The Wild Creatures
“Here, follow me off this cliff…” That’s what Saida says to me silently (cause today is silent day – as we spent 2 days of our journey with NO words). I see the top of the big round rock she’s just summited, and the shallow river twenty feet below. But like a trusting lemming, I follow, to see the next small foothold, and the tiny ledge, and the bush she mounts like a man (or horse I guess) and then the rock face she scuttles down, wincing at tiny pains (?) until she leaps onto the sand riverside. I follow, a giraffe to her tiny antelope, stopping for a few minutes to make lewd gestures with my body straddling the bush half-way down. (hey, it’s silent day, but you can’t force me to behave). The other women follow us, giggling but not speaking, so as not to break the rules! Now all 8 of us women, are all naked, and splash-fighting in the shallow river on silent day.
I dunk myself in the deeper area under a rock outcropping, willfully baptizing myself into my intention – to release my body-self-brutality and claim my Soul Beauty, my natural embodiment for the benefit of all I channel in the world. And as I arise from my dunk, all goose pimpled and feeling wild, I land on all fours, feeling like a feral lady leopard.
I prowl forward on all fours, growling and snarling, and a few of the women squeal, which delights the predatory carnivore I’m embodying. I set my sights on Saida who lights up with the recognition of me, animal to animal. We crawl towards each other, predator eyes locked on each other with wicked smiles until we meet, sniffing each other’s shoulders and gnawing on each other. Now we are cackling, and smearing each other’s bodies with the mud, then purring and twining around each other. Once we are covered with mud, growling and laughing riotously, we turn our sights towards the surgeon. She knows resistance is futile. We have her covered in mud and are moving on to attack the next woman when we stop – still and silent – as we see the giraffe arrive.
This giraffe is watching us, sizing us up. And we go silent – on the outside and on the inside, quieting our minds and softening our gaze to create safe space for this incredibly tall sweet beast to feel comfortable. I have tears rolling down my face, and I know I’m not alone in this. We are bathing with a giraffe. WHAAAATTT???!!!
Giraffes have to get down on their front knees to drink from the river. That’s a vulnerable position. But this giraffe feels safe, and as he drops to his knees to drink, we all look from one to the other, in total reverent awe. We relax a bit again, enjoying the cool water on our legs as we sit naked in the mud. We nod at each other with our stupid grins, knowing this is an experience that will affect us forever.
Then the miracle expanded.
Downstream, and more amazingly, downWIND from us, an elephant has entered the river on the other side of our group. He watches us keenly as he sniffs the air, and judges whether we are safe.
And because I consider myself the center of the Universe, I think (as perhaps we all did), “This is for me. I so wanted this.” We all come together slowly, naked on the sand in the wind, and grow silent and still together, watching the elephant is who is not far. Elephants are generally “safe” for humans, but you know what – in these times, as elephants have been hunted and poached, occasionally elephants might charge if they feel threatened. Who can blame them?
We had been prepared for this meeting. We’d been shown how to be less threatening. Get quiet, inside and outside. Do not look at the animal like a predator would – with intense penetrating gaze. Instead, use Owl Eyes – a wide diffuse gaze, a soft gaze, and let your energy be soft.
We sat, watching, and we wept.
My heart went out to thank this elephant. It grew to thank these women, and especially Saida for inviting me here. My heart expanded to thank all of Africa. I felt my heart grow so fast, so big, it reminded me of the triumphant moment of the Grinch in Dr. Suess’ classic. Corny. True.
And then it got better. Because two more elephants appeared. They were bigger. Perhaps this young bull’s parents. A whole family. And as we all gazed, they drank, they ate the reedy greens by the river. They blew sand with their trunks. They did elephant stuff.
And the dad bull stood watch, keeping an eye on those wacky ladies while his own family enjoyed a beautiful river buffet of the Divine’s own creation.
Holy Moly. And as I journaled about this, a white rhino just sauntered along the other side of the river. This place (!). This day (!). It is so gorgeously natural, and so tragically precious.
I want desperately for EVERYone who might possibly stop the encroachment of mining on this place to experience this day. “Animal conservation” sounds like an academic theory until you sit naked in a river with a giraffe and 3 elephants, feeling their ancient presence stirring you to the soul, weeping.
My friend Dr. Saida Desilets has been running these trips every year for 7 years. I can only hope and imagine she will continue. You can see the info on this year’s trip here. If you feel called to an experience like this, you should contact her. No, she did not ask me to share this. But I know some of you will be itching for a trip like this. But please know this area, and this sort of journey, are complicated. It’s not just about booking airtix and a wilderness guide – haha! Saida not only curated the most incredible conscious and soulful trip, with the most poetic and knowledgeable guides, in the most sacred valley that is both wild/unfenced and protected…. but she is also gifted at holding space for transformation. Deep transformation. And so… we ended up seeing more animals than most groups do. We ended up each having a profound shift in our consciousness and lives. As a facilitator of groups myself for the past 35 years (yes, I’ve been leading retreats since I was 15) I can tell you that there is a LOT that goes into facilitating this. So I encourage you to follow your own intuition, and also get the right knowledgeable help, advice and facilitation before charging off into the wilds! 😉