The Dove and the Owl: Moving Beyond Childhood Fear

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(my dove Lily b sitting on his perch)

 

For the past few weeks I have had Great Horned owls calling around the house, for the first time ever. For many years I have seen them soaring low through the hemlocks on a nearby logging road after being mobbed by crows, but last winter all those old hemlocks were cut down. Today there is a hole in the sky where those elders once stood. Where did the owls go I wondered the first time I witnessed the devastating loss of these most gracious of evergreens that provided protection and food for so many woodland birds and animals.

 

Now, I think, they moved here.

 

Most amazing to me is that Lily b my dove is returning these evening calls by cooing back! This blending of voices between predator and prey captivates me. I know from living with Lily b for 25 years that he normally reacts to the presence of avian predators with stony silence.

 

Why is Lily b having conversations with these birds? The most rational explanation is that Lily b answers because he feels like it and knows he is safe in the house. Yet I am not satisfied; it feels like something else is going on here (He never cooed in response to the barred owls that called each night for years when they inhabited this patch of woods).

 

I have a long history with Great Horned owls that stretches back to my childhood, one that includes my relationship with my mother who often painted them. As a child I was frightened by these images of the Great Horned owl, probably because I was afraid of my mother.

 

During the span of my adult life I have rarely heard this owl hoot in the forest up until this fall, when these birds congregated around the house the night before a bear was shot in mid September, and then on the eve of my birthday when they once again engaged in animated conversation that lasted almost an hour.

 

I experienced gut level fear the first time this happened even as Lily cooed back and forth with the owls. The bear in question survived being shot, so my initial fearful reaction to the hooting was wrong…The night before my birthday it was impossible for me to ignore the possibility that my mother, in the form of an owl she once loved, had come to visit me. I felt confusion rising while listening to Lily b converse with the owls a second time because the symphony was quite beautiful.

 

Lily b is a telepathic bird who regularly comments on what I am thinking, and the fact that I was initially alarmed by the owl convocation while he was cooing in response might have been his way of telling me that in this case I had nothing to fear.

 

The longer I reflect upon this idea the more I think it might be true.

 

Now as the night closes in I listen to the owls calling back and forth and feel a strange sense of comfort.

 

What I appreciate the most is that the deep haunting hoots of these majestic birds evoke the mysteries of the forest and not old childhood fears.

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A Little Story about Telepathy and Dreaming

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I am a naturalist and ethologist who has studied many animals and birds in their natural habitat; my 15 year study of Maine’s black bears is perhaps the best example of the work I do. I am a dedicated animal advocate and telepathic communication is part of many if not all of my interactions with both tame and wild animals.

A couple of months ago I wrote a story about the telepathic relationship between my dove, Lily B and me. I put it on my blog and every day there after I noted that a number of people read it. At first I didn’t pay much attention but after awhile I couldn’t dismiss the odd sensation that this story was traveling from country to country in a very peculiar way. One day I counted 11 countries whose bloggers just read one article, the story about Lily B. Bloggers continue to read about my dove on a daily basis. This morning, for example, someone from Egypt read it.

I recently sent Lily’s story to a couple of editors to have it published. One editor responded saying she wanted the story but that I needed to make some changes and that she wanted more specific examples of how Lily and I maintained our telepathic bond. “What kind of things does he communicate to you?” she wanted to know. She also requested that I include a conversation between Lily B and me to end the piece.

I did not know what to do since what I had written was a true story and I resisted fictionalizing it because genuine telepathy works in very strange ways.

I approached Lily B with my problem asking for his help. He was swinging back and forth in his basket that overlooks the birdfeeder in an east window. I reminded him that this was his story and that I really needed him to help me create a better ending to satisfy this woman’s requirements for publication. Lily B listened intently peering down at me with one or the other of his very beady eyes. In this instance I spoke to him in English, just as I would talk with another human. Lily made no comment regarding my request and I went back to editing the story in another room.

In about a minute I had a very clear phrase pop into my mind: End the story with the fire that almost killed me. Of course, I thought. “Thanks Lily.” I sent him my feelings of gratitude expecting the three short coos that came back almost instantly.

 Lily B and I communicate much of the time without words being spoken by either of us, or one of us, as the above example indicates. Sometimes I will have a clear thought about something, perhaps a new insight, and Lily B will respond with his characteristic three short coos if I am right.

