(Note: Peruvian whistling vessels are not musical instruments. They are pre-Columbian artifacts which have recently been discovered to be highly effective psychoacoustical instruments, capable of rapidly inducing a profound, positive, beautiful, and beneficial altered state of consciousness which lasts as long as the vessels are being blown. Don Wright, a psychotherapist living in California, successfully creates psychoacoustically accurate reproductions of the vessels.
Were you an ancient Peruvian spirit seeking emergence in contemporary times, you couldn't find a better vehicle than Don Wright. He has the empathy and healing expertise of a trained therapist, a bat's sensitivity to sound frequencies, hands that can comfort a child or birth wet clay into sacred objects, and an elfish twinkle to his eyes.
Tucked away on a quiet seaside street, his home opens to big windows overlooking the shore of the Pacific ocean. Eclectic art and collectibles tastefully decorate the rooms. We were joined by a couple paying pilgrimage to the vessels and their maker; a woodwind repair person and an expert in musical instrument technology. Their questions and ours inspired Don to sit with us in a circle on a large oriental carpet and tell his tale.
A gracious host, Don was patient, warm and jovial by turns. I'm sure he's told his tale a hundred times before, yet it poured out like an oral history told by a master bard, ever fresh and meaningful.
Before we sat down together, we stood on his deck and looked out to sea. A stunt pilot was displaying his tricks above the beach performing turns and spins in an amazing show of skill. I couldn't help but think of this as a model of Don and his life; he is well trained, courageous and daring, having the time of his life and entertaining us all in the process. I truly enjoyed my time with Don and I trust that you will enjoy the results. But wait! Shhh...What's that?...I hear something strange, something whistling....Let's go see what it is.
(DW) I was studying psychology and theology at Boston College and that's where I came in contact with the vessels. There was a professor there that dealt with topics of consciousness and I was very interested in manipulation of consciousness. I knew that every religion had its own techniques for, in some way, controlling or accessing conscious states that are not consensual reality states. So, my goal was to discover as many of these different techniques and processes as possible, to translate them into a common language and then synthesize them into one profound technique. Of course, I never succeeded, you know. (Laughter all around) That led me to working with this one professor who is very interesting and he had a set of vessels.
(RR) He thought that you were someone that he could share the vessels with?
(DW) We became friends and one day I walked into his office and he said, "Don !You have to experience these whistling vessels! They're unbelievable!" I said, "Great!" A few nights later I went to this gathering at a house and he was there. I didn't know he had brought the vessels; I hadn't really thought about it a lot. So, I was in one of the bedrooms off the hallway to the front room and I heard this sound, kind of like a smoke alarm and I thought, that must be the vessels. I walked down the hall and into that room and the next thing I knew was I was sitting on the floor right inside the doorway; I couldn't move or do anything else; I was completely submerged in this ocean of experience. One of my friends that had a vessel held it up and offered it to me when they stopped blowing. I took it and sat down. When everyone stopped talking and everything and started blowing again, I started blowing it and I became aware of this cylinder which was in the center of the room yet, was somehow larger than the room so that it was incongruent. I can't explain that...in the room but, somehow larger than the room. Anyway, it was (the cylinder) infinitely going in both directions (up and down) and the density and thickness of the wall of the cylinder was fluctuating with the sound, and the light (that was in it) was also moving with the sound. In the center of the cylinder was void beyond voidness. There was like a wind of void wafting through it. It frightened me! Then I suddenly discovered that I was getting this buzz that was right inside my head and it was becoming tremendously intense. It felt kind of like a straw was in the center of my brain shooting this effervescence up against my skull and was pouring down. Afterward, I suspected that it was beginning to activate kundalini. I'd studied the kundalini process and even had an article published about supernormal states attainable through the activation and accessing of kundalini. So, I was well familiar with it, but I didn't think of it at all, because I was in the middle of the experience. Anyway, this buzzing was getting stronger by the moment and I knew that if I didn't stop it I would be beyond my ability to control my experience. So, I stopped blowing and the cylinder disappeared. The buzzing stopped increasing at the rate it had been but, it was still slowly increasing and getting closer to that threshold of being overwhelming.
