Episode 18: Music Of The Plants – Part 2
In the first part of Music of the plants, my guest Gary Cook answered a question a member of my Walking the Shadowlands FB group had for him about the Patupaiarehe, (the New Zealand fairy folk), from his previous appearance on the podcast. Then he took us on a gentle stroll, talking about the wonderful world of the plants, and trees around us. He talked about ‘Tree Blindness’, what that is, and how the term came about. The New York times also published a great article on “Tree Blindness” that I have linked to on the podcast website – www.walkingtheshadowlands.com He talked about tree energies and how they worked together, to both support each other, and humanity as a whole. We also had snippets of beautiful, and sort of haunting music a tangelo tree, and a pounamu or New Zealand greenstone, created. Yes, you heard that correctly. That they created
Gary has a special instrument which he uses to capture the music of these trees, plants, and the pounamu. In this episode we will go into more detail about what the music of the plants is, how it is collected, and created, and how this actually all began. Are you ready? Lets continue our walk in this part of the Shadowlands….
To begin with, for those of you who are joining this episode not having listened to the previous one, or having heard of Gary Cook, let me give you a brief background on my delightful guest. Gary is regarded by some as a bit of a controversial figure, not least because of his views on how NZ was settled prior to the arrival of the Maori in their great waka or canoes. An internationally known author, speaker, and documentary maker, Gary Cook is a leading writer on the special nature of the mystic realms that are to be found in New Zealand. He has has devoted many years of searching and writing of the wonders to be found within the islands of New Zealand and the South Pacific.
For many years Gary Cook was a regular contributor to a now defunct NZ magazine called Rainbow News, which was a spiritual, sort of new age type magazine.
Gary is a very, deeply spiritual man – both in touch with himself and with all aspects of nature around us, and it is on the subject of nature that this show will continue to delve into today….
His extensive journeys and experiences allow him to share much of the deeper nature of the forests, the waters and the mountains that allows us all to connect with the natural order in a deeper and more meaningful way.
He is the author of three books in the Secret Land series, and others…. Gary is a regular contributor to Australian and New Zealand magazines offering readers unique glimpses of the sacred landscape of Aotearoa, or New Zealand. He is a regularly requested speaker at conferences both here in New Zealand and overseas. He has also created a number of documentaries and dvd recording the songs of trees, plants, and pounamu, or greenstone, and it is these latter that we will be touching on today. His website is called “The Secret Land – Sacred Sites and Ancient Mysteries“, and can be found at www.secretland.co.nz.
That beautifully, haunting piece of music, is actually a recording that Gary made, and uploaded to his FaceBook page on the fourth of August. It is the song of a Pounamu stone. Created using an electronic device called the “Midi Sprout“. But it….The music that is created is entirely created by the pounamu itself. Pounamu, as it is known, is a New Zealand greenstone, and it’s considered a taonga, or a treasure by the Maori. Found only in the Southwest, of the South Island of New Zealand, and it’s known as the peace stone.
Pounamu has a calming effect on people, and for many of you, who listened to that piece, you will actually be able to feel the peace energies, that resonate from the stone – from the pounamu.
I actually, really love the haunting…. The haunting melodies that this stone creates! It resonates deeply within myself, and I know it will affect different people differently. But, I absolutely love it! The pounamu as a stone, is said to have a calming effect on people, and it has a great spiritual significance to the New Zealand Maori people. So without further ado, lets continue our conversation with Gary Cook.
Gary: It’s interesting. You can talk to trees, and I know a lot of people who go into forest areas, and things like this, and they have a favourite tree. Or, in a park – they have a favourite tree they like to talk to, and the…. So, even everyday life, and the rules and regulations intrude when you live in a remote, rural area.
No matter how remote we might be. There’s a term, as I said before, which has been coined by scientists. And, it’s called plant neuro-biology, and this just shows how trees are like humans! Which is interesting. And, some ecologists say that trees talk to each other, in a language we can learn. Science has discovered that trees have a heartbeat! Some scientists have come up with the most incredible thing – that plants can even see! And, they can make out human forms, and make out colours! So that’s incredible! So the heart beat. So we’ve got – you know, plant intelligence to think about now. Which is…. Which is fascinating!
