Of Penguins, Whales, Seals, Deers and Foxes — The Wild and Wise.

Penguins in Antarctica. March 2018. ©Anthea Ong

We often slight ‘animalism’ as backward and superstitious. Yet that was, and still is to me, a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasises the value of all living things and our co-existence in respectful balance. That there is a parallel relationship between us and our spirit animals.

Through my month’s odyssey of Antarctic and Patagonia in March 2018, it felt like all animals are actually human whisperers because I felt spoken to. And mostly, I learned much from these wild and wise ones.

Penguins

Antarctica. March 2018. ©Anthea Ong

“The answer to every problem involved penguins” — Rick Riordan

It’s said that no one can feel angry or unhappy looking at a penguin. The most distinctive trait of penguins is their monogamy as they spend most of their lives with just one partner — which is extraordinary in the animal world. Especially endearing for someone whose heart was broken by an unfaithful ex-husband she was madly in love with. The other message I received from Penguins was adaptability — penguins don’t give up easily, that’s simply not in their nature. I certainly saw so much of that in Antarctica — how they fall over and get up each time with the crashing waves, no matter how many times they need to do that. Although penguins cannot take flight, that has not stopped them trying to fly and tumbling into the water. This is such a beautiful reminder to take flight of my inner spirit — to let it fly high!

Whales

Antarctica. March 2018. ©Anthea Ong

“Whales don’t sing because they have an answer. They sing because they have a song.” — Unknown

I love this — it’s said that whales are earth’s record keepers for all time, yes they are the wise ones. Maybe its for this reason that whales are honoured and worshipped in certain traditions. I certainly connected deeply with the wisdom and godliness of these graceful giants of the ocean I was fortunate enough to sight, 2 of which came so close to the zodiac and compeletely mesmerised me into silence. They move with such strength and compassion —and seem to whisper the ancient knowledge of this planet with each swoosh of exhalation, that sound just brings pure delight. Another trait of the whales I learned is communication — they are excellent communicators across great distances and they also sing a different every month! Many sages regard seeing a swimming whale as a sign of divine blessing and good luck — yay, I saw more than 20! The whispers of wisdom certainly came through to me, especially in connecting to that larger history of humanity beyond this current form. To hear the song of my soul, our souls.

Seals

Antarctica. March 2018. ©Anthea Ong

“Seals do not sit about and tell, the way people do, and their lives are not eventful in the way people’s are, lines of story combed again and again, in the hope that they will yield more sense with every stroke.” ― Margo Lanagan

Lots of fur seals and crabeater seals seen, then the rare opportunity to be very near a ferocious leopard seal in the water whilst in a zodiac! Seals are very playful water creatures and are usually seen in groups. They are mostly associated with imagination and intuition in symbolism. I especially connected with the heightened sense of intuition of that leopard seal that was on the hunt for penguins — we were chasing him after that close sighting but we lost him every time. I also love how they are such experts at having quality rest — some could stay completely still for a long while which camouflages them perfectly with the rocks. Especially fascinated by their skin — the insulation that keeps them nice and toasty in such harsh environments. Could this whisper be about being ‘thick-skinned’, of insulating myself to the demands that do not serve me?

Horses

Estancia Nibepo, Patagonia. March 2018. ©Anthea Ong

“Horses make a landscape look beautiful” — Alice Walker

I rode 2 horses — Jaha and Mancha — over many hours across the steppes of the magnificent Patagonia (near El Calafate). Such immensely joyful time with such gloriously magnificent company. The one emotion that spoke to me throughout was freedom — horses may be domesticated by men (these 2 wild horses tamed by the gauchos) but they maintain such drive and energy. When riding these horses, I was completely expressing my authentic self and deeply at ease. This is in congruence with where I am right now in my life — and it’s such a gift. Thank you! Apparently, horses are also symbols for sex and sexuality but this, I didn’t get any messages from Jaha or Manchua — fortunately or unfortunately. :)

Deers

Torres del Paine, Chile. March 2018. ©Anthea Ong

“A wounded deer leaps the highest.” — Emily Dickinson

This is actually a huemul, a critically-endangered animal in Chile — declared a national monument by the country. So this sighting on a ridiculously windy day (130km/h winds) was particularly special. I connected with her tenderness and peacefulness. Some folklores claim that humans were once deer and some tribes consider them sacred as the caretakers of Mother Earth — and yet deforestation is threatening these very caretakers! This huemul did not move in all of the one hour that I trekked — that deep sense of place speaks strongly to me. Even as I am moving through the expanse of Patagonia with just a backpack, I do feel very centred with who and what I am — this anchors me when I make changes and move in new directions.

Foxes

Tierra del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia. March 2018. ©Anthea Ong

“Let every fox takes care of its own tail.” — Italian Proverb

This is a grey fox that followed me a little bit whilst I was trekking along the coast of the national park. It was a bit sly — hiding behind trees but I could hear him tracing my steps. Heightened awareness and swift actions were the message I received — very appropriate at that point especially since I had suffered a fall and was limping a little through the forest! At the same time, the way the fox was weaving his way around the forest also made for learning about finding my way around, being able to navigate my way through obstacles. And I will continue to.

“Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul.” — Pythagoras

I’m still trying to make sense of all these deep connections made with the wild ones — and am sure more will come to me with the days passed. Yet I know I have been whispered to by these animal spirits, and shall forever be connected.