(RR) Was the buzzing sensation felt all over your body?
(DW) I felt it primarily in my head, beating on the inside top of my skull.
(RR) Like a vibration?
(DW) Like bubbles. Like, maybe, soda water spraying through a straw against the top of the inside of my skull. I could feel that energy pouring over. I sat the vessel down and I got up and walked out. I walked way down to the kitchen and I could still just barely hear the sound but, barely hearing it was still increasing this effect. So, I walked (in a dazed sort of way) into this bedroom where this guy had been playing his guitar. When he strummed the guitar, the buzzing stopped. The sound of the strings broke the increase; stopped it. When they stopped blowing the vessels I went back to the living room and said, "Dan !(Daniel Baer was the professor's name) We can't do this! We don't know what we're doing here! It's like we're opening a door way!
(RR) You felt you needed to study and research this and decide what it is before it was released to the public? It's good science that you would say that.
(RR) That's one of the things that really excites me about experiencing the vessels, because one could talk about them all day and be an acoustic expert and know the parameters of what is going on but, until I actually blew it with a group of people, then something quite ineffable happened. It was much more physically felt than anything I can explain. I felt like I was being retuned and realigned in a way that I couldn't describe but, was so palpably present that I could not reason myself out of the experience. There was definitely something happening. It doesn't matter what your background is or how metaphysical you are, when you sit there blowing and you feel and hear it, there it is.
(DW) It's experiential. In fact, I found that in doing sessions, I've learned the hard way, that the more structure and guidance I include with the experience, the less the experience. Maybe not less but, the things people have to get through before the experience is felt....
(VISITOR #1) People's expectations would limit what they experience?
(DW) It creates a mind set and expectations that people look for, instead of just clearly being with what was happening.
(VISITOR #1) People will try to experience certain things based on what you have said!
(RR) Just so that people reading this in the future will have some idea of what we are talking about, could you physically describe what a vessel looks like? I saw a photograph of one before I met you but, most people won't know what we are talking about.
(DW) Yes. These are double chambered clay vessels. Various Peruvian cultures made these multi-chambered vessels for over two thousand years. For reasons we can only guess about, they stopped making them when their land was invaded in 1532, and they also apparently hid their function from the conquerers. For hundreds of years no one knew what they would do until Daniel Statnekov rediscovered them in 1972. Some of the vessels had eight chambers, nine, four, three ... But, I am making double chambered vessels from the Chimu culture. They are about seven inches high and the back chamber is like a large clam shape about four inches across. It has a spout coming out of the back portion of the chamber, through which a person can blow. The back chamber is connected to the front chamber which is an effigy; a strange little human-like entity. The back chamber is connected by a tube (you might say) from the center of the back chamber to the back of the effigy and by a stirrup, which is why these are also called stirrup bottles. The whistle is built in and a person merely places their mouth over the spout and blows through the vessels and creates the sound. It sounds very simple. But, in writing an article for New Frontier Magazine, I realized, for the first time, how these vessels are tuned. If someone asked me how I tuned them I would have said that it's not so much the sound that I am tuning as much as the effect. Tuning the way it feels inside my head and the way I experience it and I can't explain that. So, having studied psychology at length, I knew about synesthesia but, I never made the connection. Synesthesia is a crossover of sensory perception normally experienced in a psychedelic type experience; you might taste color or smell sound. So, what is happening when I tune these vessels, is I am inducing an altered state of consciousness in myself; I am inducing synesthesia. I had always wondered about this, because if someone were standing beside me as I tuned it they wouldn't notice anything happening at all. The sound would be just about the same to their perception. I would be experiencing these major fluctuations and waves and I would know exactly the moment I hit that place. The reason I would know is because I would feel this physical sensation and a specific type of emotion. You know how some music reminds you of something and stimulates an emotion. What I experience is not the emotional connotation or association to the sound, but instead it's a direct manipulation of emotion by the sound. I know the correct emotion and I also know the physical feeling of that correct place. So I am getting all of these physical, emotional shifts and whoom...it's right there.
(RR) You can't tune it like a guitar. There's not a little button you turn. Do you scrape away at the interior?
(DW) What happens is that there is a vent in the clay through which the air comes and inside the vessel there is a resonator. It's a little round bubble of fragile clay that is hollow. The thickness of the wall has to be one thirty-second or something like that...it's really thin.
(VISITOR #2) You're saying inside the front chamber?
(DW) Yes. Right.
(VISITOR #2) The resonating chamber is actually much smaller?
(DW) Yes. It's a little bubble. There is then an incision or hole poked in the clay in such a way that directs the air across the little opening in the bubble to cause the sound. So, to get into the frequency ball park, because the frequency is important, these have to be constructed around the primary frequency of the Chimu culture; to get them in the right ball park, I can add slip (liquid clay) through the little hole in the top of the bubble to decrease the capacity, which raises the frequency, or I can widen that hole, which tends to lower the frequency somewhat. I actually can make different sizes so it's like stages of bringing them into the right frequency. Once they're in the frequency area, then that's when the actual tuning for effect occurs, which is a complex process. So, I am not really tuning the frequency, which is probably why someone sitting next to me doesn't hear a lot of shifts. Because I am not manipulating frequency; I'm manipulating those other modalities of experience.
(VISITOR #2) What you're describing is incredibly similar to the process by which modern musical instruments are tuned. And very similar trial and error techniques are the final tuning of those instruments as well. Also, when you say that you're not listening to the vessel musically what you are doing is attuning yourself to the resonance of the instrument, which is also how many modern instruments are tested. They're not tested by accomplished musicians, they are tested by people who are trained to search for certain resonances, and how the instruments respond, which will make them musically accessible and sellable.
(DW) It's not a frequency thing. So, they're probably unknowingly utilizing synesthesia.
(RR) So, you are tuning it for how it feels to the performer in contrast to how it sounds to the audience?
(DW) Yes. I'm not that concerned about the sound. In fact I'll find that point and the sound will be terrible. It'll be raspy and scratchy. It won't be a crystal clear sound, which I have probably passed through several times and rejected, because it's not where it's at. And whoom I'll find it where the sound is scratchy. So when you pick up a vessel and blow it, it sounds clear and blow another and it may sound completely off channel but, it's got it.
(VISITOR #2) There is another parallel there to modern instrument making. The instruments, in general, that sound wonderful to the performer as they are playing, are the worst instruments in the hall. If you listen to a really top flight woodwind player, up close, you will hear all kinds of extraneous overtones and stuff that gets in the way of your experience but, in the back seat of the concert hall, it will sound absolutely enchanting and marvelous. So, what you're describing is completely consistent with more traditional western musical instruments.
(DW) That's interesting. So, we're using a clay vessel without any kind of pre-determined tonal criteria, such as scale. These are not tuned by any kind of scale or amplitude. An article one person wrote said that he had tested them on the oscilloscope and they were 100 cycles apart. I mean that is absurd! Because these are hand made. They are so imprecisely tuned as far as the frequency is concerned. It isn't a hearing thing really; it's a feeling thing.
(RR) So, is each vessel uniquely tuned? They are played in concert with each other. There are seven vessels and now that has evolved into eight. Do you make every one of the number one series vessels sound alike? Is every group of eight going to sound like every other group of eight?
(DW) No. And that is why I always tell people that they can't mix sets. What I do is make the first vessel and tune it according to finding that certain emotion and physical feeling. Then I make the next vessel and tune it for the same thing. And, then I take it another step in that I blow that vessel at the same time I blow the other vessel; I blow two vessels at once. One of them I am blowing the front chamber only and I have the spout of the other vessel there and I blow and I tune to make sure that they interact appropriately. I check every vessel in the set like this with all the others to make sure they all interact correctly. By the way, the reason there are eight vessels in a set is because each vessel you add to the session, up to the eighth, increases the effect. The ninth begins to decrease it, and each vessel beyond that decreases it more. The effect peaks with the eighth vessel.
(VISITOR #1) Can they vary a lot in the way that they merge depending on how you blow them?
(DW) Not when I'm blowing both of them myself at the same time.
(VISITOR #2) The player is taken out of it because the embouchure is inside the vessel.
(RR) We're not sure to what use these vessels were put in their original cultural context. There are no historic documents which states what purpose they had. Were they played in certain places at certain festivals? At certain places under particular phases of the moon? Were they played by special initiated people or everyone in the community? It's fascinating that there are so many unknowns.
(DW) In my experience of having facilitated hundreds of whistling sessions, people say that they recognize the experience. They know they haven't actually done it before, but they do recognize it and they feel it is an intimately familiar experience of some sort. I believe that the vessel experience is not something that we can cognitively define or structure. It's a very deep, intimate, emotional and quieting experience. It's hard to explain.
(RR) I recall, in the session I participated in, how it felt when the playing ended. It died down by itself and when the last note was sounded we all looked at each other and we all felt very differently than when we sat down. It had a very human moment of poignancy about it. So, could you say that humans are definitely part of the instrument?
(DW) Yes. And when you finish the session everyone knows that you don't have to describe what just went on. Every body knows that they all understand what "it" was. People won't try to describe it. They will talk about their own intimate experience of this and that but, they know that there is no need to define it.
(VISITOR #2) When the set you sent to Ron was first blown, we went nearly an hour, an hour and ten minutes in the first session; we all felt sure it had been twenty-five minutes.
(RR) That is exactly the experience our group had. We thought it had been about eighteen to twenty minutes and it had been fifty-five minutes.
(VISITOR #2) Our group decided to experiment a little bit to see what the parameters were. We did five minute whistlings five different times and put different people in the center. For each of those five minute sessions, the effect on people got dramatically more intense. People were getting annoyed that we had agreed that these would be short sessions, because all of a sudden, they were having these intense experiences and they wanted it to continue.
(RR) And they wanted it to continue? Like, 'do I have to come back for that?' I was just getting there!
(VISITOR #2) It became, for the people who were experiencing their personal journeys, almost that they were angry that we had agreed that we would do short sessions.
(DW) Well, I am really pleased that people are experimenting in these ways. Because I sure don't know what the purpose of these vessels was or is. By people experimenting like this it may be possible to discover new realms of consciousness. That's why I always say we don't know the right way.
(VISITOR # 1) There are no surviving writings?
(DW) No. Not that I, nor anyone else I know of, have found. They didn't even make depictions of them in their weavings or paintings. The conquistadors made copious notes about these cultures and never once mentioned the vessels, which is very strange because they wrote about everything else.
(RR) I heard about them and I went to Peru thinking that I could find some. I looked in all of the market places and couldn't find anyone who even knew what I was talking about.
(VISITOR # 1) It occurred to me that I have an uncle who is Peruvian. He is from the Spanish lineage; we have no Indian blood in the line. But, he does have a whole cabinet full of artifacts. I am wondering if this is something he might have seen? Do the modern Peruvians know what these vessels are for?
(DW) No. As far as I know they have no concept of what they are for. I've heard that Andrew Weil discovered some shaman somewhere in a remote part of Peru that were using similar sounds. I also heard that he tried to get a set of vessels to them, but didn't succeed. But, if you have ever experienced an ayahuasca ceremony and the accompanying Icaros, (Icaros are sounds created by the Shaman during that ceremony). those sounds are very similar to some of the whistling vessel sounds.
(RR) Some of us were hearing angelic choirs.
(VISITOR #1) I was hearing all of these things that I know weren't just the whistling sounds.
(RR) When I first heard of the vessels, I wanted to buy a recorded session to listen to. Yet, after having participated in a live session, I can see how much would have been lost.
(DW) An interesting feature about them is that you cannot record the effects. I have a very high quality recording, made by Bill Findly, and I could play it right now and if we turned up the volume and played it in surround sound, maybe you'll have an experience of sound entities moving around outside, but nothing inside. But, if you play the recording and blow one of the vessels, it's like somebody opens a door and suddenly the recorded vessels are present and it's almost happening. There is a deadness to it, however, that is not enjoyable. You wouldn't sit for forty minutes or an hour or all night playing the vessel. Yet, you can take a group of people with the vessels, and they will play the vessels on and on and on...without whispered conversation, without someone going to the bathroom or yawning or stretching and moving. They'll sit there totally focused and play them.
(VISITOR #2) If you think about it, the subtones from the interaction of the high frequency are in the frequency range of human conversation. Which means that they are in the frequency range of your natural body cavities, such as, your sinus cavities, your brain case etcetera. You wouldn't get the full resonance of the body by simply playing a recording. When a human being plays a musical instrument of any kind, there is an interaction between the cavity of the musical instrument and the resonance built up in between their own body cavities. This also happens in singing and is consistent with what all musical composers know.
(DW) When you are blowing the vessels, the slightest shift in breath pressure or the way you turn the vessel is going to produce massive changes out here in the collective sound production. Eventually, a person becomes aware, on a deep level, that what is being reflected out here is themselves along with everyone else and we are, because of our interaction, creating a unified experience; a unified consensual mass experience that is of us all. We are creating, through the amplification of our selves and through this medium of sound and synesthesia, a common or shared creative experience.
(RR) When I was blowing a vessel, I went through several mental changes. Am I blowing too hard? Too soft? Can I relax now? Am I getting stoned from this?. Finally, I got to the precious moments where my mind became silent; it had a very Zen-like quality to it. And, when I surrendered, something shifted and I became enveloped in a vast circle of sound and consciousness. That was the point at which the "music" got sweeter and more profound. It was a very potent experience.
(DW). My observations are that for the first six minutes or so a person is primarily externally orientated. He or she is looking at the others thinking "whoa, is this happening to them too?" Then for the next six minutes or so awareness shifts inward and the person will be observing what is going on inside themselves, then the final shift occurs and the observer becomes pure experience. This is probably where you found the Zen-like quality and it is in this phase that time awareness ceases and you can play them all night..
(VISITOR # 1) I wonder what is happening with individual energy fields?
(VISITOR # 2) I was at a large gathering in New York where we had eight people blowing the vessels. After a long period of time I stopped trying to direct my experience.. That's when I noticed that I craved a certain resonance, and that I was unwilling to waste my breath energy until I sensed it was going to happen; then I would blow as long as I could. It was almost like a drug. The experience was very powerful.
(RR) As long as I was playing with the group, it felt like there was an electric cord going into the center of the group, and that I was plugged right into this energy source. But, as soon as I stopped blowing, although it still sounded nice, I didn't feel "plugged in" any longer.
(VISITOR # 1) Yes. It sounds dead.
(RR) It's exciting that here in the 90's, when AIDS has ended the sexual revolution, and the war on drugs makes entheogenic experimentation difficult to say the least, that we finally have a way to alter consciousness that is safe and appropriate. It is an experience that people feel is extraordinary; it's something they want to repeat.
(DW) The experience of the vessels is a profound and beautiful experience. The irony is that there are no analogies to this experience except to say that it is clearly an expanded state experience induced through sound. That's why it's such a tremendously difficult thing to convey even an idea about what this new experience is. A complete stranger could walk in here, having heard nothing about the vessels, sit down and blow the vessels, and he or she would experience the profound expanded state the vessels induce. But there would be no way we could effectively, verbally communicate to them what the experience would be, it has to be experienced."
(RR) Folks reading this will wonder how they can participate in a group or obtain the vessels. It's not like you can buy a set at the local department store. So how can they get more information about the vessels?
(DW) I have made sets of vessels for people all over the world. I currently have someone in Hiroshima, Japan and another in Geneva, Switzerland waiting for a set. I have made sets that have gone back to South America; they've gone back to their roots, you know? There are several sets in Canada and the Netherlands. And there are sets scattered all over the United States. So, if somebody wants to experience the vessels I can probably tell them where a set is, close to their area. If someone calls me and asks how they can experience these, I get their name and telephone number and call the vessel owner nearest to them and give them the information. I am aware that I can't ethically give out someone's number without permission. If someone wants to have a set, I want to talk to her or him about it. I don't want to send out a set that someone wants to display on a shelf as a conversation piece. It is ultimately important to me that the set be used. I experience them as being sacred instruments.
(VISITOR # 1) What do you mean by sacred?
(DW) By sacred I don't mean religious, I mean precious to human experience. I believe they provide a totally accessible and real transpersonal experience. You know, I want to share something with you that's really exciting. A few months ago an actual evolution in the vessels started happening. My understanding of them shifted in such a way that I am now learning to manipulate the effect instead of just finding the effect. This makes it possible for me to explore and increase what they do. I'm having insight after insight. Each vessel I make teaches me something new. It's like I'm being taught by the vessels to help them evolve. The vessels have also changed on their own. I'll have to give you some background to explain this change. I make reproductions of Chimu vessels which were some of the last vessels to be made and are highest in frequency. The Chimu vessels are highest in frequency because the primary frequency around which each succeeding culture built their whistles increased through time. In other words, the earliest cultures made vessels low in pitch. As time passed and new cultures would make the vessels, each culture's primary frequency would be progressively higher. This increase was almost linear. Someone sent me a projection of this progression which indicated where the frequency would be for us today. It was absurdly high. We wouldn't listen to it. That had always been a mystery to me. I'll get back to the vessel frequency in a minute. Well, certain insights caused by this vessel evolution caused me to retire the molds I have worked with all these years, and make new molds from the original blocks and casings. I also formulated new clay and increased the number of vessels in a set to eight. I understood for the first time the importance of the appearance of the vessels. I began carving in details that were missing because of the casting process. You know that some of the most respected Native American potters are from New Mexico. Have you ever seen the carved black pots they make? The way they polish them is with a stone. I tried to do that several times but, it just didn't work. I could polish the vessel and it would look beautiful but, the firing process would dull it again. I finally gave up. Well, one of the insights I've had is how to do it. And now, I understand what they were saying about their stone. Every potter has a stone which is a treasured possession. It's a special stone that they use to polish their pots. Sometimes it has been passed down from mother to daughter. My stone came to me. It has curves in it that are just right for me. It has a sharp edge that I can use in certain places on the vessel. It has a large flat area that I can use to polish larger flat areas. It fits my fingers so perfectly, no matter which surface I am using, that it seems to be exquisitely designed for me personally. I love the stone. It's an ally. Oh yeah, before I forget, the important thing about making the vessels beautiful is not just so everyone will think they are pretty. It's because through the process of carving and polishing the vessel, I become intimate with it. I love and treasure it. The vessel's earliest experience of being created is one of being treasured and cared for. Now, remember we were talking about the frequency and how it would be too high today? Well, when I made the first test vessel using the new mold and clay, I wasn't concerned really about the sound. I was actually testing the clay and how it would fire. Like would it crack? What would the color change to in the firing and things like that. Well, when I took the vessel from the kiln and got through looking it over, through habit I placed the spout to my lips and blew it. I instantly recognized a startling addition to the sound. In addition to the expected tone, there was a very high second tone that I was hearing, experiencing in a different way. Nice accident, I thought. Well, every vessel since that one has had the additional highness. That's what I was showing you in the shop earlier. I believe that new addition to the sound is the step-up in frequency for our time!
(VISITOR # 1) How much are you asking for a set?
(DW) Well, the basis for determining a price is a mystery for something like this. The criteria I have decided to use is how valuable my time is (income wise) if I am doing therapy or counseling instead of making vessels. They were $1150 when a set had seven vessels, and then when I added the eighth I had to raise it to $1250. But when I started spending more time tuning them, because of the new ways I've discovered to do that, I raised the price to $1300 which is what I'm charging now. Because it's taking me almost twice as long to make a vessel, now that I polish them, I'm going to start charging $1600 in January. The waiting time for a set is also changing. It's taking me about three months to deliver a set to someone now, but with the magazine article and my home page on DEI New Age Web Works, and because for the first time I feel it's time for them to be made public, I expect the waiting time to go out of sight. I'm seriously considering taking an apprentice.
(VISITOR # 1) How long have you been making these?
(DW) I have been making them since about 1980. Daniel Statnekov first rediscovered the sound qualities of the vessels in 1972. He was from a very wealthy east coast family and he used to collect antiques from estate auctions and such. He was attending an auction with his friend, who happened to be an archeologist, when this friend made Daniel aware of an authentic pre-Columbian artifact, which was a whistling vessel. Daniel looked at it and he felt that he had some kind of affinity with the object. Although he didn't understand exactly what the feeling was about, it was very strong. They attended the auction but, the artifact was never presented. When the auctioneer asked if there was any further business Daniel said, "Yes!!You had this little figure that you didn't offer." Then the auctioneer looked around, found it by the bookcase and said, "Oh. Okay. Yes this is some ancient toy here, is anyone interested?" So Daniel bought it for thirty-five dollars, took it home and set it on his bookcase. One day he was in his study and he looked up at the vessel and started speculating on what the people who made this were about. He picked it up and examined it, placed it to his mouth and blew it. Mind you, Daniel was not, at that time, what we might call esoterically orientated. He suddenly experienced himself as a body of light going up into the cosmos. He saw himself heading at a tremendously rapid speed toward a cloud of cold blackness. He knew that if he entered this blackness it would absorb him; it frightened him so much that it broke the trance. He was sitting there perspiring when he perceived that he had not only been traveling out into the cosmos but, he had also been traveling inward through his soul. At the time he had been questioning the appropriateness of how he was conducting his life and he knew that if he didn't change he was going to be absorbed in this blackness. He realized that this vessel was the instrument through which he was given this insight. It had such a profound effect on him that he got a divorce, got out of the family business, got an old van and a dog and took off to discover all he could about the vessels. I can tell you all of this because he published a book in 1987 about it called Animated Earth.
(RR) This is really great because I thought I was going to bore Don by asking him to tell the whole story, yet again, as you did on the night we blew the vessels. Since you (the visiting pilgrims) were here it worked out perfectly. What are the odds of two woodwind experts being here talking about the vessels.
(DW) That's what I was going to point out. Richard called and told me he wanted to interview me for DEI New Age Web Works and I said, "Excellent." And, here you two synchronously appear, bringing a scientific, left brained perspective.
(VISITOR #2) I am working on my spirituality too, but I have never had anything like an out of body experience or anything that I am aware of. For me, just being aware that I even have a spiritual side is progress. (laughs all around).
(VISITOR #2) When I experienced the vessels, my head was spinning at the acoustical reality of what was creating the effect, rather than just enjoying the effect. I have studied music so extensively, I have trouble not listening to how the orchestra is playing and just enjoying the music. I almost wish I had never studied at a conservatory because I have to consciously unlearn the analysis and let the music be an emotional experience.
(DW) It's probably similar with an art critic.
(RR) I thank goddess I'm a lay person; I enjoy it all.
(DW) Well, you know, my wife is an MD right? And if she is going to cut your leg open and do something, it's good that she has no emotional involvement, that she is looking at layers and tissues and knows muscles and structures etcetera. She is looking at interesting parts and I'm looking at it and thinking, "god what a gash; there's a lot of blood; eech! What a mess!" So, there is a positive side to left brain uses
(RR) Like yourself, Don, you're a technical artisan in your work shop making clay and slip; it's such a sacred art. You make the vessel of clay and blow the breath of life into it, pretty godlike stuff.
DW) You might be interested in some of the spiritual things I do when making the vessels. You saw my shop. Well, when I begin, the first thing I do is take juniper and clear the space by smudging in the four directions. The reason I use juniper is because many cultures, which are separated by geography and by time, utilize juniper to clear negativity. Some say it chases darkness from the dwelling and brings happiness. Others assign similar qualities in different terms about juniper, so I use it to clear the space . I also put a piece of juniper in each of the vessels before they are fired; the vessel begins its existence clear. Next, using sage as the smudge I project my consciousness to infinity...beyond the earth, beyond the cosmos...to infinity. And I clear in all directions. This puts the place where I am creating the vessels at the center of the cosmos. From the center of the cosmos, the vessels are born. That's part of the magick. Also, people send me things that are sacred to them to go in the clay. For years this has gone on. They send things that are sacred or special to them. Anyone can send me something that they want to include in the clay. It's not a matter of amount of material, but of vibration. So, I don't care about quantity and I have maintained an unbroken lineage of clay since I first began.
(RR) A pinch from each batch goes into the next?
(DW) Well, I normally have a half gallon or so left over before I make new slip, so I mix that into the new slip. Some of the old slip went into the newly formulated slip I am using now. There are some really profound materials which I have received to put into the clay. Some of the most recent things include some verbhuti, which was directly manifested from Satya Sai Baba's hand to one of his followers. His followers all over the world put his picture in a silver tray and this perfumed ash, called verbhuti, would form in this tray even though he was in India and the picture was in Santa Cruz. So, most of the verbhuti has come directly from the ether, and some of it was manifested directly from his fingers. I put it in the clay. At the United Nations there was a ceremony held, where all the heads of all religions blessed a tree. After they all blessed it, this Tibetan Buddhist monk took a pinch of earth from the base of the tree and sent it to me. I have received a vial of water from Lourdes, France and that was included. Water from every sacred well in Peru is in here. And, many things that I don't even know what they are. Some one sends it and I put it in. Once when the vessels were taken out at a very special occasion, one of the hosts said, "These have not been nourished for hundreds of years." Then she took some sacred white ground corn and she threw it over the vessels, and I could see the spiritual flash hit them; the vessels received the energy from the sacred corn. I can't describe it, but if you were there you would have experienced it. When I left she gave me some of the sacred ground white corn. I asked her what would be appropriate for me to store it in and she looked at me and yelled: IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU KEEP IT IN! IT MATTERS HOW YOU USE IT! (Laughter all around) So, some of the materials are thrown over the clay with the intent to include the energy, especially if it is organic like the corn, because when the clay is fired organic materials are turned to gas and can crack the vessels. If the substance isn't going to damage the clay I'll include it. By the way, every set of vessels is nourished with the corn after they are fired.
(RR) Do you have anything you would like to share as far as a hope or dream for the future of these vessels and how they may be used?
(DW) When I first started making the vessels, I would put a sign in a book store saying, "Experience Peruvian Whistling Vessels...sounds which induces an altered state of consciousness from ancient Peruvian cultures." And, I would get people showing up who were interested in Peruvian music and culture. And I would get hippies wanting to get stoned. I would get musical people interested in world music. So, there would be this diverse blend of people and they couldn't really communicate without playing the "Hierarchy Of Self Importance Game." So, we would have the session, and when it ended everyone would be an individual equal to everyone else. They were now speaking from the heart, there was no longer any persona or shielding in place. No one was concerned about who was more important or smart or experienced or beautiful or how they were impressing the other people. They were all just happy kindred spirits, speaking softly, considerate and respectful of what anyone else might say or share, laughing easily at the slightest humor. That effect is one of the most beautiful things that occurs. I can observe this effect diminishing shortly after the session ends. I'm sure that a memory of it survives, but that state of awakeness and expansion fades. If I had to express a hope for the future of the vessels now, I think it would be that the new vessels will produce a more powerful and enduring awakening. That alone would be a profound blessing on our evolutionary process as a species. As it stands now, I think that everyone has the chance to have a true personal spiritual experience without having to have any preconceived ideas or philosophical or religious permissions or meanings, you know? It is just such a pure experience.
More information on Don Wright's work and the Peruvian Whistling Vessels can be found in the Products section of DEI's New Age Web Works at: http://www.newageinfo.com/ Don is interested in speaking with anyone interested in this subject and his address and phone number are listed on his web page. Don can be reached by E-mail HERE . Daniel Statnekov's book is: Animated Earth by Daniel K. Statnekov, 1987, North Atlantic Books, 2320 Blake Street, Berkeley, California, ISBN 1-55643-001-9 (cloth) and 1-55643-000-0 (paperback).
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