"The Story of Harp Magic"
The Music of Peter Sterling
Written by Jonathan Collins
It is a drowsy, warm Sunday afternoon. I am sitting on the patio at Local Hero, an Ojai bookstore and coffee shop. It’s a good place. There’s caring behind it - a love of books, a love of music and art, a love of fine tastes and smells. It’s more than just a business. It’s a gift to the community that comes straight from the heart. You can tell - look in Bobby Huston, the owner’s eyes. Beneath the shifting patterns of surface emotions, you can see his inner beauty and his kindness.
I am with a friend, Maria Hemingway; we are sponsoring an evening in Ojai with Neale Donald Walsch, whose book, Conversations with God, is securely ensconced at the top of the bestseller list. We are discussing the arrangements for Neale’s visit.
A friend of Maria’s is about to play the harp. Maria whispers to me that his name is Peter Sterling and he channels music from angels. I watch him as he sets up the instrument. His movements are very precise and calm. He seems quietly at ease and very centered. He positions himself at the harp, flexes his fingers and then begins to play music that is…angelic.
The notes tumble out in melodic waves that resonate in every part of me. They caress my mind and quiet it; soften my heart and open it; whisper to my soul in its own language and soothe it. I can feel my body relaxing. A sweet, healing energy flows through me. I become very still and clear, and into this stillness the words, "Ask Peter to open the evening with Neale Donald Walsch." Drift like sailboats across a calm sea.
During the intermission, Maria introduces me as the person co-sponsoring Neale’s talk. I compliment Peter on his playing and am about to broach the subject of his opening for Neale, when he interjects: " Perhaps you’d like me to play at Neale Walsch’s talk." Taken aback, I lamely reply that it’s a wonderful idea. He adds: "It came into my mind when I was playing the second piece." Wow! My wits return to me. Excitedly, I tell him that the idea popped into my mind, too, at exactly the same moment. A special feeling is exchanged between us - I know we’ll be friends.
Later, we meet at the Ojai Coffee Roasting company and Peter tells me his story.
"It started when I moved to Sedona, Arizona, in 1990, after I had been living in Colorado for ten years. I was a ski instructor, spending almost every day up on the slopes above Aspen, skiing in the rarefied atmosphere of the Rockies. As I flew down the mountain side I had a vision of living a different kind of life. I had always had a sense of being a creative artist and I always wanted to pursue that dream. I knew I had to leave Colorado and find a creatively uplifting place that would nourish me spiritually. I felt strongly guided to move to Sedona.
"I was used to listening to my inner voice. As a young boy, I had a grandmother who repeatedly urged me to pay attention to it. The voice was faint, but audible, and over time I began to trust it, although it’s led me into places that to this day I still doubt - it’s taken me along strange, less-traveled road, for as yet unexplained reasons.
"Once I moved to Sedona, people soon came into my life who had very different lifestyles from mine. They lived clean, healthy, spiritual lives, and they became my teachers. I loved hanging out with them - learning about myself, how to take care of myself, how to cleanse my body and have an experience of clarity.
"Under the influence of these new friends, I changed my diet - I became vegetarian and started eating sprouts and live foods. I also met a chiropractor who was a very talented healer and a shaman. I had sessions with him five times a week, and he would do incredible things to me - a skillful application of chiropractic practices, herbs, tinctures, and sounds.
"At this time, I was living in my van in the canyons outside Sedona. It is an extraordinary wilderness area - very powerful energetically. As I explored these canyons I noticed a marvelous silence there and an incredible presence. I began to spend time meditating, sitting on brick-red rocks by gurgling creeks. As I progressively allowed my mind to quiet, I began to hear what seemed to me the sounds of some kind of celestial music, an angelic choir. My hearing began to alter so I could perceive more - instead of the third eye opening it was as if a third ear was opening.
"The music was orchestral, with strings and choir, on a stupendously grand scale. Grander that anything I’ve heard on earth. Many mystics have talked about this - the music of the spheres.
"Around this time, I began to feel that this music was wanting to come out of me. It needed to flow through me and be expressed. I had never mastered an instrument before, although I’d always been musically inclined and had a good ear for music. I had this musical talent bottled up in me, but I hadn’t found an instrument with which to express it. Finally, after thirty-two years, as I listened to this inner music in the Arizona wilderness, I discovered what my instrument would be - the harp.
"Immediately, synchronistic events started to take place. A woman had a small Celtic harp she wanted to sell, so she let me try it and at once there was a recognition. It was almost like a cosmic connection. The universe cheered and said, ‘Yes, he’s found his instrument.’ It felt really right, and so I ended up purchasing the harp for a few hundred dollars.
"This led me into a period where I was very much impassioned and obsessed with the harp. The instrument had a small little carrying case and each day I would go into the wilderness and play for four or five hours. I’d hike back into the canyons and find a magical place and play for the wind and the rocks and the little animals that lived there.
"I took a couple of lessons from the woman - how to hold it and how it worked, but then I just taught myself. I felt that I knew how to do this, that something was trying to happen with me. Within the first few weeks of playing, this melody started to come through, sort of a recognized feeling. I was hearing the inner music and at the same time the was music was harmonizing with the harp. I realized that there was some form of energy around me, working through me, and thought it must be angels.
"It was around the time of my birthday, and I climbed to the top of a ridge above a canyon and I held my harp up in prayer. I said: ‘I know you’re with me. I’m ready to receive the gift of this music and I offer myself up as a vessel for it.
"It was as if they had been waiting for my permission. I sat down and surrendered myself to this powerful force, and began to play. I was totally relaxed and my hands began moving as if I was a concert harpist, as though I had been playing all my life - it came through that strong. My fingers were playing by themselves with a virtuosity that I had been totally incapable of until that moment. It was such a powerful force. So much love and light was coming through that tears were flowing from my eyes.
"I began to connect more and more with what I perceived as angels playing through me. I increasingly listened to my inner voice, and it seemed that they were communicating with me, telling me that I was to work with them to bring through this celestial music. At first it seemed so far out that I didn’t really understand or believe it. Sometimes I would sit in front of a mirror and play, just to convince myself that I really was playing - it was such a unique experience I couldn’t believe it was happening.
"After a while, I asked the angels to show themselves to me. One of the first times I saw them, I was playing at sunrise in the forest. I was walking back to my van and I saw a light hovering above it, about the size of a fist. I blinked my eyes, doing a double-take, and as I began to look at it, it got very excited and began to move rapidly back and forth. It did that for a few seconds and then shot up over my head and flew away. It was like a Tinkerbell kind of thing.
"Each time now, when I went out and played in the power spots and vortexes around Sedona, I would ask them to appear for me. I would perceive shimmering light around me and they would begin to take on a form. At night I would see them much more clearly. I would see them flying around in front of my face, leaving little trails like fireflies. There was a whole swarm of them and they would begin to dance in front of my eyes. Slowly they became distinct, and I saw that they were little cherubs, such as you would see on the Sistine chapel.
"I still perceive them to this day. They’re with us now. They like it when we talk about them. You can catch them in the corner of your eye. You can’t see them with your three-dimensional eyes, though; they’re in a different dimension.
"One of the things I liked to do was to hold out my finger and have them alight on the tip of it. They would hover on my fingertips, looking at me, and I could make out their faces and wings, and I could tell they were holding harps. They were celestial musicians.
"After a few months of playing this celestial music, I was guided to Byron Bay in Australia. I met a talented musician there who had a recording studio, and my guidance from the angels was to work with this guy and record some of the melodies that were coming through. So I did that, and I played the songs, and he added strings and flute, and we made a tape.
"I remember walking along the beach at Byron Bay. It was a beautiful place with sub-tropical rainforest coming down to a crescent-shaped golden beach that stretched for about ten miles. Dolphins and whales were playing just off the shoreline. As I walked there, listening to the recording on my walkman, my inner vision opened up, as if projected onto a screen, and I saw myself going back to America and recording an album as a professional harpist. They showed me the whole thing. They showed me the actual CD and that it was in a catalog and that the right people were going to show up to market it. It was all going to be taken care of.
"I moved back to Sedona from Australia and bought a bigger harp. I played it for about a month, and then I got the message that it was now time for me to make another recording. So I booked a studio. Before my session I said a prayer and asked for the music to come through clearly. I got into the studio and this powerful energy came into me from the angels and I played from my heart for about an hour and a half. Almost the whole time my hands were moving by themselves. My eyes were teary, so most of the time I couldn’t see what I was doing. Some musicians turned up who donated their talent and played some guitar and keyboard. And by the end of it (I worked on it for about a month) I had a little cassette containing eight songs. I colored the cassette labels myself and gave them to a few friends and also put them in the bookstores in Sedona.
"In this way, I began to promote and market my cassette, but it was difficult for me to make the phone calls and put the necessary business energy into it. So I prayed to the angels and told them that if they wanted this music to go out, I needed help. I did a little ceremony and a ritual and then I let go of it.
"About a week later, I got a phone call from a record company. One of their executives had been on vacation in Sedona and had heard my tape playing in a book store. He found my number on the label, called me up, and offered me a recording contract. I could hardly believe that it was happening and that the angles had worked so swiftly and effectively.
"I signed a contract with the company for five albums over five years. They digitally re-mastered my cassette and pressed a CD out of it. We called the album "Harp Magic", put a nice cover on it and started distributing it all over the world. Three weeks after it was released it was nominated for a national award - NAIRD, the National Association of Independent Record Distributors. It’s like a baby Grammy award. What Sundance is to the academy awards.
"Many incredible things began to happen. I would get letters from people who would write me and tell me that the angels had healed them with the music, how it had helped them through difficult times. I really believe the angels’ energy is present on that record, and that you can have a direct experience of it.
"So it’s been quite a journey and I’m still on it. A lot of people are having angel experiences all over the world now. I think it’s happened at other times, at critical junctures of human history. The angels come as our brothers to help us through difficult transitions. They influence us with their love and inspire us to go for the light and to go for love.
"The music has that frequency in it. It can heal people, open their hearts, create great visions in their imagination. It can inspire them to reach for something higher."
When Neale Walsch came to Ojai, Peter played his harp
for half an hour before the start of the talk; but members of the audience
were chatting with each other and not paying much attention. When Peter had
finished, Neale took the stage, and then called Peter back; he invited him
to play an accompaniment to a guided meditation. This time, the audience
was so attentive you could hear a pin drop. In the stillness a new, palpable
presence could be felt; a sense of new energies arriving - a gathering of
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