There's No Magic to Animal Communication
Sometimes, communicating with animals feels like magic, and sometimes the magic doesn’t work. That’s because there’s no magic.
There's No Magic to Animal Communication
(Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street. I took it as a sign to start singing, falling up into the bowl of sky. The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere. Nothing else to do.
Here’s the new rule: break the wineglass, and fall toward the Glassblower’s breath.
(Translated by. Coleman Barks, The Illuminated Rumi)Translated by. Coleman Barks, The Illuminated Rumi)
Photo by Julia Volk
We now know that in order to communicate with animals, we need to be authentic, and we need to be able to take what animals present to us at face value.
Animal communication is intuitive and therefore takes place in the realm we call the imagination.
“Wait a minute,” you may exclaim. “If animal communication is real, how can you say it takes place in the imagination? Things in my imagination are not real!”
Yes, that’s what we’ve all been taught. And as I mentioned, we foist this little white lie on our children to help them get past bad dreams and worries.
The imagination is the unbordered realm of the possible. The matrix of innovation, it’s where we go to find inspiration. In this chapter we’re going to hang out in the imagination, and you’re going to surrender – for a while – linear thinking. You’re going to let yourself “fall toward the glassblower’s breath” and explore intuitive awareness.
Feeling at home in and yearning for the soft edges of the imagination is part of our true nature: we’re hard-wired to return to non-linear reality, into the numinous, unified field of being that is who we are before physical birth forces our individuation. We find ourselves on the existential train headed spontaneously home when we lose focus, and we call it day-dreaming, losing track of time, or zoning out when it happens without our conscious intention.
The helplessly ecstatic path of falling that Rumi advocated is not the only way to enter the numinous, of course. We can make a plan and plot a course, and that’s what we’re heading for here.
I was lucky enough to learn from a teacher who knew how to make a point, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, who asked us one evening, “How do you pray?” He scrunched his eyes tightly closed, held his arms close in next to his chin, and balled his hands into fists, and said, fervently, “Please, God, I really need your help. Please answer my prayer!”
It was funny, and we laughed quietly. Yes, that’s what we do. And?
He opened his eyes, smiled with understanding, and nodded his head. And then he said, “How is God going to give you what you want when you’re so closed up?”
He stepped back a bit from the lectern and spread his arms wide, his hands wide open. He stretched his neck up and back a bit and looked up, then back at us. “When you pray,” he said, “open up. Otherwise how can you receive what you want God to give you?”
So there’s a clue and a suggestion: as you practice surrendering linear absolutes to possibility, be aware of how you’re holding yourself. Loosen up. Uncurl your fingers, open your hands, let your arms be limp at your sides or on your lap. If your habit is to pray with head down and hands tightly clenched, notice, in this position, if it feels gentle. If it doesn’t, move into a gentler position of prayerfulness.
Intuition opens the door to deeper insights, invention, and compassion. Even if you don't believe you're intuitive, you’ve probably had a gut feeling about something, a hunch or suspicion, or maybe an inkling or insight. And that’s all you need to begin.
The next step in our preparation lays the groundwork to receive the impressions, words, sounds, feelings, and all the other impulses we may feel when we open to animals.
"My time here has ended; it is time for me to go. As you know, we are all here under contract with the unified Great Soul of all being. I came here to learn how to notice in detail all the elements of a life: the smell of the grass, the feel of the winds, the small and the great; to attend to the small sounds of insects' wings and to learn to withstand the mighty wind of noise coming from all corners. I have learned what I came here to learn. Thank you for loving me and being my partner in adventures.” Greg
If you’re wondering why we need to prepare to receive, ask yourself if hearing the above words from a cat would surprise you. Well, you being you, maybe it wouldn’t.
People who are unaccustomed to engaging in intuitive inquiry may need some support before stepping out beyond the borders of linear expectations. Our consciousness is a palace of chimerical rooms and passageways that shift moment by moment as our senses bring us an endlessly tumbling stream of information. It’s no wonder that we feel overwhelmed. We rely on what we’ve assembled as our structure of priorities so that we can function, and we count on our inner judge to remind us of those priorities.
Our inner judge protects our ego, that inner champion whose emission is our survival. The ego doesn’t just push us forward to the front of the line so we can get better seats. The ego also holds us back from dangerous situations. So there’s no need to vilify the judge, much less banish her or him for good. Guardian of the gate, the judge is ever vigilant, determined to keep us safe from falling upward into the glassblower’s breath, careening off into the wild and wooly unknown where there be dragons. If we want to go beyond that gate, we need to make sure the judge is not going to come rescue us from our own imagination, so we need to put her – or him – to bed for a little nap.
