Animal Communication is the ability to understand animals on an intellectual level. It includes using observational skills and a basic understanding of animal behavior and motivations, just like a naturalist uses observation about animals in the wild, but it’s more sophisticated than the limited skill set that science employs to understand animal behavior.
Animal Communication is about using the interconnected nature of life on Earth to bridge the cultural gap that exists between humanity and the many other animals of this world. Animals of all types still recognize and actively use this bridge daily. When I still my mind and open my inner ears, I can access that bridge as well. It takes focus, good listening skills, and a willingness to put myself aside, the same skill set necessary to good communication between human beings.
For me, translating the information I receive is the hardest part. Sometimes, it’s loud and clear. Some animals will put their thoughts into words for me, especially if they want a very specific message delivered. Buttercup, who suggested I write this article in the first place, often doesn’t like translations because our words are lacking in depth. Even among humans, words make up only a small percentage of our communication, yet words are generally the first place our culture goes when trying to communicate any given message. We often miscommunicate with other humans because we’re too focused on the words that have been spoken rather than on the emotion and intent behind those words.
When I’m helping other humans to understand what an animal is trying to say, I try to find the words that will unlock the door on the human side of the communication; often, once that door is unlocked, we humans can gather in and accept the rest of the message on a more intuitive level, thus allowing the depth of the message to be communicated beyond the words spoken. It’s not easy, but it’s immensely satisfying to be able to help two individuals communicate effectively in this way.
The two people who taught me the most about animal communication are Lena Swanson and MaryAnn Field of Pelli’s Castle Works. The two non-humans who taught me the most, especially about etiquette and humility, were Buttercup and Sweetpea. Practicing and watching them in action along with reading Learning Their Language by Marta Williams gave me the inspiration and tools to open my mind wide enough to find that bridge and give it a go.
In the spring some time ago, Patrick and I were cleaning the yard and generally preparing for summer’s gardening season when we discovered a Squirrel couple in our shed. They’d made a shaggy little nest on the top shelf above the potting bench.
So, I spoke to Squirrel.
“You can’t nest here,” I said. “If our landlord stops by, he’ll insist we chase you away. He’s nice enough to humans, but he won’t let you stay. He might use traps or poison.”
“But she’s pregnant,” Squirrel said. “We need a proper nest.”
“I’ll ask The Folk to help you find one, one that’s safe and high, and not in a human place, just promise me you’ll teach your young to keep out of human dwellings.”
The Squirrel couple moved out that afternoon to a bushy nest not terribly far away. Their pups were born within the week. Four babes, my Friends told me, and all were healthy. Squirrel taught them to stay out of Human-made shelters, just like he promised, too. And The Folk have looked after Squirrels in my space ever since.