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The Light Conversations 15: Jill Purce

Giada del Drago interviews author, voice teacher and family constellations therapist Jill Purce.

In the 1970s Purce developed a new way of working with the voice, introducing the teaching of group overtone chanting, producing a single note whilst amplifying the vocal harmonics.

Jill pioneered the international sound healing movement through her rediscovery of ancient vocal techniques, the teaching of overtone chanting, the power of group chant, and the spiritual potential of the voice as a magical instrument for healing and meditation. She pioneered the practice of healing family and ancestral traumas with her Healing Family and Ancestor and Resonant Family Constellations, and the activation of the mandala as a living practice with her extended Mandala Ceremonies.

Her 1974 book about the spiral in sacred traditions, art and psychology, The Mystic Spiral: Journey of the Soul was a seminal influence. The Bishop of California describes her contribution to the 1990’s installation of the labyrinths in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco "She helped inspire the birth of the modern labyrinth movement. Jill’s groundbreaking work with the labyrinth was inspiring, informative and important…it couldn’t have been done without her work.”

After her postgraduate Fellowship in the Biophysics Department at Kings College London, working with Maurice Wilkins (Nobel prize for DNA), with whom she dialogued on the relationship between art, science and spirituality, she lived and worked in Kürton with German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, exploring the spiritual dimension of music. She learned overtone chanting in the Himalayas with the chant master of the Gyutö Tibetan Monastery. In 1974 The BBC made an hour-long documentary film about Jill and her work More Ways Than One: The Mystic Spiral. She produced over 30 books as General Editor of the Thames and Hudson Art and Imagination series. This series pioneered a thematic approach to the spiritual and psychological meanings of the art of different cultures.

Jill has been following the philosophy and practice of Dzogchen since 1978, when she started working with the Tibetan Lama, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. She lectures and conducts workshops internationally, especially The Healing Voice, exploring diverse forms of spiritual chant and guiding non-singers and singers in their pursuit of the lost voice. She has taught the English National Opera and The English Shakespeare Company, as well as teaching in hospitals, schools, monastic communities, and businesses. In the last 20 years she pioneered her workshops, Healing Family and Ancestors, a unique combination of Family constellations, chant and ceremony. Some of her published articles include: Patterns of Growth in Nature and Consciousness; Time and the Music of Form; Creative Tension; Harmonics of Mind and Body; Sound in Mind and Body; Healing Resonance; Re-enchanting the World; The Healing Voice; Being in Tune. Her vocal recordings include Overtone Chanting Meditations and The Healing Voice.

Jill lives in London with her husband, Rupert Sheldrake and their two sons Cosmo Sheldrake and Merlin Sheldrake. Rupert is a biologist with 90+ scientific papers, best known for his hypothesis of morphic resonance. He is author of 9 books and co-author of 6. Merlin is also a biologist, with a PhD from Cambridge. His book, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures, is out in May, 2020. Cosmo is a professional musician, composer and multi-instrumentalist who's latest album, The Much Much How How and I, includes the song Come Along which was featured in Apple's ad for the iPhone XR. He was recently invited to compose music for The Cirque du Soleil.

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