Wednesday, 4 April 2007

ON DOLPHIN TIME



Revered in ancient cultures because of their awesome grace and power, the dolphins inspired so much respect and admiration that the Sumerians and Egyptians thought they had direct connections to the gods. Classical Greek writers, on the other hand, believed the dolphins to be the King of Fishes, with the power to guide the souls of the dead into the Underworld. Dolphins came to symbolize powers, speed and freedom, and they were often called upon to lend their magick to the Celtic warriors and even the coastal Native Americans.

Those were the days when Nature ruled the Earth. Humans evolved to become masters of the land while the dolphins became masters of the sea. Because of the conditions on the land, man developed his sense of sight and smell. But since these senses count for naught in murky waters, the dolphins evolved into sonar or echolocating beings whose low- and high-frequency sound emissions allow them to locate and identify objects out of visual range, up to a distance of 1,000 meters away.

While man hunted, built bridges and cities, the dolphins also hunted as well as swam, frolicked, mated and defended themselves from predators. But unlike men who multiplied rapidly and colonized other lands to satisfy their needs for space and more food, dolphins multiplied at a slower pace and therefore never felt the need to colonize. Besides, their domain, the oceans, occupy 2/3 the Earth's surface area.

But the free-roaming dolphins are not so free anymore. Man has taken it upon himself not only to invade dolphin territory but to plunder and destroy it as well. Man's technological advances have made sure of this. Commercial and military ships have raised the noise pollution level in the high seas. Since water is a very good conductor of sound, this noise pollution has jammed echolocation signals exchanged by dolphin pods, whales and other sea creatures as well. Oil spills, nuclear experiments and the indiscriminate throwing of garbage into the sea has affected their social behavior and even endangered their lives. Dolphins are now hunted and slaughtered for food, fertilizer and pig feed. Thousands drown when caught in purse seine nets used by tuna-fishing boats. Those not killed could end up as disposable soldiers trained to hunt mines, sabotage nuclear submarines or ram enemy frogmen with explosive devices tied to their bodies.

To top it all, many are turned into reluctant and unhappy pets, seaquarium prisoners or show dolphin clowns. They are confined to tanks where many succumb to stress-related diseases and depression. Since they communicate by sonar, many become neurotic in a steel tank where every sound ricochets back. Add to this the stress of travel. In the sea, they are weightless. When transported by land or air, gravity pulls the weight of their 500-lb. bodies down on their lungs. They become confused and helpless. But they cannot be tranquilized because if they lose consciousness, they die.

Yet despite all the abuse humans subject them to, dolphins never harm people. Their 96 sharp cone-shaped teeth and powerful flukes could easily kill, but dolphins have been known more to save drowning or marooned people.

Richard O'Barry, former trainer of all dolphins used in the hit FLIPPER series, turned activist when he could no longer stand to see the dolphins suffer. He realized that dolphins in captivity are at odds with their true nature. "Dolphins who are full of human impressions are virtually cripples. They need de-programming, and they would also have to re-learn how to hunt live fish," he said in one of his books.

Scientists, like neurophysiologist Dr. John Lilly, discovered that dolphin memory is equal to human memory and they do better in many tests than the chimpanzee. They can also mimic us, even our laughter, at a rate 8 times faster than human speech. Lilly had to use a computer to keep pace with them. Not surprising, if we consider that they have a brain mass / body mass ratio equal to humans’. According to scientific studies, one of the foremost criteria for intelligence is the brain mass / body mass ratio.

Non-scientists have been conducting their own "experiments" in interspecies communication. But this time, they realize the importance of interacting with the dolphins in their natural habitats, in order to observe their natural behavior and learn from them. Musician Jim Nollman has made many dolphin friends by playing classical and ethnic music in the high seas. Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, they have followed his music to specially-designated coves where adults and children wait to play with them. Is this the making of a human-dolphin community? Why not? Pregnant women claim they felt blasts of energies directed at their stomachs while interacting with the dolphins, while manic-depressive people say they had never been happier than
when they were in contact with the dolphins.

For such interspecies projects to work, Nollman and others like him first had to gain the trust of the dolphins, who had by now learned to be wary of most humans. Communication between species can only work if we do not force the other to learn English or undergo intelligence tests. It will only work if we go out of our way to harmonize with them like the people of Mauritania who called on the dolphins to bring them fish, as documented by French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Peaceful interaction between man and species either in the wild or the high seas can be re-learned, and it will surely help to re-establish our lost link with the natural world.
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Published in The Philippine Post, July 3, 1999

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

THE MYTHICAL PIG

Much has been said about the domesticated pig in Western cultures and societies closely linked to them. More often than not, the pig is pictured as filthy, greedy, sloppy and undesirable. In present-day colloquial English, “You’re a pig” means “you’re greedy and dirty”. A pigsty, which refers to a pen or enclosure for pigs, also connotes an unclean room or house. In local and international movies, pigs are always shown bathing in mud or hungrily gulping down dirty leftover food from metal buckets.

This depiction of the pig, however, was different in times past. A review of literature reveals that the pig and its ancestors the boar (male) and the sow (female) were revered and respected in ancient societies. The boar, the largest of all wild pigs, roamed the forests of Europe, Asia, Siberia, the US Pacific Coast and North Africa.

THE WESTERN PIG

D.J. Conway, author of Animal Magick, describes the animal as “sacred to the Greek god of war and destruction, Ares or Mars” perhaps because of its ferocious and courageous nature. Greek and Roman mythology are awash with stories of the courage of the boar. The Greek hero Adonis was killed by a boar and so people would sacrifice the boar to Aphrodite, lover of Adonis.

Writers through the ages have witnessed the hunting of the boar, which when cornered, attacks and fights back with its sharp tusks that measure up to a foot long. The teeth of boars decorated the helmets of Greek warriors while the Romans used pig blood as “purifier”. The cowrie shell, which reminded the Romans of the white sow, was called “porcella” and this is where the word porcelain came from.

According to Conway, the boar or pig was a symbol of fertility of the land to the Norse and Anglo-Saxon peoples. The English used to serve the head of a wild boar with an apple in the mouth to guests at Christmas time. The apple represented the charmed apple of immortality. The wild boar was a symbol of Richard III of England.

To the Welsh, the sow was a lunar animal and a symbol of divine inspiration. In Ireland, people believed that the pig could see the wind.

The Celt warriors carved the image of the boar into helmets to protect them from harm. The boar and pig symbolized war, the warrior, hunting, protection and fertility. They were also sacred because they were considered food of the gods. The black sow, however, was considered evil. It symbolized death and rebirth to the Celts.

The boar is the mascot of the Belgian Army’s Premier Infantry Regiment whose soldiers wear a boar’s head pin on their beret.

THE EASTERN PIG

The pig was also very much present in Eastern lore. In ancient Egypt, the pig was an evil animal that belonged to the god Set but they allowed it to trample seeds into the ground during sowing. The pig was considered a dirty animal and therefore not eaten. Perhaps this was the source of the Jewish-Islamic tradition of not eating pork. In Zoroastrianism, the pig was associated with the Sun.

Tantric Buddhists still worship Marici, the Diamond Sow while the Hindu god Rudra was known as the “Boar of the Sky”. Vajnavrahi, goddess of the dawn and source of all life, was symbolized by a sow.

To the Chinese, a white boar represented the Moon, courage as well as conquest and qualities needed by a warrior. They also thought the pig was greedy and dirty and only useful if tamed.

Far from being ignored or despised, the pig or boar was also used as a familiar in magick rituals, according to Timothy Roderick, author of The Once Unknown Familiar.

Roderick writes that “each animal carries with it certain powers and abilities that are bestowed on the bearer of the animal spirit.” He says our “familiar self” gives us special abilities that are recognizable in certain animals, like playfulness, patience, courage and honesty. Pig familiars are non-committal, freedom-loving, magical, he says. They don’t want to feel obligated to others. They avoid getting caught in long-term relationships and commitments and therefore have a lot of free time to work on themselves.

In the Encyclopedia of Dreams published by Tiger Books International in London, a fat and healthy pig in your dream means reasonable success in your affairs. However, pigs wallowing in mire would mean hurtful associates and misfortune in affairs.

In the world of Chinese astrology, the pig is said to be the most generous and honorable of all zodiac signs. Contrary to the myths that abound about the animal, the Chinese pig personality is a perfectionist who loves the family as well as the fine things in life. Chinese astrologers describe the pig as honest, patient, modest and shy. Pig people keep a small circle of friends to whom they remain fiercely loyal.

In the animal kingdom, pigs mate for life. But in today’s food industry, sows are made to mate with any and all male pigs. A few days or weeks after giving birth, their babies are taken from them and weaned on vitamins and antibiotics so they will grow fat and huge. The sows are then forced to mate again and the cycle begins once more.

THE PAST AND THE PRESENT

It is always an interesting learning experience to read about different cultures and their varied beliefs. It is humbling to find out that our beliefs and practices may not even be the absolute truth. Modern man in so-called civilized societies like ours sees the pig as nothing more than food. But biologists and animal behaviorists have discovered that the pig is a highly intelligent animal, one that is even smarter than the dog. This was revealed in an experiment where a group of pigs were housed in a barn and a group of dogs in another barn. Both groups were given different objects to play with. Much to their surprise, the scientists saw that the pigs were much more creative in inventing games than their counterparts, the dogs.

In today’s health-conscious society, it’s no longer fashionable to eat pork after scientific studies proved that pigs – especially the way they are raised now on drugs like antibiotics - causes terrible diseases like hypertension or high blood pressure that may even lead to untimely death.

Now that we’re celebrating the Year of the Pig, let’s give this friendly animal a chance to rebuild its reputation. After all, it symbolized courage and was sacred to warriors once. There’s also the cute and smart little pig who won the hearts of viewers in Babe. And there’s the lovable and adorable Miss Piggy from Sesame Street. The pig, it seems, is more than just ham and bacon. It’s an icon that’s here to stay. (END)

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Belated Happy (Chinese) New Year! Kung Hei Fat choi!

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FAMOUS PEOPLE BORN IN THE YEAR OF THE PIG

- Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and governor of California

- Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist Revolution

- Elton John, famous singer

- David Letterman, talk show host

- Ewan McGregor, actor

- Henry Ford, inventor and founder of the Ford Motor Company

- Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Senator and wife of former US President Bill Clinton

- Jack Ruby, assassin of US President Kennedy

- Kareem Abdul-Jabar, basketball player

- Kevin Spacey, actor

- Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister

- Magic Johnson, basketball player

- Rachel Weisz, actress

- Ronald Reagan, former US President

- Lucille Ball, actress and singer

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Published in ANIMAL SCENE magazine, February 2007

Sunday, 11 February 2007

ANIMALS IN THE REALM OF KNOWLEDGE


In September 2003, a native Philippine dog or askal was brutally clubbed to death in the garage of one of the more prominent and visible college of the University of the Philippines in Diliman. The reason – college officials thought the dog had gone mad when he killed the less than a month old puppies of his mother, Media. Not at all knowledgeable about animal behavior, a top employee ordered the guards to kill the dog without first seeking the advice of a vet or animal behaviorist. The College of Veterinary Medicine was just a few minutes away. As Chair of the Journalism Department and member of the College Executive Board (CEB), I told the college officials that the killing was illegal in the Animal Welfare Law. No One seemed interested in the incident.

The fact that such a heartless crime took place in the country’s premier university only stresses the lack of awareness and interest in the plight of animals in the country. Although animal stories appear more often on television and in the print media, their treatment leaves much to be desired. Recently, a former student from my Television Journalism class said the program producer was looking for animal stories for the masa (masses). If I am to infer what this means from current TV fare, it probably refers to stories on cooking snake adobo, etc… Not much dignity is bestowed on the animals in such stories.

In the fields of education and research, students, as a general rule, are not encouraged to sympathize with the animals. In medical schools, stories abound about how students capture stray cats for dissection in their classes. When I was a grade schooler in a Catholic school, my classmates and I were asked to trap lizards and cut their tails off so we could watch them grow back. Dissection of frogs was also mandatory in biology classes.

Considering the way students are taught how to regard animals, it is no wonder that when many graduate and become vets, many lack a sensitivity that is crucial to the survival and well-being of animal patients. Most vets in the Philippines look at animals as commodities and sources of income. A vet even euthanized my Persian cat even if he was healthy. It seems many vets easily resort to euthanasia when the animal bites.

Language is often said to be a function of culture. If so, then it would be interesting to note the use of the word buwaya (crocodile) to refer to corrupt politicians and baboy (pig) which refers to a dirty and fat person.

But is it really cultural? Can it be said that the Filipinos’ apparent lack of respect for the other members of the animal kingdom is borne out of culture?

Despite all the flak the concept of globalization has been getting in the Philippines, the entry of ideas and news from abroad via communications technology and books has made many Filipinos aware of the new trends and concepts. In 1996, members of the House of Representatives approved a bill on Animal Welfare. Though the law has many loopholes (like banning dog fights and horse fights but not cockfights), it is a big step forward to help the animals. Implementation of the law, however, is another matter altogether.

