About Me

Me playing my beautiful Grandmother bowl

Me playing my beautiful Grandmother bowl

Hi, I’m Kathleen Calby, founder of Re-Sounding Joy. I’ve been playing Himalayan bowls since 1999 and these wonderful gem crystal bowls since 2009.

Himalayan Bowls

Metal bowls, often called Tibetan bowls, were made throughout the Himalayas — from India to Afghanistan. The antique bowls have a warm, rich lower frequency than quartz bowls. While people talk about “7 metal” bowls, one of my teachers (Mitch Nur) said that the bowls could contain as many as 14 metals!

People often correspond the 7 metals to our solar system (gold = Sun, silver = Moon, mercury = Mercury, copper = Venus, iron = Mars, tin = Jupiter, lead = Saturn. Yet, this is a European concept, not one from the region where the bowls were made. (Although those in the East likely did use the bowls to communicate with the cosmos!) Others attribute certain metals to traits of wisdom associated with the Buddha, and bowls may have been made in this manner. With the bowls, the most important metal is copper and its ratio to tin in the composition, which allows bells (and bowls) to vibrate even when great force is applied without cracking the metal. The ratio for “bell metal” is approximately 80% copper to 20% tin. Other metals would be traces within the alloy, and since each metal has a musical pitch — the more metals, the more complex the sound. One favored addition was the iron from meteorites or “sky metal.”

In addition to the metals used, one should come to know the amazing variety of bowls in shapes and sizes. Some are deep with upright walls, others are shallow. Some have stems attached, others have more rounded bellies or flared edges and may be “decorated” with lines and circles or other marks.

Bowls that are only 15-35 years old are being sold as “old” — hardly mature even! “Antique” bowls may be claimed from 35-80 years. So ask the age if you want a bowl that is, say 100-400 years old. Usually the bottom on older bowls will be worn smooth and there are some other signs — darkening is not one of them. People are spreading mixtures on them to turn bowls a dark color to look older.

My first metal bowl came from Tibetan monks at a big metaphysical expo. I couldn’t hear it in the din of the place, but I loved it and it had dragons on it, so that was it! Luckily, it turned out to have a lovely tone and is one of the easiest bowls to play. While I tend to specialize in antique hand-forged bowls, this one is very old and cast. But, as I say, when you meet your bowl, you fall in love, and all rational thought go out the window.

The next two bowls I purchased were from the Bon tradition — a spiritual tradition that precedes Buddhism. Once practicing their rituals and tradition in Tibet too, Bon monks suffered the same fate as Buddhists at the hands of the Maoists. Those who could make it to India, now reside in monasteries there. Both bowls are over 200 years old and in the shallow dish style called Manipuri.

When a bowl is made, the alloyed metal is hammered and the bowl is “raised.” That’s right, imagine taking a thick sheet of metal and hammering into the center to get the sides to come up! Right. After a while, the metal hardens from the hammering and must be heated to soften it again for more hammering. Repeat the process, over and over. Imagine making a perfect hemisphere (bowl) in that process with the sides being even, etc. It would be a long, deep meditation of repetition.

However, the majority of bowls were probably not made by monks, but rather by artisans and families of artisans. The different shapes and styles can likely be attributed to regional locations and family styles.

Gem Crystal Bowls

I met the gem crystal bowls out in Mt. Shasta in Sept. 2008. I played them and thought they were amazing, but the woman who could teach me wasn’t available for the two days I was in town. So I chalked it up to a wonderful experience.

In January 2009, I was at the Tucson Gem Show enjoying myself, thinking I wonder if the gem crystal singing bowls are here and who should be there?! The woman from Mt. Shasta — Bev Wilson. We connected, and I bought Grandmother (iron and clear quartz) in F#. I bought her b/c I’d been getting guidance from angels throughout 2008 and seeing legions of them descending to earth. I wanted to sing to these angels.

I brought Grandmother home, played her with my Himalayan bowls and was content.

Then in April, my consulting gig released me. I had known I would return to Mt. Shasta, but I did not know it would be within a week of completing that work. The mountain called, and I went. It was May 1. A friend joined me, and we met Bev the first day who did an attunement with us. My friend told me that night, “You have to bring these bowls back [to Cleveland].” Bev and I continued to meet and within four days I knew I was buying three bowls — a Grandfather (smokey quartz on opaque quartz), Emerald, and Indium (#49 on the periodic table – a beautiful lapis/indigo blue). Was I crazy? I was spending thousands of dollars, and I had no known income at the time. But I knew I needed to do this. No question, no doubt really.

When I arrived home, I started playing the new bowls with Grandmother and the Himalayans I had, then added tuning forks I had worked with. Almost immediately I needed to play somewhere. I went to the local Farmer’s Market and played. I had a great time and learned that walls help with the bowls’ resonance; the sound drifts otherwise. Still lovely.

Soon, I knew I needed three more bowls: Diamond, Citrine and Ruby. I called Bev, and became a distributor here in Cleveland. While I had been considering moving out of state, given the economy and such in these parts, I now knew I had to stay. I need to play these bowls. So that’s what I’m doing.

When I returned to Mt. Shasta in Sept. 2009 I added Sunstone and Rose Quartz/White Gold Alchemy to the mix. Since then, Rose Quartz/Platinum, Platinum opaque (known as Mother of Platinum), Carnelian, Rose Quartz clear and Rose Quartz opaque and Indigo (nicknamed Blueberry) of Egyptian faience have joined the ensemble.

The programs continue to get more complex and wonderful. I’m playing in nursing homes, yoga studios, meditation centers, art gallleries, etc. I do home parties as well for people who want to meditate and relax deeply. The chatter in your brain turns off. You just listen and meld with the sounds. Absolute bliss.

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