It is very popular around the world to offer vibrational “didjeridu healing” by playing the instrument on chakras or towards the affected parts of sick or injured people. Some practicioners of this claim to be using a power inherent in the instrument or something from Aboriginal culture. Other didjeridu players around the world have been known to condemn this practice as fooling around in sacred Aboriginal business, or as just plain foolish.
When asked at the 2004 Garma Yidaki Forum about healing and the didjeridu, Galarrwuy Yunupiŋu spoke of the value of discipline and the greater sacred whole that is Yolŋu life. It is not just the sound that is healing, but the whole process from creation to decoration to playing to dancing to the music it is part of. Yidaki is part of the greater system of discipline that is all of Yolŋu rom. To put it another way, a properly lived Yolŋu life is a healthy one.
Public Yolŋu healing ceremonies do involve the yidaki, but only in its normal role as accompaniment to song. The songs and dances that call forth ancestral powers closely related to the “patient” create a healing atmosphere. These powers are specific to the people and places with their kinship connections – they are not something that can be learned and taken overseas. They belong to the land they come from. Many Yolŋu consider any other sort of didjeridu healing to be ridiculous, especially when mixed up with elements of other cultures.
Galarrwuy acknowledged above that further healing with the didjeridu is done, but that this was inside knowledge not to be shared in a public forum. His brother Mandawuy has also made similar comments in print. Djalu’ Gurruwiwi, the best known Yolŋu yidaki player and maker, sees the yidaki as both a tool of his own culture and as his Christian mission. He has been known to play on the bodies of non-Yolŋu visitors with healing intent.
While opinions vary widely, the majority opinion in the Miwatj at this time seems to be that outsiders practicing healing with the didjeridu is a bit funny, but all right as long as they don’t claim that they have any knowledge of or connection to Aboriginal use of the instrument. Non-Yolŋu “didjeridu healers” are practicing something new based on their own experience with the instrument, not something ancient from Arnhem Land.
If you have found something useful for you, by all means continue to enjoy it, but know that it is not for or from Yolŋu.