"The chanter is the cosmic universe in miniature. The person chanting is the embodiment of the earth and sky... Sound vibration connects the mind, body and spirit, and makes the physical body whole."
- Joseph Rael, Beautiful Painted Arrow
Day 55 - Wednesday, August 16, 1995 - Brutal. The walking was just brutal. The road shimmered with heat. The Sunbow 5 walkers felt every degree of it, and they dripped ceaselessly from the humidity.
All day the road led relentlessly up then down. Nonetheless, the group held its prayer focus, walking in relays. They covered 45 miles through the mountains, then finally walked up a dirt road to the World Peace Chamber in Swannanoa, North Carolina.
The World Peace Chamber in Swannanoa is a generous oval structure constructed with stone, wood, and concrete -- suited particularly to resonance. It is one of about 64 such chambers located around the world, each chamber different according to local needs and inspiration.
All 64 chambers are the fruit of a vision received and held by Joseph Rael, Beautiful Painted Arrow. He is a man of Ute and Pueblo heritage. Back in 1983 he had a vision that inspired him to help establish the global network of Peace Chambers. They are all specially built to support and focus the spiritual act of chanting for world peace.
Chanting is part of virtually every spiritual tradition around the world. It is the unified repetition of a certain set of syllables and frequencies, guided by sanctified thoughts. In most variations, chanting is entrancing and entraining.
Special ceremonial chambers -- such as caves, kivas, churches, temples and mosques -- have been used for thousands of years by the world's cultures to enact spiritual ceremonies, as well as for purification and healing with sound. The vision and the manifesttion of the global network of resonant World Peace Chambers is in this tradition, naturally adapted to our era and circumstances, in harmony with the Earth.
For peace to be realized, someone must set the intention and the tone with clarity and strength. About this foundational matter Beautiful Painted Arrow has written, "In the beginning was the Word... When the word is used with skill and sacred intent, its power can provide a unifying force to balance the physical, spiritual, and mental aspects of individuals and communities."
In 1989, Zoe Bryant of Swannanoa met Beautiful Painted Arrow. Together they cultivated the vision and the network of volunteers necessary to establish the North Carolina chamber as place for the Word – the chants – to be sounded in service to world peace.
The Swannanoa Peace chamber was built to last for Seven Generations, and also to serve as an ecumenical focal point. People of all faiths are welcome to visit for regularly scheduled peace chants and prayer circles.
The Sunbow walkers appreciate that spiritual activities like chanting, especially when conducted with the resonance offered by the chamber, can directly help to ameliorate the profound personal and cultural trauma wrought by events such as the de Soto expedition, slavery, the "Removal," and Sherman's march to the sea. Chanting lifts the vibration rate, helping to dissipate sorrow, rage, embitterment, and the mad pull of vengeance. Chants call to and cultivate the higher, stronger attributes of our human nature: courage, determination, wisdom, equanimity, foresight.
The walkers were profoundly moved by the chanting they joined in while at the chamber. "It was an incredible, beautiful, powerful experience," Jacki said.
Late in the evening about half of the walkers took time to enter the sweat lodge, on the grounds of the Swannanoa World Peace Chamber. Ned -- considered Uncle by many -- poured the water. All was well.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 56 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire