Thursday, March 28, 2013

Almost Daily One-up, 03/28/13

What? An opportunity to express yourself in a dazzling, creative way? Don’t you miss it!

Casting notes. The keycenter of D ascending indicates the Sacral Chakra, home to creativity. The scalepoint of te descending indicates a moment of opportunity. The Soloist of Strings indicates feelings at the fore and a time to shine.

Musical notes. In the context of an ascending D major scale, a solo violin crescendos in on a C natural, speaking of key changes to come.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On the Eve of Equality

Easter Moon over West Hollywood

Tonight: the waxing Full Moon of true Easter, Oestre, and the eve of the Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality. And in the heavens, Sun, Moon, Mars and Venus convene and confront Pluto, god of the underworld, presider of the mysteries of death and rebirth. Easter, Passover, resurrection, freedom from bondage... The daughter of Mars and Venus is Harmonia, goddess of marital harmony. Now is her time to shine in the full egg of the moon.

My love and I met 7 moons ago on the blue moon of August. The law would have us apart, thanks to DOMA. Tonight, in the spirit of Harmonia, we cast the Muzoracle – not just for us, but for all of us. What lies in store? How shall we proceed?

The keycenter is E descending: Solar Plexus Chakra, power coming down. The casting: just one position. The scalepoint – the double scalepoint, rolled twice in a row – is la, indicating governance, a point in process where the rules are set. And underneath, the Improvisation Card crossed by an Accompanist of Voices. Coming up from below, from the point of Acceptance, two Tarot: the Queen of Swords crossed by the Page of Swords.

In both the Improvisation Card and the Page of Swords we find the court in new territory. Successful improvisation is dependent on good listening in real time: this is how they must navigate the rough seas we see on the Page card. Like the Page, they are newbies here, slashing their way through with vigor. In the Queen we find them behaving, however, with little feeling. It’s all intellect, all cold judgment within the framework of law – which is as it should be, just don’t expect much response to impassioned pleas, no matter how morally sound. On the bright side, the sky above the Queen is crystal clear, and a bird soars free overhead.

The card that carries the most weight in the casting, though, is the Accompanist of Voices. It represents service in the realm of Spirit, a genuine dedication to the greater good. And the greater good, of course, is love. That the court will embody that role, that they will let Spirit govern them, is our greatest hope.

The scalepoint of governance also advises us on how we might govern ourselves. We, too, must improvise, must respond appropriately as the seas shift. And through it all we must embody the Accompanist of Voices. Morally, in terms of true justice, we have the upper hand, and must take the high road. Negativity abounds, in the press, in churches, in tea party prattle; but we are on the side of love, and the world knows it. There is tremendous power in that. We need to show, to keep showing, the world our love – it is irresistible.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Almost Daily One-up, 03/24/13

A radical transformation in physical circumstances – health, wealth, home – is available, or perhaps even underway. And there is an opportunity to participate, to direct: to do so you must find and bring your self-confidence, your sense of self-worth, to creating what you want. The work at hand is two-fold: first, what is self-confidence? There is a relaxed, honest sense of worth, an easy knowing of what you’re capable of, and an open, relaxed, affirmative attitude; and there is tense, anxious bluster and the desperate gung-ho. Do your best to opt for the former. Secondly, crucially, what do you really want? Be simple, be calm, be clear and concise.

Casting notes. A tritone over se is a powerful thing: it leads upward to do, to the keycenter, and falls downward from the keycenter back to se, which leads back up to do again… a kind of feedback loop is created, a sort of resonant build-up that gives the transformative tritone some real juice. The transformation at hand – symbolized by the Tritone of Percussion – is a physical one. The keycenter is Eb descending, indicating energy moving from the Solar Plexus Chakra, from the seat of personal power, downward into the Sacral Chakra, which is all about creativity and generation.

Musical notes. Yeah, you’re in Eb major, but that Eb/A timpani roll on crescendo is taking you to Bb or E for sure.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Almost Daily One-up, 03/22/13

Here’s a leap of courage for you – forgive someone or something you’ve never considered forgiving. And let them know.

Casting notes. The keycenter of G# ascending indicates energy moving upward from the Throat to Heart chakras: being understood. The scalepoint of la indicates a time of acceptance or forgiveness. The Octave of Brass indicates strength in the realm of movement: bold moves.

