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2. Sound Is Primary

Tamas Bacsi was not only called upon to heal people and animals, but also to foresee the future. After the First World War, many Hungarian prisoners were left behind in Russia. People wanted to know if they were still alive, if they had died, or if they would return, and when. Their mothers and spouses often consulted Tamas Bacsi about this, 'to hear' something as he called it. He would take the women to a big tree, and old white birch that was more than a hundred years old and very beautiful. That tree was just outside the village next to a dirt road. This was the road that led into the village. It was a threefold road split with a green spot where the tree was. He would sit under the tree and listen to the rustling of the silver leaves. We were allowed to be present, but we could not speak, we had to be silent. Then he said: “Listen very carefully, and then you can hear the leaves speak. “
So, he listens to the leaves, and he posed himself a question in his mind. The person who consulted him was there too, of course. Mostly women who were interested in their husbands, or mothers, or people who were engaged. Then he grabbed the woman gently and placed her against the tree, with her back to the tree, and her face in the direction of Russia, to the East. He said: “Think about your son, your husband, or fiancee. Think about him and close your eyes, and tell me later what you have seen. I myself shall listen to the leaves and to the spirits.”
Later I learned that this was a very ancient method that was also used by the druids. Even Joan of Arc said that the angels spoke to her from the leaves. Listening to the rustling of leaves, or to other sources of sound is being done in the entire world. He listened to the leaves and sang articulated sounds. We always wanted to know what he was singing. Actually they were just sounds. It was not a language. Sometimes he would say: “That is the language of the ancient Hungarians.” I do think that there were some words in it, but I don’t know in how far they are from a language, or were just imitations. In any case he said: “This is ancient Hungarian.” or “It is the Tartars with their dog heads that speak like that.”
In 1241, the tartars conquered Hungary and devastated the land badly. These were the hordes of Batoe Kalm. Since that time people call the Tartars dog heads, because they have protruding jaw bones, and they are small in stature; they have a remarkable skin and jet black hair. This made people think of dogs, also because they way they spoke resembled oriental languages, like the barking of a dog. It is remarkable that people still remembered that seven centuries later.
From my own experience I know that in spite of not knowing the language one can feel the mentality of a people from its intonation and rhythm. So he said: “It is the language of ancient Hungarians, or of the tartars with the dog heads.”
He was sitting under the tree in an oriental fashion. Not in a lotus position, but the way the Turks sit, without making a ritual of it. He simply sat there and sang. From time to time he stopped singing and listened. After half an hour to an hour, he would tell if the man would not come home, if he was dead, or if he was married with somebody else over there. Or, that they had to wait a couple of weeks, and he would come home with this or that holiday.
He never gave a precise date, only about a certain time. I understand that, because there are no direct connections. I personally have seen the person come home at the time given. With Pentecost, Easter, during a potato harvest, or the plucking of prunes. Tamas Bacsi had a farm mentality regarding time. Time was indicated by the different feasts and harvests. That often happened.
I also remember a pig herder who took the pigs of the entire village into the woods or meadows. He took them for the entire day, but by the evening all the animals found their way back to their own farm by themselves. One day, a terrible storm happened, and a lot of animals were frightened and ran away, among them a sow with piglets which ran the other way, in the direction of the Donau. After the storm, people went looking for the animal, but they couldn't find it. They started to suspect that the gypsies, who were living at the edge of the village, had eaten it. But they first wanted to consult Tamas Bacsi.
Thus, with a chicken under the arm, they marched to Tamas Bacsi. They offered him the chicken and asked what happened. If the gypsies had roasted the animal, or could he find where the animal was. Tamas went to the white birch, followed by tens of people, because it had never happened that he had been consulted for such a matter, and thus it was worthwhile to see how the Old One would solve this.
He was sitting quietly under the tree, and did not chase away anybody. The people were also very quiet and were watching what he was doing. He didn't do anything spectacular. He took the owner of the pig and placed her under the tree, her back to the tree, looking towards the direction the pig had disappeared. She had to close her eyes, and think about the animal. When an image would come up she had to tell him. He himself listened to the rustling of the leaves, and at a certain moment he said that the animal, the sow and the piglets were not lost, were not in the stomach of the gypsies, but they were in the swamps of the Donau. He urged them to quickly go get them, because close by there were gypsies fishing, and if they would find the animals, it would be too late. This was indeed the case.
He was also consulted to make weather forecasts. At time there were no weather forecasts, and for a farmer this was important. Close to that white birch there was a pond he often went to at sunset to listen to the frogs, or as he would say: “to speak with the ancestors.” This way he gave his weather forecasts. At that time I didn’t understand it, but now I think the frogs are able to sense the oncoming weather. He was able to listen to their sounds and distinguish the different tonalities, and from these he was able to forecast the weather. He always told us: “You have to listen very careful to the frogs, because they know everything that happens in the three elements, earth, water and air, but they don't know anything about fire. Only the salamander knows about that.” in any case, the frogs were a kind of barometer for him, giving him information about what was happening on earth, also inside the earth. This is so because the frog is amphibian. It is an ancient method to get information out of the singing and sounds of the frog.
