Days after my only child went off to a New York State college barely two hours away from where we lived in the mid-sized post-industrial city of Schenectady, NY, I did what I had heard other mothers did when the nest emptied out: I sat on his bed and cried. My one precious little bird had flown. How ridiculous, I thought as I sobbed. “He isn’t dead,” I told myself. “He’s only in Delhi.”
That moment was the seed of my book, "In Their Own Words: soul to soul communication with animals," which I am introducing here. Book, meet World. World, meet Book.
So we have the seed. Now we need the soil, and that soil would be the terroir of Sonoma County, rich in farmers, foodies, artists and healers, and wine. It's where I live now, 3,000 miles away from Seth's childhood room and 26 years beyond that moment's tears. We never know what unexpected patterns our lives will follow as we move from year to year, and in my case from one coast to the other, or what fruits our lives will produce.
Sitting there on Seth's bed, shoulders slumped and shaking with my sorrow, I knew immediately that what I needed was to be around horses. I had always loved horses but never knew any well. I had ridden a horse at least once a year throughout my childhood on trail rides at Bennett’s in Lake Luzerne, had taken riding lessons as my required phys ed course at Skidmore College, and had gone riding a couple of times in New York City’s Central Park while living there in the late 60s.
Days later I was feeding and hugging polo ponies in a friend’s small herd at 7AM and 7PM every day, and feeling emotionally whole again. I loved the horses, their smell, their bulk, the way they would rest their heads on my shoulder or the top of my head.
One day, a book on audio tape caught my eye in the feed room. I regret not having written down the title and author of the book, and cannot remember either, but the title included the words “Animals” and “Communicate.” I recalled a story an animal communicator had told at the 1989 Tucson conference on inter-species communication about how she’d been able to help an elephant in a zoo. The zookeepers had called her in because the elephant had become uncharacteristically aggressive. The elephant told her that it had a pain in its foot and, sure enough, there was a sizable foreign object embedded there. I wondered if I might be able to help animals in some way, as well. I borrowed the audio book. As a lifelong meditator, I easily understood the principles and method of intuitive communication the book outlined.
The day after I finished listening to the book on tape, I led Springer, a young bay pregnant with her first foal, from the corral to the barn with happy anticipation. She was always docile and friendly. I looked forward to hearing what she might have to say and hoped she would tell me if she had a need that was not being met.
I attached her bridle to the cross-ties in the grooming area so I could use both my hands while she stood patiently, loosely and safely tethered. I picked up the brush with my right hand and laid my left hand on her shoulder. I circled her rib cage slowly and gently, massaging as I went, moving back to her flank. I said silently, “Your baby is growing beautifully, Springer, getting nice and big. Soon you’re going to have a lovely baby.”
And I heard in my mind, in a low, nervous voice, “I don’t want this baby.”
The emotional force of her response caught me off-balance. Fortunately, my experience as a mother, teacher, and counselor to at-risk teenagers grounded me so I could remain calm. I continued grooming her, and said back, silently again, “Oh, Springer, I’m so sorry to hear that. Why don’t you want your baby?” This was amazing. It felt and sounded exactly like a real conversation. It was a real conversation.
“Because,” she said immediately, sadly, as if repeating a mantra, “it’s not good to have babies.”
I did an inward double-take. Had I really heard what I just thought I’d heard?
“Why do you say that?”
“Allie told me.” Allie, a lovely Palomino in her ninth pregnancy, and Springer were constant companions.
Suddenly, my heart was pounding. I had entered a world of unanticipated relationships richer and more vivid than I had dared to imagine. It was clear immediately that just as I needed to be open and willing to consider uncomfortable challenges when speaking with others of my own species, communicating with another species required the same.
“Oh, Springer, sweetheart, I am so sorry to hear that.”
Indeed, I was sad to know that nervousness and confusion riddled her awareness. She had taken on the belief of her trusted friend. “That may have been Allie’s experience, but maybe it will not be yours. I hope you can just love this beautiful baby inside you and enjoy him or her. You’ll see. There is such love with a baby.” I was eager – and nervous – to hear what Allie had to say.
I finished grooming and massaging Springer, led her back to the corral, and drew Allie out and into the ties. I began the same, caressing her neck, her shoulders, her bulging abdomen.
“Hello,” I said, beginning the process that was still less than an hour old for me.
“Hello,” I heard back as a lackluster response.
Believing that she might not want to hear how lovely and big her baby was getting, if my understanding of Springer’s communication was correct, I forewent small talk.
“Allie, did you tell Springer that having babies isn’t good?”
“Yes,” I heard, with a bitter clarity that stopped my hand. Picture a moody teenager, head down, brows knitted, looking up just long enough to give an answer she never thought anyone would want to hear.
“Why?” I leaned my forehead against her shoulder, stroking her.
“Because they leave you.” For a brood mare, heartbreak soured every pregnancy, including this one. There was nothing I could say, just as there would be nothing I could say to a human mother whose babies are taken, time after time.
“Oh, Allie. I am so sorry.”
I knew I had to report to Allie’s owner , who had lent me the book. When I told her, she listened and to her credit made no attempt to diminish or dismiss the tragedy she didn’t know she had been facilitating year after year. I didn’t ask, nor do I know, what happened to the foals born that year. Soon after my conversations with Springer and Allie, the barn’s landlord sold the property, and I no longer had access to Allie and Springer.
This first foray into animal communication was a blind plunge into heartbreak. I now understood that this path would demand my full attention at every step. Far from mere translation, this would be a journey of advocacy and, if possible, healing at the soul level for both the animals I would meet and for myself. It wasn’t until years later, looking back on these two seminal conversations, that it hit me that they mirrored what had driven me to stand with these two other mothers: our children had left us.
Even so and perhaps now more motivated by the tragedy of my first encounters to listen carefully to the animals I would be privileged to open to, I knew I had made the right decision to enrich my suddenly empty heart.
When I moved to California in 2015, I had lots of assumptions about what my life might look like. As I followed my nose in my new life, few of those assumptions manifested. A much richer, more joyous life has unfolded. The work I thought would be keeping me busy was not what I imagined, instead, crafting a collage of ten years' worth of animal communication sessions, "aha" journal moments, and downloads from the spiritual matrix that holds me safe.