This opens up all sorts of possibilities for thinking people like, the people that are with you, and following your posts, and yourself. The fact that – you know, we are thinking people, and that we can actually go through this…. All the things I am talking about, all the information I am sharing, is freely accessible by Googling it up! Also, there’s so many excellent short films have been put up by various scientists, on to YouTube. So, there’s a lot of things available there. Right! So, we’ve got the wisdom of the trees, and they ways of nature. And, plants talk to each other. This is fact! Plants, and trees talk to each other. Now, if I’d ever thought about this before, Marianne, I would have thought that walking in the forest, that the trees, branches, and the canopy would touch. And, also I thought that the – I’d say, the roots of the trees must have touched each other. And, perhaps that’s how they communicated, if I thought of tree communication.
But! No, no, no…. There’s another way that trees communicate. Which is so exciting to discover! And it is so amazing. They’re calling it the ‘Wood-Wide-Web’. The wood-wide-web, www, how trees keep in touch with each other! Because, if we had a nice powerful magnifying glass and went down to the garden, where plants are growing, or into the forest put the spade down, and just cut a little cutting. And, looked closely. You’d see, little, little, fine, white filaments. Finer than the hair on your head. Which is the umm – fungus. Which grows under the ground, the mycelia.
Now, this mycelium has a symbiotic relationship with trees. So, the fungus needs to be fed, and it feeds on the plant sugars. Now the plant sugars – of course, as we may or may not know, is when the plants go through photosynthesis. And, they bring in the carbons. They’re converting the carbons, into a plant sugar, which is plant food. The by-product of what they’re doing is oxygen, which they expel. But the plant sugars they eat. This is miraculous, when you think about it! It’s amazing!
Now, the fungus also feeds on the plant sugar. Which, of course, the plant allows. Because, the symbiotic relationship is this deep. That the mycelium can then advise the plant where there is a little more moisture at a distance – where the plant can actually put it’s roots towards, and reach more moisture. There are minerals at a certain area, locked up in clay or soil, which the mycelium knows the plant requires. And, it will direct the plant where to go to get the extra nutrition. So they’ve got water, and your moisture, and you’ve got, um mineral nutrition! But they mycelium also hooks the plants together. It allows them to connect with each other. And, in a mixed forest area, like I have here at home. Where I have what I call my recording studio, which is a nice glade, down by the river. Down there, it’s all native trees. And, I’ve got a number – a great number of native trees growing there. And, they grow in a community. They co-operate with each other. They exist alongside each other. And, they live in harmony with each other.
There may be some which are a little more aggressive with they way the grow, and they’ll go – sort of shoot up! And, try and get all the best sunlight. And, so the best nourishment. But, overall…. And, in the New Zealand native forest, when we look at Kauri, and Rimu, and Totara… You know, and all these trees that we know – and Karakaha…. The um Karekaha, is the one tree in the forest in New Zealand. And, it’s right throughout the New Zealand forest – called the [inaudible] pine or the Karekaha. This particular tree acts as the coordinator in the forest.
It coordinates amongst other trees. So, it allows trees to actually exist alongside each other, and get on with each other. Humans have a lot to learn from mixed forests, because, now days, the thing which seems to rear its ugly head around the world – is, how do we live with so many people from other races who are living along side us. How do we do this? How do we co-habit? Well, we can certainly learn from nature. We can certainly learn from the natural forest. How they co-habit, how they get on. And, this is also the thing that Shaman’s have know for years, and years. And, they know what goes on in the forest. They know the fact that there’s cooperation, and they know the fact that um, plants and trees communicate with each other. So that’s interesting. So there we have the wood-wide-web, which connects the trees! Now, this wood-wide-web – when I look at our forest out here, just goes right through the whole forest.
Every single tree is connected to the other. And, often when I walk into a new forest, on a bit of a ramble somewhere, when we’re driving around, or on a holiday…. I always stop at the entrance to a new area, and I talk to a tree which I select – you know, just look at it, and say well that’s a nice tree…. That might listen to me. I introduce myself to the tree, and explain why I have come. And, who I am, and what my purpose is, and why I’ve come.
And, then I just give the tree a little time to digest this, because when we talk to trees, or ask them questions, we can never expect a very quick answer. ‘Cause, trees slowly answer. If we can remember the Ent trees in the “Lord of the Rings”? How they had decisions to make, and it took them forever to make the decision, of what they were going to do. So, likewise the trees in the forest take their time. And, so often, Marianne, an answer will come. An acknowledgement will come in some form or another, and you’ll know that.