He also communicates with me when I have a strong feeling about something that might happen (that is usually, but not always negative). This kind of communication occurs through my body and usually I can’t articulate what I am sensing beyond experiencing fear and free floating anxiety if it is something threatening, which leaves me in a strange kind of limbo, second guessing myself. If the fear will manifest in a concrete way I hear that triple coo. At this point I surrender, opening the door to acceptance, no matter how difficult. I have learned to trust Lily’s judgment on these matters because I am a writer who has been recording these exchanges with my bird for 24 years. Lily’s response about the fire was the perfect ending to his story because it was the second time in seven months that a threat to Lily’s life had come to me in a dream that manifested in a concrete way. Twos completed a cycle, my dreams had taught me over the years.

This second dream simply said that Lily B would die. I tried hard to turn this dream into metaphor and attach it to my spiritual condition. I couldn’t make it fit…It wasn’t until I accepted the fact that Lily B might really be facing death that he sounded a triple coo, the first time ever that he responded to my thoughts/feeling in the middle of the night. I was so heartsick that I couldn’t fall asleep again.

Ever since we had moved into this rental space six months ago I felt threatened by negative energy. Within the space of a month a house lizard I adored was squashed in the door by the property manager, a hummingbird broke his neck on one of the windows and Lily B was attacked by an unknown predator and almost died from the three – inch gash than ran from his eye to his breast. Something was very wrong with this place on a psychic level – something I couldn’t name but could sense. Now it was February and I hoped that I could move out by spring…

Lily had recovered completely from the trauma he sustained during the late summer so it seemed unlikely that he would die from natural causes even though he was so old. I was on high alert, but had no idea what threat my bird might be facing…

One night a few days later while sitting in front of the fire on a low couch, I heard a strangled coughing sound. Turning around I realized that to my horror that I couldn’t see my bird. He was engulfed by heavy smoke. Screaming his name frantically I tried to get to him on the ceiling fan where he was roosting. When I managed to reach him he wasn’t there and I couldn’t breath. Still croaking his name I heard a weak choking sound and followed it until I found my poor bird on the floor. Grabbing him frantically, I raced out the door and put him in the car and stayed with him until he began to breathe more naturally. I later discovered that the fireplace damper had simply shut down by itself. Miraculously, for the second time in less than a year, Lily B survived an attack that should have killed him. We moved out of the rental the next day.

The night this editor’s request arrived I also had a powerful dream (this was what motivated me to talk to Lily directly about the story the next morning) reminding me that I communicate across species and don’t have to prove it.

I am an animal activist for deer and other animals and it’s twilight and the deer show themselves to me. There are at least 3- or 4 bucks all with antlers. One buck is larger than the rest with a huge rack of antlers. All of the antlers glow – they are luminous – and the colors keep shifting – rainbow colors. The deers’ antlers are all speaking to me through their luminescence and I can understand what they are saying. I am fighting for them to keep the land untouched so that the deer, elk, and other wild animals have wild places to roam. People are destroying the wild places and ruining the habitat the animals need to survive. I hear someone talking about me. “No, she won’t take money.” People are decimating the forest, prairies and desert and the deer tell me that all the animals will soon be leaving for good, but they tell me without words.

I awaken from this dream in a state of profound grief because I can’t bear knowing that the animals will be gone. I also understand that wild animals are talking to me just like Lily does – without using words, reminding me that I have this capacity to know what animals are saying and feeling – not just the animals that I live with but all animals. And of course, thanks to Lily B, I can own that interspecies communication is a gift I have been given by the animals because their persistence and my attention helped make it real. Telepathy is the means by which this kind of communication occurs, and it is strengthened and works most effectively between species that have close emotional ties as I do with deer, black bears, red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, hawks, herons, rabbits, lizards, hummingbirds and now golden eagles to name a few wild animal friends.

Today, animal communicators/ whisperers are “in” and have become part of popular culture. What I note is that most of these folks have ongoing conversations with animals that resemble those between humans. I find myself speculating on how much of this communication actually comes from the animal in question, because in my experiences, animals don’t use long sentences and don’t discuss current world issues at great length.

On the other hand my friend Harriet brings up an important point when asked about her opinion regarding those who are skeptical about communicating with pets.

“Oh, my opinion about people who communicate with their pets all the time while simultaneously believing that they aren’t communicating with their pets: they have walls in the brain!”

Walls in our brains? Well I had one too!

