Sunday, October 16, 2011

Earthfire Institute Part II

Photo courtesy Earthfire Institute

Thank you much for all the responses you've sent me both privately and in comments. I thought I would just throw out "feel good" animal stories but no, y'all are a deep crowd and you want more about that deep place animals and people go. Well good, I say.

I told Mr. Kola that taking care of him was getting in the way of me writing about animals. He thought it was funny, too.
I have another tale from Earthfire.

So our teacher Polly, besides providing amazing Animal Reiki and Cranio-Sacral work, is also an Animal Communicator. I never believed in it much until it had great effect on both my dog and cat, but that's another story. One of her dreams for our retreat was for us all to ask the animals what they needed. So I took a class. And felt silly. I never got very far and I couldn't really sense if what I was "getting" from animals was "true."

Hence my trepidation as I waited with the others for Pimpernel the coyote. It should be noted here that we waited in a large Wildlife Garden while Susan and Jean brought the animals in to roam around us. Yes.

We sat quietly while Pimpernel trotted around us, head way down, eyes angled up. So coyote. After a few minutes I got the distinct impression that she was wondering why we were being so quiet (later we all traded impressions and almost all of us got that same feeling). I decided I had better try talking or at least listening. I cleared my mind, regulated my breathing, settled into--

came a loud voice/message/sensation, immediately, followed by a picture of Pimpernel moving around the entire garden, into the house, the office, the yurt, the walkways, herding all the animals, tending to the borders, busy busy busy. You could not miss the message: She kept everything going around there.

Later, shyly, from my awkward new Animal Communicator place, I told this to Susan and Jean and they both cracked up. "Oh my god that's so her!" Susan laughed. (More on Pimpernel here.)

But this is not what I would have thought upon first meeting. I've seen coyotes quite a bit, both in the city and in the wild, and Pimpernel is on the small side (I find myself furtively checking to make sure she didn't read that).

I mistook her for a small presence. (I can hear a thousand small creatures snorting.)

As she passed by I reached a hand out to her and was struck, as I had been with the wolves, with the rough quality of her coat. It looked smooth and silky like a dog's but was instead very coarse and textured, sticking out in places. The word "unkempt" sprang to mind, and I realized that I was used to seeing domestic animals in a groomed state. Then I realized that I had almost written "perfection" as if "neatly groomed" were synonymous.

While I knew it in my head I had not grasped with my fingers that our airbrushed, pixelated, teeth-whitened culture has extended to animals, where we brush and clip and comb them until they are... what? less wild? More like us? Good god, why aren't we going the other way? Especially when one of the chief things we love about "our" animals is that we can be completely ourselves with them?

I drew my hand to my nose, letting the deeply wild, raw, fresh scent hit me. Musky and way down in the bass notes, simple, thorough. I remembered the smell of the wolves only a few hours before. Completely different. Completely raw and wild, too. Somewhere in there we had petted Bluebell, marveling at her equally wild-smelling hair. A different wild, also.

What effect on the nervous system would it be to smell wolf, then coyote, then fox, then bison, all in the same day? And then the next day? Sometimes I think that's why so many of us Retreat-ers had a rough re-entry when we came back home. We had been plunged into the very mud of life itself, every sense awakened and enlightened. And then yanked back out.

Where do we belong?


  1. We belong THERE! I want to go back! Loved the story, Caitlin!

  2. Hi Caitlin, our group was there last year and after yours this year, and I totally agree with Susan and Jean that your communication from Pimpernel was right on!

    Keep up the great blogging work, the animals need us to get their messages out, and having another voice such as yours helps inspire me to keep writing as well.

    Stay tuned for our adventures...

    Best wishes,

  3. Thanks, Rose! I can't wait to hear more of your adventures.

  4. I can smell the scents with you as you recount your story and I am there. How wonderful to be reminded that I can be there and here at the same time. Walking in the world on the domesticated, while maintaining my connection to the wild, to nature itself. Thank you!

  5. I love this Caitlin --- so wonderful. Love the sharings about the groomed versus wild. What is common in language is so strange at times, and how it becomes the norm and what is preferred.

    I have so many memories of hearing people speak of an animal/insect/creature as being "unintelligent". And my first thought is that that people are assessing these creatures as if they are supposed to be like us and that there is some assumption that WE are intelligent, defined?? (wars, violence against self and other, harming the plant on which we depend??...) And the assumption that these beings don't have their own language, and way of being. You clearly understand these things, and I adore what you have written. These are such important articles.
    Such a gift. Much love to you, Amy

  6. Hi Caitlin - my friend Brandy Parris sent me a link to your website, as she knew that I had just gone to Earthfire in September, and have a deep love of animals too. Really enjoying your blog and can so resonate with your insights and observations! Especially about the Earthfire animals. Bluebell was an absolute revelation, as were the wolves. I want to write about my experiences there but they feel almost too big to write down.
    My blog is here: