Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Harp By Any Other Name

Every musical instrument deserves a name and my harp would be no different. I started picking out a few names before I even got it; however, it didn’t seem right to select a name until I could actually see the harp. Whatever name I chose would have to reflect its character. Once I received my harp, I realized that it also had to reflect the beauty of the craftsmanship that went into its making and the richness of its magnificent tone. It needed to exemplify the air of wealth and prosperity that it gave to the room without even making a sound.

The harp has a decidedly male quality, so the name naturally had to bear the characteristics of that masculine energy, values that I associate with that energy’s greatness: strength, compassion, leadership and wisdom. There was only one name that I felt flawlessly personified those features: Magnus. That name by itself, however, seemed oddly inadequate, so I continued searching.

I hoped to find a name of Celtic origin and was pleasantly surprised to find one name that had different meanings in several languages, all of which characterized the very essence of this exquisite instrument. The name Dara means “star” in Cambodian, “leader” in Turkish, “wealthy” in Persian, “oak” in Irish, and “compassion” in Hebrew. In Swahili, the name appropriately means “the beautiful one.” This name even has an Irish spelling variation, which definitely appealed to me.

The ancient Celts believed that trees were sacred and were a great source of wisdom, bridging the upper and lower worlds, and revealing divine messages. The most sacred was the oak tree (Dara), which, like the Tree of Life, represents stability, strength, nobility, wisdom, spirituality, creativity, balance, abundance, connection, and seasonal cycles. While my harp is made of cherry and maple rather than oak, the properties of oak symbolize the very qualities I knew were embedded within the soul of this divine instrument.

Cherry and maple embody both feminine and masculine energy, while oak is distinctively masculine. Cherry is associated with Earth energy, which is well-grounded, unwavering and solid. It’s essence is stability and focus. Known as a traveler’s wood, Maple is associated with the very healing Water and Spirit energies. Considered the most powerful wood, oak is associated with all three energies. Oak is fundamentally the quintessential art of communication. Since music can be considered a language, attaching the name Dara to a harp made of cherry and maple didn’t seem too unreasonable.

Much gratitude goes out to Philip Boulding of Magical Strings who designed and crafted this beautiful harp for me, and to my friends Charlee and Gary who transported the harp from Washington to Colorado for me. I’ve waited four long years for a harp of my own – saving, working and trading for it. Finally, a harp now sits in my home – my harp – looking like it could belong nowhere else or be named anything but Dáire Magnus. I may be biased, but I believe that a harp by any other name would not sound nearly as sweet.

 Dáire Magnus

If you'd like to find out more about how you can also own a beautiful handcrafted harp of your own, visit Magical Strings on the web. If you're not sure about buying one or if you've never played a harp before, not to worry. Philip has harps available for rent as well as to purchase, and he teaches classes. You can also attend the Magical Strings annual harp camp, which is a grand experience.

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