Two brief visualization exercises will help you prime your intuitive apparatus: the first will help you put that judge to sleep so you can open the doors your judge wants to keep closed by telling you either that there’s nothing there – it’s just your imagination – or it’s too dangerous. The second guided visualization will lead you into your own sacred space, where you have kept your treasures safe, hidden away from the judge. In this sacred space your judge’s tools – all the thoughts and habitual points of view which obstruct your untethered exploration of the possibilities that are your birthright – melt like the Wicked Witch of the West under Dorothy’s splash.
In order to get the most out of each exercise, I recommend either arranging for someone who supports your intuitive explorations – an ally – to read the visualization to you, or that you record each guided visualization first. Then, when you have the time to focus on the process without the probability of interruption, settle yourself comfortably in a favorite resting spot and tune in to your own inner awareness, using the recording as a guide.
It can also work if, without recording it first, you soften your gaze and keep your ears tuned to the frequency of your inner thoughts, and in that relaxed state, proceed with your eyes open enough only to read the words on the page.
As you go forward, please keep in mind that you may not be a visual imaginer; maybe you can more readily sense smells, feelings in your body, or sounds, or maybe you find that as you go with this flow, certain memories pop up. Those memories may be your clues, rather than sights, sounds, or feelings. Just be sure not to follow the emotions into another path. Let them come and go.
Before you enter into the visualization, write on a piece of paper, “I promise to return to my normal waking reality immediately after completing this exercise and I will do so with a clear memory and understanding of the inner journey from which I am returning. So be it.” This is your contract with yourself.
Before we continue with this work, I want to show you why it’s so important to loosen up your perceptive apparatus. When we think of communicating, the first mode that may come to mind is a verbal exchange. Indeed, most examples of animal communication are verbal exchanges between the animal and the intuitive communicator.
But there is another element to animal communication that came as a surprise to me when I first began. We may not only hear, or perceive words, as coming from the animal; we may also sense how the animal is feeling physically and emotionally, and the inner landscape where we perceive the animal’s being. This inner landscape may include not only a visual, but may also bring with it a strong sensation of smell, of movement, as if the air is moving. We may perceive the movement of energy. This is an awareness of the multidimensional quality of being.
Here’s part of my session with Cara, a cat: Cara is a very wise being. Wherever she goes, she oversees the flow and balance of energy in the space. It’s not that she is bossy or manipulative in the normal way we think of those qualities. Rather, the nature of her being is to effect the subtle shift of energy patterns as she moves around.
Stuey, a cat, told me what he saw, another example of multidimensionality. “I can see a line from her mind – a blue line tinged with violet, seeking that which she had with me as her companion. Another companion will come in response to that call, for that is what the blue seeking line is. I can see that the new connection will effect a new development in her processing, as if until now, she has processed in a certain way, receiving impressions and forming responses in one way, and the next companion will help her shift her perceptual abilities in a new way. All change is good for growth.”
As you work with the exercises in this chapter, you’ll be stretching your intuitive limbs so that you will be able to embrace the multidimensional aspects of intuitive communication.
Guided Visualization #1: Good night, dear judge
Close your eyes momentarily if you are reading, or keep them closed for the duration of this exercise if you’re listening. Take a few deep breaths, releasing them slowly. As you do so, be aware of the sound of your breathing, in …and out, in …and out, in… and out.
Becoming aware of the body in a quietly contemplative way is a way into the holy, into the sanctity of your sovereignty. You exist in your body, you, the limitless being who breathes in many dimensions.
Imagine that you are contemplating a lovely view in a beautiful, comfortable home. This home is your inner home, and in this journey, it may not look like the place you enter with the key on your keychain. It may not be a structure any person built. It may be a beautiful grove of trees, or a lovely, protected sweep of beach.
Somewhere in this beautiful, comfortable home, the part of you who is ever vigilant for what might be a danger to you – your inner judge – has a very restful bedroom with all desired comforts. Turn now, and see this judge, your best friend in some ways, and gently escort this judge to the bedroom perfectly suited to their tastes and needs. Invite the judge to get into the lovely bed and take a nap while you attend to something you will do alone, in perfect safety. As the judge gets under the covers—whether they are blankets, a cloud, palm fronds, or perhaps a light covering of tropical water – be aware of your appreciation for this being who never sleeps, who is always in service to your well-being. Assure your judge that you will be gone just a little while. Pull the covers up over the shoulders, maybe kiss the top of the head, and gently turn away, wishing your judge, “Sleep tight.” As you leave the space where your judge rests, imagine that you are turning off the light, causing a peaceful twilight to engulf the room where your judge now slumbers quietly.
This is the end of the first guided visualization.
OK, the judge is snuggling under the covers, the room-darkening drapery is drawn closed, and you’ve tiptoed out of the room, having promised the judge you’d come back as soon as you’re done with your voyage of discover