My Quest Into Sound
by Leigh Ann Phillips
Written in 2007
Nature has a way of mirroring the changes that occur in my personal and professional life, and 2007 was no exception. As I was coming back from a momentous journey to Canada, I noticed thousands and thousands of goose feathers on the side of I-70 outside of Denver. The goose who laid the golden egg had spread her wings from Ontario to Colorado, reminding me of not just where I had been, but where I would be going. I had no idea of the surprises that still awaited me in 2007. And this was in October!
I spent a great deal of time traveling in 2007. The travel became a quest, just as Goose had predicted, though I did not know what that meant. I just knew that each journey was expanding my perception of what was possible, and not giving me much time to go back to my old ways.
Sound Healing Training: Seattle, Washington
In July, I attended a Tom Kenyon training called the Creatrix. Tom Kenyon is the founder of Acoustic Brain Research, an organization that did concrete research on the brain and how sound can increase our ability to expand the abilities of the brain. We learned about the different wavelengths of the brain, the science of how the brain works, and then implemented exercises to increase our awareness. The conference took place on the outskirts of Seattle where I had access to a large pond right behind the hotel and also to a municipal park where Redwood trees resided. There were tall, majestic, wet-with-dew deciduous trees that I could lie down underneath, along with hundreds and hundreds of raspberry bushes, beginning to ripen. Each day I would go to the trees and each day there would be feathers waiting, whether raven, flicker or other messengers from above.
Two months later I was back in Seattle, learning to use the voice to help clients release physical and emotional states using sound, particularly using the voice. By this time those raspberries were moist, ripe and ready to eat! That is when things really started to move. Not only did we learn more about the science, but we had extensive time to practice different techniques on each other, including overtoning. Overtoning is being able to make two different sounds with the voice, one from the nasal passages and the other from the throat. Some people have the proficiency to have four different sounds come out of their mouth. I could then play with the harmonics that occurred. I have always loved science, and to have it enhance the sound and music I do is just pure joy. John joined me for a few days after the training, and we got our first official vacation out of the Southwest that did not have anything to do with immediate family. It was wonderful.
Travels Up North: Ontario, Canada
The quest continued, taking me to Canada next. I have been in touch with two lovely women through email and phone calls that feel and are my spiritual family, and it was time to fly to Ontario to meet them in person.
Pamela Smith is a woman on her own quest, who is discovering to her bones the gifts she has to share with the world, including her uncanny intuition. She works for Siemens Canada, and lives in Mississauga. She knows more about rocks and minerals than anyone I know. Do not be surprised if you hear of Pam in the next year or two! She met me at the Buffalo airport, and the adventure began! Spending time with her in person just felt like we left off where we were before; a combination of friend, sister and Anam Cara. Pam looks like an Egyptian priestess with her ovalesque eyes and blond locks. We both share an affinity for the Native American traditions, as well as the Egyptian and Celtic lineages.
The highlight of our time was making the two-hour drive with her son, Mitchell, to see Sue MacLeod, a medicine woman who lives in Buckhorn in the northern part of Ontario. Sue and her husband have turned two ancient cabins from the 19th century into a sweet gingerbread cottage and separate cabin where Sue does her healing work. Her 70 acres actually has old mounds on it, as if she were living in Ireland. The land is magical and breathtaking. The three of us spent most of our time doing session work, using our hands, the crystal singing bowls and Tibetan bowls, and our voices. It was all very familiar and gratifying to see each person find their own stillness, go deeply within themselves and come back up for air, retrieving another piece they were ready to integrate. We gave almost 30 sessions in less than three days. We saw some wonderous things occur. In the middle of these days, Sue gave both Pam and I a medicine pouch. Mine had a goose on it. The quest had officially begun.
When I returned from Canada, that is when the thousands of goose feathers were just lying on the road on Interstate 70. Though I have been finding feathers for years, I had never seen so many feathers ever. I pulled over to just make sure these bread crumbs were for real. I was still so energized from Canada, having just said goodbye to Pam at 5:30 am as she dropped me off at the airport. It was all so surreal. The synchronicities that occurred incessantly on that trip never stopped. I felt like my life was in slow-motion fast forward. I spent the night with my friends Bev Bernschein and her brother Christopher who live in Ft. Collins. And then I headed home.
Sound Healing Conference: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Just a week later I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico attending the sound healing conference. I was a volunteer so it gave me a bit more of an insiders perspective. Each day I would choose which of the lectures I wanted to attend. One night I had a very intense dream. There was a young boy on a raft in a giant sea. Several yards away was another boat, but this one was sinking and had his immediate family on it. The boy was angry and upset, not wanting to be separated from his family. But they told him, nothing will save us, and you must go and do many things. It is time for you to be on your way. I woke up with the feeling that something significant had occurred.
That day, Sven Doehner, a psychotherapist from Mexico, was giving his first lecture in the United States on the soundscape of dreams. I took it as a sign that this was to be the chosen lecture that day. Sven was only there because Masaru Emoto, author of Messages from Water, had cancelled due to complications from diabetes. It was very interesting watching people come into the lecture. Right at the last minute, many people exited the hall, as if they just were not ready for delving into the depths of the dreamtime. When Sven asked for a volunteer, I raised my hand and he chose me as the guinea pig. Within minutes I was crying, making sounds and feeling how much pain I was in from this dream. The words I ended up with, as if diving off a plank, were the words, “I am ready to leap.” And so I was. Within a day, I had met with Sven to discuss what happened to me while I shared in front of everyone. And then, somehow I ended up doing some of my sound work on Sven. After he experienced the power of that experience, he asked if I would consider teaching with him in Oaxaca, Mexico where he holds his workshops. He also told me of a conference that would be happening in Guatemala in two weeks hosted by the Consejo Interamericano Sobre de Espiritualidad Indigeno (the Interamerican Counsel on Indigenous Spirituality). Since I said I was ready to leap, I booked my ticket.
Dreams, Clues, and Signs
As soon as I committed to the trip, several lucid dreams gave me clues about whom I was to meet. I saw one woman, quite short with a bandana around her head carrying a walking stick. The other was an older man with a Peruvian connection, though I could not see his face. A dear woman in Crestone named Seree helped me make medicine bundles for these women in preparation for the trip. I also saw a man’s face with no body, but during the vision his left eye took up the entire camera of my dream as if he really wanted me to remember his eyes. Then two nights before I left, I had a dream that let me know they knew I was coming. I cannot explain it except to say they knew, and all was in place.
Before I left, I headed to the Alamosa Wildlife Refuge, a place I go to walk, clear my mind and connect with nature. It is a sacred place to me, one of the places that feels as ancient as the Earth is. I pulled over and took a walk in a small grove of trees. An owl stopped by to say hello, as did a roughneck hawk. I walked underneath a pine tree probably 80 feet high, and there, dangling like a Christmas ornament, was a goose feather. Another sign of the quest!
The Guatemala Journey Begins
I left for Guatemala the day after Thanksgiving so John, Beth, his sister, and I could spend the holidays together. Driving to Albuquerque, it felt as if I was carving a new stream bed; something new was arriving, and I was on a wild ride I could not get off once the plane took off.
Apolinario Chile Pixtun and his translator, Oscar, met me at the airport in Guatemala City. When I saw Oscar, I recognized him as the man’s face with no body. He recognized me as well. Apparently he whispered to Apolinario that I was an owl. I do have Owl show up in my life often, as Owl is considered an important messenger for me. I forgot to mention that Apolinario is a keeper of time in the Mayan tradition. He holds two of the Mayan prophecies. One he has released to the public. The other, he said, was still secret as he felt people were not ready to hear it yet. At the airport, I met two other people who had just flown in. One was Billy Cass, a filmmaker from Venezuela. The next day all of us (there ended up being about 10 of us) left in four different vehicles and started the four-hour drive to Santiago Atitlan where the conference would be. I was fortunate enough to drive with Apolinario, Wilma, Apolinario’s wife (she was a delight, with a gorgeous smile!), Billy, and the professor, Roberto. Roberto had been working on behalf of the indigenous Mayan for almost 50 years in Guatemala. He is quite famous in his home country. In his youth, he spent four years walking the country of Guatemala to understand her people. His passion has only grown with his years.
Sights Along the Way
The drive was spectacular. Green, lush, colorful with the traditional Mayan garb. Guatemala is probably 50 years “behind” Mexico, as each village still has their traditional clothing that lets you know what village they are from, if they are married and spiritually where they fall in the hierarchy. So few words are needed to know so much about a person.
As we traveled that day, eating chocolate-covered raisins, almonds and peanuts, Roberto mentioned the “Magnetico Hill.” The conversation went back and forth from Mayan to Spanish to English. He said there was a hill that if we turned off the car, the pull of the electromagnetic field would pull us up this hill. Sure enough, we found it, turned off the engine, and there we went, about 5 miles per hour being pulled up to the top of this hill, as if we were in a red radio flyer wagon! It was the most amazing feeling.
A little bit later we were stopped by the Guatemalan military, basically being asked to pay a bribe to drive further along on the road. We gave the soldier four quetzales and continued on our way.
And then, I could see the lake, the famous Lago de Atitlan. This lake is 1,000 feet deep and 10 miles long, surrounded by three dormant volcanoes. It feels like a power point, like Crestone, Colorado, the Grand Tetons, or Yellowstone. This land is fertile, stunningly beautiful and sacred to the core. The people that live here feed this land, with prayers, ritual and gratitude. We landed in the village of Santiago, and that is where my life changed permanently.
Conference on Indigenous Spirituality: Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala
The conference began with an hours-long ceremony, where the Grandfather fire was lit, and the drumming, the beating heart of the four-day conference, began. The drum never stopped beating and the fire burned until we closed the circle. I was fortunate enough to play the drum from 1-3 am one early morning. There was a small group of Mayan men that were gathered around the fire, tending to it. As they finished their shift, each one came up to me, calling me, “Mayanita” and thanking me for drumming on Mother Earth’s behalf. I cannot tell you the love I felt coming from each of them. It fed me so. As I drummed, I gazed into the fire. It was a mind-altering experience, with colors and light shape-shifting with a glow of coals and flame.
At this gathering were 200 people representing Ecuador, the US, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, England, Holland, and 20-some Mayan tribes. I was considered an observer, as I did not belong to an organization. However, I was allowed to participate in almost every ceremony, which was an amazing experience. It was compulsory to wear a long skirt at these ceremonies. Just to give you an idea of the synchronicity that occurred every waking moment, I walked out of my hotel room determined to find a skirt, and there, standing by my door was Julia Hausermann, an international lawyer wearing a long skirt. When I asked her if she had an extra I could borrow, she exclaimed I was welcome to this one. She led me to her room, put on another skirt, and handed me the one she was wearing. She turned out to be the founder and president of Rights and Humanity, an organization that helps indigenous people with their water dilemmas along with many other worthwhile issues.
A Ferry Across the Lake
So, one of these ceremonies involved getting on a ferry at 5:30 am and floating over across the lake to a special building built over an ancient Mayan pyramid. Some of the stones from that pyramid were placed in the center of this round house where we gave the ancestors a cornucopia of fruit, feathers, sacred waters and other foods in gratitude of the coming together of all of the Earth’s peoples. This conference was about helping each other remember and build a federation to move us all forward during this momentous time in history. When we got off the ferry, there was hundreds of plumage from a bald eagle that had been brought by the Huron tribe of Canada. The eagle was part of the offering in the ceremony, and the delicate plumage was a gift as well. There were so many downy feathers it almost looked like snow. We gathered inside the round house, and there, for four or five hours we sang, prayed and participated in a sacred water ceremony. I recognized one of the elders as the woman with the staff in my dream. When she sang, Grandfather Fire sang louder with higher flames. The fire responded to her voice with truth. This woman walked her talk.
That day something changed. I could feel a well of old pain rise in my throat and transform tears into relief; relief into clarity. The sun shone white. We gave thanks to the four directions, and I played the crystal singing bowl that I brought from the States, my grandmother bowl made of quartz crystal and iron. I sat next to another new friend from Venezuela and played the bowl and sang on her behalf. She told me later that the back pain she had disappeared. Later during the conference, she ironically was elected the new president of CISEI, the organization that hosted the conference. Her name is Enoie Texier.
The synchronicity, magic and the openness of my heart grew by the day. There were intense times too, but they all felt like they were happening to clear something in my skin and cells that was beyond words. I played with the village children, and swam in that deep, blue lake at dawn many mornings. I met a sweet woman from Holland who is a steward of one of the authentic crystal skulls on Earth, and even got to be with the skull one afternoon. I gave many sound sessions to people as they came up. I ate sweet breads and cookies from a village bakery with my new Dutch friend. And I attended many amazing lectures and ceremonies, each bringing me a bead
The Spirit of Water
The other teacher that showed up in my dream was a French doctor, one of the founding members of Doctors Without Borders, Jacques Bonicard. He gave a talk on the Spirit of Water. When I heard the beginning of the lecture, I had a very strong déjà vu. When I realized his traditional medicine clinic was in Peru, it dawned on me that this was the man who was to receive the other medicine bundle. I approached him later, gifting him the bundle, and letting him know I felt I was to learn something from him. I also shared with him my experience at Valley View Hot Springs the night before I left for Guatemala. I sat in the waterfall pond for four hours, meditating, being still, and just watching the light of the moon dancing in the water. What I saw was literally dancing light in the pond that did not correspond to what the moon was doing. There was something else going on, as if the water was talking to me. Jacques Bonicard’s work was learned from his Peruvian teacher. They have set up a clinic between the foothills of the Andes and the jungles of Peru in a in the village of Tarapoto, which can ony be reached by plane; there are no roads. His specialty is helping people break addictions. They use Ayahuasca in their clinic. They have received funding from the World Health Organization, the Catholic Church and the country of Peru. The Catholic Church has even condoned the use of the vines because of the high success rate.
When I gave Jacques the medicine bundle, he offered to give me a session so I would experience his work. That evening he spent 20 minutes with me, using only his voice, perfumes, a rattle, and the Spirit of Water. It felt like something was sucking up all of the toxicity in my body out the crown of my head. I was quite dizzy afterwards. All he said was it felt like my mind was diffused, as if I was preoccupied. I went to dinner with friends soon after, having eaten fish like everyone else in the group. By the middle of the night, I was in a full fever, nauseous and in a full-blown clearing. I crawled to the bathroom and could not get up off the floor. I managed to get out of bed at 1 pm the next day. I am convinced this all happened as a result of this session. Jacques has invited me to the clinic to learn these techniques. I already use my voice in similar ways as well as my breath. It really does feel like a remembering in a way.
In the Colonial City: Antigua, Guatemala
After the conference was over, a series of events led me to Antigua. I had “planned” on going, but as it turned out, I ran into Sven and we took a shuttle to the former capitol together. I consider the flow of those events very timely, as it gave me an opportunity to learn more of his history, Mexico’s history and the connection to Guatemala. We were fortunate enough to bump into Oscar, the translator, at the restaurant he works at, and then walked around the main plaza where the famous Siren fountain is. That fountain was rebuilt after the big earthquake of 1773. Afterwards the capitol was moved to Guatemala City. He gave me some pertinent history so I could explore the Spanish settlement with more of an understanding of her past and present.
The next day, I headed to the old church behind the plaza. This was an amazing experience. I went back later with my crystal singing bowl and sang to the four directions. My voice felt free and worry-free of mind criticism. I just sang to the walls, the missing ceiling, the pigeons that were the only residents now. It was a moment I will always remember, being in that church.
The synchronicities continued as I ran into people I had connected with at the conference, like Jessica and a wonderful artist named Rebecca. Rebecca showed us her artwork that was featured in the Mayan art book that was published in the United States. I spent two days in Antigua, mostly walking around soaking in the markets, the colorful people and busses, and the active volcano just outside of town. I visited churches, I listened to street musicians, I talked with merchants, I sang and played with little kids. I ate amazing turkey soup with avocado. And I prepared to say goodbye to a country that touched me deeply. I know I will return some day.
There are other people that touched me in those ten storybook days, including Murray, the expatriate from Canada, Mikeala, who worked the front desk at Tiosh Abaj, Mollie, my roommate who cared for me when I was clearing, and all of the kind, kind people at the conference.
A Sacred Journey to Ireland, 2008
In the Fall of 2008, I spent over two weeks in Ireland with Áine Armour of Celtic Fire and Faerie. About 16 of us traveled across Ireland to both visit and energetically activate sacred places (and ourselves) along this journey.
The photo below was taken by Maureen McElreth. We had just started the trip in Ireland and were looking at some sacred sites. Many of us were drawn to this tree and space, though not until the photo came back did we see the faerie image!
Coming Home: Crestone, Colorado and now Makaha, Hawaii
Now that I am home, I am living the quest at home in Makaha (Waiane) HI. I’ve recorded with Don Richmond and Thomas Barquee, given lectures on sound, worked individually with clients and groups, and each day I prepare for the next chapters of the quest, wherever I am led. I have a goose feather on my desk as a reminder that life is a grand adventure, full of longing and magic. And to the dear ones I will see again, and to the people I may never see again in this lifetime, I am grateful for what each of you has brought to the table. These next years will be even more amazing, with the quest most likely taking me to many other places yet unknown!