Writing Eyes of the Wild took me to places of great elemental power – the Russian taiga foreest, the Siberian coast of the Bering Strait, the Northern Rockies, the High Arctic and the edges of the Arctic pack ice. These journays with gray whales, wolves, bears and wild horses affected me very deeply. The power of the landscape, the presence of the animals and the dynamic flow of energy through the wild called back aspects of my own being that I had long neglected or forgotten, and inspired me to explore the inner realities of the psyche and soul in ways I had not dared before.
I began to realize that I was being drawn into the deep current that has run through many human cultures for tens of thousands of years – the natural connection between the animals, the rhythms and cycles of the Earth and the waking of the soul within each one of us.
One experience in particular made this connection very clear. I was in Baja California, Mexico, in the San Ignacio Lagoon where the gray whales go to mate and give birth. In the nineteenth century, the grays were brought to the edge of extinction by the commercial whalers who entered their birthing lagoons and drove their boats between mothers and calves in order to bring the frantic mothers close enough to harpoon. In these same lagoons today, the grays freely approach the small whale-watching boats and the whale mothers even bring their calves alongside to be caressed.
On this day, a gray whale mother and her calf had been with us for almost an hour. At times the mother rocked the boat from below, lifted it on her back and set it gently down again. Then she brought her calf alongside and supported it on her back so that I could touch it easily on the head and nose.
When the mother surfaced again she turned on one side and gazed up at me through the water.Looking down into her dark eye, ringed with folds of skin, I met the lucid and tranquil gaze of an ancestor, one of the ancient ones of the Earth. And I felt her taking me out, far out, of thought and linear time, beyond the limited concerns of my ordinary mind, into a profound sense of meeting with another being, whose consciousness was not separate from my own
That experience of direct meeting with another creature seems extraordinary now. Yet it has been natural and familiar for people in many indigenous cultures around the world and it remains a fundamental part of the spititual teachings of the shamanic, Native American, Celtic Christian and many other wisdom traditions. Although largely forgotten in the West, the experience has power to wake the connection to the greater awareness within each one of us, our true nature, at the core of our being.
All the journeys in Eyes of the Wild explore how meeting the consciousness of whales and other creatures can help us to wake and begin to live from that greater awareness, which is beyond fear and need and all the limitations of the ordinary thinking mind.