“What matters is that we swallow our hubris and start acknowledging that
animals have many things to teach us.”
~Richard Wrangham, Michael Huffman, Karen Strier and Eloy Rodriguez, zoopharmacognosy pioneers
Wild nature's wisdom included animal presence. Animal. Anima….soul…feminine. There is sooo much to learn there in that wide and unapologetic presence called the other than human world.
It was one of those glorious Maui days …typical in the way the wind waiting patiently for the afternoon call to move in towards shore becoming blustery and often dangerous. A group of about 12 of us, scantily clad in our bikinis, boarded a private catamaran sailboat with drums and instruments and a desire to commune with the great cetaceans and headed out to the deep blue just a mile or so offshore between Lahaina and Kihei. There, where the ocean floor dropped to about 200 feet and the color of the light turquoise water seemed to turn towards a deeper more luminescent royal blue color, the skipper pulled in the sails and the boat slowed to simply drift in that deep blue stillness. Musicians picked up didgeree doos and drums and soon the rhythmic audio began to move with the toss and sway of the boat on the water. Suddenly a voice rang out, “whale! 8 o’clock!” Out towards the open ocean we suddenly saw a spout, and then what appeared to be a glimpse of a humpback’s head surfacing. We all watched, caught in a mesmeric dream as 3 adult humpbacks and 2 babies swam towards us. Quickly, most of us donned out flippers, masks and snorkels and slipped into the water. Drummers kept the rhythm ecstatically, sensing that these great beasts were drawn somehow to that music!!! I jumped into the sea…the temperature of the water was delicious and the light rays that mingled with the water’s movement was a spectacle in its own right. I pulled in my breath through my nose, inviting my mask to snug up to my face, put the snorkel in my mouth and adjusted my body in proximity to the boat…throwing out an imaginary line to it so as not get too far from it. The ocean floor was far out of sight there. I tread water there and looked out in the direction of where the whales were first seen. There, maybe 200 feet away, I could see this whales approaching us….approaching me! To see this from water level was extraordinary. Adrenalin infused my body just as any self respecting body might respond to a 66,000 pound animal moving towards my little body out in the middle of the deep blue sea. I adjusted my mask and looked below the water and towards them only to see that one whale was nearly beneath me already, just 30-40 feet down. I tried to remember to breathe as I floated, watching this mama and “baby” swimming directly under me. Unidentifiable sounds were released through my plastic breathing device as I squealed in astonishment. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Breathing hard through my snorkel, I watched, transfixed. Just then the mama let out a great burst of air bubbles from her blowhole right beneath me. They floated up towards me…enormous spheres of whale breath….touching me and separating around me!! I was thrilled, excited, deeply moved, nearly crying and sooo grateful. This was awe. The whales passed under our group and then turned only to return again and dive under the small group of us floating near the boat. Again and again they did this. I was in utter disbelief!! Why would they do this?? I could only believe that there was some kind of communication going on between the whales and us that was ultimately untranslatable and inaudible.. Some unspoken truce…a quotient of respect and peace…a spiritual gifting from them to us to be sure! After the whales dove beneath us several times, I heard the captain yell out to us that the wind line was coming and we needed to get back on the boat.
I hesitated…I so wanted to stay in this water with these great creatures.
But return we did. Timing was imperative as once the wind line hits, things start moving quickly.
Everyone of us felt stunned as we hauled our tired bodies back onto the boat…some were reporting their experience repeatedly, stuttering and stammering with amazement. Others were held in shocked silence. Others, like me, were in tears....with our gaze stretching out as if to stay a bit longer with these teachers of trust.
As we motored back towards shore, I reflected on the fact that Lahaina, less than one hundred years ago, was a lively whaling port and remained so for more than 20 years. These creatures with their enormous brains and giant hearts were slaughtered in these very waters by humans just like us. How could they trust us now? Why would they be willing to come so close, especially with their babies? Surely somewhere in their genetic memory they remembered this. I felt echoes of human stories of war and genocide, and forgiveness rise in me. Absolute gratitude rushed in my veins. I could only experience this event as a kind of spiritual gift. We had been blessed.
I learned much on that day…both in body and in mind. My body still holds that experience in its cellular memory, still feeling nourished by it.
We were respectful in our time with these animals…allowing them to come to us, no engines running, the whales were free to come or go and we, the humans in the water were not chasing, harassing or harming the whales in any way. And yet, with many species of whales still endangered, it goes without saying that it is important that the powers that be have had to heighten thier efforts to care for these beings. Since my experience laws have tightened and this kind of experience is rarely allowed without huge regulations surrounding such an event. In order to respect and protect whales, in many places it is unlawful now to enter the water when whales are nearby....it is, as well, admittedly dangerous.
Just the sight of such amazing beings is life changing.
We have so much to learn from whales and all beings, if we would only stop to listen deeply to what they know…to ask questions, witness their ways and listen with our hearts.
In February of 2018, I have the great privilege to get to bring participants with me to spend 5 days in the Sea of Cortez…sleeping on islands at night, paddling kayaks in the territory of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and abundant fish, snorkeling, and inviting this kind of communication that can change lives. We will enter with our souls attentive, our eyes and hearts wide open, with a willingness to do the sometimes challenging work of the soul and the earth steward.
Though we never know if we will have the honor of a close encounter with a whale or dolphin or other, we know we won’t, if we don’t show up and say yes.
If you are interested in a soul adventure of a life time, find out more here!! If you would like to join us, please send me an email and we’ll have a chat about it!!
I am already looking forward to it!!
Look for “Mind in the Waters” on my website: ItsOurNature.net !! Join us and feel the magic!