“Our beloved is that which is our source and our goal” - From The Mysticism of Sound and Music.
Alchemy is defined, according to Hermes, as the change of something into its opposite. Alchemy involves dissolution and subsequent composition. The seed births the fruit and the fruit becomes the next seed. All nature is made of alchemical processes. And so are we.
Singing is a pure alchemical process, and in that sense we are all magicians, or alchemists ourselves. The voice chakra is considered the purifier, the healer. Think of the air that comes from the lungs, when it reaches the vocal cords, it is transmuted into sound vibration. This is alchemy. The primal matter, the atman, the anima mundi, the elixir - the cosmic consciousness that heals all things - it is vibration. All living things are made of cells, molecules, subatomic particles, quarks, energy – Vibration. And if we have the capacity to create this sound vibration in our own body, we have the alchemical power to tune into the source of everything. Literally.
The subject of Alchemy is intrinsically related to the path to spiritual illumination. All of these speak about how we can, through some sort of catharsis, transform within and reach a more elevated consciousness – in musical terms – a higher frequency. In yogic tradition, for example, we have seen the use of the symbol of the tree as a guided structure for spiritual practice. The Tree of Life is also part of the big plot in the Genesis, in the bible. There is an interesting passage in the bible which says “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”. On this subject, as I was contemplating on how singing, as an alchemical process, can relate to the tree symbolism, it was clear that I had to find my own concept, which I am naming, the Tree of Sound.
The breath (air, lungs, diaphragm and all other respiratory muscles involved) is the origin, the root of the tree of sound, which sends the air vibration (our tree of sound sap) through the vocal track (tree trunk and branches) up to our vocal chords, which I see as represented by the leaves. The leaves in a tree turn light into food, which is a transmutation process – pure alchemy. Our vocal chords also transmute, but this time around, air vibration into sound vibration, which then helps produce the beautiful flower of sound that, seduces us, stimulates us, helps us open the heart and want to reach for higher realms. The flower is also the reproductive part of the tree, the Venus quality, and our voice chakra, also called to be a higher reproductive chakra, has the power to create. The fruit then tells us that the intent of all this beautiful conception was to go back to the beginning, the original seed - “Our beloved is that which is our source and our goal”.
Vocal alchemy is represented in this Tree of Sound concept. “The leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations”- How beautiful to extrapolate that this same alchemical process I have been describing is the healer of the nations. Group chanting is proven to be an extremely powerful tool to bring people together in one voice. The leaves bring golden light into our body-mind-soul just as chanting elevates our frequency and harmonizes ourselves.
The tree of sound is a demonstration of our responsibility to grow, to transform, to evolve.
Note: Painting by Hilma af Klint