Mirabai Interview, 2001
Talking to the Animals
Craig Gordon is webmaster of Mirabai, Woodstock’s metaphysical bookstore, and creator of Now Age Press, a media development company that produces content for the holistic and natural products industries. He interviewed Helen Weaver via email in spring, 2001 about her just-published book, The Daisy Sutra: Conversations with my Dog.
Mirabai: What’s the idea and inspiration behind The Daisy Sutra?
Helen Weaver: I see life on Earth as a school. I write to celebrate my teachers, and to pass on what I learned from them. That’s why I write. I can’t make up stories, I just tell what happened to me. Two years ago, I thought I’d be finishing my memoir of Jack Kerouac–and then my dog died.
The summer Daisy was sixteen, I began jotting down the story of her life in my journal. I knew I was going to lose her, I had to save my memories. As her health failed, I came up against that awful decision that people with pets often have to face: Was my dog ready to die? Did she need help? Had I been keeping her alive for my own sake? Or the opposite–would I be “putting her down” because her care had become so difficult for me? What would Daisy have to say about this, if she could speak?
That’s when, in desperation, I picked up the phone and called an animal communicator. And what happened then changed my life–and turned those notes in my journal into a book.
Because I had to tell everyone what I learned: that we can talk to the animals, and they can talk to us, and that they have so much to teach us about life, and death. That animals are our teachers. That’s why I wrote the book.
Mirabai: What did you learn about animal communication that you can share? When I think of animal communication, I think of Doctor Dolittle. Can you shed a more realistic light on the subject?
Helen Weaver: I always thought it was possible. And I had some experiences of spontaneous communication with animals, both pets and animals in the wild, that I describe in the book. But I was unaware that it was actually being done professionally until a few years ago. I remember hearing about a woman who taught a class at Omega, the holistic learning center in Rhinebeck. Everyone who attended came with an animal companion. On the first day of class, the teacher took one of the animals, a dog, into an adjoining room and spent some time with the animal. When she came back in she said that this dog didn’t like being kept in the basement at night. And the dog’s person (animal communicators don’t use the word “owner,” they feel it perpetuates the notion that animals are things) confirmed that she had been keeping the dog in the basement at night. I thought that was pretty amazing, but not impossible, after what I’d experienced myself.
It’s interesting about Doctor Dolittle, and Babe, and all the books and movies and cartoons in which animals talk to each other or to humans. I think that works of the imagination often contain an element of truth. Or they express a longing for some larger reality that might actually not be so far-fetched after all. Some of the technology of today was anticipated in the science fiction of yesterday. The uniforms of astronauts imitate those of the characters on Star Trek. Fantasies sometimes come true! And I think the movies in which animals talk express a longing that we all have, deep down, to bridge the gaps between species.
My discovery of animal communication was gradual. The first time I consciously tried to communicate with an animal was when my niece came to live with my mother and me and brought her cat. Daisy always chased the neighbor’s cat, so I sat down and talked to her, and asked her to not to chase Annie’s cat. When Annie arrived with Mooey, I told Daisy, “Now remember our little talk!” And against all her doggy instincts, and unlike all her previous behavior, Daisy welcomed the cat. Annie lived with us for a year, and Daisy never chased her cat.
Here in Woodstock, I told the raccoon who was waking me up every night trying to get at the food in my cabin to cease and desist. I told him I’d put any leftover food out on a stump. He never bothered me again, and the food was always gone in the morning. There were several other incidents which I talk about in the book. So I was open to the idea.
Toward the end of Daisy’s life, when I was agonizing over whether it was time to call the vet and have her put to sleep, I contacted an animal communicator. They prefer not to be called “animal psychics,” perhaps because there’s a stigma attached to that word in some circles.
I ended up consulting three different animal communicators, both before and after Daisy died. I was pretty impressed with the accuracy of the information these three women picked up from Daisy. And I was so grateful to them for their help. Losing Daisy was devastating for me, but knowing that my dog was ready to die, and having that intimate contact with her both before and after she died, made all the difference in the world.
Animal communication no longer seems so far out to me. It is obvious that animals communicate with each other without benefit of language. It is also now clear, thanks to Jane Goodall and others, that animals are capable of communicating with humans in pretty subtle and remarkable ways. Koko the Gorilla makes up new words, and selects potential mates from available bachelor gorillas on a computer! Work of this kind takes patience, persistence, attention, and a huge amount of love. Love is the secret, love and taking the time to do it.
So I guess what I learned is that anyone can do it, that it’s really part of our birthright as humans. Native Americans have been doing it for thousands of years. Children do it spontaneously. Like psychic ability in general, it’s just not part of our conditioning, it’s not encouraged. Those who teach animal communication say it’s a matter of helping people to reclaim an ability we all have that has been forgotten, or been actively suppressed.
Mirabai: Would you say that learning to communicate with animals is similar to learning a new human-spoken language?
Helen Weaver: Good question. I’m tempted to say that they use different parts of the brain, but I’d be talking through my hat. I’m not a professional animal communicator, so my experience with it is limited. When I interviewed animal communicator Gail De Sciose for my book, I happened to mention that I’m a translator, and Gail said, “That’s what I am, too.” So the two activities do have something in common, but I think the learning processes are a little different.
The way to learn a new language is total immersion. You have to saturate yourself with the vocabulary, grammar, and sounds of that language until you literally dream in it.
Now, there is no special vocabulary, grammar, or sounds for communicating with animals. It’s often done silently. The basis for animal communication, as I understand it, is telepathic rather than verbal, though messages may be sent and received in words. (They may also be sent in images or feelings, or all three.) But the basis is intentional, or emotional.
Unlike the communication that happens by means of computers, it’s not a binary system. The code is based on unity rather than duality. The ground, the vehicle that makes it all possible, is love. Also there must be the desire to communicate, the belief (or at least the suspension of disbelief) that it is possible, the ability to clear one’s mind, and a lot of patience and persistence.
Learning to communicate with animals has more in common with meditation than it does with learning a new human language. Indeed, a great many animal communicators come to this work through meditation, and call upon practices akin to meditation when they teach. Like meditation, animal communication is about discovering a part of the self that has been there all along rather than learning a new set of skills. But in either case–to begin communicating with animals, or to learn a new human language–you must be highly motivated, and have respect for the beings with whom you wish to communicate. Otherwise, why bother?
This interview first appeared on the website of Mirabai, Woodstock’s metaphysical bookstore, of which Craig Gordon is webmaster extraordinaire. Craig is also creator of Now Age Press Commentaries, a free emailed information service; contact him at Craig@NowAgePress.com. To learn about Mirabai’s upcoming workshops or to browse their unique selection of inspiring books, tapes, CDs, and gifts, go to www.mirabai.com.