Whales and Peace

by Elizabeth Asch

Elizabeth Asch is an artist and animal communicator who has been working with Earth’s ancient species—the whales, elephants, and horses, among others in the animal kingdom—studied with the highly regarded animal communicator, Anna Breytenbach. According to Breytenbach, human and animal communication is not only possible, but also ought to be encouraged as a method of reestablishing the bonds between humanity and other living beings. If people would approach animals to confer with them from a position of respect and mutual acknowledgement as beings who share in this state of existence and in this place (Earth) as a home, perhaps we could reconnect, mend, and cooperate in the fundamental ties between all diverse life.

Below, Elizabeth Asch shares a written reflection from an expedition to the waters of the Caribbean island of Dominica where she swam with the largest mammals in the worldwhales.

* * *

Picture a battered, 30’ motorboat on a vast, flat sea, hot sun and blue sky overhead.  Several miles distant is the small Caribbean island of Dominica, whose mountains hold the only visible clouds at their peaks.  Motor turned off, all six men aboard hold one hand up to shade their eyes while scanning the horizon for the white spouts of water which signal a surfacing whale.  Not knowing if I will recognize such a plume, never having seen one in person anyhow, I instead use my internal body radar; while tuning in to my instincts, I slowly turn my body to see if I can feel a pull in any particular direction.  A feeling in the pit of my gut tells me to stop and I too raise my hand to my eyes to see, and sure enough there it is.  Two of the men see it too and, pointing arm extended, shout “Blow!”

 

Today is Day 3 of our nine-day expedition.  I am accompanying three researchers whose life mission is to decode the clicking language of dolphins and whales.   These three passionate men travel the world to record and film sperm whales, or as they are known in French cachalots, the largest of the hunting whales.  The size of a city bus, or even a double-bus, the cachalot swims from the surface down to eight thousand foot depth.  I learned to free dive in order to take this trip and the deepest I have gone is a mere 65 feet.

 

Before leaving I offered to write an article telling what the cachalots have to say about peace for my friends at GPIW.  The last couple of days though, I have just been getting to know the whales and their beautiful home.  Until this trip, elephants were the largest animal I have played with and I remain impressed by their size and the vastness of the landscape in which they live.  The endless, blue ocean home of the cachalot is a whole new world for me and I’m still adapting.

 

I connect with a large male I call Bruno.  One good place to start a conversation with a fellow predator mammal is eating, so he has been showing me food and hunting.  He shows me a nearby ledge in a cold, mostly dark part of the ocean where giant squid and other large fish hang out.  While one or two sperm whales churn the water with their powerful tails, others swim along and scoop out the animals to eat.  Still others swim open-mouthed, and in fact at one point while I am in the water swimming about thirty feet down, Bruno silently appears directly behind me.  I can feel some Presence and although I believe I am alone in the water with my human friends, when that body radar tells me to look back all I see at first are big, white things which turn out to be the teeth in his open jaw.  I laugh aloud because I know this is the whale who has been explaining cachalot hunting to me, and here he is to demonstrate.  I am certain he isn’t planning to eat me, he’s just showing me how it’s done.  After I notice he dives as silently as he appeared.

 

When I ask Bruno about peace he shows me more scenes of living in the water.  When I ask other whales, they show me the same thing.  I think maybe they are dodging the question, or maybe I didn’t ask it clearly – – he thinks we are still on the mundane.

 

I ask about war and they show me scenes of individual whales fighting, like Moby Dick.  This is warfare maybe but not war.  They say they don’t make war.  They did something like it millions of years ago in their evolution, but they don’t do it anymore.  As a species they have forgiven us for driving them close to extinction back when whale oil was humans’ main fuel, although there are always some humans who find ways to provoke some individual whales and get killed for it.  But retribution as a species?  Not their concern.

AC Dominica wwhale

Finding no answer from the whales about peace I ask the elephants.  They seem to sidestep the question too.  Elephants and whales are the largest mammals of their two elements, land and water, and some people say the most evolved.  Perhaps they just don’t know about peace, perhaps it is so natural to them that they can’t address how it is done.  They both seem to evade and avoid us humans as best they can, and especially when we aim to make war with them.  In response to my query, my elephant friends show themselves out on the savannah like they are every day, aware of each other’s presence, and grazing, grazing, grazing and dozing, enjoying the beauty and bounty of their home.

AC headshot Nkarsis

I ask birds, insects, and fish, and any wild animals I can think of, and still no answer.  Can it be that, as folks always tell me, “You ascribe too much intelligence to the animals.  They don’t think like we do.  They don’t have the mental capacity” for big questions?  I am intrigued.  I know this isn’t true, and yet all I get in response is the feeling inside of how it feels to be one of their kind, living in awareness of the other ones nearby, and in their beautiful homes.  Over and over, in the water, in the sky, on the land, underground, my only answer is scenes of life, of family, of just being.

 

Finally I ask my horse friend.  Ginger has been my guide for thirteen years.  I tell her my dilemma.  About how I arrogantly offered to write about whales and peace, and how I am completely stuck.  No whale nor any other species has answered my question, “How do you keep peace, what can my people do to find peace?”  I show her the responses I have and she laughs at me.

AC Ginger sleeping

“You have your answer.  That is peace,” Ginger tells me.  Peace comes from within and only from within.  It comes from each and every one of us, at every moment.  Look for the awareness of peace within yourselves, and feel it in those around you.  From there it spreads and spreads and spreads.  First you feel it in yourself.  Then you feel it in those closest to you and you begin to feel it in other the individuals from other species who are also nearby.  Inner peace for yourself connects you to all humans.  Then feeling it in other species connects you and your species to your fellow beings, and to the planet.  This is how it spreads and spreads.

 

Find the silence within.  Connect with the peace in others.  Moment by moment by moment, now and now and now.

Nkarsis Photo

Wisdom from the Wild Nations

by Elizabeth Austin Asch

A Elizabeth Austin Ashe and friends

“It is only for the purity of the animals themselves that we [humans] are allowed to still live.” ~ Salvatore Gencarelle

Popular media like the New York Times contains an ever greater number of articles about animal sentience. Most recently, on January 29, 2016 Sally McGrane wrote “German Forest Ranger Finds That Trees Have Social Networks, Too.”   The evidence is everywhere: much more goes on in the minds of living things in the natural world than we have been educated to believe.

A dozen years ago I wasn’t looking for a psychic way to communicate; I was just trying to manage my daughter’s Thoroughbred mare, Ginger. I wanted to speak ‘horse’, which seemed to be a matter of learning the right body language, plus some horse psychology.  However much I learned from books and from human instructors — I realized that I was learning even more from Ginger.  Her intelligence, although different from mine, was extraordinary.  I eventually found that I didn’t need to use body language, Ginger read my mind.  Could it be that my 8 year-old daughter had picked out a very special horse?

Then my son wanted a parrot, so I started reading about this species. Combining what I had learned from Ginger with what I learned from Irene Pepperberg, author of “Alex and Me”  I found that rather than training our infant parrot, I was once again a student of the being that I set out to train.  At a very young age Ttac would learn the name of a visitor with no prompting, in a couple of days.  He is always the first to get a joke (watch out, his “heh-heh-heh” will give you away!), and he even knew when a family member passed away across the ocean, whistling the way that Grandpa had taught him, which we had not heard since the last time they saw each other two years earlier.

My husband wanted chickens, who are supposedly on the opposite end of the avian intelligence spectrum from parrots — and then our six hens taught me about their rich lives. The crows who would sometimes get stuck in the hen enclosure taught me how wild birds think and repaid my assistance to them with extraordinary favors.

Willing wild crows and pigeons have stepped into my bare hands. Feral mallards have shown me their hatchlings. Dogs, fish, cats, dolphins, trees, sharks and elephants have been among my teachers.  When you show others your willingness to listen they seek to befriend you, and to cause you to hear.

