Above all we Love them-our soul peers the whales.

Silver Linings

I expected to be in Silver Bank this March, facilitating my fifteenth Sacred Swims trip with humpback whales . The universe had other plans. I fell and broke three metatarsal bones in my foot and could not fly because of the risk of an embolism. Though I knew that the excellent crew and the magnificent whales themselves would create fantastic experiences for the group (and they did!), and friends and colleagues were amazingly generous in their willingness to fill in for me, it broke my heart to not be able to be there with my group and with the whales.

I decided that every day during the week that I was to be on my trip, I would go out in my garden to play Amazing Grace at the same time that the group would be listening to it in Silver Bank at sunset. It is a tradition on my trips to play this particular version of Amazing Grace by Cecilia–which has humpback songs interwoven with the vocalist’s singing–every night at sunset. We play it as a prayer of thanks and love to the whales for the privilege of being with them. There is something magical about this piece of music, made more so when standing on the deck of the dive boat with a heart filled with memories of time with the whales, balmy breezes of the Caribbean washing over your face and through your hair, looking into the beautiful setting sun and often seeing whales spouting below. I wanted to somehow still be part of this sacred ritual, to be connected with my group and the whales. And so, each day I hobbled out into my Carmel garden right before sunset Silver Bank time, and sat near my whale prayer flags and whale sculpture to play this song.

Little did I know that even as I mourned not being with my beloved whales in Silver Bank and the group of people I had prepared for this trip for a year, I was about to experience the blessing of some incredible, unexpected silver linings.

Click on image for more about the Whale Prayer Flags

The following is an account of what happened, modified from a copy I sent to the participants on the trip:

While you were in Silver Bank, much to my surprise, I was able to teleport there a few times and actually take form as a whale to be with you. I have never done this before (at least not in this lifetime) and was amazed by the ease of the experience. The first time it happened I was listening to Amazing Grace out in my garden. As the music began I closed my eyes, ready to picture all of you on the dive deck looking out at the sea and watching the sunset. Without knowing how it happened, suddenly, yet gently and very comfortably, I was out of my body and literally at the boat, above you on the deck.

I felt such an overwhelming love for all of you and gently touched and kissed the tops of your heads. I cried happy tears when I saw old friends. It felt so normal to be there in this way, not in a body. You all seemed sun kissed, happy and ready for more whale love. I could feel the wonder, the love, some doubts, some questions, the joy and awe swimming around in your hearts and minds. It was like telepathy but in 3D. I was there! After these moments of being above you on the deck I was guided to “glide” into the water. When I did, instead of surfacing with a snorkel on my face, I was a whale. Just like that. I was a whale! When I felt it, and realized that I had pecs again I was deliriously happy! I slapped each pec over and over and over. Languorously, I rolled and rolled. I would stop rolling at times so that my eye could look up at all of you. I spouted and trumpeted just to remember what it was like. I loved it. Trumpeting felt like snorting in baritone but much more elegant! I also dove deeply and lifted my fluke. I was smiling inside thinking, wow, this is what drives humans so crazy–just to see our tails. Underwater, moving gracefully again as a humpback was so familiar. I was home. There was no sadness, missing, or yearning to be a whale again permanently which I often feel when with the whales in a human body. I was just happy! After a time, I laid on my back with my pecs stretched out and with my heart wide open to all of you. It was heavenly.

Copyright Kaz Zirkle; Purchased with permission to use


I saw you (humans) as the whales do, these little tiny beings, brimming with love for the whales. It just beams into the water, all this love, so very strongly. After awhile I sort of stepped back and held the space for everyone, for the exchange of love between the humans and the whales. I’ve never held an energy space quite like that before. In the past, I was always from my grounded human self holding the space for the humans and for the whales. But this time, doing it as a whale was different. As with other times when I’ve held an energy space for animals, people or groups, it was gentle, powerful and strong all at once, but this time I could feel more of the actual whale energy because I was grounded in whale energy. The sensation was similar to what we feel as humans when the vibration of their song runs through our bodies when we hear them singing live.

Then, just as easily as I had left, I was back on my chair in my garden, my crutch by my side. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t disappointed to come back. (One of the things I’ve been told by my whale guides is that this shape shifting has never occurred when my human body is already in the water in the presence of whales, because in such a scenario I would absolutely not want to return to my human body which would create a great deal of havoc regarding what is unfinished in my current human incarnation. I can visit, but I can’t stay!)

On the third evening, Silver Bank sunset time, the same teleporting and shape shifting happened. While I was happy pec slapping, a beloved family member from a former whale life (who is now in spirit) appeared next to me and said, “What’s with all the slow rolling and pec slapping, show em what you’ve got kid! Jump!”  And so together we breached. What a sensation! There is nothing, nothing I can compare this to in human life. The fast movement underwater to prepare to breach and the jumping itself–it is pure power and joy. Even the slapping back down onto the water feels delicious. It doesn’t hurt at all. It feels great. It’s juicy, it’s fun, it’s life affirming.

Copyright Piers van der Walt 2007; Used with permission and gratitude

There were other times during your week when I came as a whale to the dive boat and also during your encounters, though I was not allowed to be in whale form when you were in the water–only to be present in spirit, next to the whales, to watch. My guides were concerned that if in whale form I would get carried away and start taking you all for rides. I probably would have, and scared half of you and worried the crew. But I did ask the whales present to come close to you and to trust you. You all looked so small! I also learned from this how very, very, very careful the whales are around humans. A hundred times more careful than I could tell from my human perspective when with them in the past. They see us as delicate, tiny, and–smile–not terribly coordinated and are very intentional in not wanting to harm us. And yet, some of them yearn to nuzzle close to us just as some of us yearn to do so with them. May I live to experience this!

