As an animal trainer and lover this is the subject most dear to my heart. Growing up with a cold and scientific Mother (who actually really dislikes children) I literally mirrored love through the eyes of our great dane. The household was also very much an athiest household, but full of mythology and anthropology books. I became an animist by the age of six. Thankfully my spiritual interests have broadened since then, but the animals I share my life with are central to my sense the world.
In my almost fifty years I have experienced animals from many perspectives. I was a "natural" with messed up horses and dogs and so made my living that way. I was also a high level dressage trainer and teacher for most of my adult life. I rehabilitated horses with spinal issues and stallions with behavioral problems. In my personal life I did volunteer work with my mastiff, Blanche for violent autistic adults and Alzheimer patients. I've done energy healing work for animals and had them do energy healing for me. My husband is a physicist who works with whale song and ocean acoustics in the most rigid scientific peer review setting and I've helped him with the behavioral aspects of his research, traveling to Antarctica to work with Blue whales and Leopard seals.
Unfortunately I think most animal "experts" have an agenda. Whether it be animal rights, a certain training system, animals as spiritual angels or animals on earth for our ownership and use. It's a subject most certainly fraught with emotional landmines. And I tend to find even the most universally compassionate spiritual path woefully human-centric. We have much to learn from other animals, whether it be being present in our moment, sensitive and aware like a prey animal or generous and selfless while maintaining one's ego as Blanche taught me over and over while working with violent people.
There are a few new ideas that really interest me. The paper, Co-evolution of Humans and Canids: An Alternative View of Dog Domestication: Homo Homini Lupus? Wolfgang M. Schleidt/Michael D. Shalter looks at the idea that human social evolution came about 150,000 years ago because of our observing and then living with social canines. I love the idea that canines may have domesticated us more then we domesticated them. Mark Bekoff speaks to this a bit in his book Animal Justice, but not to the degree in the paper listed above. I wish these guys would write a book!
Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond by Meg Daley Olmert, looks into the animal/ human bond from a biological as well as a historic place. I think this is the finest book to be written on the subject in many years.
In my own personal journey I have found myself with a rare and serious illness that left me partially paralyzed. My stallion ended up being a huge part of my healing and my own spiritual awakening. I've loved and trained him since his birth. After months of chemo and steroids I was weak and ill beyond caring. A dear friend, a Jungian psychologist, convinced me to attempt some Kundalini yoga using Aslan (yes, I named him that when he was three days old) as the energy source. Because of my dressage training I could do this, yoga on a lion. Not only did Aslan heal my body with his golden power, but he opened an etheric world I thought would never exist for me.
Namaste and amen,
Dinny Falkenburg I could go on (and on and on).
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