New Moon Gong Ceremony
Hearing about the special New Moon Double Gong ceremonies in Alphabet City, I was intrigued with how such an ancient, tonal sound would be instrumental to intention setting, a way to mindfully call into one’s life a goal or resolution, be it physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.
The event was led by two highly respected women from different fields: sound healer Lucy Child and clinical psychologist Emily Horowitz. How would they pair up to create this unique offering, I wondered as I walked into the beautiful, dreamlike setting of ABC Sanctuary with its stain-glass window flanked with butterfly wings painted on the walls, the space lit up by candles and a large tree branch on the altar. It felt as if something had started to shift in me before anything had officially happened. Mats lined up to perfectly fill the space, I found a spot, lay down, and waited for the magic to begin.
“[It’s] a really good time to work with intention: the beginning of things, the beginning of a new cycle,” explained Horowitz about holding this gathering on the New Moon. “And the gong is so good at helping you do that too because the power of sound is so strong, so to couple that with the New Moon energy just magnifies it.” In essence, the significance of the New Moon is like hitting the reset button on what you are trying to attract in your life, or what you're trying to work past or let go of. And lying there, bathing in what felt like tidal waves of sound, its power seemed so potent.
Repeating my intention to myself as I bathed in aural ecstasy, there was a release, like something had been sucked out of me. Something left my body and felt as if it hovered over me. I felt the vibrations of the room from the gongs and all the other instruments the two women used and was overcome with emotion.
Both Child and Horowitz’s first gong experience also unleashed extreme emotional responses in them. Discovering the gong in radically different ways—Child during a Kundalini class, and Horowitz at a Chapel of Sacred Mirrors Halloween party—both women felt an instant connection to the ancient instrument; entranced by its sound, they knew that it was something they needed to pursue.
“I felt a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety as things were coming up,” recalls Child. “It was, for me, a profound experience. I cried afterward. Right away, I just made a beeline to the teacher and the gong, and I said, ‘What is this thing, and how do I get one?’”
“I was totally transported,” says Horowitz. “The vibrations were just culminating in my heart, and I could feel my heart beating and this explosion of energy bouncing out of my heart, just this love feeling. It was amazing.”The two came to study the instrument from two different entryways: Child, disenchanted from the business of being a singer/songwriter, felt herself drawn to a sound-healing program at the Open Center; Horowitz sought out workshops and private lessons with master gonger Don Conreaux. “‘You don’t play the gong, the gong plays you,’” says Horowitz, quoting Conreaux. “But you kind of have to learn to get out of your own way and just be intuitive and just go with the flow with what the gong wants to do.”
“I had always felt like music was inherently a healing medium,” says Child. “And I was already into alternative therapies and healing circles—even shamanism.” Studying shamanism in locales such as Cusco and Machu Picchu, the feeling of community that surrounded the ceremonies and meditations she attended resonated with her the most. “We found intentions for ourselves, but as a community,” she says. “There was this big accent on community that I feel is lacking in our regular society. We're very individualized.”
Meeting at a mutual friend’s wedding where Child was playing her gong, Horowitz was thrilled to meet another female gonger and vice versa. “I had never met someone—a woman—who played the gong that wasn't Kundalini. So we just hit it off and said let's do something together,” says Child.
“Most [people] who are attracted to healing work are women,” says Horowitz, “but for some reason, in the gong community, there are more men. So it was really nice, and we both talked about that feeling, Wow it’s really cool to work with another woman and do this kind of feminine type of thing.”
And what better way to infuse the gong world with feminine energy than to host gong ceremonies in celebration of the ultimate feminine energy: the moon?
“I just feel like this is something that we need energetically, because I know how much I got from it,” says Child. “I just want to create a sacred space for people that they can go and release stuff and find comfort in the presence of others and music and sound and listen to the gong.”
The next New Moon Double Gong Ceremony will be held at ABC Sanctuary on Friday, August 9 at 9pm with an energy exchange of $25. To reserve a space, click here.
--By Jessica Mahler
--illustration Sharon Watts, to see more of Sharon's work, click here.