Musical notes. In the context of an ascending G# major scale, an F in octaves sounds in brass, strong and sweet. Not too shrill, though – I’m hearing trombones.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Almost Daily One-up, Vernal Equinox 2013

There is great inspiration to be found in listening to others. We can only truly listen, however, to the degree that we are truly relaxed: each of our subtle tensions marks a place that cannot absorb, cannot be impressed. Take a moment for yourself: quiet the breathing, then follow its natural rhythm; when thoughts arise, gently return the attention to the breath; then quietly sense the body one part at a time – face, neck, limbs, and so on – and as you find tensions, simply release them. The quieter we are, the more we hear.

Casting notes. The keycenter of C# ascending indicates energy moving from the Root to the Sacral Chakra: groundedness/survival/fight or flight evolving upward into creative response. The scalepoint of ra descending coupled with the Listening card indicates deep listening as a source of vitality.

Musical notes. In the context of an ascending C# major scale, a D sounds: a dissonance that wants to fall downward a half-step and back in tune.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Almost Daily One-up, 03/19/13

Remember the big picture, and encourage others to do the same: it will get you through the small stuff. 

Casting notes. The transformation that is taking place in a larger sense, the sheer friction of it, is generating a lot of raw energy – energy you can use. The keycenter of F# ascending indicates energy moving upward from the Heart to the Throat Chakra, and the need for sincerity; the scalepoint of ra indicates the appearance of a power source; and the Tritone of Voices indicates a deep-level or large-scale transformation underway.

Musical notes. In the context of an ascending F# scale, a C with an F# below it is sung. Essentially, a feedback loop is created: the scalepoint is a tritone above the keycenter; the harmony sounding downward from the scalepoint is the same tritone, leading back to the keycenter, which rises again to the scalepoint and so on. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chakras and the Muzoracle

One strata of metaphor that can be accessed in Muzoracle castings that I haven’t yet explored publicly is that of keycenters and their relationship to chakras. (Chakras are energy centers that correspond to points in the body – an excellent introduction to chakras can be found on Wikipedia if you’re unfamiliar with them.)

There are several practices that link the seven pitches of a C major scale to the seven major chakras. I was intrigued by this when initially developing the Muzoracle: being gives rise to process as harmonics give rise to major scales, and a link between body, energy, and scale seemed rife with possibilities. But I was bothered by the seeming arbitrariness of using the C scale: why C? How do I know what key someone’s body, or the world at large, is in? Maybe it’s in F, or Db, or at multiples of 127 Hz; maybe it changes day by day, or moment to moment.

My curiosity around this subject led to a bunch of research and experimentation. Over time I’ve developed a system of chakra-based metaphors that’s really juicy – I use it all the time. And it’s high time I articulate and share it – so, here goes.

The Question at Hand. First, what key is the world in, or are we in, or is a specific situation in? Does it matter? Must we associate the do of what’s at hand with a particular pitch? And if yes, gee we’d like to, why not just use C? We are, after all, dealing with myth and metaphor here: if the world is telling the story that C is do, that’s a lot of juice. But is it enough?

Well, it’s a lot. But when it comes to metaphor, I want more: more cross-references, more synchronicity = more power, more juice. In my research I found two areas worth mining: Schumann Resonances and pitch resonance within the body. Each has led to some interesting ideas and practices: the former to approximating a world do, the latter to finding a connection between a Muzoracle casting and a querent’s body.

Schumann Resonances. Schumann Resonances were first documented by Nikola Tesla in 1899. A German physicist named Winfried Schumann studied them extensively and began trying to measure them in the 1950s, and got his name attached to them (although accurate measurements weren’t possible until the 60s –  and Tesla’s numbers were right from the start.) Anyway, following is a brief introduction.

The sun’s radiation ionizes part of the earth’s atmosphere, forming a conductive plasma layer, the ionosphere. The ionosphere is positively charged relative to the earth’s surface, which is negatively charged. Between them is a cavity of nonconductive air continuously abuzz with ultra-low and extremely low frequency waves, waves excited into being by the 2000 or so lightening storms occurring planet-wide at any given moment.

