Most folks by now have heard the story of Tahlequah, the young orca whale whose calf only lived a very short time after birth before she died. She was last spotted was spotted two days ago which marks her grief ritual of 17 days long of carrying her dead calf.
You’d need a stone heart not to be moved by this and her story and grief speaks deeply to me. It speaks to the woman who keens, the woman who honors the need for death rituals, our human need for ritual and ceremony. It also speaks to me as a Human Ecologist, the activist who know it is us humans who have created this chain of environmental events which has accumulated to cause the starving condition of this pod and their poor birth rate.
It’s been interesting to see the reaction of people to this story from animal communicators, to those who believe she is sending a message to humanity and to those criticizing these anthropomorphic interpretations. We are empathic creatures, extending our empathy to other creatures in trying to understand is a good thing, however, not recognizing the signals and blindingly overriding them is not so good a thing. This article invites you into a deep magic, to swim with Tahlequah, you’re also invited to share your art and join us in our Facegroup group to share the art and tomorrow I’ll post on practical ways to help.
A Dark Moon Invitation
Tonight is a dark moon and if you have clear skies you might see some meteors from the Perseid meteor shower. The dark moon is also an ancient tradition of setting intentions. Not some new age wish or a fancy car or big new house but a time to consider your work in the world. A time to consider the steps you next need to take which are aligned to your soul’s purpose, your true work in this world – work that creates a creative action against this crippling grip of patriarchy. The mess we are in today is a natural progression of a death culture which has no regard for the endless supplies of resources it needs to feed the ugly, hungry monster of capitalism.
So this dark moon I invite you to sit by your altar, sit out under the meteor shower and allow yourself to feel. Swim in the waters with Tahlequah, feel the weight of her pain, her grief. Feel the collective pain of the pod and allow yourself to swim through the cool water currents. Swim with her, help her keep her calf afloat – we know she must be exhausted as well as starving – body and soul crushed by her grief. Her’s is a beautiful grief ritual, it allows her to feel her pain and connect to our own pain – to that part of yourself that feels the destruction of habitat, the degradation of river systems, seas and oceans and the stories of so many animals, insects, wingeds and wild ones who are suffering.
Keen for her, let go of the grief that you are used to carrying yet shoved it somewhere as your never ready to deal with it. Cry, sing, chant, tone for her – use your voice as much as your body. Play wild music, dance your feelings, sweat your prayers to her.
Be gentle with yourself, hold your heart for this is heartbreaking work. use your own language of a simple gesture of ritual or ceremony it can be as simple as breathing with Tahlequah, it can be as simple as imagine holding her calf with her. The deep trough of grief she expresses show the deep love she has for this small one who has moved on to the otherworld.
Be gentle with yourself. You might want to lie down with some soothing music, move your body as if you are swimming through the deep, dark waters. Send her strength, understanding, and love, whisper to her.
Be gentle with yourself once you’ve finished your ritual. This is real stuff – record your impressions of being with her – write, drawn, paint. Collage your feelings, make this matter!
Tahlequah by Leah Pinken Kolidas – click image to view her page on facebook
All feelings and interpretations of this mother whale’s grief are relevant yet they are lost if we don’t take action in helping the plight of the entire pod. They are starving due to the lack of salmon and yet they face other stresses such as pollution such as the level of PCB’s found in the salmon, the noise and the sheer volume of marine traffic in the Pudget Sound. Tomorrow’s post will outline those who are working to help this pod of Orca’s and have been doing so. We can help support those doing this work otherwise we simply turn our head away from Tahlequah.
Feel free to share your evenings ritual, your art here in the comments or join us in the Sisterhood of the Antlers facebook group.