I wanted to take this time to blog a bit about plants, healing energies, music–yes–music. I use music a lot in my gardening and spiritual work. I play a number of flutes, including the panflute, wooden bamboo flutes, and various ocarinas, although the panflute is my favorite.
Research on Music and Plant Growth
Researchers from across the globe have demonstrated that certain kinds of music are beneficial to plant growth — jazz and classical–to name a few. These researchers report increases in plant yeild, better resistances to disease or pests, and faster growth overall (Milstein; Belton; Smith; Singh; Retallack). Not all music is beneficial to plants, however–Dorothy Retallack found that rock music (as opposed to classical) was detrimental to her plant’s health. But when she played indian classical and western classical music, the plants actually leaned inward towards the sound! Some researchers believe its the sonic waves that the plants are sensing–but whatever it is, many forms of music are wonderful for your plants.
Music and Seedlings
I’m starting my seedlings this week and I make it a point every day to play my panflute for them, even if its only for a few minutes. I use my flutes often in my spiritual healing work, so I find them to be excellent tools for spiritual gardening. As music is a bardic art, it reaches into the depths of our beings when we hear it. Perhaps this same–or a similar effect–is happening with those seedlings!
Seedling-Garden Growth Songs
When I’m playing for plants (indoor, outdoor garden, or wild), I often do improv. I focus on my connection with the plants and playing the tunes that they give me and/or want to hear. I have discovered many new tunes that way, and a whole series of “growing” songs that I will try to share here someday.
Music and Healing the Land
More generally, I use music as a primary form of land healing work. What I have found is that people look strangely at the druid calling peace in the quarters or waffling around with some incense (especially when I feel lead to do healing in a populated place, as I often am). But nobody really thinks twice about someone walking along, playing a flute song. So because of that, I have built music into my energy and spiritual work–and it has worked wonderfully. You can still call the quarters, or send energy outward, but doing it in song instead of through words is a wonderful change. While the practice of energy work through song has taken practice, it has been rewarding.
Different kinds of healing requires different kinds of flutes, I have found. That’s part of why I have a number of flutes. My panflutes, with their large scales, are excellent at recreating songs that I have written for specific purposes. Old celtic songs, new celtic songs, etc. But playing a specific song may require more mental energy than I have to give if my mind is focused on the healing at hand. This is where the small bamboo improv flutes come in–I never have to think about it when I play them because everything I play (on a pentatonic or modified pentatonic scale) sounds wonderful. This is especially useful for intensive energy work or during rituals.
Most flutes, especially wooden ones, are very reasonably priced for musical instruments. You don’t need to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars to have a nice instrument that you wan use to work with plants.
If you want to do improv but are a little unsure of where to start, I would suggest purchasing one of Erik the Flutemaker’s improv flutes. They are very reasonably priced and I’ve been very happy with my flutes from him. I have a Vivaldi Minor and a Jiahu Crane Flute–both of which I love! (As an aside, I find Erik’s flutes very “fiery” because he uses a hot iron to burn the finger holes in, leaving behind this wonderful campfire smell which you get every time you play…)
If you are interested in panflutes, I purchased both of mine from Brad White’s Panflute Shop. I have his Grand Tenor panflute (three full octaves) and a set of pocket pipes (1.5 octaves). I love them both very much and the pocket pipes go with me just about everywhere! The Grand Tenor panpipe is the most expensive flute I own, however, it is also by far the most versitile, allowing me to play anything that regular/orchestral flute can play.
I recently purchased two ocarinas from STL Ocarina. I still can’t play them very well. The smaller ocarnia fits perfectly in my crane bag and can go everywhere with me (in ways none of my other flutes can). I also purchased a larger 12 hole ocarina that will take some time and dedication to learn.