When you were on the dive boat deck and Amazing Grace was being played, while I was in the water as a whale, I could see you and hear the music. Many, many whales were nearby listening, many, many more than you could see. The whales nearby know that this song is being played for them, that it is a prayer for them (and they think the humans are singing live–I did not explain about recordings). One whale told me that she experiences this sound as “a song of love and devotion” from the humans. She also said that when this singing begins (which some of them wait for with anticipation) many whales congregate to hear it, and that they can hear it underwater. Some of the whales told me that they speak about this music and the humans giving them so much love with other whales–those who have had experiences with humans and some who have not. But the most amazing part was feeling and hearing from the whales HOW MUCH they receive the love of the people standing there showering them with love. There were dozens upon dozens of whales underwater listening to the music, taking in the love. As whales, this love reached every cell in our bodies. I also felt the energy of hope filling the whales and the very water around us all. Receiving all your love felt like an anointment. The presence of God was clear. The connection between whales and humans blended into one sacred heart. Bodies and species didn’t matter, only the love.

Now I know what it feels like to be a whale and be in the presence of humans who have come to be with whales just to love them. For many years, in conversation, whales have explained to me how deeply they feel our love when it is given. But to feel this directly, first hand as a whale, to see the people and feel their energy of such great love being directed to us as whales was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

In another life when I was a whale, there were no humans in whale watch boats sending love to whales, but there were humans in whaling boats who exuded energies of supremacy, aggression, disregard and hostility. I was killed by one of them. Being a whale again, even for a short time, in a situation of receiving so much love from humans was deeply healing.  In this situation in Silver Bank, receiving the love from these humans was like getting love from 100,000 people, not just the 18 or so standing on the deck or the 10 or so in the water. Receiving the power of all this love was not overwhelming–it was like being gently and deeply blessed by angels. Just like, interestingly, how I’ve often felt in my human form when I’m in the presence of whales.

As humans, many of us are so astounded by the juxtaposition of the hugeness of the whales’ size with the gentleness of their energy when they are near us. What I felt as a whale, and heard other whales describing, is how astounded they are by the juxtaposition of the huge love coming from the “tiny, delicate” humans. I could see this when in the whale body: here was this group of really little beings exuding so much awe and love. Imagine as a human looking down at perhaps a group of little chipmunks, looking up at you beaming all the love of the universe to you, with great respect, awe and gratitude just to be near you. That’s what it felt like. The whales with whom you had encounters (in the water and from the boats) are as changed as you are from having been together. Every drop of love and healing and goodwill you felt for them and every thought sent has been received and is now a part of them. Just as they are a part of you.

This is not new information to me. But experiencing it as a whale gives me a whole new perspective of how powerful, far reaching and everlasting our love for them really is. I will never, ever doubt the power of love and how easily and powerfully it reaches others, beyond time, distance, form and species. 

I expected to be at home the week of the trip feeling sad (and I certainly did at times) and telepathically connecting with the whales. I did not expect teleporting and shape shifting. . .and am very grateful to have been able to briefly join you in this way. Next year, I’ll be there with snorkel gear in my human body! When I die from this human life, I want it to be with a smile on my face, saying “Beam me up whales! Beam me up. Here I come!”  Until then, I will sometimes be saying, “Beam me back into the water whales!

I surely never expected my role in this year’s trip to be so long distance, and am so profoundly sorry not to have been with you in all the ways I planned and wanted to be. But I am so gratified that you came to be with the whales and that they came to you.

One of you recently emailed me and thanked me for being an “ambassador for the the cetaceans.” I am very honored by such a label. The truth is that all of us who have met the whales, who have exchanged love with them, who now know who they really are–are all poised to be ambassadors for them. Being an ambassador or advocate for the whales or any animal is not about having a particular role, or a public role. It’s about making everyday lifestyle choices that do not harm them or any beings on the earth, about our willingness to stand up for them, to pray for them and to send healing to them. It’s about going beyond the sentimental, beyond the natural and heady romanticism we experience from their charisma, and beyond the spiritual high and inspiration we receive from being with them and from their wisdom. Those things, as much as the whales want us to have them and give them so freely, are all about receiving. Being an ambassador is about giving. I hope you will all be ambassadors for the whales. They, and all the animals of the earth, need us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything. May your personal unique relationship with the whales be one of mutual inspiration, love, giving and receiving.  And may each of you be blessed with all you need for your soul’s journeys, far and beyond this trip.

With much love and respect,

More information on how you can help the whales

More information on joining us for a Sacred Swims Trip


To Hear the Song of a Humpback Whale

copyright Teresa Wagner

Humpback whales are singers, composers and poets whose songs travel across entire oceans.
Whales sing in an emotional language, older than speech, that deeply resonates with us

~ Roger Payne, A Life Among Whales

Humpbacks in Silver Bank

Photo copyright Chris Bangs. Used with permission and gratitude.

For me, hearing the song of a humpback whale is to hear the sound that connects our souls. When in the presence of singing whales the world somehow feels aligned. All is right, all is well. I feel God when I am with the whales. And when I am blessed to hear them sing while also in their physical presence, well, I then not only feel God’s presence–it’s as if God fills me. The vibration of the songs of humpback whales overflows to everyone and everything around them.

Fifty weeks a year, the weeks that I think of as life between the time to be with the whales, I wait to once again see the North Atlantic Humpbacks I love so much in their West Indies home. I listen to recordings of their songs all year, but hearing them live–oh to hear those ancient sounds, those holy sounds, the beautiful, piercing, haunting songs of the humpback whales brings me immense joy. When on whale watching or on whale swim trips, one never knows what will happen or when. Encounters are not predictable and certainly not scheduled. We are on the whales’ time, in their home. What happens happens. When we are approached by a whale or whales, it is always a great blessing. And sometimes, what begins as a quiet, not very dramatic moment can turn into a blissful life altering experience. Such moments can’t be planned.

One afternoon while on a tender (a small boat) looking for whales in Silver Bank, our captain got in the water with a mother and calf who approached our boat. As soon as she entered the water, however, the whales swam off. The captain reentered the tender and told us that these whales did not seem likely to return to us. Because we do not chase whales, our boat did not attempt to follow them. Our captain did say, however, that she heard singing in the water. Since we had not yet been in the water that afternoon I asked if we could get in to hear the singing. She agreed but said the singing was barely audible. Regardless, a few of us got in. She was right, the singing could barely be heard.