So, when I’ve spoken to a tree at the beginning of the forest, going into this area – I know that as I walk through the forest, past other trees, and other species, they already know me. And, this has gone through the mycelium, through the fungus, through the wood-wide-web. Which is wonderful, and I feel that I’ve been welcomed. It’s a bit like going onto a marae. In the Maori terms, ok? You are welcomed onto the marae, and you are made welcome. You are made to feel at home. But, you never walk onto a marae, without being invited, and you stand at the gate and you wait until the powhiri is done – if that’s what is happening. And, you’re invited onto their land. And so, it’s much the same in the forest. You just wait, and you pause, and you make yourself known, and you know when it’s time to walk in the forest. So, I find that quite, something to do. And, I think this happens in any forest, anywhere in the world. I know a lot of your listeners, and followers live in other parts of the world. Interesting too – I’d like to insert something here…. I mean, this is bit of a ramble, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the time.
It’s ok Gary there’s no time limit…
Once you get me going on plants, I could go on forever. Right, talking about…. I mean, it’s a forgotten science, about shamanic plant whispering, and that’s goes to them as talking to plants. And talking to plants – houseplants inside, vegetable plants in the garden…. Whenever I go into a garden to take plants for the table, I always thank them and I try to balance out what I am doing. Because, I’m picking a plant, and if I’m taking it out by its roots – that’s the end of that life cycle, of that particular plant. So, I’m well aware of that! Also, there’s a lot of things…. Let’s get back to walking in the forest, and immersing ourselves in nature, and you said, how you know you can imbibe on…. I know a lot of people that listen to your chats, and your postings, will understand this – and, there is a term which came out of Japan many, many, many years ago. And, it’s called ‘Forest Bathing’.
And, its something now which people have set up in North America, and parts of Europe. They talk about it and they train people in forest bathing. Forest bathing, quite literally means just a walk in the forest, and be with the forest, and merge with the forest, and imbibe what the forest has to offer. Because, as we were saying earlier on, walking amongst Pine trees, you’re aware of, of the smells coming through the air. Of, of the…. Of the smells coming through the air. You’re taking in through your nose, and breathing into your body, through the air. And, you’re breathing things, which are going to spark things within your brain. Which will help you to relax. So, it’s so relaxing, and so therapeutic to walk in forests.
So, it’s probably about thirty or forty years ago that the government of the day, in Japan made a decree – that everybody had to do forest bathing (which is the literal translation of their Japanese term), as often as they could. For their well being. So, now this has been picked up all ‘round the world! So, there’s now such a thing as forest therapy. Doctor’s in parts of the world are now saying to their patients, for goodness sake! I’m not going to put you on antidepressants, just go and walk in the park! So, there’s so much to be had by being in nature, in this sense. Which is just wonderful.
So, immersion in nature makes us feel better. Makes us able to cope better. And ah, also another thing about antidepressants. Science is now contesting – and, they say that gardeners, people who are out in the garden often…. Their hands soiled by working in this soil in the garden. They have no need for antidepressants, ‘cause, there are small microbes in the soil, which they assimilate through their hands…. They’re taken in through the pores in the skin. And, these have a soporific, and a leveling, and a balancing effect. And, so gardeners should never have any need for antidepressants! When they can just get these natural microbes out of the soil. Isn’t that intriguing?
Now, trees talk to each other, as I said before, and recognize – they recognize their offspring. There was testing done, from the university – ah, of Victoria, in Vancouver, in Canada. A lady scientist there, for many, many years, has been studying a community of trees, and how they react with each other. And, they look at the Douglas Fir, and of course the – oh gosh, the other tree just eludes me at the moment. What is it? It’s a anyhow, let’s just have a quick look at this [looking at his notes] Yeah, Douglas Fir tree, and this one we don’t have. Now, they have areas, in the Douglas Fir forest there, where they study groups of trees. They monitor them continuously. Measuring them, and doing all sorts of things. Taking leaf samples, measuring what they’re feeding on, and how they’re getting along.
And, in their control areas in the forest, they have massive, mature, mother trees. Which have dropped their seeds. And, there are little seedlings growing. So, they monitor the seedlings. And, sometimes where they’re there in the forest at a particular time, they might notice, that some seedlings are not doing too well. Others are flourishing. And, some are not doing too well at all. So, they’ll note that in their reports, observations. And, when they go back again. In a month, or six weeks time, go back into the forest area.
