Talking to the Animals

In this time of disconnection from nature on our planet, I have found increasing comfort connecting with animals. They live instinctively, following the rhythms of the earth, the changing seasons and the changing climate. They've adapted to us and I wonder how much we've done the same. Sometimes I look around in awe at the amount of animal life in my neighbourhood: communities of crows, chickadees, raccoons and skunks. In those moments, I also look in awe at the people sharing spaces with these animals and I notice the lack of connection.



For a few years, crow has been my animal totem. Guiding, teaching, reminding. Walk the talk. Be the change. Speak your truth with courage. Crow has been instrumental in healing from a long and challenging relationship, because I learned from the lessons of crow to value myself. This may sound esoteric and even if it is, it's most definitely practical. Take a moment to think about the behaviours of crow. A crow is 100%, unapologetically, a crow. Confident, majestic, resourceful, creative, protective and an active member of the community.


That's my take on crow.


This morning, I opened my window widely to breathe in some fresh air and there on the branch I saw a beautiful woodpecker. I've been feeling less connected to crow lately and more drawn to woodpeckers. A few months ago, I learned that the mysterious song bird I couldn't identify was indeed a woodpecker. This beautiful song, I feel it in my heart centre. It is magical and uplifting and I feel it calling me. Until this morning, it didn't matter why I was being called; I was simply in a space of sweet surrender each time I heard its enchanting song. Today for some reason was different. I opened the window wide enough to move my whole head and shoulders outside and I inhaled the sweet autumn air and warm smell of the golden leaves covering the overhang. I said hello to the woodpecker and it continued to flit about, tapping gently on the tree. Suddenly, it turned and flew right towards me, fanning it's tail-feathers. Mouth gaping open, before I could duck, it shifted direction and floated straight up towards the roof.



I smiled. Gratitude. These moments can't happen without presence. We have access to these moments all the time - to witness and participate with nature. I thought I could learn about animal wisdom from books and I've learned an important lesson from the wonderful, late Ted Andrews. Reading his words has taught me to experience animals. Watch their behaviour. Learn about their habits, their migration patterns, their habitats. Animal wisdom is something we can so easily learn by opening our minds and hearts to the possibility that animals can speak to us. There are many ways to communicate and we often forget that communication is more than words.


It doesn't matter how we connect; it matters that we DO connect. I love inhabiting this planet, being a part of my community as well as a part of the nature that surrounds me. I am compelled to care for my space because I have reverence for it. I think now we could use more reverence for nature and for each other. Like Mother Teresa so wisely stated, it as if "we have forgotten that we belong to one another." Our opportunity is to connect and speaking with the animals can help us do just that, by helping us to simultaneously connect with our environments and our innermost selves.



I don't know much about woodpecker wisdom so I looked it up, in my Animal Speak book. The 2 words that stand out to me in the passage are 'rhythm' and 'drumbeat.' Woodpecker wisdom reminds us "that it is now safe to follow your own rhythms." We are living in such a paradoxical time and it's because we are in a time of unprecedented transition. If you are looking for comfort as we move through these challenging times, consider looking to nature for support and contemplate these questions:


  • Where do I have easy access to nature? This could be a local park, your backyard, a trail. What animals/birds am I seeing around me in nature that I don't understand?

  • How can I observe these living beings more closely and experience them without trying to control? What does this teach me?

  • What do I appreciate about nature? What do I love about nature?

  • How can I benefit from animal wisdom?



Because we are nature, connecting with nature can help us feel grounded, centered, calm. When we develop care and reverence for nature, we open our hearts to it. This impacts our decisions, and helps us to be more mindful about how we treat our earth, our home. It doesn't matter how you connect; it just matters that you do. Today, for me, it's talking with the animals.


What does connection look like for you?


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I would like to acknowledge that the land on which I live and work is the unceded territory of the of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations.