs. Also, cyclic
breathing is powered by the diaphragm and stomach muscles. This pushes
more air from the lower reaches of the lungs and allows more space for
fresh air.

Tinyilpa or music sticks are the
traditional Aboriginal percussion instruments used by both men and
women as musical accompaniments during Inma (song and dance). Music
sticks are played by holding one firmly in hand and striking it in a
heart beat kind of rhythm, with the second stick held loosely in the
other hand. Some variations in pitch and tone can be achieved by
hitting together, softer or harder, or by varying the hitting position
so that it is either closer toward or away from the hand. The rhythm of
the music sticks clapping in accompaniment to a hundred or more voices
during Inma is a powerful sound.

Traditional Tinypilpa were
simply hewn sections of hardwood branch from which the bark was removed
and the ends rounded off and tapered. Occasionally the tinypilpa would
be coated with red ochre or grooved at both ends using a small
traditional chisel. Central desert tinypilpa are crafted mainly by
women and are either made from quandong, eucalyptus or mulga wood-the
latter being the most common. Mulga is an extremely hard wood and
therefore highly resonant.

Bullroarer of Thuringa
(Churinga) is a highly sacred symbol used in secret ceremonies, the
cementing of friendships, communicating or advising that important
events are occurring, etc. Attached to the end of a long, thin cord, it
is swirled vigorously to create an eerie ‘humming’ sound which can be
heard over considerable distances.

Boomerangs are made in different
forms for different purposes; returning boomerangs exhibiting a
principle of aerodynamics in their rotating, circular flight patterns
while non-returning boomerangs are designed for stunning or killing
purposes. They are used as clapping sticks on ceremonial occasions
giving forth a sharp staccato sound as accompanying rhythm to the song
and dance performances. Dancing is often distinguished by foot stamping
on the ground in rhythm with the human heart beat.

The above mentioned Aboriginal
music instruments are the primary ones in use for either sacred or
secret rituals or in social ceremonies (‘corroborees’). Rhythmic
dancing, singing and dramatic acting generally accompany the social


In recent times we have all but
lost the ancient knowledge and the essence of the Sacred upon the
earth. But a brighter light is beginning to illuminate the dark vaults
of materialistic mechanistic thinking. Throughout the world an
evolutionary impulse appears to be at work.

In Australia, for example, a
Creative Physics movement, spearheaded by the Government recognized
Science-Art Research Centre of Australia Inc, is being impelled by such
considerations with the science-art of internationally recognized
Robert Pope and Robert Todonai acting as a catalyst and a vivid
metaphor, in projecting new visionary scientific discoveries towards
public attention.

Powerfully endorsed by
international researchers and key scientific figures, the Centre’s work
and ideals point to a new ‘science of life’ based on ethical,
humanitarian ends. The concept is not to deny the wonders of modern
science or our technological age, but to balance the existing
mechanistic ethos with a more purposeful and meaningful model; to
augment rather than diminish.

The information, simplified and
accessible to all via computerized, global internet facilities, freed
from the chains of the overspecialized and often cryptic language and
terms of science is designed to bring the interrelationship between
advanced modern scientific knowledge and ancient insight into clearer
focus. The centre’s work has already been included in an important
worldwide Future Studies Tertiary Education Programme endorsed by the
United Nation University in the USA. A Science-Art Festival in
March-April 2000 presented by the Centre in liaison with the Queensland
Art Society and the local Tweed Arts Network Inc in northern New South
Wales, echoed the concepts of the Dalai Lama’s vision of a Global Quest
for Unison and a more democratic world, freed from the edicts of
heretical thinking. Traditional music of the Australian Aboriginal
people became an essential ingredient in the concert programme.

I. A morphogenic Process in Low
Energy Electromagnetic Fields’. S.T. and S. P. Basrsamian. Journal of
Biological Physics, Stillwater; OK~ USA. 1988.


1.Professor A,P, Elkin. ‘Rock
Paintings of N.W. Australia’ from ‘Oceania Magazine’ Vol. 1. No 3.1930.
p.275. Mitchell Archives, Sydney. Referring to Sollas, ‘Ancient
Hunters’ 3rd edition, page 430.

2.Ibid. p.275. referring to.
Bradshaw’ 5 ‘Notes on a Recent Trip to Prince Regent’s River’. Royal
Geographic Society of Australia 1892.

IX Pt.2. p. 99ff

3.Ibid. p.272. referring to
Basedow’s impressions cited in ‘Australian Aboriginal’ pp. 343A.

4.Ibid. p.266

5.Professor A,P. Elkin.
‘Aboriginal Men of High Degree’ University of Queensland Press. 1977.

6.A lberto Cesare Aibesi,
‘Aspects of Australian Art’ from ‘Oceanic Art’ pp.142-3 Hamlyn. London.


Mark Balfour is author of the book
“The Sign of the Serpent” – a fascinating study that bridges the
gap between the new Creative Physics and ancient insights of creation.

The 190 page book is
available incl post and packaging for AUD $ 22 (addresses outside
Australia AUD $33) from Metavision, 1/1 Richmond Rd Cremorne NSW 2090


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