Cecil the Lion
It’s been a tough week for animal lovers. The death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe has touched many of us so deeply. I’ve been moved by the outpouring of heartbreak from people all over the world, and I’ve struggled with my own personal responses, emotions, and thoughts about my responsibility as an animal communicator to respond to this event.
I had to take a break from Facebook and all things online for awhile yesterday, while I tended to my own heart and my own process with this very public tragedy.
When I looked at Cecil’s magnificent, beautiful face, which has been everywhere online in the last couple of days, my heart broke. I felt such sadness and grief, such regret, such a sense of shame about the collective state of humanity that continues to create and allow this kind of violence against our fellow travelers here on this Earth.
All I could say was,
I’m sorry. I’m so very, very sorry.
I didn’t want to write this post. I didn’t want to respond publicly. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the media madness…the drama…the internet vigilante mob revenge frenzy. Fighting violence with violence never helps. Have we not learned that by now?
Today, I realized I need to speak, to write, to respond. I feel that I have a responsibility as an animal communicator and as a human to raise my voice and to share my thoughts.
And I communicated with Cecil…and I realized I needed to share his perspective, as well.
When a very public event happens like the killing of Cecil, it’s our human nature to want to assign blame and seek retribution. We humans are not very evolved that way. It’s easier for us find a place to land our anger, outrage, hatred and blame outside of ourselves than to feel our hearts breaking in sorrow and compassion, and to allow our broken hearts to open us further into more love and grace.
It’s hard to make room for our feelings of anger and even hatred, and to be present with them…it’s easier to put them “out there” on others than to say yes to them and allow them to live in our own hearts, neither repressing or expressing them in harmful ways, but simply being with them.
It’s easier to want to pull the trigger in return.
Anger is a healthy response to injustice. Sorrow is a healthy response to grief and loss. It’s important for us to feel all of our emotions…our grief, our outrage, our anger, even our hatred. Emotions are “energy in motion.” When emotions move, they don’t get stuck. But it’s important to learn to work with emotions in healthy, responsible ways. (See Karla McLaren’s wonderful work for help with this.)
I think that it is as human-centric to believe that all animals are here to teach humans and give us unconditional love as it is to believe that animals are here for us to use and destroy as we wish. Both ideas are rubbish. Animals are our co-inhabitants, our kin, our brothers and sisters here on planet Earth. However, I find that many individual animals are indeed more aware, more wise, more evolved, and have a perspective that far surpasses our limited human consciousness. These animals are our teachers…our evolutionary leaders…our role models.
Cecil is one of those animals.
I often feel that I walk a very fine line as a professional animal communicator. I spent many years working in animal rescue, animal advocacy, and animal activism. I continue to feel a responsibility to support animals as an advocate with my voice, my money and time. The reason I have such a passion for doing the work that I do is because I believe that by teaching people to hear and understand animals more clearly, I am doing my small part in helping to create lasting change and transformation in our world.
I’m repelled and horrified by trophy hunting, canned hunting, and all that goes with it. I don’t understand it…it is the stuff of my worst nightmares. I’ve worked my whole life to help animals, to do my part in creating a world where their lives matter and are valued.
And yet, I’m also aware that as an animal communicator, I have a responsibility to set ALL of my personal feelings, beliefs, and agendas aside when I talk to the animals. My stuff is simply not relevant…it’s my job to listen and to understand the animals. If I interject and project my own beliefs, thoughts, and emotions into a communication, I’m not communicating…I’m advancing my own agenda, ego, and ideas.
So I had to wait awhile and spend enough time processing my own emotions and thoughts about Cecil’s death before I felt I could be clear enough to ask him for his perspective.
And Cecil’s beautiful, great heart, and wise, strong spirit blew me away. It was then that I knew I had to write this post.
When I connected with Cecil in the spirit world, I was overwhelmed by his dignity, his presence, his sensitivity, and his awareness. He is a soul of great depth, great wisdom, and great benevolence.
Cecil showed me his awareness of his life and death, his purpose both in his lion body and as a soul. He gave me no sense of revenge, of outrage, of regret, but rather a deep and profound sense of peace, acceptance, and great dignity.
I asked him about his experience in his life, and also in his death. Yes, he suffered. It would be irresponsible of me to whitewash that in some new age mumbo-jumbo of love and light and it’s all okay. Big picture, yes, it’s all okay. However, Cecil’s death was hard, it was painful, and although his body was able to wall off the pain and suffering to some extent, it wasn’t easy, and it would be a huge oversimplification to say that it was okay.
Cecil has an awareness of his death being part of his path and his greater evolution as a soul. This doesn’t mean that he “chose” his death or that it didn’t involve suffering. Although he communicates from his perspective in the spirit world now, he is still clear about his physical experience in his lion body.
Cecil loved his lion life, his lion body, his land, his home, and his family. He feels he had a very good life. Cecil was also very aware of humans, and his mission with the people who came to peacefully observe and appreciate him. He still has a mission to connect with humans…and he is doing it in a very big way.
Cecil communicates a beautiful state of awareness, dignity, and peace from his place in the spirit world now. He’s not suffering. He’s not conflicted. He’s not stuck or confused or scared or resentful or revengeful or any of the things we may imagine. I got no sense of trauma or conflict from him…he has moved into another state of being.
Cecil appreciates and is touched by the outpouring of love and sorrow for him. He’s very moved by feeling this tremendous amount of love from people all over the world.
Cecil also offers his energy and spirit to all of us. He asks us to feel him, and to allow his heart, his strength, and his wisdom to inform our actions and our responses to his death.
Cecil is aware that his death is opening hearts and human consciousness all over the world. There is a tremendous energy of love, compassion, and desire for change created by his death.
Let’s honor him by using that energy in the highest way for good.
The animals often show me, when I despair over the state of things in our world, that they feel that things are moving in the right direction. There is hope. It may not look that way, but our world IS becoming more compassionate, more open-hearted, more spiritually awake and aware, and more humane.
I believe that there is a divine master plan, a master intelligence, in all of our lives. We all, including animals, have a “big picture plan” for how we live and die that is divinely orchestrated according to our soul’s journey, the lessons we are here to learn, the gifts we are meant to share.
This does not absolve us from responsibility for how we live our lives. It does not absolve us from making choices, and doing what we can to create the kind of world that we want to live in.
So what can we do? We can often feel helpless in the face of events like Cecil’s death. Here are some suggestions:
- Continue to be compassionate witnesses and express our love and sorrow to Cecil, and also to his lion family members. They hear us and feel us.
- Be present with our own emotions and responses to Cecil’s death. Feel our feelings fully…and be conscious about how we express them.
- Use whatever spiritual practices resonate with you to offer prayers and blessings for Cecil, his family, and all life, and to visualize and pray for a world where all beings can live in freedom and peace.
- Ask for Cecil’s spirit to help you to understand his greater perspective of his life and death. He offers this freely to all who are touched by him.
- If you are financially able to and it feels right, send support to organizations who will benefit from memorials to Cecil. You may consider the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, the organization that studied Cecil and is involved with lion conservation.
- Get quiet and ask for guidance on what actions, if any, you should take. If you are called to sign petitions, work in animal advocacy, volunteer time, give money or other resources…do it. If you are called to contribute through prayer, energy healing, or meditation, do it. We are all capable of doing something…and each of us have different strengths to share.
- Look at ways we can create a more loving, peaceful, sustainable, and humane world in our own homes, families, and communities. Peace, kindness, and compassion begin with us…with our own thoughts, our own hearts…how we treat ourselves, how we treat those close to us, how we treat all beings in our homes, on our land, and in our communities and countries.
Together, we can create a world where all beings are respected, seen, and valued. Trust that love and kindness are infinitely more powerful than hatred, revenge, and violence.
Love is the greatest power in the Universe. It is the greatest healer and it transcends all the boundaries and borders we have created with our own self-limitations. Rama Jyoti Vernon
I remind my animal communication students all the time that the work that we do in learning to truly understand and deeply connect with animals and other non-human species has the power to change our world. This work of listening, understanding, opening, and connecting has ripple effects that extend far beyond what we may ever know.
Love creates love. Kindness creates kindness. Compassion creates compassion.
Let Cecil’s death open our hearts…motivate us to right action…and inspire us to seek more gentleness, more kindness, more love in every area of our lives.
Namaste, dear Cecil. Thank you for sharing your life, your beauty, and your heart with us. We will not forget you.