You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “music of the spheres.” This originated for us with the Greek mathematician/philosopher Pythagoras, who proposed that proportions in the movements of celestial bodies can be interpreted as music. He viewed this “musica universalis” not as literally audible, but as a concept about harmonics, mathematics, and the divine.
In A Little Book of Coincidence, John Martineau tracks the ways in which these proportions make up gorgeous geometries. Remember “Spirograph,” that addictive drawing toy you might have had as a kid that involves toothed cogs with holes in different places to stick your pencil through in order to draw repeating geometric patterns? Turns out our universe’s movements look a lot like those patterns. No wonder we found them fascinating.
Contemporary geomancer Richard Feather Anderson claims that the entire universe is made up of only a very few geometric proportions. Feeling fascinated but skeptical, I asked him whether this was not a rather bloatedly arrogant claim, as we puny humans could not possibly know about the entire universe. I mean really, we understand only a tiny bit about the workings of our own bodies! We could speculate on what limited bits we’ve learned about our own planet, our moon, and the observable planets in our own immediate solar system, but the universe? Feather’s response was that the proportions observed by ancient philosophers have now been repeatedly noted by scientists with excellent modern telescopes and computers, and have been proven to (my memory is likely not exact here) something around 97% accuracy. Hearing this, I now had leave to go into spasms of awe.
It is not difficult to see how these proportional relationships might echo musical intervals and harmonics. Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle opined:
“All deep things are songs. It seems somehow the very central essence of us, Song; as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls! … See deep enough, and you see musically; the heart of Nature being everywhere music if you can only reach it.”
If we consider that life energy can be interpreted as vibration, and vibration can be interpreted via sensory organs and machines in many ways that include sound and light, it can be argued that in a way, the entire universe is continually singing.
This poetic opinion is now backed up by research scientists in solar physics at the University of Sheffield, U.K., who have for the first time managed to make recordings of the magnetic field in the sun’s outer atmosphere.
According to The Telegraph’s science correspondent Richard Grey, “They found that huge magnetic loops that have been observed coiling away from the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere, known as coronal loops, vibrate like strings on a musical instrument. In other cases they behave more like soundwaves as they travel through a wind instrument. Using satellite images of these loops, which can be over 60,000 miles long, the scientists were able to recreate the sound by turning the visible vibrations into noises and speeding up the frequency so it is audible to the human ear.” (June 19, 2010)
The head of the research group, Robertus von Fáy-Siebenbürgen, is cited as saying, “It was strangely beautiful… It is a sort of music as it has harmonics.” As the Bard said, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
I find the Telegraph an excellent layperson’s news briefing source for scientific topics. The best thing about this particular article is that they provide actual video of the sun’s singing. I can’t figure out how to embed it in this post like you can with a YouTube video, being basically an upgraded technopeasant. But you can
How cool is that?!
(All this longwindedness, in fact, sprang from my discovering this video and wanting to share it. Took me long enough to get to it, eh?)
The Aboriginal people of Australia believe that the world as we know it was originally sung into existence. Further, people must continue to repeat these songs if the places we live in and its beings are to continue. I find it a refreshing view to see our species as needed, instead of being a cancer to everyone else. So the people walk these “songlines” every year, literally singing the world back into being. They sing the original birth songs of their neighbors like stones and lizards. Perhaps they learned these songs from the beings themselves.
Go outside after you see this video and sing with the Sun. Sing her back into being each year; each day, if you can. Welcome her with whatever comes to you as her own song, reminding her she is beautiful and needed and loved. And at night, don’t forget the Moon. And stars. And oh yes, anytime, all the trees and flowers and rocks and winds and… Who cares what the human neighbors think? Their cells are all singing too, whether they know it or not.