The Beginnings of Music and Religion
Whereas Melody is the cry of Man to God, Harmony is the answer of God to Man.
It requires but little imagination to realize that in primitive Man there must have been desires and yearnings, which he could not understand, still less put into words, however much he may have tried. Mere speech was a totally inadequate means of expression; he needed something more forceful, yet less definite; and he ultimately found it in a rudimentary form of song. He discovered that when he sang, his petitions in some unaccountable way seemed to have been heard, and so his yearnings were stilled; he obtained an emotional relief, as a distraught woman obtains relief when she prays to the god of her own religion. It may seem extravagant to say that through music the first concept of God was aroused in the human mind, yet when primitive Man deemed his prayers were heard, he naturally came to conceive of a Being higher than himself--a being who could watch over him with parental care. Hitherto his conceptions had been entirely phallic; he had regarded “the portal through which a child enters the world as the actual Giver of life”; but after he had discovered song, he conceived the idea of the great Mother, the very first deity to whom he turned for consolation and protection from the evils of the precarious existence.
The next stage in the evolution of religion is common knowledge; when once this idea of the great Mother had been formulated, Man fashioned her image in wood or stone and carved figures of her in caves, for he felt the need of a concrete object toward which to direct his worship. Finally, having fashioned his idols, he appointed someone to guard them and minister to their supposed needs; and in this manner the office of priest originated. It was the priests who by degrees improved the primitive type of song and transformed it into a species of chanted spell. These spells were committed to memory and handed down from generation to generation. Only much later were they notated. One of their effects was to increase religious fervor, with the result that men began to sway with their bodies, to dance and clap their hands. In the course of time the most elementary form of drum was invented to accentuate the rhythm. This lead to the invention of other instruments and so to the actual birth of music as an art.
We see, then, that from the very beginning, music was associated with religion, and that the priests played an important part in its systemization and development. Indeed, according to the Akashic Records, the first priest who was selfless enough pure-heartedly to serve humanity was enabled to hear music of the higher spheres; and to him it was given to know that whereas “Melody is the cry of Man to God, Harmony is the answer of God to Man.” But although, needless to say, he was unable to translate what he heard into earthly sounds--the means being lacking--it inspired him with the idea of introducing a greater variety into the existing musical phrases, so from that time onward, music very gradually became more diversified.
The priests, having discovered the potency of the above-mentioned mantras or spells and realizing that if certain notes were reiterated definite results could be obtained and definite powers brought into action, used this particular form of magic--for magic it was--for noble and constructive ends during the earlier periods of Atlantean history. Under the influence of Initiates, sound was employed to build beautiful and wonder-inspiring forms; but in the later phases of that mighty civilization it came to be employed entirely as a force for destruction. Discordant sounds were deliberately used to shatter and disintegrate. As every occultist knows, the practice of magic for evil ends was responsible for the downfall of the continent, and thus perished not only that dark phase of its music but also the scientific knowledge of the application and potency of Sound, which had wrought such havoc. Wherever some particular power or aspect of knowledge has become vitiated by abuse, it has been permitted by the Higher Ones to fall for the time being into obscurity, to re-emerge again eons later, perhaps as a purified overtone of itself.
Among the first composers to be instrumental in introducing this overtone of the ancient Atlantean music was Debussy. In more occult terms he was unconsciously used by the Higher Ones to carry over Fourth Race sound-vibrations into the Fifth. To this end he made a study of and absorbed the characteristics of Javanese music, which is a remnant, though mellowed and modified, of the Atlantean, and which, I should add, exercises a powerful influence through the astral on the physical body, especially on the solar plexus. An obvious example of this Fourth Race music mingling with that of the Fifth is shown in his Fetes in which ancient chants actually associated with the temples of the past subtly mingle with a wholly modern and irresponsible element.
Debussy was succeeded by composers unconsciously expressing the harsher and more destructive elements of the Atlantean music, albeit at a higher point of the evolutionary spiral, since, as I elaborated in chapter 22, this destructive force is used to disintegrate obsolete and baneful thought-forms of various kinds.