Monday, August 15, 2022

Accessing the astral plain in What Hallie's Writing

HALLIE EPHRON: Welcome back to WHAT WE’RE WRITING week.

I’m still getting started on a novel with three generations of woman, the eldest of them a psychic. She’s into auras--seeing them and taking pictures of them. Interpreting dreams. She holds meetings in her apartment and channels spirits from the astral plain.

I’ve been trying to make her meetings less cliched (hold the seance-y Bell, Book, and Candle), thinking about original ways that she might channel spirits and access their memories… Which got me thinking about Dumbledore’s pensive (in the last year I’ve read and reread the Harry Potter books, the ultimate comfort reads) and the strands of memory he could pluck from its waters with his wand.


And in my imagination, that wand turned into a long metal tuning fork. Strike the fork and apply its vibrating tines to the side of your head and conjure the consciousness of a dearly departed soul.

Sounded reasonable. Original, even.

But before I started writing I thought I’d better check on just how original this is. Lo and behold, I immediately came across an ad on Amazon for a set of Psychic Tuning Forks, five for $120. (Buy one and get a 20% off coupon for a “Tibetan Singing Bowl” (offered by the OHM store…) you can’t make this stuff up.)

Not only that, turns out when I Google TUNING FORKS CHAKRA, I get more than a million hits. Tuning forks are apparently a big deal in the self-help world. They’re peddled for “balancing body’s energy,” “reducing tension,” and “promoting emotional harmony.”


My idea is not in the least bit original: it turns out people do use tuning forks to communicate with the dead. According to an AMAZON ad, tuning forks can be “set to the brain waves of someone proficient in psychic abilities.” To do this, the ad contains this useful advice: “Always balance the Chakras and the Organs before tuning the Psychic centers, and always close the session with the Kundalini Tuning fork (included) to seal in the frequencies.”

I have no idea what a Chakra or an Organ is, how many Psychic centers there are, or what frequencies they’re talking about. Nor am I interested in finding out. But on I read to the how-to.

Apparently you bong the tuning fork, and while it’s vibrating place it where the base of your skull meets your spine. Then wait as the vibration carries the frequency to the brain. There’s more about how to manipulate the ends to activate the brain waves in the frontal lobes.

How do you know when you’ve done it? The ad provides this sage advice: “You will know when you get there."

The forks in the set each have their own names:
- Third Eye Tuning Fork
- Total Knowing Tuning Fork
- P.S.I. Tuning Fork
- Change Matter Tuning Fork
- Kundalini Tuning Fork

By now I’ve realize I’m realize I’m way out of my depth and I have wasted far too much time researching psychic tuning forks. No matter how good they are for “awakening” one's “third eye,” they are far too complicated and easy to get wrong. I’d hoped I could just make stuff up.

Did you ever think you were making something up, only to discover the thing exists?

67 comments:

  1. I’ve no idea about psychic tuning forks, but I can imagine how frustrating all this must be . . . .

    I’ve certainly made up my share of things [especially for first graders], but I cannot think of a time when I found that my silly idea actually existed [which is probably a REALLY good thing] . . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately I hadn't actually written anything. Imagine the Amazon reviews if I'd gotten it wrong!

      Delete
  2. This is so funny, Hallie. I went to an acupuncturist once who used a tuning fork somehow. I didn't know their use was so widespread.

    I'm sure you'll figure out something to make up that will be even better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Acupuncture is one of those things, when you first hear that it's really a common practice and seems to work, still sounds pretty farfetched. And yet...

      Delete
  3. Recently my chiropractor used a tuning fork to determine if my severely swollen and deep purple big toe was broken. (Damned tree root.) It was not. Apparently, if broken, the vibes will cause much pain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Saved you exposure to radiation. It's like my dentist uses ice to tell if I need a root canal. Guessing a tuning fork might be useful in some way in dentistry as well.

      Delete
  4. “You can’t make this stuff up.”

    And apparently even when you do make it up, turns out you haven’t. I guess magnets, mirrors and talking mongooses are equally unoriginal.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hmmmm... Magnets have possibilities. Mirrors, too. Magnets AND mirrors! thinking...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jade Rosina McCutcheonAugust 15, 2022 at 7:52 AM

    Hi Hallie, my mum was a theosophist and the leader of the group in Australia claimed she was Madam Blavatsky reincarnated. The services were mind blowing, great theatre! It might be interesting for you to look into Blavatsky, her life and the many dimensions of spiritual belief in that system.
    Of course, sprucing up ones Chakra every now and then never hurts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fascinating! Thank you so much, Jade! Going to search for Madam Blavatsky (great name!) right now. I went to one Spiritualist meeting here in the Boston area. It was fascinating but I was not converted. Also going to look up THEOSOPHIST. Btw my character is based on a friend of my parents' who was into auras and Kirlian photography, who taught at UCLA when they had a serious department of parapsychology. Back in the 60s. Fun times.