It seemed very far away. I had to hold my breath to hear it because as anyone who snorkels knows, the sound of your own breathing through one’s snorkel makes a bit of a noise itself. It was still heavenly to me–however far away the sound, however long I held my breath–just to hear a bit of their singing. I closed my eyes, gave thanks to the singing whale and told him or her 1 how grateful we all were to be visiting the whales in their home and to hear this song.

After a few minutes the singing became a bit easier to hear. It was subtle but I no longer had to strain at all or hold my breath to hear. Then suddenly the singing became clear as a bell and much louder. I opened my eyes. Even knowing how very far their sound carries, just in case this singer was close by I surely didn’t want to miss seeing the whale! The water was maybe 30 feet deep and was a gorgeous aqua blue. Looking at that while listening to the singing was just blissful. The song was filling me by then, taking me to a calmer place, a more peaceful place within. As the volume continued to increase slowly but steadily, it became clear that not one but two whales were singing! Then almost out of nowhere, without any warning, a mother and calf were beneath us, both singing! I went from quiet bliss to freaked out thrilled in a nano second. Oh! Oh! Oh! they were right there under us, singing!

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting us see you and to hear your singing. We love you!” I said.

“We know you all love us,” the mother said. “We’re singing to you and about you. I want my baby to know about humans who love us and appreciate us, to learn to detect the vibrations of those to trust. I came to show her all of this with you. Thank you. We will not stay, buy I am grateful for this opportunity.”

And they were gone, as quickly as they came. But their singing continued, filling the ocean and our hearts with love. I’ve heard the song of a humpback whale live many, many times, but never a mother and calf both singing, and never with them traveling less than ten feet under us while we were in the water. The unexpected blessing of this was overwhelming. Afterwards, back on the tender we all acted like a bunch of little kids crying and laughing and hugging and squealing about the wonder of it all. We were all somehow marked by these whales and their songs. I will never forget it. I can still see that mother and baby beneath us, hear their beautiful loud singing, the vibration of it moving into and through me as they intentionally swam so closely beneath us.

As if that was not enough euphoria from hearing whales sing for one trip, on the last day, the morning we begin cruising back to land and leaving Silver Bank, I got up especially early to meditate and to thank the whales for an incredible week of close encounters with them. As I got up to leave the deck, one of the guests, Eva–a truly lovely person and photographer from Sweden–saw me with my friend Elise and motioned for us to follow her to the bow of the boat. There, her hydrophone was in the water and she invited us put on the headphones. I was astonished when I listened. I could hardly believe it–from below what was at that moment a completely calm ocean surface with not a white cap nor whale to be seen, came the magnificent sound of not just one song of a humpback whale, but what sounded like a full symphony orchestra of hundreds and hundreds of singing whales. I had never heard anything like it. Such beautiful, haunting, other worldly sounds of our cetacean sisters and brothers singing. Tears streamed down my face. I was looking out at this smooth as glass blue sea, not a whale to be seen, but hearing them as clearly as if I were under the water with them. It was like magic–like entering a portal to another world, the whales’ world–where though we could not see them, they were there, singing, singing, singing their hearts out.

This dichotomy of seeing no whales on the surface of the sea for miles but hearing hundreds of them under that same sea, reminded me that just as we are not always aware of all that’s occurring in the world beneath the sea, there is also so much we are not aware of going on above the sky in the heavens. Just as the whales sing beneath the surface, so do the spirits of whales and other loved ones, guides and teachers sing for us and guide us from the heavens. For the glimpses we get of either, I am immeasurably grateful.

There are boundaries between us, little calf, but our songs meet.
Whenever we listen we will hear each other, the soft harmony of
two different singers looking at each other through clear water.

~ Spoken by a whale to a young human girl in the novel Whale Singer by Wilton Katz

• Listen to recordings of humpback whale songs from Silver Bank: The above link will take you one of the recordings made by Eva Johnson, of Nordarc Architecture and Photography in Sweden. She is creating a photography exhibit to honor whales called Beneath the Sea. To view her gorgeous photography visit www.nordarc.se. Eva is one of the most delightful people I have ever met on all of my whale trips–and her love for the whales shines through in her work.

• Listen to CDs with the song of a humpback whale: Amazing Grace with Humpback Whale Song by Cecilia Reiki Whale Song by Kamal Songs of the Humpback Whales recorded by Roger Payne

• Learn more about whale songs from two greatly admired researchers of whales:
Roger Payne, Ocean Alliance
–who discovered that the sounds of humpback whales actually are songs. Be sure to read his book Among Whales and view his DVD A Life Among Whales

Chris Clark, Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University, is well known for his research on the sounds of whales and the impact of noise pollution in the oceans on the lives of whales. I was mesmerized listening to him speak from his heart at an American Cetecean Society conference. You can listen to him yourself on this YouTube video describing his excitement at the unexpected recording of a Blue Whale off New York.

• Learn more about Sacred Swims with whales: Costs, location, what it’s like to be in the water with them, why this trip is non intrusive to the whales, itinerary, who should come on this spiritual pilgrimage.

• Learn more about what whales say themselves about their lives and their views of humans: Wisdom From the Whales–23 Years of Conversations with the Whales–a two and one half hour webinar held live once a year and available On Demand 12/11.

Grace and Hope, Silver Bank 2011


To Feel a Whale’s Touch

I have stroked, swum with, and looked at these creatures,
and felt their essence rise to ?meet me like perfume on a spring day.
Touched by it, I felt gentler myself, more open to the possibilities that exist around me.

~ Joan McIntyre, Mind in the Waters 1974

I’ve fantasized about it for decades, what it might be like to feel the touch of the magnificent humpback whales I love so much. Twenty three years after falling in love with them while meeting a humpback for the first time, and twelve years after I began swimming with them it happened. A whale touched me. Actually a number of times.

Humpback Calf Hope

Humpback Calf Hope, copyright Eva Johnson www.nordarc.se

It was a humpback calf we call Hope.1 In the words of my whale sister, Dr. Joan Beattie, Hope “is a wonderful personality–delightful, a rascal, assertive (out there), beautiful, curious, full of energy, funny, gracious, gentle, joyful, playful, bouncy, bubbly, effervescent, irrepressible, lovable, loving, saucy, and smart.” That says it! Her behavior with us was like nothing any of us had ever seen before, including those of us who’ve spent many weeks swimming with the humpbacks over many years and captains who’ve spent hundreds of weeks swimming with them.