Sometimes we also watched the birds, especially three kinds of birds: the crows, the magpies, and at night the owls. In that region there were a lot of owls. He also observed the flying of the bat, and the stark, and the swallows. In the spring and in the fall, many wild ducks and geese flew over and landed in the ponds or fields. He observed these too for different reasons. The wild geese always came in the fall from the north where also the ancient Hungarian people came from. That is why it was said that they carried with them messages from our ancestors. He then listened to them, or looked to what kind of formation they were flying. When they returned in spring, they were going back to their ancestors, This way people kept their connection with them.
Tamas Bacsi also used magic signs to look at, to hear, to experience or to heal, like the impression of the foot of a wild duck. This forms three lines like the sign for Shiva, or of Neptune. This shows up a lot in shamanic iconography. Now, I know from books that this was used everywhere. There is a theory that says that the cuneiform of the Asyro-Babylonians, and the Sumerians might be founded on the impression of the foot of a wild duck. In the beginning there were hundreds of variations, but later this was reduced to dozens, from which the writing originated.
Tamas Bacsi made an impression with his thumb, index finger and middle finger spread out into the dirt, into earth or clay. He did that in different ways, and then he looked at it. I don't know if it was a mnemonic way to remember something, or that the lines caused a shifting of his consciousness, or something the like.
I notice myself that when I paint or draw that my consciousness shifts. Something happens, it is a rather peculiar sensation. It is physical, psychological and psychical; and a whole different way of thinking arises. One can make endless variations with these three lines of the impression of the foot of a goose. Tamas Bacsi regarded it as a trinity. He said: “It is day, night and what is in between.” It was also the trinity of the three worlds: the world of the living, the world of the deceased, and the world of those who are waiting to be born.
In northern shamanism, in the area of Mongolia, they also know the existence of the three worlds, as with the Aboriginals in Australia. Sometimes the trinity has another form: the world of the living here on earth, the subterranean realm, and the world of the spirits. It is believed that the spirit is immortal and that those who still have to come, who are in 'becoming', are waiting for a body to incarnate.
That gesture with the three stretched out fingers, he also used this to heal cows and horses. It didn't work with pigs, and little better with sheep. The reason for this might be that cows and horses were present a lot with the original Hungarian nomads, while sheep were more present with mountain dwellers.
This points to Tamas Bacsi having a genetic link with the old shamanism of the nomads. Shamanism can take form in many different aspects depending on the area and the mentality. However, it is always experienced from the same state of mind.
He laid the three fingers of his hand on people and animals, on the painful area, but also on chakras or energy centers. He did this very deliberately. For example, with the throat, the fifth chakra, he would lay the fingers in three different ways, depending on the way the man, women or child was coughing. He first listened and then laid his fingers in the pit of the throat, on the Adam's Apple, or on the glands.
At that time tuberculosis was the national disease of which one in ten people died. Pamphlets told people to be more hygienic. Tamas Bacsi worked on a lot of people with tuberculosis. He distinguished three types of cough: wet, dry and heat. A hot cough is a cough that is an asthmatic cough that is very high in the throat.
He touched the throat chakra in different ways according to the nature of the cough. This demanded not only sensitivity but also knowledge. One can go solely by feel, but he also relied on passed-on knowledge.
He didn't explain me this at length because I was only a boy, and I had to go to Budapest to school. Maybe he would have done it if I had stayed in Solt longer. When I returned during the months of vacation, then there was always a lot of work on the fields. By nature he was a quiet person, who smoked his pipe and listened to people.
He worked on the chakras not only with the three fingers but also with the five fingers of his right hand, with fingers spread out. Thus he put his hand on the heart and then he began to rotate his hand slowly. Very slowly. This was not a massage. He barely touched the body. With his left he worked on the chakra behind the body, on the back of the person between the shoulder blades. Sometimes he pushed on it, and the patients then sighed. It was painful, and subsequently they relaxed. Usually he turned in the direction of the sun, but sometimes in the other direction. Sometimes he had the patient sit against a tree, but on a bench. Next to him, or in front of him. I don't know why, maybe it had a psychological meaning.
He asked those people to close their eyes, but not fall asleep. Because they had had to be careful to notice what images would come up in their mind, as the ancestors or benevolent spirits would give them advice. Then they told him what they had seen, for example, a sunrise on a field. In most cases these were images from every day life. Now I understand why people get images of what they usually do. An engineer might get images of machine parts. One can derive from that which what one is occupied. The images were not alarming visions of angels or devils; in any case not immediately. Sometimes somebody would tell him that he saw a child or animal drowning, and more archetypical images would come up, because these were images of something that he had never experienced before. The first images are usually of every day life. When one probes deeper into the problem, more archetypical images come up. This is the same with everybody.
Then Tamas Bacsi asked them to describe the images and feelings. When he felt that the other person was getting or telling a message he stopped his own meditation. He let the person tell his waking dream and asked: “What were you thinking before you this dream?” He always related the dream image to the practical situation of the person. A dream image can have different meanings, and you have to know with what to connect the images .
I don't know if he had discovered that on his own, or gotten it from tradition. In shamanic tradition it is clearly expressed to observe to the galloping thoughts, but not to interfere. “Let it arise.” It is also a shamanic tradition to consult dreams, waking dreams or free association. It doesn't matter how you call it, this was the way he worked on people. Sometimes he explained their dreams: “I am seeing it this way. Are you pleased with my answer.” He never said “It is this way.”, but “This is the way I see it.” The other replied: “Yes, I agree, but about this or that issue I think differently.” Then Tamas Bacsi said “What do you think about that?”
He provoked that, it was a psychological push to let the other talk, and he would be happy with nodding his head. Once in a while he said “Yes.” or ”mmm”, or sometimes he interrupted to ask another question. It was a kind of psycho-analysis but with a couch. The patient was seated on a chair or on the hard ground, usually on the grass outside. He was not disturbed at all by other people or animals around, or playing and noisy children. Nor him nor the patient was disturbed by all this. In such a situation one was able to disconnect from all these distractions and noise, and concentrate completely on what was happening between him and the patient.
I already told you about his method to know things by studying the sounds and behavior of animals. Crows were very important, their way of flying, and especially their sounds, their 'singing'. This already existed with the ancient Germanic people who attributed the crow to Odin; and in other parts of the world. The crow was also important with the North American Indians. The ancient Romans had special priests who listened to messages from the sounds of birds. Tamas Bacsi was able to distinguish 64 different tonalities in the sounds of the crows.
This is a language, and shamans explain it. Not the higher, spiritual things, but general, practical things, like, if there are people who are coming from the mountains, or what weather is coming.
I know that in shamanism the figure eight is very important, also as a graphic representation. It consists of two eggs, two ovals, the human and the divine, the earthly and the heavenly, connected together. It is remarkable that the crows have 64 tonalities, because 64=8X8. This means that numbers also a cosmic meaning, and shamans used them as such.
For example, Tamas Bacsi counted the amount of clattering of a stark. When a stark feels happy, he dances on his nest, and clappers with his beak. Sometimes slowly, but most of the time very quickly, six to eight times a second. You have to have a real good hearing. He told us: “The stark is telling what he has seen.” he advised us to count the clapping. You can see when the stark will start this. He stands up, looks right and left, and when he has the space, he starts. Tamas Bacsi said: “Look, he is going to clapper. Count how many times he does that.” We rarely got it right. He counted with us and corrected us. “No, that was two less, or four more. Next time you have to pay more attention.”
This caused us to develop a quick reflex and reaction, and this contributed to our expansion of consciousness. People often think that expansion of consciousness is metaphysical, but it starts with very simple and practical things like listening to a stark, or even to an idling motor.
What is even more difficult is the sound swallows make when they fly back to the nest with insects in their beak. This is much faster than the clapping of the stark; it is a bout 8 to 14 times a second. You had to do this in a way that you get the total image at once. He said: “If you count 1,2,3 then you will never get it. You have to discover the rhythm. Every rhythm has that much or this many sounds.”
I do the same in a shamanization. When a mantra presents itself, or when I hear people speak, I listen to the rhythm. Not the amount of sounds, but the rhythm. Tamas Bacsi gave us these exercises, like listening to the frogs. Later he went much further. When it was quiet in the evening, we would go sit next to the pond, and there were an awful lot of mosquitoes. He said: “Count the humming of the mosquitoes.” and “The mosquitoes are your teacher. They teach you how to sing. Sing like a mosquito and experience this with your whole body.” His whole body was his instrument, and we had to the same with ours.
With the owl we also had to count. Here he made us pay attention to two things, rhythm and tonality, the musicality or that it was long or short. “Ask the owls something.” he said, “then you will hear what he answers.” Of course, we asked very silly questions: if we were going to eat something tasty, or if father would bring a present from the city. If the owl made four sounds it would happen. That was very simple: an even number was positive, an uneven number was negative or you had to wait.
We were not able to interpret the sound. Sometimes he listened to know something about the coming weather, or the answer to a question. For example, when a woman wanted to know if her baby would be a girl or boy. In this way he also listened to the swallows and the storks. He always had different references and in most cases it came true.
He concentrated on the sound, and that brought about a shift in consciousness. Later I noticed that the phenomenon happens when listening to the humming of a motor or a car. It is not that important where the sound comes from. From listening carefully a shift of consciousness happens, and at the same time the three-dimensional reality does not have to disappear. It is not a slumber state during which you could get accidents, but you are present at two levels.
I experience that often. I sit in the train and listen to the sounds of the wheels on the rails. When I concentrate on this I notice a shift in consciousness. That is not a slumber, but s state between waking and sleeping, and in this state perceptions arise. In this state you can get messages or answers, or you feel yourself functioning on a larger scale. The shamans know that not the sound but the vibration makes the shift in consciousness. It doesn't matter if that sound is from a stork, or motor cycle. If one connects with the vibration, then the result is the same.