Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Circus Circus

I recently went to a place I never thought I’d go again: The circus. Yes, the traditional kind with animals in cages, the mere thought of which pains me deeply. And yet my daughter begged and begged to go. Surely the circus has come a long way since the old days of inflicting abject cruelty to tame wild animals, right? PETA and SPCA and public opinion have whipped them into shape by now, surely? So when I got the email offering discount circus tickets, I bought ‘em. For Chloë.

My hopes for a kinder and gentler circus were dashed when we were greeted by the protesters carrying posters of abused circus animals outside the arena. My son said, “You brought us to the cruelest place on Earth? Really, mom?” Hot tears streamed down my cheeks, and I hung my head as I walked past them. And yet I held out hope that these were folks were fanatics who would never be happy, bearing pictures from practices long since abandoned. When we got to our seats, I fired up Google from my cell phone and read about leg shackles, bull hooks, whips, and cramped cages. I felt sick.

I kept reminding myself of my belief that everything happens for a reason. So why was I here?

When the line of elephants walked out, I got my answer. They said quite unequivocally that they are here as volunteers. Elephants have agreed to participate with humans in the manner of the circus so that we may have greater interaction with other species, even if in the most unnatural of environments. They said that we humans have isolated ourselves from nature and the natural systems, the consequences and repercussions of which we are barely beginning to understand. They said they are here to give humans the opportunity to reconnect with our collective memory of living in relationship with other species, rather than in domination. If elephants must dance to get our attention, they will do it because they are so generous in spirit and they love us; they love this Planet.

Experiencing the majesty of a single elephant can trigger Remembering, even if only unconsciously, of how we are to respect all of the noble dwellers of this lovely spaceship Planet Earth. After all, elephants “never forget.” On a soul level, neither do we.

In Animal Speak, Ted Andrews says that “Elephants show great affection and loyalty to each other. Older calves will help younger siblings. Grown elephants will help sick and wounded comrades. In the elephant are the ideals of true societies.” It seems that, not only for each other, they have great affection and loyalty to us, as well. Aristotle said the elephant was "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind." I wonder if he meant to include humans in with “all others.”

But wait, they had more to say. The elephants also told me that many other species are choosing to depart the Planet at this time, voluntarily, because they no longer choose to live where the Earth Mother is so widely and profoundly disregarded. If we humans want to commit climactic and environmental suicide, so be it, but they decline to participate. Indeed, they say it’s arrogant of humans to think that there is anything at all that we could do to cause any life form to be extinct. All animals, indeed all LIFE, have free will. Animals and plant species have come and gone throughout the millennia of our planet’s history, without guilt or blame, weeping or wailing. Each spirit comes to this planet for a specific and unique experience and contribution. When that experience is complete, the species moves on or evolves or goes elsewhere. I can’t begin to understand, let alone explain, the deeper reality of this. I was told simply that the animals being born on Planet Earth today choose to be here at this time to offer guidance and to act as catalysts to inspire change. Those that are choosing not to be here are doing so of their own choice. And that we aren’t “losing” polar bears; we are losing our ability to see polar bears.

I bless the elephants for inviting me to their circus. I honor them for their work with us and their patience with our slow rate of learning. And I will always choose to see polar bears.


  1. I don't know if any of this is "true," in the sense of having meaning for anyone else. If any part of it resonates with you, please post a comment. I would love to know if the elephants are communicating with you, too.

  2. Beautiful insight.

  3. I received a personal note which suggested that my post could be read as saying I approve of how circus animals are treated. I appreciate the comment because it highlights for me a lack of clarity in what I wrote. In NO way did I mean to condone the unethical treatment of any animal, or even any tree. I am the Tree Priestess, after all!

    No, my *thinking* on the subject has not changed, and I am still pained by the thought of leg shackles, bull hooks, whips, and cramped cages.

    The "message" I shared, however, comes, not from my mental capacities, but from the metaphysical realm, where human logic is irrelevant. Truly I would never in a million years have *thought* my way into this. It does defy everything we think we know, and I offer it not for the “truth,” but for contemplation. My biggest revelations occur when I let go of what I “know,” and just breathe, allowing the unknown to become Known, even if it challenges what I have always "thought" I knew to be true.


Please share your comments. Do you have a blog you think I'd like? Post a link!