The lioness and I held one another’s gaze for long minutes. I felt my heart expand and an overwhelming sense of appreciation flowed out of me towards her. It felt as though there was nothing between us – no fear, no aggression, no wariness – only curiosity, acknowledgement and respect.
I had arrived in Namibia less than 24 hours earlier, and after a three hour journey came to this place – the Hoanib riverbed on the Skeleton Coast. This is true wilderness, where the animals roam wild, unfenced and largely sheltered from human impact. My colleague James and I were about to lead an Animal Communication safari, and we were on an evening drive to get our bearings.
Everything fell silent and it felt as if we looked at one another for the longest time, but it was probably only a minute.
Two lionesses lay quietly in the shade and our guide stopped the vehicle 20 metres away. I consciously quietened my mind, opened my heart and sent appreciation and love towards the older lioness. I had no idea if she would respond, but that wasn’t the point – I simply hoped that she would feel respected and acknowledged for the amazing and powerful being that she is. When she raised her head to look at me I could feel my excitement build. I deliberately calmed myself and kept on sending her love and appreciation. Everything fell silent and it felt as if we looked at one another for the longest time, but it was probably only a minute. Then she laid her head on her paws and closed her eyes. My heart was filled to bursting with gratitude for the encounter.
At breakfast the next morning James said to me “that looked like quite a moment you had with that lioness yesterday.” I said I hadn’t realised he’d noticed, and he said, “I noticed because it was unusual behaviour from her”. He explained that a wild animal would first and foremost be alert for potential danger, especially where humans are involved. The vehicle in front of ours was full of people jostling for position with their cameras, and the driver of our vehicle had his window down and was talking loudly. “She should have been distracted by both of those things, but instead she was looking at you. It was unusual.” Any doubt I had that the lioness and I had been in communication was dispelled by his observations.
Two days later on an early morning drive our animal communication group had just tracked a herd of desert-adapted elephants to a waterhole when a message came through that the lionesses had been seen on the move, probably hunting. We drove to where they had been seen and our driver began to look for tracks. As we passed one of the huge sand dunes I felt a wave of emotion wash over me. It felt like immense sadness, and was coming from the direction of the dune. I thought, “that’s odd, I wonder what that is” and made a mental note to see if it happened again. We looped around, retracing our route, and this time we found the lion tracks – exactly where I’d felt the wave of emotion. I began to wonder if there was a connection and remembered that my mentors, Anna Breytenbach and Jon Young, both talk of ‘locking on’ to a specific animal when they are tracking it. Anna describes it as a strong emotional connection, for Jon it is a ribbon of light. I wondered if this could be what was happening to me.
Each time we lost the tracks, I would open myself to the emotional connection and guide the driver in that direction, and we would find the tracks again.
We followed the lion’s tracks for a while and then lost them in the dunes. Once again the same sense of sadness washed over me (on reflection later that afternoon, I realised that the feeling that I’d initially felt as sadness was actually an overwhelming limitless flood of emotion). I plucked up the courage to say “I feel they’re in that direction”, pointing to where the feeling was coming from. The driver looked a bit uncertain, but after a while drove in the direction I’d pointed and sure enough he found the tracks again. My confidence began to build as I started to trust that these feelings were really guiding me and that I wasn’t making this up. Each time we lost the tracks, I would open myself to the emotional connection and guide the driver in that direction, and we would find the tracks again.
I also sent a silent message in words and images to the lioness, acknowledging that she was hunting and that we didn’t want to interfere, but asking respectfully if she would be happy for us to see her and her niece. The feeling that came back was agreement “but we’re not stopping – you have to come and find us”.
Once more we lost the tracks and once more I pointed in a particular direction. Now our guide followed with less hesitation and suddenly one of our group saw the lions in the dry riverbed, walking slowly and purposefully up the bank and into the bushes on the other side. Our guide followed at a respectful distance, taking a wide loop through the riverbed, bringing us ahead of them. We waited in silence, and soon they emerged and walked no more than 10 metres away, disappearing again into the bushes to our left.
The driver looped around and moved on ahead, and a second time we watched in silence as they came past. The group later told me that by now they were all sending love and appreciation to these beautiful cats; no one attempted to take a photograph, we were all awed by their presence and the connection we felt with them. We also knew that taking a photograph carries with it ‘hunter’ energy, which wild animals are especially sensitive to, and that introducing this energy could dramatically change the dynamics – possibly causing them to avoid us.
I sent another message to the older lioness thanking her for letting us witness them in their hunt, and asking respectfully if she would be willing to pause briefly so that we could all see their full majesty. When I make such a request, I do it with the understanding that the other being can say ‘no’ – it’s important that the request is made with respect and recognition of the other’s independence and self-determination, not with neediness or attachment to a particular response that can have the effect of pushing them away. I got a sense of a slightly impatient ‘OK’, and as they emerged once more she paused – it was only a couple of beats, but she definitely stopped, and long enough for some of the group to take a photo.
Tears of gratitude rolled down my cheeks – I couldn’t quite believe that this most majestic and powerful of animals had heard me and responded.
The younger lioness stopped longer, looking around for a while before continuing. With plenty of time to fully appreciate her beauty, we were privileged to witness her wild natural state from only a few meters’ distance. Tears of gratitude rolled down my cheeks – I couldn’t quite believe that this most majestic and powerful of animals had heard me and responded. I sent her a message of profound thanks and let her know that we would leave them to hunt in peace. The driver noticed my tears and said “hay fever?” – I laughed and said, “no, I’m just very moved by these lionesses” –
much later I’d tell them the fully story of what I’d just experienced.
Until this experience I would often tell myself that I’m much better at teaching animal communication than I am at actually doing it. This made me eat my words! There is always more to learn and only “practice, practice, practice” will increase my proficiency, but as I tell others, the best way to build our confidence is to reinforce our positive experiences, and reaffirm over and over again that we are in telepathic communication with the other beings on Earth.