Below: Lily B on his perch in our bedroom where we all sleep together.IMG_1465.JPG

Cassandra’s Vulnerability

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While gazing out the porch window this morning I spied a roundish brown creature hopping around my flower garden. Grabbing my binoculars I was delighted to discover that this was the little hare that I had glimpsed disappearing under the cedar fence a couple of days earlier. As I watched this little rabbit she stopped, munched and then moved on repeating this pattern as she circled the garden. Her very bright dark eyes stood out from the uniformly oak brown fur. Curved stand up ears acted like radar alerting her to the slightest sound. She had a distinct oval white spot on her forehead, making her easy to identify. Getting a picture of her (I named her Heather although I have no idea why) was something of a challenge because she moved so quickly, and preferred the high grass and brush. Red clover was obviously a favorite but she had lots of tasty greens to choose from. Each year I plant three kinds of clover and dandelion for the bees and in hopes of drawing down a rabbit or two. I watched her disappear under the fence again surmising she might well have a nest in the tangle of prickly juniper. I was tempted to investigate but refrained because these animals will often abandon their young when disturbed.

An hour or so later I met Heather again up at the garage where she was sipping water from the snake dish. She let me come within about 6 feet of her as I spoke to her. I wondered about that white oval on her head. I couldn’t escape the thought that Heather had been marked; she belonged to the moon. When I continued to move towards her she slipped through the fence and vanished.

After the encounter with the rabbit I meandered around my “now gone wild” flower gardens which were festooned with bees, butterflies, and baby hummingbirds. What a busy world it is around here on a sweet summer morning!

Suddenly a sickening thud. Racing back towards the porch I searched for the poor bird that had hit the window. Unfortunately, it is fledgling time and young birds, still awkward fliers, have not yet learned to avoid my windows. When I saw the emerald feathers splayed out on the stones I cried out “oh no, not a hummingbird” and in that moment the tiny jewel shook her head and soared upwards into the crabapple tree flooding me with gratitude for all Life…

The cardinal’s lovely whistle alerted me to his presence in the white pine… Every morning he sings as soon as he sees me at the door. Today I responded “hi beautiful” and he whistled back “wheet wheet” followed by a series of rapidly descending notes and closing with three or more “chiwes” after which I said “I love you!” Some days we repeat this conversation a number of times. To say I feel blessed is an understatement.

Birds have been much on my mind because we are leaving on a trip and my house dove Lily B has been ill. I am so used to hearing him sing that his silence has been unnerving. Yesterday while sitting in my very wild garden I asked Nature to take care of him as only she could, and that if it was his time to die, to make it a good death…In my mind I spun a thread around Lily, my dogs, me, our home and land and stretched it out to include the place we will visit containing us all – animals, one human, and two patches of wild earth – in a psychic round. This morning Lily once again helped the sun rise with his melodious cooing. Coincidence? I doubt it.

The intimate relationships that develop between some birds, animals and humans are based on respect and a shared need and desire to communicate. Interspecies communication has been around a very long time but we have been educated out of this idea and separated from nature to such an extent that we have lost the ability to believe what our senses tell us is real. I think of the mythological Cassandra…

In an intriguing version of the Greek myth Cassandra falls asleep and snakes whisper in her ears. Serpents gift Cassandra with the ability to understand the language of animals as well as an ability to read the future but because a god then curses her, she is not believed…

Snakes often represent the wisdom of the body and they were associated with women in a positive way during Neolithic times (6500BCE – 3000BCE) and up until the common era. To be visited by serpents might bring a wo/man into a positive relationship with animals and herself but also leaves her vulnerable to rational and logical thinkers, who are frequently men or male –identified women.

Take the vignette about the cardinals and me. The pattern is always the same. Whenever I try to share a story like my cardinal experience, the carefully chosen phrase “what an interesting story” is usually followed by the naysayer’s rational and logical explanation dismissing the possibility or probability of interspecies communication. This kind of a knee jerk response is as boring as it is repetitive. It is also dangerous. Not only is my personal experience dismissed but so is that of the animal/bird/bee in question. I struggle to hang on to my own experiential reality and the door is shut on Nature’s sentience.

Our western culture has little room for relationships that are mediated through our bodies. We live through our minds in a disembodied state. Yet, it is these bodies that carry our feelings, so when we dismiss our emotions we lose access to truths that can only develop through relationship with others, human or non-human. Without access to genuine feeling we privilege mind over body and can think or talk ourselves out of believing anything that cannot be nailed down. Like Cassandra we have been cursed by the gods.

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