With her mother nearby, closely observing and supervising, yet so obviously allowing her child to interact with us, Hope gave us the experiences of a lifetime. We were with her for an entire day early in our week, and then an additional afternoon on our last day. She was tireless in her desire to be close to us. One didn’t have to be an animal communicator to be crystal clear about how much this whale loved being with us and near us.

We were a group of about four to nine humans in the water at a given time, linking arms at the elbow so we would stay in a nice tight line together. This etiquette allowed the mother whale, especially, to know where we were at all times. We stayed together in this group line, not free diving, and not swimming in all directions around the whales. We simply floated on the surface, together, and allowed the whales to come to us whenever and as closely as they wished to. Our behavior with the whales is what is called a Soft-in-Water Encounter, developed by Tom Conlin of Aquatic Adventures. These guidelines are part of the Silver Bank Regulations for the Marine Mammal Sanctuary of the Dominican Republic. Each of the three whale swim operators in Silver Bank and their guests must abide by these guidelines.

People with Humpback Calf

People with Humpback Calf, from Aggressor Fleet Photo CD

When baby Hope rested, which did not seem to be for long periods, we would see her tucked under her mother’s body on the bottom of the ocean floor, at times a mere thirty feet below us. Sometimes, Hope would settle at a perpendicular angle to her mother and we could see her little rostrum (head) sticking out on one side of her mother’s rostrum and her little fluke sticking out from the other side. I know it’s hard to imagine a whale looking small, but in this position she looked quite small under her huge, fifty foot long mother, and well, just adorable beyond words. When she needed to surface to breath, she would twirl up from beneath her mother, moving with a grace and beauty to rival any human ballerina. It was absolutely mesmerizing to simply watch her move up to the surface to breath. Then she would swim directly to us, bright eyed and so very obviously happy and determined to be with us. Sometimes, she would swim on her side with her belly facing us. She also swam in circles going behind us then coming around in front of us, repeating this pattern over and over and over again. At times she came so close all I could see were a few lines of her ventral pleats. It took my breath away.

Humpback Calf Hope, very close up!

Humpback Calf Hope, very close up! copyright Eva Johnson www.nordarc.se

She told me that she desperately wanted to touch us and for us to touch her. I told her that for reasons of safety for us and respect for her and all the whales we were strictly forbidden to reach out and touch her. I also told her that we would, however, welcome any touch from her, but that she needed to be very gentle. She didn’t need to hear that twice! She began to approach us on her side with both pectoral fins facing us, and to deliberately touch the tips of her pectoral fins underneath our hands. The first time she did this I thought I would faint from the bliss of it. By the third time she did it she had slowed down a bit and my fingers and the palms of my hands could feel her skin for those few precious moments that she brushed her pecs underneath my hands. Oh! She was so soft and smooth and lovely. I was in heaven. We were all in heaven (see others’ comments at the end).

On our last afternoon together as I told these precious whales that we needed to leave soon because the light was fading, Hope’s mother Grace slowly rose up from the bottom in her full fifty foot beauty and glory, coming up directly in front of us, a mere two feet from our line of human bodies. She stopped and slowly rolled over, showing us her heart and belly, moving and lifting her gorgeous, white, fifteen foot long pectoral fins in graceful perfection, careful not to allow either of them to harm us. With only her ventral pleats in my vision, so very close, I heard her say to all of us, “Thank you. Thank you for all the love you gave to my child.” We thanked her, and sobbed afterwards. We all just sobbed and sobbed from the exquisite intimacy of it.

Humpback Calf Hope Under Mother Grace’s Fluke

Humpback Calf Hope Under Mother Grace’s Fluke, copyright Teresa Wagner

Hope was terribly disappointed that we had to go. She didn’t like it at all that we needed to return to our large dive boat. As our two tenders (small boats) were preparing to leave one of the guests in our group, Ruth Martin, sent out a message to Hope, humbly asking her if she might come just one more time to the boat so we could see you up close at the surface before leaving. In answer to that prayerful request to come close, she did! She deliberately swam to each tender, swimming a full circle around each, raising her beautiful, perfect little whale head out of the water at times for us to see. There were yelps of joy and plentiful tears of gratitude from all of us .

So I have been touched by a whale, and it was heaven on earth to me. And yet, as much as this was a dream come true, it was the way Hope and Grace touched my heart that reached my soul most deeply. Physical touch with those we love can be so rewarding, so intimate. I often yearn for it with those I love. But as I reminisce about these glorious hours with Hope and Grace, I am reminded that physical touch is an expression of love, not love itself. However blissful touch may be, it is just one possible expression of love, not love itself.

Humpback Calf Hope and Mother Grace,

Humpback Calf Hope and Mother Grace, from Aggressor Fleet Photo CD

Love itself flows from one heart to another, one soul to another. Love is the highest vibration of energy and consciousness we can experience, and it may or may not be expressed with physical touch. And that high vibration of love, that soul deep love, remains between all of us who were privileged to be with Hope and Grace. That love goes on far beyond the moments of touch and hours and days of being together physically. Even as they now migrate up the coast of North America to their feeding grounds and we have each flown back to our homes on land over many continents, the love continues in both directions. The love never ends. And neither does the gratitude for the wonder and miracle of their touch to our bodies and our hearts.

Thank you Hope. Thank you Grace. We love you! May you always be safe, happy and free. You will always live in our hearts. And may all the oceans’ whales be safe and at peace.

Wherever on the water the winds shall find you,
wherever the moon or the sun shall move. ..
Deep in my heart I will breathe deeply with you.

~ Robert Siegel, White Whale

1 Originally, the crew members referred to her as Piggy, then Miss Piggy. However, one of the animal communicators in our group, Jeannine Lafon, from France, heard from this whale that she preferred to be called Hope. Her mother was named by Rider Siphron, originally calling her Amazing Grace. Later, the mother told me that “it is not humble to be called amazing. Please just refer to me as Grace.” And so, they became known as Hope and Grace.

A few comments from people on this March 2011 trip about their time with Hope and Grace:

“My left arm was out as I was on the end of the line. As she came by her pec went underneath my hand and seemed to purposely brush the underside of my hand, allowing me to feel her soft skin. The feeling went right straight to my heart from my fingertips. I just cried. This baby whale touched me! I felt like I was the only one in the water, it was such a powerful connection feeling her pec brushing the palm of my hand. I just welled up and it happened again and again.”
~ Marti Pattishall, Redondo Beach, California


“I loved being in the water with Hope and Grace. Hope was so playful and loving that she came super close to us repeatedly. I mean repeatedly. The fact that Grace allowed us to swim with her and her daughter for an entire day is amazing beyond words. And for someone who loves physical touch as much as I do, I’m surprised to hear myself say this, but it’s really their incredible energy of love that touched me so deeply. That was everything in the experience.

Hope did touch me on the leg and it was exhilarating but only because I felt so much love for them and from them. When I think back on that time in the water with them, I think on the moment when Grace came up from the bottom, on her way to the surface. She just stayed with us, holding us in her gaze, sending love and accepting our love. I felt suspended in this eternal moment and then she arched back slowly, gracefully, showing her beautiful pleated belly, before swimming away.

I think of Hope’s excitement and rise in energy as she circled us again and again, or as she came to say goodbye to everyone in the boats, or when she was so exhausted she came to the surface with her eyes closed. Those moments felt so much greater than the actual physical touch on my leg. Not to say the physical touch wasn’t amazing. It was. The two are so linked, love and touch. I love them and I miss swimming with them. The touch really doesn’t hold a candle to the love you feel with the whales but because love and touch are so linked, once you feel that deep love for the whales, it’s easy to fantasize about the touch.
~ Rider Siphron, Los Angeles, California http://www.stealthfairy.com


“When they get close to you, the whale adults know very well how to avoid touching you. One day, we were right above a mother who came up to breathe and, as I was watching her coming up, I really thought she would hit us. Nothing of that kind happened of course. At the last minute, she slightly diverted her original climbing path and the tip of her tail went just a few inches from us. Being still a baby, Hope did not have that skill yet. The first time I saw her in the water, I admired her playful look and her eye looking at us with curiosity. I was at the end of the cluster of people and would have been very easily able to touch her. While I was resisting doing so, I realized that, as she was approaching, Hope may hit me. I tried to move back but I did not go far enough and was touched on the head by the tip of her fluke. Even if the encounter was an unexpected one, I was delighted she had touched me.”
~ Jeannine Lafon, Paris, France


This was my second Silver Bank whale trip, and the more memorable of the two because of Miss Piggy/Hope and her mother, Grace. On Thursday afternoon (March 24, 2011) when we met up again with Hope, I was in line with the other swimmers, with Eva to my right. Eva was on the end. The first time that Hope circled our line, she misjudged her turn and both Eva and I felt her fluke touch the tops of our heads. It wasn’t hard enough to hurt either of us, and I enjoyed the fact that she came close enough to us to touch us. We both laughed about it! I was moved by how evident it was that Hope loved frolicking around us, and sensed the same from us. However, I was most deeply touched when Hope slowly and deliberately swam around our small boats, turning over and looking up at us, as if to say goodbye in her own way. And the way her mother swam up close to our boats and showed us her heart and underside in gratitude brought me to tears! This was such a wonderful week with Hope and Grace, and I cherish the entire experience.”
~ Shirley Ortega, Pacifica, CA

Photo Use Appreciation:

Thank you Eva Johnson for allowing me to share your gorgeous professional photographs! And for giggling with me in the water! Well, you were giggling and I was sobbing most of the time! You can see more of Eva’s work at www.nordarc.se

Thank you Amanda and Mario of the Aggressor Fleet for your photography and for the CD of your beautiful photos.


Facing Evil and Love, Let Us Reach for the Love

Where there is evil we must stand up and say so to stop it. 
And where there is no love in human hearts for animals, we must send love, especially then, we must send it. Please join me in sending love to the whales and those who kill them.
~ May love prevail ~

I was just about to publish a blog post on the bliss of swimming with whales in Silver Bank–and then–the slaughter story hit about the Japanese vicious massacre of pilot whales in the infamous Taiji Cove. Memories of bliss went into the background. Usually, when I hear of evil, horrific things being done to whales or other animals, I go immediately and calmly into help mode–sending healing, sending prayers, learning what is being done physically and politically to help, and spreading the word to ask others to do the same. I take Glassy HyacinthGreen Cross Gentian and Grief Relief flower essences and ask my spiritual guides to help me, to fill me with love and strength. But once in awhile, no matter what I do, the grief is so harsh I am knocked over in pain.

The horror of what is done to the whales is almost inconceivable. But the photos viewed and the conversations I’ve had with the whales make it exceedingly real. For days I cried for the pilot whales brutally slaughtered, senselessly stabbed to death last week by men in Japan. And I cry, too, for those who were let go, but remain disoriented and traumatized from witnessing the death of family members, from hearing the screams of their loved ones as they were viciously killed.

And I cry for the pilot whales who have beached themselves in Florida. When I first heard of the beaching, I asked to be connected to representative of this group of whales to learn more about why it was happening and how we humans might help. I was told, “We all talk, we whales and dolphins, all over the world. We know what is happening everywhere. We (indicating this group of pilot whales) are tired, we are scared and we are terrified of when we might be next (he showed an image here of men in boats coming to kill them). We would rather choose how we die than always be scared wondering when the men in boats will come for us. We would rather die on our own terms, and with humans we know will care about us. We do not want to live in fear anymore. So we come to the beaches where we believe there will be love for us, and peace in death.”  I had heard a similar message from a pilot whale who was beached in New Zealand last year. The suffering of these whales makes it hard for me not to be ashamed to be part of the human species. Feeling their pain had me almost paralyzed and numb with grief.

And then, I received an email from my friend and client, Rider Siphron Stauffer, about a little injured gopher she found while walking her dog. Though most dogs see gophers as prey, Rider’s dog Cowboy loves them. Though most humans who live near gophers despise them because they eat plants in their garden (I often wonder what they think gophers should eat), Rider loves them too. She took this precious little injured mammal to Valley Wildlife Care, a wildlife rehab center in West Hills, CA and offered to pay for any expenses to help him. X-Rays were taken and a full medical work up done by a veterinarian. It turned out that the lower half of his spine was crushed and it would be impossible for him to live a normal life, even indoors with people. But the kind and competent staff made sure he had pain meds to be sure he was comfortable while they assessed his situation. And when they knew that the most compassionate decision would be to humanely euthanize him, they  gave him a gourmet last meal of thyme, dandelion and carrots. When I read this it did me in–in a good way. My heart was flooded with love and gratitude for such people being on the earth. On one spot on the earth there were humans with no sense of compassion or decency whatsoever in their hearts for gentle dolphins and whales who have never harmed humans, and yet there was at the same time on another spot on the earth a group of humans so full of compassion, empathy and love for all animals that they pulled out all stops to help a small little gopher that most humans see as a mere “garden pest.”  It was their love, and their beautiful acts of love, that helped my heart come back to love and hope, rather than remain wallowed in my grief. I know that is was incredibly sad for Rider and the wildlife center staff that this gopher did not make it, and my heart goes out to them. And yet, for him to die with such love, with such dignity, and with such respect is how we should all die. It is a far cry from the pilot whales’ death at the hands of evil.  The evil behavior breaks my heart, but the love wins. It’s bigger. It’s stronger. And there’s far more of it. It sustains me. Thank you dear gopher and all of you who love and cared for him. You reminded me to reach for the love even when in despair.

Some years ago in a consultation with a client who was deeply grieving the death of her dog, the dog said to his person: “The love is bigger than the pain. I know your heart is breaking terribly. But I promise you that your pain will subside over time, and our love, our love will not only survive, it will be stronger. Someday the horrible pain will be a memory of deep sadness but our love will still be vibrant and alive. Love is always bigger than pain. When you are hurting, reach for the love and I promise you will feel better.”  I’ve learned almost everything of importance that I know from animals. This wise dog’s message has helped me many, many times when I have found myself buried in the pain of grief. And the humans who so lovingly helped the precious little gopher helped me remember to reach for the love. And so I reach, broken heart and all.

Those of us who love the whales must keep reaching for the love, however we can find it. And not just for the whales and for ourselves. Angry and heartbroken as we may be, we must extend this love to those who harm the whales, to those whose behavior is evil. Love is not only bigger than pain, it is also bigger than evil, more powerful, more lasting.

Those of us who love the whales and dolphins, who know who they are inside, who know they are soul peers and worthy of being saved–we must stay strong. We must find ways to come back to center in our hearts rather than stay stuck in our pain. We need to grieve, we need to process our pain for whatever hours or days or weeks or years it takes, but to also move beyond our anger or pain so we can help the whales. We need to find ways to take care of  broken hearts and help the whales at the same time. If we love the whales and want to stop the evil, we must be part of sending love to the hearts of those who are still indifferent to suffering. Those who do not yet know love in their hearts for animals, those who do not yet know who animals are, need love.

Please join me in sending love to the whales–in your own way, in your own traditions–to the ones who’ve died and the ones still on the earth in Japan and off  Florida. And please join me in sending love to the men who harm the whales, to fill their hearts with love. This is not condoning their behavior, it’s not even forgiveness really. It’s standing up for love. Let’s join together and send love to them all. Let’s let love win.  Love is more powerful and stronger than the indifference toward whales on the part of a few whose behavior is evil.

For the pilot whales still on the earth ~
Gently hold your love over and around the whales, infusing them with gentle calmness, with hope and with all the love. Imagine your love and God’s love surrounding these whales–above and around them as if this love was in the form of giant angel’s wings, holding all of them in calmness, peace and great love. Feel the calmness, feel the peace, feel the love. Ask every being you pray to to stay with the whales, to continue to infuse and surround them with this energy as long as they need it. Whatever your personal form of prayer and healing, send this to the whales.

Repeat this for the whales who have died ~

Then repeat it for the men who have killed the whales. 
If you cannot personally feel love for them, if your anger or heartbreak makes it too hard to do that just now, that’s ok. Ask those you pray to that they deliver the love on your behalf. But it is important that we feel a genuine desire for them to know and have love in their hearts. With love in their hearts, there is far more probability that their behavior may change. Send prayers and blessings and intentions also, that all men who hunt and kill dolphins and whales be presented with prosperous and fulfilling new work, new ways to make their living, making the killing of animals obsolete and unnecessary in their lives.

And now, repeat the requests for love and healing for yourself, for your own heart ~

May your heart be in gentle stillness, peace and love ~

For a free article (The Whales’ Lesson on Death and Helping Those Who Suffer) outlining this process in more detail, click here.

For an audio (When Compassion Hurts) on CD or MP3 outlining this process in more detail and including a guided meditation, click here.

Please join me in contacting the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC and urge them to stop killing dolphins and whales.  Be polite, voice loving concern for all the people impacted by the recent earthquakes, and urge them to protect Japanese consumers from mercury poisoning from eating dangerous whale and dolphin meat.  Ask that your comments be passed on to Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki.

Embassy of Japan in the United States
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Main Tel: 202-238-6700
Main Fax: 202-328-2187
Website: http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/index.html
Japan Information and Culture Center   E-mail: jicc@ws.mofa.go.jp

Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
~ Robert Kennedy

Photo and Image Credits:
Gopher and Cowboy photo used with permission and gratitude from Rider Siphron Stauffer
Whale fluke graphic copyright Teresa Wagner
Pilot Whale photos and other images purchased from iStock Photo


The Lives of 900 Whales Saved!
~ Celebrating Progress and Continuing to Hold the Light for More ~

The thinking person must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition or surrounded by a halo. We need a boundless ethic which will include the animals also.

