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Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, September 2015

Accessing other Realities with the ancient Peruvian Whistling Vessels?

by: Brent Raynes

The pre-Columbian whistling vessels of ancient Peru are considered an extremely powerful shamanic instrument by many of those today who have had the unique opportunity to experience what has become known as their “psycho-acoustical” effects. Although research indicates that they originated in Columbia perhaps around 1000 BC, showing up around the north coast of Peru about 500 BC, eventually ending up in southern Peru a few centuries later it seemed, we don’t really know a whole lot about them and exactly how they were used. The Spanish arrived around 1532 AD, and the manufacture of these ancient whistles stopped soon after. It wasn’t until centuries later, into modern times, that a gentleman named Daniel K. Statnekov came upon one around April 1972 at an auction barn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that their potential significance as shamanic whistles began to become realized.

Daniel had come upon a well-preserved pre-Columbian clay vessel of Chimu origin, constructed by an ancient people who had once lived on the northern coast of Peru. It was a double-chambered whistling vessel, with the effigy carving of a man with hands clasped on his chest, perhaps in prayer, appearing to be in a peaceful state, located on one of the outward facing chambers. He bid on it and got it for only $30. Go on ebay today and try purchasing one for anywhere near that price! You’ll be digging deep in your pockets, believe me.

It was perhaps a month after his purchase that Daniel, finding himself alone at home in his living room, decided on a bit of a whim to try blowing into it, as the auctioneer had demonstrated weeks before. It was around the seventh or eighth breath that something quite unexpected happened. Suddenly Daniel found himself leaving his physical body, perceiving himself then as a being of light! He knew he was traveling fast through what seemed to be the blackness of deep space, as he would periodically see himself passing various lights that he assumed were stars and planets. Oddly he wasn’t even concerned about how he was going to return to his physical body. For some reason, this mysterious realm almost seemed somehow familiar.

All was well on this out-of-body journey until Daniel noticed what resembled an inky black cloud ahead of him. He didn’t know why, but he was all of a sudden terror stricken over its presence and considering his trajectory he could see no way to avoid it. He had this great overwhelming dread that he might become lost in this horrible black cloud forever, but soon after his light body touched its outer edge he described how he felt something like an explosive burst of energy and how he was shot back in reverse trajectory into his body once again.

Coming back around, he found himself sitting in his chair with the ancient whistle in his hands. His heart was throbbing, his shirt was soaked through with perspiration, and he now was fully aware of a dark side to his own personality wherein he was living a life with hidden agendas, a preoccupation with living an upper class lifestyle, putting money and social prestige ahead of a genuine caring and concern for others. He realized that the dark cloud had been, so to speak, his dark side. [Many more details can be found in Daniel’s book Animated Earth: A Story of Peruvian Whistles and Transformation]

Daniel’s visionary journey reminds me of the classic shamanic journey, as well as the near death experience. Similar I think to a “life review” common to many NDE accounts, immediately afterwards he was able to put together critical things about his life, able to return and work on making changes. Walking outside in the nearby woods and fields he saw everything in the natural world in a whole new way, describing how he enjoyed smelling flowers like he’d never done before, tasting the air, and finding that textures and shades were suddenly drawing his attention too, adding that all his senses were enhanced. Interestingly, NDE percipients undergo a similar change, reportedly some two-thirds developing synesthesia (examples, hearing a painting, smelling colors, etc.) There seem to even be a lot of reports of NDE percipients describing how they find themselves attracting animals and birds, even in the wild, and even being able to “hear” them, as well as plants. Daniel described how he tried to breathe the colors of flowers into his body, as though they were a rare form of nourishment. Did he develop synesthesia, I wonder?

Daniel also felt compelled to embark upon a quest to try and understand what had happened to him, researching how many different cultures used sounds in their rituals. He soon visited Dr. Junius Bird, a curator emeritus of South American archaeology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He was given lots of useful background and history and shown a huge collection behind a closed door of Peruvian whistles and other impressive artifacts. He shared his out-of-body experience with the archaeologist (deliberately leaving out the terrifying black cloud part) and explained how he felt it was somehow connected with the whistle. However, Dr. Bird was unable to shed any light on this, simply pointing out that he had never heard of such a thing, that the Peruvians did use hallucinogens like San Pedro cactus and Ayahuasca, but how he wondered could a whistle generate such an unusual effect? Then he added that this was the first time that he could recall anyone ever telling him that they had blown into or “played” such vessels.

Don Wright was studying psychology and theology at Boston College back in 1980, and he had a special interest in how different cultures used various techniques to alter consciousness. A professor there, who owned a set of Peruvian whistles, invited him to experience them sometime. He did a few nights later, and it was quite an unexpected and profound experience. Don described how he and others were sitting on the floor blowing the whistles in someone’s house. “I started blowing it and I became aware of this cylinder which was in the center of the room yet, was somehow larger than the room so that it was incongruent,” he told writer Richard Rodgers. “I can’t explain that…in the room but, somehow larger than the room. Anyway, it was (the cylinder) infinitely going in both directions (up and down) and the density of the wall of the cylinder was fluctuating with the sound and the light (that was in it) was also moving with the sound. In the center of the cylinder was void beyond voidness. There was like a wind of void wafting through it.” In a phone interview with Don in 2005, I mentioned meeting a transpersonal psychotherapist who had lived and traveled in Peru for a few years and who had introduced me to my own first experience with the whistles back in December 1999. I told Don that she had told me that the whistles were not just for altering your consciousness, but also, it was claimed, for creating a channel into like another dimension. “Man, that’s what I felt the first time I experienced them in that group back in Boston!” Don exclaimed. “It was clear to me that we were opening a doorway and I was frightened by that because it was like the cylinder was infinitely open above and infinitely open below, and I didn’t know what that might be opening to.”

“From the Mississippian tribes, it is known that dancing, rhythmic drumming, whistle-blowing, and singing were thought to vibrate the axis mundi,” wrote Dr. Greg Little in his book Path of Souls (2014). The axis mundi was perceived by ancient Native Americans as a vertical pole or tree that could give them access to the Upper World, the Middle World, or the Under World. “Vibrating the pole allowed shaman access to all three worlds,” Greg added.

Had Don perceived this mysterious and sacred axis mundi?

Something else very strange happened to Don Wright later that same night. “We were sitting around in the front room talking about various things and then everybody got up and went somewhere. I suddenly became aware of a black panther, and this may sound insane, but it did happen. There was a black panther in the room and it frightened me so much that I got up and walked around behind the chairs and the couch and out the door to avoid it.”

“I knew nothing about Peru at this time. [But] Cusco was in the shape of a panther, the jaguar.”

Soon Don was apprenticing under Daniel Statnekov, learning how to cast the whistling vessel molds and whatever insights and knowledge that Daniel could share. One day, early into this apprenticeship, as they were visiting an ancient cliff dwelling site in New Mexico they went into a kiva with a woman who was (Don explained) “connected with the Native American shamanic realm.”

“We sat equidistance around in the kiva and we started ‘om’ ing,” Don told me. “Suddenly, I could perceive, very clearly, dark skinned people joining us but in a realm just beyond our realm of existence. I didn’t have a clue about who these people might be until years later when I went to Peru and saw the Peruvian natives. Facial features, haircuts, and dress left no doubt in my mind that the visitors to the kiva were Peruvians.”

Since 2005, my wife Joan and I have led meditations in several states using the Peruvian whistling vessels. We currently use a set of four Chimu-style replicas created by Don Wright, along with several produced by modern potters in Peru, and in the beginning used seven (again Chimu-style replicas probably created by Daniel Statnekov) loaned from a friend in Alabama. Again and again, we have been given amazing testimonials from men and women who have shared their own extraordinary visionary experiences with us that they had in conjunction with these whistles.

Here is the latest testimonial, in an email from Bret Oldham of Hendersonville, TN., dated Sunday, July 26, 2015: “I would like to thank Brent and Joan for bringing the whistling vessels last night. Several of us had visions while using them and participating in the ritual. I found the visions I had last night to be extremely rewarding. The first session last night it didn't seem to take long at all for me to get to that place of detachment of our world and be following my vision. The second time while I was only listening but surrounded by the sounds of the others blowing on the vessels it took a bit longer as I was distracted by Sandy's [owner of property this session was being done at] voice over by the patio steps. Fortunately, I did once again pick up on the same narrow path that I was walking on in the first vision. It was a dirt path that was surrounded by a lush green forest.”

“In the first vision while walking along the path I heard a male voice chanting in a rhythmic pattern saying ‘follow your bliss’. He said it three times then stopped. I then came up on a wooden door just hanging in mid air across the path. I could see light bleeding around the edges of the door. I opened the door and walked though. When I did all I could see was a white light. Not a real bright white light, more cloud like than anything. Right in front of me was a large feather floating straight up. I didn't touch the feather, only observed it and walked around it through the light. I didn't go very far when I came upon steps that looked like they were made of gold. I could only see to the top of the first 4 or 5 steps and then only more light. I could however see the steps extending out about 10 feet in both directions to the left and right of me. When I began to take the first step our session stopped.”

“When the second vision started I found myself once again walking along the same path. At first (there was) nothing. I wasn't seeing anything but I heard coyotes howling off to my left. Then I heard a loud, powerful waterfall up ahead to my right. Soon after that I came up on a Native American on the left side of the path. He was dressed in buckskin and a head dress and had long black hair. He didn't speak. Instead he simply gestured to me and pointed further up the path. I acknowledged his gesture and continued. Almost immediately I came to the golden steps again. This time I was able to walk up the steps that led into a room that also seemed to be made of gold. There were two large statues in each corner. The room was square with dimensions of maybe 40' x 40'. In the exact center of the room was a structure shaped like a pyramid about 7 feet tall. It looked like it might be made of crystal. It was purple and producing a pulsating glow. I felt strongly compelled to approach the pyramid shaped structure. I got close to it and could feel its strong energy. I felt that I was supposed to garner that energy so I spread out my arms with my palms toward it and let it fill me with the energy. I then stepped back and felt an electrical charging sensation throughout my body. I then opened my eyes and was back”.

“It took several minutes for me to ‘come down’, so to speak, from the experience. My body, especially my hands, were still surging with energy. I didn't really feel like speaking. Brent asked what everyone had felt and Gina [Bret’s wife] said she felt as if she had been ‘rebooted’ like cleaning your computer and rebooting it. I found that interesting given what I had just experienced. Robert [another participant] told of walking through a jungle followed by a large cat. He said he saw a larger waterfall. Wow! I had heard a waterfall. I began to tell what I saw and mentioned seeing the chief along the path. Melba [another participant] explained that she too had seen an Indian along a path looking very much like the man I described. Amazingly, Monte [yet another participant] had told Joan that he had picked up on an Indian chief, specifically Sitting Bull that had come up behind Joan but passed over her to get to me sitting in front of Joan. He felt that it was Sitting Bull who I had seen along the path. I felt honored and humbled to receive such a blessing.”

“The pieces of each of our experiences being a part of another's experience further validated my experience. Brent told me later that during the session he saw me open my arms and extend my palms out while my eyes were closed. I did not know that I had done this with my physical body, only in my vision. It was powerful, rewarding and enlightening for me and something that I dearly needed. I plan on further exploring some of the symbolism I saw in order to more thoroughly understand the full meaning of what I was given and meant to know.”

The following Saturday I saw Bret again, again at the home of Sandy and Sherrie Nichols of Thompson Station, Tennessee. Before leaving my house that day I pulled off the shelf a book by Jonathan Goldman entitled Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics. I had remembered that in the book the author had described during a meditation seeing a pyramid too, but when I read the account again these years later, on page 4, I was a bit startled at the similarities. He had described it as his first transformational experience with sound, and he found himself transported to a “purple pyramid made of crystal”! In addition, he too had been in the middle of a circle of chanters (instead of whistles). I showed Bret the book and he said he had never read it.

Speaking of pyramids, going back to that earlier phone conversation with Don back in 2005, he told me: “I’ve had many different experiences with the vessels and others that I’ve been with have had major experiences. Some of them were quite inexplicable. When I first started making them, I was tuning the vessels as a low (frequency), and then the next vessel, and the next vessel, as they progressed in frequency. When you’re blowing the vessels in a group you don’t know the order or anything, but I had one guy he said ‘Wow, you know, these vessels were set up in this configuration,’ and he put them up exactly by frequency and he said that they were set up in this triangle; that there is an astral triangle on the other side that matches it, so that there is a power center between this manifested triangle and the astral triangle.”

“The astral triangle?” I said questioningly. “Well that’s the best…I don’t know if astral is correct but, you know, when he set them up there is, in a different dimension or parallel universe, or whatever we may say, a set of vessels that are their counterpart,” Don explained. “Anyway that’s the way that he described it.”

“And he did correctly identify the different frequencies?” I continued. “Yeah,” Don replied. “That’s what amazed me. He put the highest vessel first and then he put the vessels behind that, in the triangle, in perfect order.”

Don also speaks of synesthesia, using it in his process of fine-tuning his whistles during their creation process. He shared with me how “I seem to experience increases in my color and hearing perception; it may be because of my almost daily experience of blowing them during their construction.”

Saying Good-bye to dear friends and contributors to AP

We’ve lost some fellow researchers and friends recently who have been near and dear to our hearts.


recently, on the afternoon of August 15th, Shirley Evans Martin, 53, a resident of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, who was hospitalized at Vanderbilt due to the onset of a sudden illness, passed away unexpectedly. Shirley, known as a gifted psychic, a paranormal investigator, an author, and a woman who was on the Native American path of spirituality, most important was a single and loving mother to her daughter Kassandra, 18, and a dear friend and relative to many. My daughter Chandra Harrison and I interviewed Shirley for Alternate Perceptions back in the July 2013 (#186) issue. Shirley also contributed a number of articles for us. Here are links to her interview and contributions:

Interview 1

Article 1
Article 2
Article 3

Matthew J. Graeber, 73, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, passed away, after a long illness, on March 6th. A serious minded UFO researcher and author, known for his critical and objective thinking, he was also a talented artist, had his own sign business for over 50 years, contributed political cartoons for the Norristown Times Herald, and also did ufological cartoons (see sample attached), as well as serious illustrations and articles. Matt also contributed some serious articles (complete with his wonderful illustrations) to Alternate Perceptions. One of my favorite features that he did, a 3-part series, was a very speculative but fascinating outside-the-box feature entitled Insectoids: Who Goes There? (2001, Issues 50, 51, and 52). This was back when our magazine was a print publication and not electronic as it is now.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024