Taking note of what’s gone on, measuring the rainfall in the area, and keeping an eye on sunshine hours. Really monitoring things, very, very closely. And sometimes they find, that the little seedlings that were suffering, and stunted has suddenly reinvigorated. And, got a new lease of life. And, are standing tall, and straight, and a lot more green on it’s leaf tips, rather than going slightly yellow. And, they said, well how’s this possible? We don’t feed the trees. The trees are all created equal, and some seedlings – most seedlings flourish, and some don’t! What goes on? Is it possible then, that the mother tree may have an influence on the seedlings?
So, they started to do some tests. And, how they did this – in this particular case. They surrounded the Mother tree in a cocoon of plastic. All around the trunk, and sealed it off. And, then they did the same to a couple of seedlings which weren’t doing too well at all. And, they thought well…. And, they did it also to some healthy seedlings. And, they had a number of seedlings wrapped in a cocoon of plastic. To keep out any other outside influence. Then, they put in a gaseous substance, injected through the membrane of the plastic, so it was engulfed in this gas – this gaseous substance. Which was then taken through the bark, and through the roots. And, it was a – it had radioactive tracers in it….
Much the same as they do this with humans. They’re tracing things inside with barium meal and, what have you. And so, they left this, and they came back – whenever, later. To check things out. They looked at the seedlings they had enclosed and wrapped in plastic. They were all doing very well. One or two seedlings that were not doing too well, were a lot healthier! So, then they got out their Geiger counter. Their equivalent of a Geiger counter. And, went from the Mother tree, walking across the forest floor to the trees little seedlings. Which were now thriving, and had not been. And, right across, they traced the radioactive feed right through the mycelium – right up into the trunk and the leaves of the little tree. And, this then proved to them, that the Mother trees, will look after their offspring, and nurture them…. And, isn’t that amazing!?!
Wow that’s really awesome! That is really awesome!
That is…. That is just incredible! Here we have just one – particular thing here where um…. So, this is a big thing I’m talking about. I…. I could go on for a long, long time – as I said…. Now, I often have groups of people come to visit on our land. And, over the years I’ve become interested…. As you can see and hear. The diva nature of trees, and what scientists are doing…. Oh, incidentally, I might just add something here….
When I said before that scientists are saying that they believe that plants can make out colour, and make out shapes. They were doing research on to how plants take in the sunlight for photosynthesis. They noted that they received the sunlight through the leaves. But, in studying the leaves, they found out that leaves are just a myriad of small lenses. Shaped lenses. Like, a hexagonal shape. Then they studied the branches, and found that the branches, and even the trunks, also had these little lenses on. So, the whole tree could take in sunlight. More so through the leaves, but, the thing which intrigued them, was the fact that the lens of the leaves, of the trees. Is the identical shape of the lens of the human eye.
And so now, they’re researching even further. They’ve published their first paper. That they believe that trees can actually see. And, trees can react to things in their environment. Which is amazing! So, watch this space…. What’s going on there? I mean now, we’ll just have to behave ourselves when we’re walking out in the garden. It’s a…. Don’t do anything that’s going to upset the trees! There was also too, Marianne, discovered that trees, actually go to sleep at night! And, this is something that we wouldn’t be aware of.
I’m aware of it, ‘cause, I was aware of it with pot plants inside, when dark comes. But, I never that trees, and…. So they’d done this with time-lapse photography, and infra-red photography at night in the forests. And, they find, that all the forest trees, and all the trees in your garden the leaves will droop eight to ten centimeters. All the branches will hang down. It’s something that you, and I wouldn’t see. You know what I mean? Unless we went out to measure. And so, they go down. They droop down at night. And, just before sunrise, when the sky is starting to lighten. The branches start to rise up again. And, come up to full extent, ready for the sunlight, and the photosynthesis that they need.
Oh that’s absolutely fascinating.
That is…. That is absolutely fascinating. So you know we cant underestimate what’s going on out there. Also, something else to – I’ll insert in here, which I think some people are going to find intriguing! Some scientists have just published a…. Um, I can’t quote these verbatim, but these papers have been published and are all available if people search through Google. Sometimes, it’s published their first paper on research, into human blood, and human blood cells. They discovered that the human blood cell, and…. Which is a certain shape. And, certain type of construction, has a nucleus of iron. Ok, cause we all know we have iron in our blood. Ok? Then, when they looked at the plant cells – they’re looking at a plant cell. They found that they have an identical shape, in the cell, inside the plant. But, it has a green – oh gosh, what do you call it? My memories going. I’m so excited here! So, the…. Oh! What do we call the green which we get in our food?
Chlorophyll! Of course it is! So, they have a chlorophyll cell. And now, they have taken their testing…. The fact, that if you are a vegetable eater. Eat lots of green-leafed…. Or take spirilina, and things like this. Or, if you’ve got a high intake of chlorophyll based foods into your system – these go into your blood. Circulate along side your other blood cells…. And, they are saying, it is quite possible that humans can actually take – photosynthesis sunlight into their system to give them sustenance. Now, that is a big thing which is way out there!
I have heard of, and read somewhere about a group of people who claim that they eat no physical food, but get their sustenance from the sunlight…. Ah, what are the called? I think they’re called ‘Breatharians‘ – or something like that? I’m not entirely sure.
That is amazing. I mean watch this space! Where is this going to go? Is this going to be proven? And, I find that quite, quite intriguing! But, it just goes to show that then, the mammals, or the human – the human system, which was designed of course to handle plant matter, in a big way. Has probably always had that ability, to actually process sunlight.
Hmm…. Well of course, the body does process sunlight to create vitamin D, which is very important to keep our bodies functioning at optimum levels.
We are warned, not to go out in the sun – we’ll get burned. We cover ourselves with all sorts of creams, which are not very, very good for our system. And, so on we go…. When I bring people here as a group. And, I often have groups come to visit. I talk to them about plants, and things – as I’ve discussed with you. And, I also take them out onto the land here, and I do a little dousing with them. Which is holding a couple of rods, which are wire shapes you hold in your hand. They’re known for dousing for water, and things like this. But, you can douse for energy. And, I think to give people, um, a good example of the energetic beings plants are, I just teach them the basics of dousing…. I have a number of big standing trees, in the lawn area around the house. And, they walk towards the tree, and I tell them what’s going to happen. And, when they get so far out from the tree…. It varies from person to person – some little rods in the hands will jump around, and wriggle around…. And, I say there we are! You’ve just reached the limit of the field around that tree.
So, now you’ve got the tree…. The tree’s not just the beautiful thing you see standing there. I’d already explained to them what goes on beneath the ground, and what goes on with the leaves, and things…. And now your looking at the energy field. Such as all humans have. So do trees! And, I think Marianne, this is also important – as you said before, for when you go into a forest, and how you feel. You’re standing also in the energy field of that tree. And we also know, if we’ve done any referential reading, that standing in the energy field of animals, and other humans can be quite beneficial – or sometimes just a bit…. A bit strange.
But, so then I introduce people to music of the plants. And, I’ll got to a little tree on the edge of the forest – up by the house, where they can sit on the grass. In my particular case, I have one particular tree that I connect to, with a device I’ll explain to you in a moment. And, this was a Kawa Kawa tree. And, we all in New Zealand know the Kawa Kawa. It’s an amazing healing tree. Very, very beneficial to humans. With topical application, also internal application. And, also makes a very nice tea.
Hmm. I personally love a cup of Kawa Kawa tea, generally from leaves I’ve harvested myself. And, in fact early colonizers in New Zealand, used to keep branches of Kawa Kawa leaves by their stove fires, so they could throw a few leaves into a pot of boiling water for a hot drink. To me, it’s much better than the gumboot tea, the regular tea you purchase from the supermarket.
And, I know some boutique brewers a few years ago, were brewing up a beer which is made with Kawa Kawa as well. So there we are, you can have a tipple and increase your well being.
