BELLS = Points of Passage


From very early times, there has been a link in myths and legends between Bells, water and spirits.  Water was seen as the element that joined the world of the living and the world of the dead. Spirits could make contact through water and the idea of spirits coming out of the sea would not have seemed strange. It was also believed that the spirits of people who died suddenly or violently, or who had not had a proper burial, would not rest and would wander the earth. This included the many sailors who were drowned in stormy seas; their bodies were often never found.

This may have come from their use in real life, to be rung for good or bad times. Bells were used in celebrations such as weddings or to call people to pray. From Celtic times, they were thought to contain magic. The Celtic priests would throw bells into rivers, streams or springs to get rid of bad spirits and make the water pure. Throughout history, bells have also been used to signal good or bad news. Bells were rung at funerals or as a warning of invaders or war. They were even rung in times of plague, to tell people to bring out their dead. There are many stories of ghostly bells heard at sea or near to the sea and they are nearly always a sign of bad luck or a warning of a storm or disaster.

Bells are used in a wide variety of contexts. You probably associate Bells with religious activity, and rightly so, because they’re often ordained for some spiritual purpose. While some Bells are merely decorative or serve some benign practical function, their appearance and use usually involves idolatry and magical enchantments. The value in this study is in helping you correctly interpret the influences of the familiar world around you. Bells, chimes, jingles, cymbals and gongs are commonly said to be good luck and are often used to ward off evil spirits. Could the ringing of bells really exercise spiritual power, enabling some supernatural influence in the natural realm.

Any spiritual significance of any Bell comes from the hearer of the Bell, rather than the Bell itself. A case in point is bells rung on Sunday morning, and other times of the week. To some, the Bells are calls to prayer, and sometimes for some people, a Bell at a specific time is a call to a specific prayer. To others hearing the same sounds, the Bells simply denote the time of day, and to still others, they sometimes are only a nuisance to be endured.

“BELLS GEOGRAPHICALLY widely distributed and usually possess a clearly defined cultural status.  Legends surround them, and beliefs abound concerning their special powers to induce rain or to dissolve storm clouds; to thwart demons when worn as amulets or when placed on animals, buildings, or conveyances; or to invoke curses and lift spells. The concept of their purifying action is ancient, as is their use in ritual, especially in the religions of eastern and southern Asia. Chinese rang Bells to communicate directly with spirits. East Asia, the fading tone of the Bell is considered spiritually significant. Russian Orthodoxy, Bells directly addressed the deity–hence, huge ones were cast by both peoples to lend greater authority.

Bells are consecrated before being used liturgically. Bells symbolize paradise and the voice of God. Among the most basic and widespread uses of Bells is signaling–marking significant points of ritual, calling to worship, tolling the hours, announcing events, rejoicing, warning, and mourning. It’s common around the globe to find the belling of livestock and horses. “In folk-magic brass is used to effectively repel witches and evil spirits. The protection is thought to be similar to that given by iron. It is used to make various kinds of amulets. Brass bells are hung around the necks of horses, cows and other animals to protect them against the evil eye.” The Hebrews wore crescent moons to ward off the evil eye and they attached Bells to their garments to ward off evil spirits.

 In the Middle Ages the supernatural world was believed to be very real and close. Special protective powers were desired by the superstitious and were attributed to certain objects, including Bells. The Church itself condoned the use of Bells to frighten away evil spirits and this ensured its survival and development. Bells were actually baptized, and once baptized had the power to ward off evil spells and spirits. The use of the dead Bell was typical of this belief, rung for the recently deceased to keep evil spirits from molesting the body.

       The dead Bell was therefore originally rung for two reasons
**Firstly to seek the prayers of all Christians for a soul just departing;** Secondly to drive away the evil spirits who stood at the bed’s foot and about the house, ready to seize their prey, or at least to molest and terrify the soul in its passage; but, by the ringing of the Bell evil spirits are afraid of the sounds of bells, they were kept away; and the soul, like a hunted hare, gained the head start.”

Passing Bell – The name given to the Bell which is rung in the church when a person is near to death; it is said to have the effect of frightening away the evil spirits which are ready to take the soul as it passes from the body. In the medieval period, Bells were sometimes rung to destroy witches, as it was supposed that the sound of Bells threw them off their night flight and rendered their diabolic magic ineffective. The ringing of Bells is also associated with funerals, so sounds mimicking bells were thought to forecast death. The ringing of a wine glass was such a sound, and had to be stopped before its reverberation ended. Ship’s bells were exempted from this superstition, because they signaled time and the changing of watch duties. But if they rang of their own accord, as in a storm, somebody was going to die.

Tones have a healing effect on our bodies, calm our minds and awaken our spirits. The resonance and vibration of sound releases stress and emotional blockages in the body and calms the mind. The calming of mind expands conscious awareness and connection with spirit. Wind chimes thereby help enhance the mind/body/spirit connection bringing us a sense of peace and well being.

 A clock is an instrument for measuring, indicating and maintaining the time. The word “Clock” is derived ultimately from the Celtic words Clagan and Clocca meaning “bell”. For horologists and other specialists the term “Clock” continues to mean exclusively a device with a striking mechanism for announcing intervals of time acoustically, by ringing a Bell, a set of chimes, or a gong.

In the Middle Ages, however, members of religious orders were expected to pray at definite times. Failure to maintain godly habits because of cloudiness or variable flames was not acceptable. The monks and nuns were summoned to prayer by a bell. Soon someone realized that the elaborate astronomical model was not needed; a system of striking the hour with a series of rings of the Bell was sufficient. Sometime after that, people added a dial to show the hours with a pointer (hand). A similar pointer for minutes was not needed until clocks greatly improved in accuracy. Although the first clocks were installed for use in religion, within a few years people began to keep time by the hours, since the ringing of the Bell often could be heard or the dial seen all over a village.

The Agogo/ Gankogui is comprised of two conical-shaped flange Bells of differing size joined at their apexes. Each Bell is made from two arched pieces of sheet iron with a pronounced tapering so that when their edges are welded together a deep cone-shaped vessel results. The larger Bell is approximately twice as long as the smaller one. The apex of each Bell is welded to the flared end of an elongated piece of iron that serves as the Bell’s handle. A wood stick is used to strike the rims of the Bells, which are what vibrates most energetically when the Bells are played. The Agogo/Gankogui player holds the handle of the Bell in one hand with the Bells facing either upwards or downwards. The wood beater used to strike the Bells near their rims is held in the player’s other hand. Each Bell produces one basic pitch, and the larger Bell is noticeably lower in pitch than the smaller one. When held facing downwards, a seated player can, in addition to allowing the larger Bell to ring at full volume, also press it against her/his thigh to achieve subtle timbres effects.  

The Agogo/Gankogui is sometimes referred to as Ga-Kpe-Vi  “forged iron carrying a child”. The larger Bell is considered to be the parent of the smaller one. The larger Bell of the Agogo/Gankogui is tuned approximately one octave (Tin) below the smaller one (Go) – The person playing Agogo/Gankogui must have excellent time and not be distracted easily.

The Atoke/Apitua Bell, also known as a banana Bell, is common throughout West Africa. It is made from hand-forged iron and resembles a small boat or, as its other name suggests, a banana. The Bell is held in the palm of one hand, and sound is produced by striking it with a metal stick. Think of the characteristics associated with Bells. They usually were associated with carrying messages through the air and over distances. Clearing the air…changing the frequency in the air…clear messages as associated with the prophetic…these are the main ones that I connect with when it comes to Bells.

TimeKeepersIn our dream we may see Bells, or hear them or both. Bells are important to many religions and cultures around the world. They may be deep and resonant, light and joyous, sad or celebration. Bells are not things we see or hear as often as we might have in previous generations, but their symbolic significance still holds a profound sway over many of us. And while we may not see actual Bells so often in day to day life, we still have more abstract Bells around us in many forms – door Bells, the “ring tones” on our phones, the alarm clock and so on.

   The Meaning of a Bell in a Dream…  Bells call us to prayer, so in a dream they may symbolize a spiritual calling, or even a special message we are about to receive. Bells are used by town criers to announce important events, so in a dream we may hear Bells when our subconscious is trying to ensure we pay attention to an important piece of information it is trying to impart.

Bells at their most celebration signal an end to war, the highest of holy days or a wedding. To dream of such joyous Bells as this is a wonderful sign of exceptional and blessed transition. It may be an end to warning parts of our own personalities, a sign that we are reconciling deeply held internal conflicts. Dreams of such celebration Bells may signify a sacred union, a merging of our opposing male and female sides. These dreams can remind us of the very best that being alive is about. Bells can be joyous, celebration or even sacred. But Bells can be warnings, a call to action, a call for help or a symbol of passing. Bells help communicate between the world of matter and the world of spirit. If we dream of Bells we would do well to heed their message, whatever it may be. The ringing of a Bell or Bells can represent a message being delivered. For example, the ringing of a school Bell sends the message that class is beginning or ending. The ringing of church Bells sends a message that a significant event has occurred. The ringing of a delicate Bell or chime could mean there’s a message you need to pay attention to, either in the dream or in real life.

Throughout society and culture around the world, Bells have a multitude of meanings and purposes. Bells symbolize beginnings and endings. Bells are rung at weddings, funerals and to kick off boxing rounds. Church Bells gather people by summoning them to church or events. Bells announce that someone’s at the door or on the phone and warn us not to cross railroad tracks. Chimes tinkling in the breeze can relax us and help us guess the speed of the wind. Bells even have the power to tell us what to do! Alarm clocks tell us to wake up and school Bells tell us to get to class.

Reference Sources: Wikipedia = Bob Schlenker = Google Search/Photo =  


6 thoughts on “BELLS = Points of Passage”

  1. Babatunde Kayode = Bells are to signal, to call and get attention of all; inviting the Orisa to be present and guide, to invite the ancestors in participation of what we are about to do, to summon the earthlings for an announcement and to embellish rhythm of music and of the universe.

  2. Alafia Baba Yagbe, The information you are sharing is experienced in a way I cannot explain. I would like to know more and I would love to experience your workshops or seminars.Do you have a schedule of events? Sincerely,

  3. This is enchanting and spiritually elevating with the accompanying song. Akin to musical play at Benin Republic . I can hear ‘Orunmila‘splendid

  4. I recently polished and mounted a brass bell outside my home that my mother used to ring when we were young to call us in after a long day. It usually meant that it was time for dinner, or time to come home to the comfort of our family. In later years when we visited home as adults she continued to ring it to call us together or announce an event or happening. These were special vacation or holiday times with many assorted families and friends present. I intend to ring it as a way of honoring and remembering her, my father and the people I love in my life both present and in spirit. Namaste

  5. i was woken by the sound of jingeling bells at 12;45 A.m. the bells sounded like they were attached to a small cat who was walking around my bed, then I heard the bells drop to the ground. we don’t have a cat and we don’t have bells, I sat up and looked beside my bed there was nothing there. I’m terrified please help me understand whats going on.

    1. My son and I have heard hand bells ringing in the woods behind our home on several different occasions at different times/ hours of the day/ night. There are no animals with bells and we have searched the 3 acres right after hearing the sounds to find no one or anything that could have made the sound. Very puzzling to say the least. Anyone with any info on this phenomenon please reply.

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