~ Dr. Albert Schweitzer

The Japanese whalers left their annual whale hunt in the Southern Ocean early this year. Because of this, the lives of 900 whales were saved. When I first heard the news I danced around my office screaming Woooooooo Hooooooooo for about fifteen minutes (scaring the heck out of my poor cats, who later said “you could have gone outside if you had to yell!”). When I was done jumping around and yellling I sat down, a bit overwhelmed and cried tears of gratitude and relief. The whalers have retreated and headed back to Japan! This is a major victory for whales–so many precious lives of whales have been saved. According to Japan’s own self declared (and illegal) slaughter quotas, their whalers killed only 16% of their planned “take for the season.” They cited Sea Shepherd’s involvement as the reason. “Japan says it is bringing the fleet home from the Southern Ocean ahead of schedule because of harassment by the Sea Shepherd group,” reports Mark Willacy from ABC News. Go Sea Shepherd!

Photo copyright Chris Bangs. Used with permission and gratitude.

Photo copyright Chris Bangs. Used with permission and gratitude

Our business is to sail into harm’s way to defend the defenseless from the remorseless.

~ Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Founder

Whaling in Japan has not been profitable for quite some time. The industry needs government subsidies to even survive. Despite this, a steadfast clinging to the cultural tradition of vicious killing of whales has lingered. As we all know cultural change often happens very slowly, as understanding of a higher good builds and resistance to letting go of practices that bring harm to others softens. And politics, of course, are part of the cultural changes many of us want to see occur for the protection of whales. That is why political activism is critical for changes needed for the whales. Such changes often take a tremendous amount of time and considerable effort on the part of those who’ve devoted their lives to helping. For all of us who love whales, it can be daunting and depressing when we are aware of hundreds and thousands of cetaceans being killed. To imagine the end of such cruelty actually happening, with the issues of complex politics and cultural traditions involved. . .well, it can seem like it might take forever, if ever, to see the end of dolphin and whale slaughter. But this recent victory brings the precious energy of hope. The light at the end of the tunnel can be glimpsed. It is closer now, so much closer. But even before the day comes when earth is again a place where no one ever, ever, ever harms or slaughters a cetacean again, when a major shift such as this recent victory occurs for the good of the whales, it is reason to celebrate!

God bless all who work to make this happen–activists, healers, conservationists and all people who love the whales and hold them in their hearts. Our work is not done, but today I cry happy tears and whoop with joy knowing the end of whaling is closer. May all the whales in the sea be safe, may they feel our love and rejoice.

Photo of Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker next to Japanese whaling ship.

Photo of Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker next to Japanese whaling ship. From allvoices.com

Blessings, kudos and mega thanks to those courageous and heroic men and women of Sea Shepherd who put their own lives on the line to save the lives of whales. You are my heros. You are the whales’ heros.

A few months ago mating humpbacks who visited a Sea Shepherd boat in the Southern Ocean stayed for hours. In the article about this, Captain Paul Watson’s poem to the whales includes the line “The love between the whales is a wonder of life. . .”

I reached out to talk with these whales and asked them if they knew they were in harm’s way with the Japanese ships nearby. They said, “We are not in danger from the humans on this [Sea Shepherd] boat. We all know which boats and which people are here to help and protect us and those who want to kill us. We easily perceive the energies of love, hate and indifference. We came to this boat and these people because they are filled with love for us. We wanted to show them our thanks and our love.” Wise, wise whales.

From allvoices.comBlessings, thanks and hugs to the thousands, perhaps millions, of individuals who persistently and compassionately send prayer, love, and healing energy to the whales and hold positive thoughts for a world without whaling, a world where all whales are safe.

Activism without love can be brittle and can spread hatred. And love without action when there is physical work to be done to save lives here on earth, on the ground, would be cruel. Love and action are a perfect marriage to save the whales. One without the other creates a vacuum of imbalance begging to be filled.

I believe that both energies are necessary to save lives and effect long term cultural change for the good–taking non violent and focused, purposeful action along with love, prayer and positive thoughts. Martin Luther King believed this. Mother Teresa believed this. Mohandas Gandhi believed this. And apparently so does His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Founder of Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson shared the following story in one of his commentaries:Back in 1987, a Tibetan monk gave me a little wooden statue. It was a horse-headed dragon sort of thing, and I was asked to put it on our foremast for protection. Out of respect for the monk’s request, I put it there. In 1989, I had the very great pleasure of meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C. and found out that he had sent it to us.

“What is it?” I asked. “It is called Hayagriva,” he replied. “But what does it mean?” I asked. “It is the symbol for the compassionate aspect of the wrath of the Buddha,” he said with a smile. “And what does that mean?” I asked. “It means that one should never cause harm to another, but when people fail to see enlightenment, you can sometimes scare the hell out of them until they do.”

When I read this all I could think was “Wow! The Dalai Lama rocks!” May all Sea Shepherd’s boats continue to be protected by Hayagriva along with our prayers as they take non violent action founded on compassion and love to save the lives of whales.

Until all whaling ceases, while we still feel grief from the senseless loss of lives and anger from injustice, how do we continue to hold the light for the changes of good needed? One of the most powerful inspirations I’ve ever received about this came to me from Gurumayi Chidvilasananda.

What I learned from her is that we have a duty to shed the light we have, the spiritual understanding we are privileged to have come to remember in our hearts and mind, onto those who do not yet have the same level of understanding in consciousness as we do. When we know this to be true in a particular situation we have a responsibility to hold compassion and love for them, to shower upon them light and love–not from condescension thinking we are better, nor from a place or moral superiority, and certainly not from ego or to be in the limelight, and sometimes not even out loud or directly with the other. But to just feel and send the light and the love because we know how.

As I contemplated Gurumayi’s message at a time of terrible pain in my life, I felt the universal truth of it. I had a responsibility, I realized, to send love and light to a being who had deeply betrayed me. In sending this love, quietly, inside, one soul to another, I felt the grace of it. I hope that in some way this love served the other being. What I know for sure is that drinking in the nectar of these teachings, as Gurumayi likes to say, and applying them allowed me to leave the relationship with compassion and intact. I did not get lost in my pain. Oh it didn’t eliminate my sadness, depression or even fear at times during this contentious situation. But it did bring the energy of peace to the overall process for me. I was better for this, more whole inside even as my life was falling apart on the outside.

And with the whales, as we watch and read with heartbreak about slaughter, about the unspeakable suffering from cruel capture and living in captivity, we can all do this. Those of us who know who whales are, who know that we are soul peers with all beings on earth, have a responsibility to shed our own and love, and universal light and love onto those who harm whales. I hate what whalers do, but I do not hate the whalers. I do what I was taught, and send them love. For if we do not send them compassion and love, how can we ever expect them to open their hearts to the love of whales?

This is our time. The time for those of us who deeply love whales to continue to make a difference more than ever. Whether you believe in activism, prayer or positive visualization and healing, if you love whales, this is the time to help. Our time to show the whales and other animals that we are willing to do what it takes to help them live, to help insure that they have a safe place to live on the earth with all they have a right to–freedom, safety, joy and peace.

The momentum is built and we cannot stop.

If you love whales, please, join me in standing up for them, to be a voice for them in ways that are most comfortable for you: donate to whale advocacy or conservation groups; participate in on line petitions to voice your opinion, vote for candidates in your country who oppose whaling and whales in captivity; pray for the whales; send them healing energy; talk with them, send them your love and visualize a world in which all whales are free and safe. Thank you and blessings to you.

May all whaling cease.
May all captivity cease.
May all whales be free, safe, joyful and whole.
May all whalers be abundantly blessed with new work that is prosperous and fulfilling.
May whales and people come together in peace and in love ~
And so it is.

For action alerts about how to help whales, click here

To learn more about Sea Shepherd, The Navy for the Whales, click here, and for Captain Paul Watson’s commentaries, click here. To donate to Sea Shepherd, click here

For a summary of the overall threats to whales, and many ideas on how you can help whales, click here

If you feel the pain of compassion fatigue knowing how much the whales and other animals suffer: • Listen to When Compassion Hurts, CD (or MP3)
• Take the flower essence Green Cross Gentian which helps us keep holding the light for world service in the face of challenge and setbacks.


What Does It Mean to Love Whales?

You should try to hear the names the Holy Ones have for things.
People name everything according to the number of legs they have.
The Holy Ones name them according to what they have inside.

~ Rumi

To love another species so vastly different from ourselves in body yet precisely the same inside is an experience of wonder and awe. With whales, perhaps it is the unexpected juxtaposition of their magnificent size and power along with their gentleness and acceptance of us that so disarms us, and opens our hearts to new chambers of of love and greater depths of forgiveness and trust. To be with whales up close (physically or spiritually) is transformative. It is healing and life changing.

Like in any relationship of love, loving whales means to want the best for them. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. And sometimes to help those we love who are in peril, in addition to sending the energy of love from our hearts, our love also needs to be expressed in external, practical, grounded ways in the physical world. When we see a tragic car crash on the side of the road, we don’t just send love and keep driving. We stop to help, or at the very least call 911. With the overwhelming threats that whales currently face, there is much we can each do.

Praying for the whales

Praying for the Whales in Silver Bank

As someone who loves whales with all of my heart and wants to be part of making the world a better place for them, I feel a responsibility to both seek and remain open to all information about them. Though my own skills and natural abilities lie in the communication and healing arts, it’s quite important to me that I also learn about their natural history; that I continue to learn from researchers and naturalists who spend their lives observing and furthering the body of knowledge that helps whales; that I support the rescue efforts of those who put themselves in harms way to stop whaling ships and to disentangle whales horrifically trapped in fishing gear; and that I keep abreast of how I can be part of political activism that changes laws and saves the lives of whales. Each of these fields brings us treasures of information and inspiration to further understand whales and how we can help them.

Everyone expresses their love for the whales differently. Some of us are more comfortable expressing our love from our hearts and spirits. Others are more capable and comfortable using their rational minds. It takes a village of great diversity to help the whales and to inspire others to care and act on their behalf. Artists, researchers, conservationists, naturalists, warriors, activists, healers, animal communicators, NGOs and government officials who allow themselves both reason and compassion in policy making are all needed. In wanting a safe and harmonious world for the whales, perhaps we can create a harmonious world among ourselves as whale lovers. Rather than assume that our own particular contribution, skill set, profession or philosophy is the best or only one, or the one that has all the answers to help the whales, we can respect all paths.

Perhaps those who scoff at anything that’s not physically measurable, discounting intutively derived information such as telepathic communication, could open their minds to information that originates from the right side of the brain. By doing so, they could add to what they know from science about the whales, just as medical doctors have begun to acknowledge that human disease and illness have causes and cures that involve the emotions and souls of human, not just their bodies.

Perhaps those who send love, prayer and healing energy to whales but judge the anger and passion of activists could acknowledge that anger and its expression of protest and right action is a normal, integral and necessary part of the path to healing gross injustices and creating cultural change in the physical world.

Activists Helped Americans Learn That Obama Wanted to Resume Legal Whaling at Rallies Organized by the Wan Conservancy. This brought great public pressure for the U.S. to vote FOR the whales at the IWC meeting in June 2010.

Perhaps we can all rejoice in the fact that we each have a role to play, a natural best fit for us to love and help the whales. I picture a world of human whale lovers who, even in their diversity, feel and communicate respect for what others are doing from their best fit to help the whales. Both those who “name the number of legs” and those who perceive and speak with the souls of whales help us more thoroughly understand and serve the whales we  love. Together, with all of our abilities, talents, passion, energies and efforts, we are not only making the world a better place for whales, but we also have a rich opportunity to learn from each other.

So what does it mean to love whales?  It certainly is easy to receive the great love of the whales.

Humpback Whale in Silver Bank

Photo copyright Piers van der Walt. Used with permission and gratitude.

It is impossible not to when near them. And what a great honor and a grand gift it is. What we owe them–if we love them–is to move beyond the romanticizing of loving whales, and beyond the spiritual high we receive just by being with them and give something back. To love whales well is to love with reciprocity.

What do you think?

For ideas on how you can personally help the whales click here

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