The Adventures of Vox Lumina

Rediscovering the lost world of Orga

River Alchemy November 19, 2013

The River Alchemy Project: Healing Bodies of Water with Sound…

Pasted Graphic 1Back in the early 1970’s, it was shown that water can be “charged with” and then “store” various types of subtle or vibrational energies.* In other words, people were beginning to recognize that the intelligent form of life that is water has the capacity to hold on to or “remember” experiences as vibration on a molecular level. Since that time, many more people have come to contemplate and realize water’s vibrationally sensitive nature.

In 1998, a year after my son was born, I had come to this same understanding.  I knew that, like our bodies, Earth is an energy system also predominantly made up of water. And I felt that all these “bodies of water”-mine, my child’s, the oceans, rivers, ponds, lakes, puddles, brooks, springs, bogs- are by their very elemental nature vibrationally sensitive. I began to speculate that perhaps all these bodies of water “feel” in some way, and have memory somehow. I was living in Pittsburgh at the time, the recovering steel town where I too had been born, and the place of the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. All my life I had observed that most people barely noticed these great rivers, let alone walked by them, swam in them, or celebrated them. For years they had been the sewer pipes of industrial discharge, and were now the inconveniences we had to build bridges across.

At that time something within me was awakening to the life within these rivers,  not just the struggling fish populations, but the possibility of what those three old souls were, what wisdom they might know having lived and flowed for thousands of years, and still coming together here, now. I began to look at these and all bodies of water differently, to see them in a new light: as alive, intelligent, changeable, healable, feeling, needing, beings. I saw then that, just like people, many bodies of water must “remember” a difficult past, one marred by years of industrial abuse, pollution, and degradation, as well as spiritual neglect.

Would we tolerate treating ourselves or another human being in this way? Let alone a life-giving entity that provides for us all everyday something that we cannot live without?

It was then that I truly began to feel and understand that the entire energy system of the planet is vibrationally “depressed” and knew that condition is stored in her waters.

Not long after, I received a vision: to create community ceremonies and celebrations for rivers at rivers with the intention to heal and harmonize all bodies of water. This work became known as River Alchemy. Traditionally, alchemy was known as a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy that aimed, among other things, to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold. I chose this term because in a broader and more contemporary context, alchemy is a process of transforming something ordinary into something extraordinary. 

River Alchemy is a term I created to describe an experience that aims to transform the relationship between people and the natural world, specifically people and bodies of water, and thereby heal and transform the actual elements of the natural world themselves.

River Alchemy events have occurred each solstice and equinox since the winter of 1999, activating bodies of water and communities all across the country. While I was living in Pittsburgh I was able to fulfill this vision and create many events that connected people and the rivers, and I saw a profound change with the Allegheny, Monongahela, and the Ohio Rivers and the many wonderful people that call them home. In 2002 I moved to New York and devoted my alchemical efforts, both scientific and artistic, to the mighty and magnificent Hudson. I am currently and happily back on the shores of the Great Three of Pittsburgh.

Although each River Alchemy event varies depending on the season and location, certain fundamental components are always present: celebration, participation, education, and restoration. River Alchemy events are always held at a river site or community, and CELEBRATING the ecological and cultural fabric of that region is key.  At the site, participants are encouraged to interact with the elements of that environment in some creative way: a moving meditation, a collective art installation, a poetic reflection, a parade or procession, a musical experience, a yoga class, etc. It is always different. It is always amazing.  Each event incorporates an educational component, connecting participants to information and resources on local water and river issues, organizations, and activities.

And River Alchemy experiences always involve the making of a vibrational restorative, or remedy, for the bodies of water. Each River Alchemy event begins and ends with the magnificent sounding of a quartz crystal bowl, the water within it absorbing the powerful and pure sound of that phenomenal instrument, and also the vibrations of the music, language, prayers, songs, movements, and intentions of the entire event and all the people attending. Participants are invited to partake of this energetic elixir, as this “sweet water”, as the children call it, harmonizes everyone there to the same vibration, the same intention, and at the very end of the event, this “charged” water is ceremonially offered to the river or body of water we are honoring. This aspect of a River Alchemy experience literally and energetically “raises the vibration” of all the bodies of water that are there. If you’ve ever participated in one, I think you know what I mean.This is also applied in Vox Lumina’s SONG OF LIGHT, which combines the mediums of myth, music, and movement in an artistic alchemy aimed to further transform consciousness about rivers and other elements of the natural world and to further harmonize and elevate the relationship between people and their environments.


To bring a River Alchemy event to your favorite body of water, please contact

*(Vibrational Medicine, Gerber, 1988)


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