by Norman Lowrey
DreamListening Sticks evolved from the simple Listening Sticks invented for the Delaware River Sounding Project. Those were described in the documentation of that project as follows.
A simple way to hear the inner voice of the River directly and intimately is to find a stick that's shaped so that one end can be placed gently in an ear and the other end positioned in the water. The stick will act as a conductor of the sound, and when placed where water is gurgling over rocks is especially effective for discerning the multitude of sounds that are being made. Short sticks will require kneeling or bending over, placing one even closer to the source. Long sticks can be used standing up and provide greater reach. The best sticks for listening are solid and dense. Each stick will have its own acoustic properties, reinforcing different frequencies of the aquatic vibrations. Sticks can be decorated to your own liking, "conversed" with, or otherwise interacted with in order to transform them for ceremonial use, although even without such procedures, a listening stick may simply provide a means of hearing that is different enough from common experience to awaken new connections with the River.
When we were exploring Biscuit Brook as a possible Sounding site, I tried out my listening stick in one of the springs feeding the stream. I was startled by the similarity of the spring's bubbling sounds to recordings I'd heard of stellar activity - pulsars and quasars. Here, at an origin of the Delaware River were sounds like those emanating from the farthest reaches of the heavens. Two lines from Cecelia Vicuna's poetry flickered through my mind:
from Oriri: the coming out of the stars
-Norman Lowrey, Boonton, NJ, June, 1994
by Norman Lowrey
(Originally created: Deep Listening Retreat, Rose Mountain, New Mexico, August, 1999)
Find a stick that has a smooth surface toward one end that you can gently place against an ear. If you can, wrap some soft cloth around this end to make it more comfortable.
Place to your ear. Listen to dreamsounds through your stick.
(All sounds heard through the stick, acoustic or imagined, are dreamsounds).
- Turn stick to point in different directions. Listen to the dream of that direction.
- Direct stick toward light. Listen to the dream of that light.
- Direct stick toward darkness or shadow. Listen to the dream of that darkness/shadow.
- Touch anything with stick. Listen to the dream of that thing.
-Try two sticks. Stereo dreams!
- Find a partner. Listen to her/his dream through your stick. Transmit your dream through the stick to your partner.
- Let the Earth listen to your dream stick.
- Listen to the Earth’s dream through your stick.
- Listen to the sky’s dream through your stick.
- Place stick in swirling water. Listen to the water’s dream.
- Scrape stick on any surface - tree bark, concrete, hardwood floor, rug - what is that material’s dream?
- Make up your own mode of using your dreamlistening stick.