Oh wow! Beer made with kawakawa…. hmm
And, so what I have is a little box, little device which was perfected by a group of technicians living in an extended communal village set up, in Northern Italy, called Darmanhur. Darmanhur, something – which you can Google up. And, these technicians for forty years had been working on a device, in which they can put on – connections on the leaves, or the trunk, or any part of the tree. Pick up, what I term static electricity, which is generated in the tree – take it back through the contacts, into this little computerised box , and convert it through what we call a midi system. Which allows sound – all sorts of sounds to be converted into musical notes. And, converts it into musical notes, and therefore we have a plant creating music
Now, this is a big one…. So, now how this comes about in the plant is, as I was saying earlier on – the plants are going through photosynthesis, and bringing down all the sunlight energy. Through the leaves, down the trunks, in the roots…. And, also they’re bringing water up to feed. And, so there’s a lot going on within the branches, and the leaves, and the trunks. There’s a lot of movement. Trees are pumping. They have a heartbeat. Like they’ve got a heart, and away they go! So this movement creates a little electrical field, or response. And, so what these contacts that I’m putting on the trees do, is pick those up, and convert them into music. So, we now have tools in which we can give trees, and plants, a musical instrument to play. And, this is what it is.
These devices have a number of different settings. You can perhaps choose a type of instrument like a flute, or a guitar, or a piano, or a hand drum, or something like that. And, just get a sound which is…. But, when I send you through some music to share with you, you’ll find that the plant does it’s own thing. But, it’s beautiful. And, the music I will send to you has been put through the midi system, and also a synthesizer on my computer. Now, I’m not a musician. I’m just a plant person. And, so I find when I sit people down to listen to the Kawa Kawa playing out here in the garden, they’re enthralled! It just is amazing!
And, then we often go down into the forest, where I plug into trees in the forest, and also the Ponga, the Silver fern, and things like that. Down in the fairy glade I have some lovely Silver ferns which play like all fairy music. It’s rather wonderful, and this opens up once again, all sorts of possibilities! Some people will say, well you know this is just like the…. It’s very similar to the old biofeedback machines. The research is founded actually on a book which was published in the sixties. Forget the name of that book…. It’ll come to me. Hmm. Do plants have? Or, do plants feel? Or something like that. This lead to an American man in the seventies, who started to experiment. He worked as a scientist for the FBI at this stage, in America. Perfecting lie detection equipment, to make it more ah, sensitive to people’s responses.
And he…. Oh. I know the book was, “The Secret Lives of Plants” And um, he thought – well they did experiments just saying how plants respond to various stimuli. So, he was in his laboratory on this particular weekend, and he thought I’ll experiment with one of my sensitive lie detection machines. Hooked it up to a plant in the office there…. And, as you know, those machines – you might have seen them on television?
There’s a scrolling paper goes through, and there’s lots of little needles, and things, that go up and down, and draw a graph. And, there’s sort of a high line if they’re telling the truth, or not telling the truth. They’re just measuring the response the human body has, so he thought, well this machine should be sensitive enough to record the plants response. So, he sat there, machine ticking over, connected to…. To this plant. Sending the plant, good thoughts. Love, and things like this. Trying to induce a response.
No! Then he started – he thought, ok, I’ll try another stem. I’ll try a bit of anger, and a bit of fear. So he started to really chastise the plant, and talk to it in quite a manner. Still no response. He thought ok…. He said now I remember reading in the book, he said, that their plants responded to strong light, and heat. So he popped over…. Well, he was walking towards another desk in the office, where one of his fellow office workers, or scientists had matches, ’cause, he smoked. He thought, I’m gonna go – I’m going to get a match. This is what he was thinking as he turned around to walk. I’ll go and get a match, and I’ll bring flame close to the leaf of the plant, and see what happens?
The thought was enough! Suddenly the machine came alive, and started to go! All the little needles were going up, and down. And, the response was so dramatic, he thought oh my god! So, this opened up an incredible world for Clay… Cleve Backster, was his name. He’s got a wonderful thing up on Youtube also. And, so here he was. A top scientist, and he set up special laboratories over the years, just to measure plant intelligence, and plant response to stimuli, and things of this nature.
So, there we have the machine which I now use, called Music of the Plants, was perfected, based on the research Cleve Backster had done in America. So, we have good technology…. And, there have been since this machine became public, a number of other scientists, and technicians, and particularly musicians – have been experimenting with building their own devices. Which now they know how the system works…. So, I’ve got, I think four different machines here. By different people. Made by different people. And, they all work along similar concepts, but with slightly different outputs.