Acoustically speaking, life on Earth arises and exists within a room, a room whose boundaries are Earth’s surface and the ionosphere; and that room has measurable resonant frequencies like any other room. Due to lightening strikes, that room is always singing, like a wine glass forever flicked by the finger of fate. To say those frequencies have an influence is an understatement: all of life on Earth, all of nature – including us and our thoughts and feelings – arises from within them.

The fundamental frequency of Schumann Resonances – do of the scale – averages at 7.83 HZ, far below the range of our hearing. But if, by doubling, we jack it up a few octaves so we can hear it, we find… a C! Actually, a very flat C, closer to a B, but a C nonetheless.

Chakras in castings. Satisfied with the C/Root Chakra connection, I began incorporating it into castings. I associate the keycenter of a casting – as determined by the roll of the Musician’s Die – with it’s corresponding chakra; I consider the overall casting as taking place primarily within or chiefly in reference to that chakra. Castings in the key of C relate primarily to Root Chakra issues, in D to Sacral Chakra issues, E to the Solar Plexus Chakra issues, and so on. I call this correspondence of chakras and keycenters the “C/Root Chakra Standard” (illustrated below.)

Chromatic keycenters – the “black keys” that fall between the notes of the C major scale and their associated chakras – refer to energy moving up or down from one chakra to another. Whether that energy is moving up or down is determined by the direction of the casting, by which way the Musician’s Die is pointing when it lands. If an F#/Gb is rolled pointing upward, for example, the casting is in F# ascending, moving upward from the Heart to the the Throat Chakra. If the same note lands pointing downward, the casting is in Gb descending, moving downward from the Heart to the Solar Plexus Chakra.

As far as the diatonic notes of the C/Root Chakra standard are concerned – C, D, E, F, G, A, B – whether or not they land in ascending or descending position is irrelevant to which chakra they relate to. Exceptions to this are E and F: if you look at the C major scale on the piano, you will see that there is no black key between those notes. The upshot is this: when E is descending, it simply references the Solar Plexus Chakra; when it's ascending, it references energy rising from the Solar Plexus to the Heart. When F is descending, it simply references the Heart Chakra; when it is descending, it references energy moving downward from the Heart to the Solar Plexus. These two diatonic moving points – E ascending and F descending – are particularly significant: they represent a shift between the self concerns of the lower three notes and the concern for others found in the top four notes.

The incorporation of imagery associated with the seven major chakras adds a rich and very personal layer of metaphor to castings. The chromatic notes – the black keys on the piano, since we’re in the key of C – look specifically at energy moving from one chakra to another, which, as far as I know, is unique to this system.

Click for larger image

What key be me? Mythopoetically speaking, the fact of Schumann Resonances add considerable weight to the notion of C as world do; and the do of the world is the do in all of us, of course – it’s not like we exist outside of the world. But harmonics are sounds within sounds, and every harmonic is a do in itself: we exist in relation to the world as well as being part of it.

I have developed a simple method for discovering a do within the body – I call it keycentering. First, I have the querent sing a nice, big, relaxed, open “ah.” (People who have had vocal training probably already know how to do this; the untrained might need a little help with learning how to relax the throat and jaw and support a note from the diaphragm.) Then I have them glide in pitch slowly and repeatedly from the bottom of their range to their top, while placing their fingertips (and/or mine, if they’re comfortable with that) on their breastbone. It is very easy to find the frequency that resonates there - it’s extra buzzy on the fingertips. I have them hold that note, and then, using a electronic tuner (or a piano) I see just what that frequency is. Interestingly, this frequency varies not only from person to person, but at different times for the same person.

The breastbone is smack in the middle of the 4th chakra, the heart chakra: fa. From there I calculate downward to do. If the breastbone resonates at G, for example, the do of the querent’s body, their momentary keycenter, is D: G is fa in the key of D. 

In truth, I don’t always pursue keycentering. It relates the querent’s momentary state of being physically to the casting: sometimes that’s useful, sometimes it’s unnecessary. Sometimes I “keycenter” before a casting, and use the querent’s do instead of C to determine the Root Chakra pitch. Other times I’ll keycenter a querent after a casting – relating their personal keycenter to that of the casting can sometimes trigger helpful insights. All in all I find the C/Root Chakra Standard to be the most useful, however, and even if I don’t use it exclusively I always consider it.

