Soulstrology founder Ambi Kavanagh
Rituals and Spiritual Practices
Can Planetary Gongs Heal Your Astrological Wounds?
In a sound bath at goop HQ (back in the good ole days: early February), beneath the louder sounds of singing bowls and gongs and chimes, you could hear one person snoring. Someone’s shoulder was thumping against the ground beneath them. Most people in the room were silent. And after the session was over, as everyone was walking out the door, you could hear chatter about how differently each person felt: Some were groggy after falling into long, deep meditation; others felt as if they’d just had a double shot of espresso.
Even though every person in the room during a sound bath hears the same thing, we all experience it differently. This may, in some cases, have something to do with astrology. (Stay with us.) Ambi Kavanagh, a sound healer, Reiki master, life coach, and astrologer, uses gongs representing the energy of the celestial bodies to guide sound baths. For example: If Pluto is generating a lot of intensity in the current moment, Kavanagh might draw Pluto’s energy into the room to help us work with those feelings. Or she might call in Venus for a dose of expansiveness. But because astrology isn’t just about what’s happening in the cosmos—how the planets pull our strings is as much about us as it is about them—each of us is going to feel that energy according to our own personal relationship with the planets and stars and asteroids that the gongs represent. Still have questions? Us, too: We asked Kavanagh to explain her process in the interview below.
For a taste, give one of Kavanagh’s astrological sound baths a listen: She recorded one of her signature Soulstrology sound baths for one of our digital In goop Health sessions. (The gongs in this session represent Earth, Venus, and Pluto.) She’s also just released her first book, Chakras & Self-Care, on practices to activate and balance the body’s energy centers and reconnect with nature’s rhythms.
A Q&A with Ambi Kavanagh
I’ve been obsessed with astrology my entire life. But it wasn’t until my life fell apart when I was about thirty-five—I was an entertainment and media lawyer—that I realized how powerful astrology really is. I realized I had been going through a really tough planetary transit that I wasn’t working with but pushing against. I wasn’t allowing myself to change, so I was being destroyed instead. I really started to study astrology, and I used my new understanding of it to transform my own life. Out of that I birthed Soulstrology, which essentially trains us to tap into cosmic consciousness. My method takes what’s happening astrologically, teaches us to think of it as a window of opportunity, and has us work with it on this physical plane.
Around the same time, I brought sound into my practice. I bought my first gong, and it just stirred something inside of me. I began to play sound baths for my Reiki clients and in moon circles I was holding.
As it turns out, astrology and sound come together in a very natural way. Every planet has an orbital resonance that’s unique to that planet. It’s essentially the frequency of its orbit around whatever it orbits around—in the case of the planets in our solar system, the sun—which is a measurable phenomenon that’s calculated mathematically. Then, each planet has a musical equivalent: a musical vibration—a note—that is translated from the frequency of that planet’s orbit. And certain gongs align with those notes.
The process of an Soulstrology sound bath looks like this: We represent those planetary energies on a musical level to harness them and create a unique sound experience based what’s happening astrologically. I start with a short talk on cosmic consciousness. Say we’re working with a lot of Plutonic energy, meaning Pluto is a major presence in what’s going on astrologically right now. Thinking about themes aligned with the planet Pluto and thinking about what I want to create for the audience, I’ll bring in a gong representing the frequency of Pluto’s orbit to help myself and anyone else in the room work in harmony with that energy. And there may be elements of other planets I want to focus on. I’ll bring in those gongs, too.
Every sound bath I play is unique. When you listen to different sounds and vibrations, they affect you differently. People come up to me and say, gosh, this sound bath felt like this, and this other sound bath felt like that. That’s not random. It’s because what you’re hearing are different frequencies that summon the core astrological energies of a particular planet or a specific group of planets.
There’s a logic to it, which is how I choose which gongs I bring with me to a sound bath. But it really comes down to how you feel.
First off, at the beginning of any sound bath, I let the audience know about the gong combination I’m bringing in. And I make sure to note that in astrology there is no right and wrong; there is no good or bad. There is just duality to every aspect: A blessing in the curse. A hardship to receive the gift. I’ve had two people on exactly the same planetary transit sit in exactly the same sound bath and have two completely different experiences. There’s so much grey area in terms of how we’re going to experience the planets and how we’re going to experience sound based on where we are in our unique journey.
With that in mind, there are some gongs I’ve been using lately. Here’s a picture of what kind of energy they work with and how some of them might work together in combination:
Pluto is a transformer and a destroyer. It’s a very deep, intense planet. So when you get a sound bath with a Pluto gong in it, you’re going to feel that depth and intensity.
Venus is about self-love and creativity and harmony and peace. I am playing her a lot with Pluto as she is helping me channel what I would like our world to channel: the destruction of the warlike approach to our differences. Venus instead ushers in a peaceful, loving acceptance of the other.
Earth energy is grounding. I have found that my audiences and I need Earth more than ever this year. When you listen to a sound bath with an Earth gong and a Venus gong, you feel all of those high vibrational Venusian qualities but in a super grounded way.
Chiron is a minor planet, and in astrology, it represents the wounded healer. If I’m helping people work with Chiron energy, a Chiron gong might raise their wounds, whatever they are, up to the surface and help transform them into wisdom and fuel that energizes that person to move forward. It might help them feel healing come up within themselves. Sometimes people feel that as a sense of release or an aha moment. So if I’m bringing in a Venus gong and a Chiron gong, those energies work together on issues around love and self-love. Do you have issues in intimate relationships? Do you have issues around receiving? Do you have issues around abundance and creativity? All questions that we can work with using the two energies Venus and Chiron.
I play crystal chakra singing bowls. Playing these crystal bowls, I achieve certain notes that represent and activate each of the seven chakras—the primary energy points in the body. When people have very physical reactions in a sound bath, such as twitching or feeling physical pressure, it often has to do with the chakra system.
For me, for a long time, it was my throat chakra that was coming up a lot. I would be receiving a sound bath and feel like something was pressing down on my throat. What I figured out was that I wasn’t yet speaking up for myself. I hadn’t found my voice. I was stifling my creativity and my real self. I didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore, and I had all these other things in my life that I wanted to change, but I wasn’t pursuing any of that.
Feeling like you’re struggling is not relaxing, and it’s not what anybody would really expect out of a sound bath. For me, as a sound healer, it’s been a lesson in how differently sound can affect different people at different points in their life and even from sound bath to sound bath. Sometimes, yes, you’ll go in and totally relax and nearly fall asleep. Other times, you’ll walk in and be completely activated: Your mind is moving, your body is moving, and you’ll feel totally uncomfortable. But you need to trust that whatever you’re getting is exactly what your body needs and that it’s unique to you at this precise moment with this particular combination of instruments.
Ambi Kavanagh is a sound healer, a life coach, an astrologer, and a Reiki master based in Los Angeles. Kavanagh founded the astrology coaching program Soulstrology and is the author of Chakras & Self-Care. She was formerly an entertainment lawyer in London.
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