But, I can take any one of these machines, hook up to a tree in the forest, and they will make music on them, which is amazing! I’m actually experimenting now with orchestration where I’m trying to get three to four plants performing at the same time. It’s interesting too, ‘cause, the more you work with a singlular – a single plant, with plant music. The more responsive they become. Now, at home here, I have Sybella, our Peace lily. I’ve been working with her for six years. Doing recordings, and she travels with me. Whenever I go out, and give talks around the place…. And, she goes with me as a demonstration plant. Sits with me. Just sings beautifully when I’m talking to people about plants. And, I’m presenting plant music to them. And, she’s just amazing. And, I know some of the other plants I use on a regular basis, in the forest, their response is just instantaneous.
And, also an interesting thing I’ve done, Marianne, because plants respond, and plants know…. They have a way of being aware of other sounds, and sound waves. One of the most interesting things, I think, is something too which has a bearing on this. Going back to the time, when plants waken in the morning, from when they’ve been asleep – other scientists have revealed that the dawn song of the birds is so important to forest, and tree growth. They react to the songs of the birds. Now, isn’t that interesting?
In the forests that are devoid of any birdsong at all, the trees are not as happy. Isn’t that incredible?
So, and we all respond to bird song. And, either we’re hearing Tui in the morning, or Bellbird, or even just the song Thrush. It’s beautiful. So true. From now, my experiments have gone to where I have now experimented with human, solo musicians. Cello player. Harp player. Harmonica, and a violinist. And, I’ve got some of these things up, actually on YouTube so people can have a look at them, and hear them. The latest one I did, was with a delightful, young Brazilian girl, who lives in the Bay of Plenty, and she’s an incredible violinist. We sat there on a wet Sunday afternoon, in the lounge. With Sybella, the Peace lily. And, we let Sybella start to sing, and she was singing beautifully and then Camila, started to play her violin, and then suddenly we were getting harmony.
Wow…. And, for you listeners, here is a snippet of that session that Gary had with Sybella and Camila. I have a link on my podcast website, www.walkingtheshadowlands.com to the video that was taken of this session, so you can see and hear the whole recording.
We’re harmonizing, and this has happened before with harp. And, it’s happened also with Cello. And, it seems, the string instruments, there’s a great response from the plants with the string…. Must be the resonance?
I know the cello, which has such an incredibly mellow sound. And, the first time I experimented with that, with a musician was a cellist Rauel Piard [apologies for any incorrect spelling], a professional. We sat for just twenty minutes, in the garden, by a Kawa Kawa. And, he would play a few notes, and stop. The Kawa Kawa would sing a few notes, and stop. He’d play a few more, and take us through a few cords, and stop. And, then within ten minutes they were playing together…. One…. One would play, and listen. And, listen to the other, and follow. Now, to that point there are a number of musicians, in America, and Europe are like…. Who are mainly seen and heard of, who are performing, on stage, with plants playing. They’ll have a single plant on the stage, and they could be a Jazz ensemble. They could be a progressive Jazz group. Or a music group. Could be a rock group. Could be rappers, and they are performing with plants singing on stage. Which is incredible!
Now also something else, which is interesting Marianne. Throughout Europe, and in the UK a number of natural therapeutic clinics – which like to play…. Which have always liked to play background music, while they are working with their clients…. A lot of them, in the reception area, have a ficus, or some big plant growing there. They now, are plugging into their plant, in the reception area, and piping the music through to their treatment rooms. And, so they’re doing treatments with folk, with the plant music they’re generating. It’s a big, wide, interesting, promising, world out there. And, now with musicians, and we’re looking at sound therapists, of course! There’s a lot of interest in sound therapy these days, with all sorts of sound generated by human voice, or instruments humans play. Or, even by electronic sound. And, so now there’s a lot of experimenting going on with sounds from plants. To see if the resonance can help in the healing process. So there we are! I must just about be spoken out now….
I remember…. Awesome! I remember Gary, the first time that we spoke, on the phone, before our first conversation for the podcast. And, how you had Sybella playing in the background. I remember as you were talking, thinking, – oh gosh that music’s beautiful, I’m going to have to ask you, what CD that’s from. Cause it was just so lovely. It totally underlies the fact that we are all interconnected – plants, animals, and humans.
Yep. No, that’s exactly right, and we are! We’re totally connected with everything in the natural world. And, some people say to me – oh, I’ve got to reconnect with nature. I sort of say – hold on! You’ve never been disconnected entirely. And, it’s just that you’ve forgotten – it’s a time to remember. I sort of say – hold on! You’ve never been disconnected entirely. And, it’s just that you’ve forgotten – it’s a time to remember. And this is what it’s about. It’s a time to remember who we are? Why we are? Where we are? How we are? Yeah!
And, that’s probably a really good way to round off this conversation actually. The whole purpose, I guess of your work, and your speaking to people is re-educating them – Well, not re-educating actually , more reminding them…. Reminding them of the things that our ancestors knew. And, all the native shamans, medicine people, tohunga, throughout the world still know!
That’s exactly right! And the thing is because our…. Marianne, because our ancestors knew it. It’s in our DNA, our genetic makeup. And, this is why for some people, when they hear of these things, or experience them in some form or another – the light bulb goes on. And, they sort of say I know that! Or I can be that, or that’s wonderful! I always knew this, but, never knew that it was as profound. Or, as wide spread. So, there is a big movement around the world, but interesting thing too Marianne, is that the scientists are saying – neurobiologists are saying that in twenty, to twenty-five years time, we’re going to have to recognize trees as sentient beings.
Now, this is a big, big thing. ‘Cause, as you know New Zealand was the first signatory of an international charter four years ago. Recognizing animals as sentient beings! You know, to actually give further protection to animals. And, that is a hard thing to really push around the world, the way people treat animals. So you can imagine, how hard, and difficult it’s going to be to say to people well trees are sentient beings. You’ve got to have more respect for them. You just can’t go and chop them down willy nilly! Speak to them at least, before you chop them down. Put something in place.
Interesting too, because in the Maori tradition, in New Zealand, when a tree was ever taken from the forest, for carving a meeting house, or a waka hull. When the tohunga selected the tree to be felled, the tree was…. Then a karakia was done. Then the tree was chopped down, and the log was trimmed, and taken away. But, they had a stump, which was sometimes up to three or four foot off the ground. Because, they way the felled trees, they felled them up fairly high. They would actually hollow out the center of the stump, and fill it up with soil from the forest, and then put a seedling in there of the same species, they had just taken.
Wow, I didn’t know that.
Giving it in essence perpetuity – see what I mean? So there we are.
Well, that’s awesome. Gary, thank you so much for your time as always, it’s been an absolutely fascinating, and really interesting conversation. And, I really appreciate your time immensely.
Well, I appreciate you inviting me to share. As I said, it’s always a bit of a ramble as I start to chat, but, there we are!
But, you know? That’s what makes it so delightful Gary. It’s been really wonderful! I really appreciate it.
Beautifully edited, and well put together with music. I love what you’re doing!
It’s all about sharing, and educating, and helping people find their path, and entertaining – isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about!
It is, yeah, you’re quite right!
Thank you so much Gary, and I feel very sure we’ll speak again sometime in the future.
Ok Love. All the very best to you. Bye bye.
So that concludes our two episodes on Music of the Plants. I am very grateful to Garry, for his time, and energy spent discussing these subjects with us all. I hope that you all have enjoyed listening to both of these episodes, and that there are things that have been discussed that make you stop and think, and question…. It’s always good to question things, and to learn new things. Learning never stops for us, no matter what our age. I especially enjoy the way that Gary imparts his many years of experience with us all, so freely. So thank you again Gary. I always, always learn something new from you whenever we talk.
And, to all you listeners, I apologize for the audio quality in both of these episodes. Gary, and I were having connection difficulties, that created all sorts of weird sounds in the recording. So, I’ve edited it as best I could. But, I do understand that there are a few issues I was unable to iron out in the editing. So I apologize for that!
The music at the very beginning of the episode was from the latest pounamu recording uploaded to Gary’s Facebook pageon the 4th of August, 2019. You can see the video, and listen to the full recording which goes for around 5 minutes. I have a link on my website page, for this recording from his FaceBook page.
Just to let you all know, next week’s episode is the last episode, in this our first series with the Walking the Shadowlands podcast. That will make twenty episodes! And, honestly I just need a little bit of a break so I can catch a breather, and create more interesting, and exciting content for you all to listen to. So I will have a break of two weeks after next weeks podcast. But, of course all the old episodes remain online that you can re-listen to, if you choose to!
If any of you have any questions, or any comments that you’d like to make – questions you might like to ask Gary, or experiences that you might like to share with myself, and my audience. Then please don’t hesitate to email me at Or, if you’re a member of Anchor, at anchor.fm, then you can leave me a voice message – via their platform. Which, I could include in an upcoming episode.
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