Using the keycentering technique is a lot easier if the reader is fluent in all 12 keys, musically speaking. For those with limited musical backgrounds I’ve included the chart below to help you find your way. Cheers!

Click for larger image

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Almost Daily One-up, 03/10/13

An unexpected and apparently random turn of events provides an opportunity to speak and be understood. Now’s your chance – speak up and be heard.

Casting Notes. The keycenter of G# Ascending indicates energy moving upward from the Throat to Third Eye Chakra, from communication into insight. The scalepoint of te descending indicates a moment of opportunity. The a capriccio card indicates unpredictability.

Musical Notes. In the context of a G# ascending major scale, an F# sounds, unexpectedly and apparently without reason. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Almost Daily One-up, 03/04/13

Something extraordinary is happening today: people are actually listening to you. So: skip the lip flapping, the caffeinated rambling, the whining, the nervous chatter. Ground. Breathe. Be a good listener yourself, and give your audience – as in audient – something worth hearing.

Casting notes. The keycenter of C Ascending references the root chakra and the need for grounding, for an in-the-body, relaxed stability. The scalepoint of se descending indicates a point of inception, of things beginning or already begun. The Listening card refers to active listening, to a real giving of attention.

Musical notes. In the context of an ascending C major scale, an F# appears – and everyone stops to listen.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Loving the Machine: More Riffing on "Re"

The scalepoint of re or le ascending – mechanicality – can be baffling at times, especially when the card or cards above it indicate something beneficial. “Mechanicality” refers to being on auto-pilot, to acting unconsciously, to being at the mercy of unconscious mechanisms within or around us: isn’t that inherently unfavorable? In the upward trajectory that begins with intent, isn’t mechanicality, our waking sleep, the foil? The degree to which we are self-aware correlates directly to our ability to realize intent: how can auto-pilot be good?

Unconscious mechanisms start out as conscious, or semi-conscious, responses. A child who is berated for asserting themselves, as a simplistic example, may grow into an adult who is either timid or overly assertive; and they probably won’t know it and if they do they won’t know why; and this behavior may consistently undermine their efforts. Their initial response was not a bad thing – it was a survival tactic that became a belief that became a behavior. Along the way, dozens of experiences and observations are used to bolster that belief, and new beliefs and behaviors are unconsciously adopted based on the first... what we end up with, of course, is an adult who believes and behaves in ways they consider their own, but are not. In an ascending scale, in an intentional process, this is what re is: we jump out of the gate all gung-ho with our intention at do, and the first thing we run into is what we’ve unknowingly become. 

Now we can really get lost here – we can simply ignore re and power through with our intention – and watch it not materialize. Re often shows up as a getting-stuck point, a place where we keep trying and it keeps not working. But we have an opportunity at re, an opportunity to see: acknowledging this glimpse afforded us, we can undertake the next scalepoint, mi, the point of conscious effort, with something new in our pocket. By that time, of course, the glowing intention we set at do has taken on a new flavor; that’s what  fa, so, la, and ti are about, the depth and breadth of our intent that we couldn’t yet see at do

But back to our initial question: what happens when there’s beneficial cards over re? Well, not all unconscious mechanisms are bad – sometimes survival tactics actually help us survive. Say our child, for example, puts their hand on a hot stove – forming an unconscious response around that experience is probably a good thing. Spending one’s whole life unconsciously avoiding bare-handed encounters with the blistering hot? Nothing wrong with that – sometimes our beliefs serve us well. They still need to be seen, of course – that’s why they’re hanging out at re. But sometimes the view is nice. Recently, a Unison of Brass showed up in a casting over re: an unconscious tendency toward collaboration, toward working well with others. It’s good to see that – maybe sometimes you need to work alone. But it’s a wonderful thing to have.

We – or I, anyway – tend to be pretty unforgiving when it comes to unconscious behaviors. “Wake up, fool!” It’s important to note that this harshness is itself an unconscious behavior, a judgment. We need to be nice to the machine – we are here, after all. That which is unconscious is as sacred as the rest. Aho.