Talk to the animals

Further to my last blog about bees, I’m staying with the theme of the natural world. Incidentally, Felicity and Marc, my Surf Coast bee-keeping friends, returned home from holiday at the weekend to find their bees had swarmed. Although they only got in at two in the morning due to a delayed flight, they were up at five thirty to catch the bees and get them safely into a new hive. Interestingly, bees are at their most tame when they swarm. Basically, they are too drunk on honey to bother with us homo sapiens; they swarm either because all is well, the hive is overflowing and they need more room, or the queen is old or in poor health and needs replacing. In this case it was the former reason and a normal spring occurrence.

I find the interaction between humans and the natural world endlessly fascinating. How can we understand animals better and avoid the ‘them’ and ‘us’ dynamic where we impose our will on them and deny them their wisdom and role in maintaining a healthy planet? I sometimes get emails advertising animal communication courses and have been tempted to sign up and find out how to talk to the animals. Imagine how much it would help when training Bertie if I could reason with him without resorting to liver treats, a training leash, the occasional spray of a water pistol, hand signals and verbal commands. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could get into a still and meditative space and communicate energetically?


If you think that sounds a bit airy fairy, then take a look at this wonderful documentary featuring the work of South African animal communicator Anna Breytenbach.

Here is a synopsis of what it’s all about:

“Anna Breytenbach has dedicated her life to what she calls interspecies communication. She sends detailed messages to animals through pictures and thoughts. She then receives messages of remarkable clarity back from the animals.Anna can feel the scars hidden under a monkeys fur, she can understand the detailed story that is causing a bird’s trauma, she transforms a deadly snarling leopard into a relaxed content cat – the whole animal kingdom comes alive in a way never seen before – wild birds land on her shoulders, fish gather around her when she swims, and wild unfamiliar baboons lie on her body as if she is one of their own.
This is the first full length documentary film on the art of animal communication.”

At just under an hour long, this is not something to watch at your desk. But I urge you to grab your tablet or laptop and watch it at home one evening. It’s not only incredibly moving – I was in tears (of wonder) by the end but also really interesting. It looks at the origins of animal communication in animal tracking and how indigenous communities still retain a special connection to, and respect for, the animal kingdom. Anna’s work is grounded in truth and integrity. There’s no hocus pocus, hyperbole, mystique or magic. She simply puts herself into a calm and grounded space, edits out the white noise and connects with nature.

It’s inspired me to interact with Bertie in a different way. If I still my mind and body and tune in, perhaps I’ll learn to talk canine with him. Then I can explain that he doesn’t have to copy the neighbours’ dog and bark at the fence or get all feisty when people come to the door… But, even if I could chat to him about the possum problem (he likes to bark at them every night or go looking for them), I think he would say: “Mum, get over it. It’s in my nature. I’m a hunter. That’s the way I am.” And he’d be right. However much we anthropomorphize our pets (think doggie yoga, puppy chinos, clothing, birthday parties and worse), they are animals and we need to remember that. Time for us to woof off for a walk…

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