Experiencing Interspecies Communication (Africa)
In setting up For the Love of Wildlife (FLOW) and representing animals in our human world one of the things that struck me was “who consults the animals?” Whether that be a political platform, animal law, advocacy, forum or blog…who actually consults with the animal kingdom directly?
I’ve had experience with animal communicators through the White Lion Protection Trust and we’ve all seen Anna Breytenbach with her very powerful documentary on the black leopard “Spirit” but interspecies communication is a relatively new concept for most and certainly there are a lot of skeptics.
Moving forward with FLOW, I thought it imperative that this become part of the ethos of what we do and that consultation with other species is necessary to define the work. It’s time to drop human arrogance as it’s evident we’ve made many, many mistakes and it’s time to allow nature and the animal kingdom to guide our way.
Stella Horgan and myself embarked on a remarkable journey in November 2014 with multi award winning documentary film-maker and avid researcher Craig Foster, commencing in his home territory, between Simons Town and Cape Point Nature Reserve in the Western Cape, South Africa. Craig introduced us to cold adaptation which he believes is the true design of the original human, that we contemporary humans over-compensate with heating and over dressing, creating too much comfort, which takes us out of our relationship with nature and the natural stimulation of the elements. If we return to our cold adaptation capacity, our health and lives would improve and we’d certainly have more energy.
Our first experience with Craig was on a very windy day (those notorious Cape winds!); the water on the Cape can be around low teens – not for the faint hearted. We immersed as a group and surprisingly lasted about 15 minutes – not bad for first timers. Over the week some did immerse for up to an hour and that was snorkelling so head in as well. Invigorating and healing and with the wonderful kelp forests (they are amazing to float on) oxygen/nutrient rich oceans really did have a striking impact. It was vividly evident in everyone that something had “kicked” in; clear and smiling faces radiating freshness.
Craig is definitely dolphin and his love and passion for the ocean is a joy to witness. He generously shared the landscape he navigates and knows so intimately and one morning surprised us by bringing a cat shark out of it’s cave to connect with us. Through his capacity to fully love and be available to this beautiful creature, the catshark trusted enough to come forward and allowed him to cradle her with the same grace and beauty you would show a beloved. To witness this, an animal that had willingly entered his arms, and to watch her trust in return was beyond anything I’d witnessed before and was especially moving. When he released her, she seemed intoxicated and gently swam off between our legs, no darting or racing you’d expect from an animal that’s been held.
A few days later we shifted focus to a day of “original man” where Craig had designed clothing and jewellery for a documentary he’d created from his findings and research along the coast of the origin of our species. We partnered and then went to covering each other in ochre and clay, just like original humans would have – what a transformation! All of us were so surprised by the results and again were deeply touched at our connection to the earth and what significance deep immersion can bring. A very powerful exercise in returning to our deep ancestral roots.
Anna Breytenbach joined us to add the interspecies communication component. Her capacity to communicate with such brilliant clarity had everyone focused and absolutely present. She offered exercises and practices and we ventured out to share with the local wildlife. When the baboons came too close to the road Anna simply escorted them back up the mountain to safety, a baby grabbing her legs until it realised she wasn’t a baboon! The Western Cape baboons are misunderstood and constantly under attack from local authorities who use paint ball guns to scare them away from carparks and residences. Anna knows some of the horrors these animals endure and shared one story of an adult that had died and due to an accompanying film crew the authorities carried out an autopsy. What was discovered is that this baboon carried something like 76 wounds of gunshot and pellets in its back, a terrible discovery and one that describes a painful existence in a very painful body. These baboons are persecuted and desperately need protecting, with the Cape Nature authorities on a mission to exterminate them, refusing to acknowledge their value, contribution to the ecosystem or right to life.
To complete our time with Anna she took us to the rocky coastline at Cape Point and instructed us to spend time communicating with either animal or nature, the ocean, the sky, the land. As a finishing round she had us gather in circle to tone (using sound as an intention of thanks and respect in return for what is offered by the natural world). During the process Craig was very surprised to notice a sea otter that had emerged from the waves close to us on the shoreline. These shy creatures usually like to be active between the transitional time of day and night and here with us was a very curious animal. Coming in close and weaving through the water, standing on back legs to get a better look, it was obvious we had this beautiful otter’s full attention, and he was intrigued by our sounding and the intention of gratitude we were sending to nature. The experience lasted around 10 minutes and we were all stunned, so full of excitement at this incredible encounter.
The next chapter of our journey took us to Khwai River, Chobe, Botswana to be with Alwyn Myberg, a highly sensitive and in tune guide, who shared his understanding of bird language with us. Camping on the Khwai River was truly breathtaking (yes, complete with drop toilets and outside showers!). Botswana has banned trophy hunting and as Stella beautifully surmised, there’s a sweetness and depth that is held by the land and the animals here in the absence of guns and people who track to annihilate life.
Alwyn’s childhood in the Kalahari allowed him to rove freely in nature and to spend time with the Bushmen of his area . This activated a level of sensitivity in perception and witnessing his skill with bird calls and animal behaviour was extraordinary. Incredible accuracy was displayed when he found a python, which was ingesting a newborn impala by listening to bird calls. This python was in a pit and had fallen logs and other bush around it, not easily spotted yet Alwyn discovered it. Within half an hour more alarm calls alerted him to another python on a kill; this one was in the process of crushing a stork in water…and if that wasn’t enough, another half hour and another python…just passing through. The calls could tell him what kind of animal activity was going on in the bush, whether it was a cat, a snake, a mongoose.
One other story (there are so many) is when on an evening drive with the other guide Matusi, a man with a smile that lights up the world and a dear friend of Alwyn’s, we came across a herd of bull elephants on the river bank finishing the day with a long drink. Instead of looking, taking pictures and moving on we asked if we could sit and stay with them. And we did, we sat, we toned (very softly) and then the magic unfolded. One male took an interest in us and slowly and gently moved toward the vehicle. There’s a section of rippled skin at the top of the trunk and between the eyes that seems to move independently and more sensitively than the rest of the trunk. My guess is it’s where they transmit and receive telepathic/intuitive information. The other members of the herd had finished drinking and were loving each other with touches, trunks delicately caressing each other, finding each others mouths, lips, faces – and we sat and were enveloped by a transmission of exquisite resonance of heart. We were so touched that the emotions rose and even the men were crying. This was truly a blessing. One of our friends began to wonder where the younger elephants were and put the question out to the adults, and then, out of the bush, came the young ones who curiously engaged us and then went on to drink. We were left speechless and stunned, unable to integrate the enormity of connecting like this with this awe-inspiring creatures.
We made our way to meet the rest of the group and arrived in a truly altered state which Alwyn noticed immediately. None of us could socialise and it took us some time to come down from what we’d experienced.
Experiencing deep ecology, allowing the time and space to drop into the magical web of life in such rich and beautiful landscapes is what the human soul seems to be homesick for. These exceptional humans, Craig, Anna, Alwyn and Matusi have developed their interspecies relationships because of their love of life, their love of the earth. We all have these gifts available to us, as our early human ancestors did, and if only we can trust enough, detach from the threads we deem “safe” and fall into the void without any attachment to an outcome, we too can commune what our home, this earth.
The question for us all is: Are you ready to dive into the mystery where the only thing that’s certain is there is no safety net? Are you willing to be surprised and not know what the outcome will be? Are you willing to discover aspects of yourself you never dreamed existed?
If you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.