      Delete
    2. Hallie here: For anyone interested in Madam Blavatsky I found this excellent piece in Paris Review: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2012/11/14/secret-doctrines/

      Delete
    3. Thanks for the link, Hallie. I had heard of her, but never really knew anything about Blavatsky. Wow, she was quite a woman, able to influence many people with her ideals.

      Delete
  7. Tuning forks are great! I love watching a piano tuner do his craft the traditional way. I can't add anything to the spiritualism discussion. I did, however, suggest a modification to a personal care product and was on the patent application. Alas, someone else had the same great idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Speaking of patent applications, I was just thinking, WHY isn't there a product that will MAKE your cell phone ring when you call it, even if you've left it somewhere (in the house) with the sound turned off. And ringers that you can stick to your reading glasses so you can get THEM to ring.

      Delete
  8. OMG, Hallie. You thought it'd be a rabbit hole but instead, it's a black hole. Yikes!

    On the other hand, you can have YOUR character do anything at all. She is the expert. She will tell everyone that her way works for her!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True but but but... I have to believe in it to write it convincingly. At least believe in the possibility...

      Delete
  9. And here I thought tuning forks were for...tuning things.

    I made up the Lucky Dog Cafe in my Laurel Highlands series only to find out there really is such a place. Not nearly as exciting as psychic tuning forks, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many of us have had to abandon titles for our books, having Googled them and discovered we're not nearly as original as we thought we were...

      Delete
  10. Not me, but a book I loved as a kid--a forest inside a mountain. Turns out there is a cave in Vietnam near the Laos border which is so large it contains its own river and rainforest. Hang Son Doong (Mountain River Cave) was documented in 2009 and is the largest (not longest) cave in the world. A 40-story building could fit inside.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's magical... very Lion-Witch-and-Wardrobe-y

      Delete
  11. Oh my goodness so funny! There's a lot of woo woo stuff in the new age/wellness communities. My first masseuse started me off with "shiatsu" massage. This is like acupuncture without the needles. She would put pressure on the acupuncture points. I loved it and found it really relaxing. She then did a course of training about using tuning forks and started using tuning forks on the acupuncture spots. I liked the sounds of the tones, but am not sure it was really a massage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like an innovation that didn't quite work.

      Delete
  12. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 15, 2022 at 8:50 AM

    This is so great, and I cannot wait to read it! You will think of something. Have I ever had an idea that turned out that someone else had thought of? Yes! Long story, but I thought it was a brilliant original amazing and sure fire idea… And it got to the point of sending it to the patent office. That’s when I learned it had already been patented. Oh well, onward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally. With a lawyer. Sent it in. Yup.

      Delete
    2. I know we all aren’t patent attorneys, but the patent application even in simple patents can be fifty pages or more and it is an expensive process to get an attorney or patent agent to draft and file it. It is a fairly complex process, even in simple patents. One can search the patent data base to see if your patent idea has already been claimed and filed.

      Delete
  13. Fascinating stuff out there! I know nothing about tuning forks used for anything except tuning, but come to think of it, any kind of healing is a sort of tuning. I've had ideas that may or may not have been real products at some point. Medication in band aids is one. Another is a combination of sunscreen and bug spray. Maybe something like that was tried. Or maybe not.

    I was a Reading teacher and had the big idea that if I brought my dog into class, he could help kids read better. I even went so far as to talk to my principal about it and he said to write it up. For the school board, I think. But I never did that and now such things are happening in schools all over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judi, we have a bottle of combination bug spray and sunscreen in our stash right now.

      I totally think a dog would help kids learn better!

      Delete
    2. Judi, we did this years ago at our local library--the elementary school brought their summer reading class to the program. Those kids loved reading to two golden retrievers.

      Delete
    3. You know I am smacking my head now! Over and over!

      Delete
    4. My late goldendoodle was a library dog. Kids read to her and she never corrected them or made comments. She also worked in an autistic classroom, where the kids read to her. It’s very comforting and she loved it as well! (I went along for the ride…)

      Delete
  14. I once thought I'd coined the phrase "scared spitless," which I thought the height of humor and cleverness. It was a shock to realize many others had come up with the same thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merriam Webster hasn't yet heard of it but the Wikis are wise to it. Love the sound of it.

      Delete
  15. You don't hang out with enough pagans, Hallie. In those communities you can find all sorts of interesting beliefs and practices, with tuning forks and chakras being just the beginning. A word of warning, however. What you may consider absurd may be someone else's foundational belief. It's always best not to make too much fun of religious things, even if the religion does not speak to you.

