Sunday, February 13, 2011

THE VOICES OF THE ELEPHANTS part1

Dream Voices of the Elephants


The elephants first came to me in 1999.  I was so sure I understood what they were saying, I wrote about it and then I acted on it and went to meet them. On Epiphany, in the year 2000, the elephant, we now call The Ambassador, and a small group of us met in Botswana. Then I met the Ambassador again, and then again, and then there were other elephant encounters. I speak of these events repeatedly because they are such extraordinary events that we cannot, even ten years after that first experience, claim to understand within the ordinary reality in which we live day to day.

The advent of the patriarch, the Elephant Ambassador, the circumstances of his arrival, his appearance, again, to my husband and myself in the summer of 2001, were events so compelling, demanding and humbling that a small delegation of the wide ranging everyday gandhis team from North America, Liberia and Southern Africa traveled to Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana in 2006 to document, if we could, the reality of the Ambassador.  The Ambassador came again, and introduced us to his family, entwining his trunk with his mate’s, and acknowledging their two young calves.[i] Witnessed and photographed, he then astonished us by engaging in ritual contact, literally “throwing us a bone.”

We caught it!

It must be noted here that it was an ancestor bone, an elephant thighbone,.  Thus he called us into a sacred event of the highest order, offering us a mandate whose nature we cannot entirely understand yet and shaking the entire foundation of our thinking about the true nature of the world.

We did not know how to meet this event; we continue to ponder it actively. Accordingly, however, Cynthia Travis and I took the ‘Future Guardians of Peace’ – five ex-combatants and one former child refugees and other members off the everyday gandhis peacebuilding team on safari to Tanzania.

Another reason we went on this safari with the ex-combatants is that the appearance of an elephant and her calf during the Liberian civil war caused the LURD rebel Minister of Defense, known as Master General, now on our peacebuilding team, to tell his 36,000 soldiers to lay down their arms because, elephants are a sign of peace.[ii] The indigenous wisdom tradition of Liberia, as in much of Africa and many parts of the world, is based upon being guided by dreams, divination, signs and unusual events, such as the appearance of these elephants “The war is over,” Master General said. He considered this a message or commandment from Spirit that he could not refuse

The young men and woman who came with us on safari had never seen an elephant in the wild.  Though elephants are native to Liberia, the war had destroyed their habitat and they were hunted for food. The elephants who survived had gone into exile in Guinea.  That is another but related story of how the elephants in Liberia, as elsewhere, exiled themselves during the war and returned when it was safe … or so they hoped.

While waiting for the ‘Future Guardians of Peace’ to join us in Tanzania, we spent a few days on safari at the Ruaha game reserve. We hoped but could not ‘expect’ the elephants to meet us as they had in the past. But they did. The elephant we call Spirit Sister came to me, Cynthia Travis, her son and his fiancé in the Ruaha.  The one we called the Delegate came later in the Selous reserve.  We name them thus because of the undeniable intentionality with which they met us.

Though quite a young elephant, six or seven years old, Spirit Sister, left her mother and approached us as we were parked above a watering hole.  Alternately, she drank water and sprayed us for twenty minutes or longer.  Then she, her mother and two other siblings climbed up the embankment and waited alongside us as her twin brother approached from the bush.  We were all so close they could have stroked us with their trunks as these introductions were being made.

Later, we met the Delegate, a bull elephant, in the Selous reserve.  Some hours after engaging in ritual activity of invitation, we came upon him in the forest.  Solemnly and carefully, he advanced on our open trucks, his tusks almost grazing the rails and our arms.  We all recognized him as a delegate from the animal world coming to meet his counterparts, the young, healing future guardians of peace. This encounter is documented with photographs and text by the young people in everyday gandhi’s Tanzania Safari: Future Guardians of Peace. 2009.

Since the advent of the Ambassador, we have received many dreams, testimonies and recounting of personal experiences and associations with elephants.  Shortly after being in Chobe and receiving the ancestor bone from the Ambassador, we gathered in Santa Barbara for the eg annual meeting and were astonished at the threshold of the meeting by the remarkable article in the New York Times Magazine by Charles Siebert, “An Elephant Crackup?”

We immediately understood that the stresses that elephants and ex-combatants and child soldiers suffer are the same, that their anguish, its symptoms and consequences are the same, and that the ways of healing are the same and equally valuable for all beings and the restoration of the earth.
After reading Siebert’s article, I contacted Gay Bradshaw whose work was the foundation of Siebert’s article and brought her into our circle of consciousness.  Her remarkable book, Elephants at the Edge which details the similarities between elephant suffering, behavior and healing, and human suffering, behavior and healing, was published in 2009.

This incomplete chronicle does not, however, bring us closer to comprehending the reality that elephants and other animals are  coming to us.  Perhaps seeking alliance with us is a last resort for them and the planet. Writing an op-ed for a newspaper in Assam, India, after elephants had taken over the runway at a military airport, interrupting border skirmishes, I suggested that we may have been ‘contacted’ by elephants making a broad sweep, offering up a universal SOS, to see who would respond.  I like this idea because it removes the human recipient from being special and honors the elephant as the originator of the energy of connection.  Each time the Ambassador has come to meet us, he has demonstrated will and intention. A daunting idea, but, perhaps a necessary one, especially for these difficult times in human history when we are traveling so quickly away from our original interconnections with all life and all beings.

Now, additionally, we are being called to consider the plethora of dreams regarding elephants that are emerging in our far-flung community.  We have communicated some of them and we are being guided according to the deepest held principles and understanding of many of us associated with everyday gandhis.
Ki’na Dark Cloud, Cynthia Travis, Elenna Rubin Goodman, Lawrie Hartt, Christian Bethelson, and others connected with everyday gandhis and the Topanga Daré[i] have had significant, even startling, dreams about elephants that have called us to a deeper consideration of the issues confronting us.

Ki’na Dark Cloud dreamed a young female who was dying of thirst because she couldn’t drink from water holes bloodied by war.  A man pitied the little one and pledged to bring her water while her elephant mother took on the care of the man’s son.  Cynthia dreamed that Bethelson was heading a phalanx of humans meeting a similar phalanx of elephants coming to each other to make peace.  Another dream from a Liberian, J. Flomo Sawo described elephants carrying delegates to a peace conference between tribes when the roads were obstructed by heavy rains.  As dreams teach us the mysteries of peacemaking to which everyday gandhis is devoted, we are increasingly aware of the appearance of elephants signaling peace.
For many, many years, I have honored the dream life, have lived my life accordingly, have written novels and a play that emerged from dreams given to me in the night.  Every workshop that I lead starts with dream telling.  However, in the past, we looked to see what the dreams mean. Although we didn’t seek psychological meaning, leaving that to psychotherapy, we still stopped after being satisfied about meaning.

2 comments:

  1. Hvor er det hjerteligt vidunderligt dejligt... at der findtes mennesker som dig der også taler dyrenes sprog og forstår at vidrebringe det ud til mennesker i hele verden. De har hårt brug for nogle som dig . Du røre noget grundliggende medfølelse, dybt inde i mit hjerte TUSINDE TAK for at du er til. Maj ...København

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  2. That was a very, very moving story. Thank you so much. I can't wait for part 2. Thank you for being a light unto the world. Namaste.

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