Each time I read books from top researchers of a particular species, I notice one common feature: They all believe that the species that they are studying is the species closest to humans in terms of intelligence, empathy, loyalty and other measures of what we tend to call ‘human’ traits.  I noticed something else: No matter the species, when I get to know an animal well I find individual character and reasoning intelligence, free will, morality — attributes my schooling taught me to believe were limited to human beings.

In 2014 I began studying Interspecies Communication with Anna Breytenbach, Jon Young and Wynter Worsthorne. None of us really considers that we are “learning” to communicate this way, rather we are simply remembering how to do so.  Every human, every being that exists, is equipped to communicate with or without the use of verbal, written language and sound.  Our educational system teaches us humans that we can’t do it, but we can.  And we must now re-member how, for listening to our brothers and sisters is crucial to the survival of all.

This past summer, a friend Ann-Sofi Carlborn wrote me an email telling me of the Global Peace Initiative of Women [from which the Contemplative Alliance emerged] and their intention to attend the climate conference in Paris. At the time I was visiting with two elephant friends in Tanzania, so I spent part of my evening reading about GPIW’s mission of peace and learning about their members.  The following morning and continuing for the next ten days, various species of wild animals told me some of their own notions of peace and harmony, in order that I share them with GPIW.  As they ‘spoke’ to me, I wrote in my journal; this understanding is what I shared with the faith leaders that joined GPIW during COP21.

Elephant: Notice the hierarchy. It serves a purpose in peacekeeping.  Notice how accepting everyone is.  How respectful.

Baboon: Notice how calmly we all accept our place. You [humans] have forgotten how to position yourselves and what your status means. No one owns the waterhole.

A Baboon track
Baboon track

January 29th, 2015

Zebra: Learn about herd unity. Learn about the power and value of Approach and Retreat.  Let time be timeless.  The urgency is in the transformation, not in your sense of time.  If the birds and insects and frogs are singing, that is the time to accomplish what is needed.  Push gently into your comfort until you are reaching outside of it to others.

A Zebra

Wildebeest: Why are our energies separated? It is right and good this way.  For balance.  Look at the shape of our energies now.  Always ask for permission when your energies are different/varied.  To blend must be consensual.  The more singular dominant energy must declare loudly his intention, as a way of asking.  He shall then accept if the answer is no, even if he intends to return and ask again.  Withdraw.  Approach and ask.  Withdraw.  Approach.  Thus, through the blending of energies does creation occur.  It has been so for ages.  Now is the time for returning closer to Oneness.  Your kind is ready.  Now is the time to approach.  And blend.  Be not afraid.

A Wildebeest

July 31, Day of Thanks

 Elizabeth:  Do you have advice for us?

Eland, Zebra and Wildebeest:  (Wildebeest singing) Listen.  Listen all you can and trust.  Then and only then will you find the way home for us all.  Fear not.  You will be surprised by the ease with which change comes, and the simplicity with which it may be implemented.  Listen and heed.

 Voice of the Waterhole:  You!  You are welcome.  You people cannot spoil my calm, my depth.

Warthog: With regard to the question of private property and ownership. It is not so much a question of never owning or making claim of territory.  It is more a question of understanding that that claim is temporary.  That eventually you must, you will, give it back. The humility in this equation is what you often lack.  Search for it and keep searching, for it is there in you.

Vervets: Hear this. Because you are not usually present/consistent, there is great power of intention when you DO focus your love and thanksgiving.  And when many more of you do, the results will be astounding to you.  We, your brethren in the other nations, have been waiting for you.

August 1, 2015

Eland, Zebra and Wildebeest: See how we all come together. (Wildebeest singing)  We welcome your desire to rekindle the peace between our nations.  Know that there are those of your kind here (in Africa and elsewhere on Earth) who never lost it.

Elizabeth Austin Asch

e.austin.asch@gmail.com

 

A Elephants