    From the band world, I can tell you that trumpets and tambourines often played a role in seances back in the day. Just about anything you can dream up has been dreamed up before, so I suggest you simply dive in and find something that speaks to your character, whether it's candles, tuning forks, or a roll of the dice. By the way, there are many interesting kinds and shapes of dice, if you want to go down a completely different rabbit hole.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course you're right about it not being wise to belittle beliefs that may be fundamental to others.

      Delete
  16. What a letdown, Hallie! However, there are new ideas being born every day, so maybe just a twist to the tuning fork method would make yours unique. By the way, I'm intrigued by your three women!

    I once "invented" a clock that would announce the time, meant for the visually impaired, and even went as far as an appointment with an attorney. Who told me the idea wasn't patentable. I still don't believe that, but also did not have the tens of thousands of dollars it would have taken at the time to develop. Later, yep, talking clocks.

    In the mid-70s, some friends were all sitting around getting high and they decided there needed to be round spaghetti so little kids (and presumably, people with the munchies) could eat it more neatly. Not long after that Spaghetti-Os came out. Lots of conversations through the years of "They stole our idea!", accompanied by much eyerolling from those of us who weren't in on the birth of the idea.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hallie, I don’t think you can ever invent more woo woo than the actual woo wooers! I just saw a TV segment where a woman types a name into a little machine and the numbers it gives her tell her whether the person is dead. So Michael Jackson is still alive! Rhys

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallie Ephron - Hmmm. Isn't that the social security death index?

      Delete
  18. First off, Hallie, if anyone ever touched a vibrating tuning fork to the base of my skull I'd run screaming from the room. Intense vibrations make my teeth water (metaphorical, but an accurate description of the feeling.) What of you went with the other facet of the pensive, the streaming memories that emerge and swirl around? Perhaps your psychic could use an array of lightweght silk scarves, with different colors she chooses based on the client's aura?

    As for inventing something that turns out to be true; only names, several of which I thought were unique but which turned out to be not-quite remembered from my childhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could definitely do something with chiffon scarves... She drapes them over her clients' heads during consults? Or maybe drapes one over the lava lamp?

      Delete
  19. LOL - not sure about the tuning forks, but why not? After all all matter is energy and all energy can tune matter. Not sure I'd want to mess with it though. I mean there could be a fine line because tuned and tuned up!

    My very first book (yep, it's still under the bed, I just checked) featured a hurricane in Sint Maarten. It was so powerful that the sea pushed over the land and into the Salt Pond. When I wrote the book, I had friends who lived in Sint Maarten fact check it for me. They loved, it, but all said my hurricane scenario could never happen given the location of Philipsburg in relation to the Caribbean. Fast forward a few years to Hurricane Marilyn. She hit Sint Maarten and yes, the ocean pushed over the land and into the Salt Pond. I had several calls asking me to NEVER write another hurricane. Given the wide-spread destruction, it wasn't a prediction I wanted to take responsibility for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you see in today's paper cataclysmic flooding predicted in *the next 100 years* in California? I wouldn't want to be predicting that and turn out right.

      Delete
    2. I've been following that, Hallie. As if California doesn't have enough problems! Definitely would not want to predict that and I hope it never happens.

      Delete
  20. I pass this place often on walks through town (Arlington), they may be a source of additional info. Looking forward to “meeting” your eldest of three women when she is fully born. http://www.tsboston.org/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a theosophical center! That's what Madam Blavatsky (see earlier comment) was all about! I wonder if it's still functioning - I'd read that they closed.

      Delete
    2. I have friends who are theosophists, Hallie - I can put you in touch!

      Delete
  21. Not into tuning forks but I did think once that I’d invented this marvelous summer dish. I had zucchini, tomatoes, onions, mushroom, and a big eggplant. Dumped them all together with some evo and garlic and thyme and voila! It was a couple of decades later that I heard about ratatouille! All the time I thought it was my own creation.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Dear Hallie, I have trouble picturing you putting a tuning fork on your neck, but I will tell you I have a Tibetan singing bowl and there's nothing woowoo about it. They're turned clay bowls shaped in such a way that when you hit the side softly with a wooden mallet, they emit the loveliest, lingering note. They're used for sitting meditations - or just sitting quietly and breathing for calm. I came across them at a Buddhist center here but bought mine in - of all places - Burlington, VT! They're not precious, or expensive, or fringe-y, so may not work for your novel. Don't think they conjure up any spirits!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meditation makes complete sense to me... doesn't feel woo-woo.. Whatever gets you there. Put it in a book and you risk bringing your story to a looooong pause. It's why I'll never be any good at it. Impatience is my middle name.

      Delete
  23. I love your idea of the three women, Hallie! I'm trying to think of something you could use for communicating with the dead that would be surprisingly ordinary. Can't wait to see where you're going with this one!

    I'm always making things up in books that turn out to be true. The latest was a character name in A Killing of Innocents. Turned out there's a well-known (although not to me!) comedian with that name. Fortunately it was easy to change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Names. They are so tricky. I truly inadvertently once gave my villain the first name of an old friend, complete with her idiosyncratic spelling. She did not appreciate it.

      Delete
  24. HALLIE: Happy Monday and your new novel sounds intriguing! May I ask about the three generations of women? Are any of these three women Deaf or have any physical challenges? I am always looking for stories with deaf characters. This rarely happens. Usually if there is any disability, it is often Autism or ADD or something like that.

    Wonder if the tuning fork makes any sound?

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Intriguing idea: writing a Deaf character. That would be a huge challenge. I do remember reading a terrific one but so long ago that I cannot remember the title or the author. The title had a flower in it. The protagonist was a woman who was Deaf and she was a car mechanic. Fascinating the way it was written. Now if I could only remember what it was...

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Hallie. I remember a British author David Lodge wrote a novel about his experiences losing his hearing, I think the title was Deaf Sentence.

      Delete
  25. I love multi-generational books. Looking forward to reading yours, woo woo or not! Years ago I was on a plane and the young lady sitting by me was all impressed by her boyfriend who had some job on The Simpsons. According to her, he invented the expression "don't have a cow." She was a bit crestfallen when I told her we used that expression in elementary school back in the fifties. Also don't have kittens. Don't be a meanie cat. And so forth. Hallie, why not have your seer simply hold an article belonging to her client? I saw a lady in New Orleans do that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But holding an article is so expected. I wanted it to be unusual. But I tripped over too-fancy. But these comments have got me thinking....

      Delete
    2. Okay. How about the seer has a full bar--alcohol, mixers, etc. And she has her client make a drink for the seer. Supposedly whatever combo he/she makes will open up the pathways. And yes, I made that up!

      Delete
    3. A small dowsing rod held above articles belonging to several people--hers is drawn to and dowses on the article belonging to the deceased in question--if that deceased is open to/willing to/must/communicate with the living.

      Delete
    4. Flora, some folks use a pendulum for that kind of inquiry. It's a sort of fancy plumb bob on the end of a chain. They hold it over the item, and see which way it swings or circles.

      Delete
  26. When I was in college, many moons ago, I would drive over to a nearby town to visit my next-to-oldest sister there. My sister had a middle-aged lady friend who could see auras. I was a bit nervous when that friend was there one day, but she was a super sweet lady who didn't go around advertising her ability. What was scary was that if she didn't see an aura, it meant that person was going to die soon. Apparently, this was quite distressing to her, especially if it were a younger person. However, I couldn't resist and asked her what she saw. Now, she didn't bring any of this up herself, and if my sister hadn't said it would be okay to ask her, I might not have. But, I remember she saw blue. I think it was light blue, which means something like at peace with things going on around you. I'm sure there's more to it. So, I sighed a sigh of relief.

    Along the same lines as having a gift of being in tune with the energies, my father was a dowser (sometimes called a water witch, which he wouldn't like). ""Water dowsing" refers in general to the practice of using a forked stick, rod, pendulum, or similar device to locate underground water, minerals, or other hidden or lost substances." Daddy's skill was finding water, and he always kept a forked stick in the boot (trunk) of his car. He was in real estate, and he would use this tool on farmlands and such. I never thought much about it. It was just part of who my father was.

    I think that there are people who are absolute frauds in psychic and spiritual and connections to Mother Earth fields. But, I try to keep an open mind about all of it, too, as I think there are abilities we have that go untapped due to a closed mind. Remember, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, I had to laugh. I hadn't gotten to your post yet! I seem to remember you telling us about your father being a dowser. I've known people who could do this.

      Delete
  27. Hallie, you got me with the names of the tuning forks. The Total Knowing Tuning Fork? Who thought that up, and was s/he serious? Plus, I love the word Kundalini. My sister and I used to speak nonsense to each other when we were bored on long family car trips, and "Kundalini" sounds like our kind of made-up word. If tuning forks are already a mystic thing, how about switching to pitch pipes? My father used to tune his Appalachian dulcimer with a set of shiny metal pitch pipes, and I always thought they were quite mysterious looking.

    ReplyDelete
  28. You'll know when you get there - story of my life, I fear. Can't wait to see what rabbit hole you fall into next, Hallie.

    ReplyDelete