I hope to write in this blog informative ideas about ANIMALS IN DIFFERENT REALMS OF KNOWLEDGE -- ANIMALS IN MEDIA, IN LAW, EDUCATION, RESEARCH, LINGUISTICS, VETERINARY PROFESSION, ETC.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

HEALING ANIMALS WITH LOVE AND NATURAL ENERGIES


Alternative healing methods are now legitimately practiced in the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. In many of these places, personnel of state-run hospitals ask patients if they want to receive alternative healing together with their medical treatment. Like their colleagues in the hospitals, veterinarians also work in partnership with animal healers to find the best kind of treatment for the animals. Or people can choose either to bring their pets to regular vets or to alternative pet healers. More pet owners seem to be willing to try out alternative healing because it turns out cheaper in the long term and it doesn’t have negative effects on the animals. Animals are like people and some may not respond well to drugs. In such cases, alternative healing presents a good alternative. A growing number of people are becoming health conscious and they no longer want to fill their pets’ bodies with chemical products (like antibiotics, chemical flea killers, dewormers, etc…) Many pet owners would rather use natural ingredients and methods to heal their animal companions. Others combine homeopathic and allopathic methods. It all depends on what works best for you and your animal companion.

Healing pets the non-conventional way protects them from traumatic experiences.

A trip to the vet often causes fear and panic to an animal particularly if he or she had been previously subjected to injections, physical exams, blood tests and mishandling by a vet’s assistants.

Alternative healing methods also help humans bond with their animal friends. Everything that lives and exists in this world is composed of energy. Humans and animals are composed of and are surrounded by energy fields that vibrate at a different level. Body energies go through changes depending on a person’s or an animal’s physical, emotional and mental experiences. When you try to heal a sick animal, for instance, he may feel a tingling sensation in the whole body or in the affected body part. Judging from the reactions I got from the animals I have healed through the years, they usually feel drowsy or relaxed during or after a session. Some, though, may refuse to be touched specially if they are not used to strangers. But in most cases, the animals seem to appreciate the healing and immediately feel its beneficial effects.

I rarely go to the vet nowadays because it has become quite expensive. With 20 cats in the house, I have opted for energy healing to cut costs.

I practice several kinds of methods. My favorite is REIKI healing. Reiki, which means universal life energy in Japanese, is a method of healing that uses extremely fine energy tapped from the universal source. Practitioners are initiated so they can gain easy access to the life force. As a second-degree REIKI healer, I just put my hand on the part of the cat’s body that is bothering him or her and pass on healing energy. I can see the relief from pain in the cat’s eyes and actions. He either falls asleep or he suddenly bounces off from my lap, completely energized. The results can be seen immediately or after a few sessions.

Sometimes, I do pranic healing. It’s basically the same principle of energy (prana) manipulation, but this time the pranic healer uses his hands to “sweep away” all negative energies within the animal’s energy field. Pranic healing is an ancient healing art. Animals tend to get impatient, though, so you might have to hold him with one hand while the other does the sweeping. Several of my cats have been healed with pranic energy. Aswad, a black stray cat, was going blind when he was dumped in front of my apartment some five years agao. His eyes were in a sorry state either because he didn’t get the proper care and nutrients or he had been scratched in the eyes. Veterinary doctors said both Aswad and Tuxedo, a black and white stray cat who had blood oozing from her eyes, were “hopeless” cases and would definitely go blind. Well, they did not. They recovered their eyesight within two weeks with the help of pranic healing and of course, a lot of love, attention and healthy food. Fauna, a sleek jet black stray, was cured by REIKI energy – and Vitamin C. Another vet had taken her x-ray and said she was dying of lung and stomach infection. In 1999, my white Persian cat Horus suddenly started walking like a drunkard. He acquired a glazed look as if he were high on drugs and he could neither jump up nor come when called. The reason? A vet had prescribed a high dosage of antibiotic to stop his diarrhea. Well, the sickness stopped but Horus got even worse. I gave him lots of REIKI treatments and he is now one sweet fat independent cat.

Now, when my cats get diarrhea, I give homeopathic tablets in addition to the usual alternative treatments. Homeopathy cures an illness by treating the whole being rather than just the symptoms. It is holistic. Its medicines come from plant, mineral and animal sources and are used in extremely diluted amounts. The tablets I give my cats for diarrhea are very effective.

My feline friends also love the spinal flush, so-called because it flushes the toxins out from the body. To do it, you must apply thumb pressure along the canals on both sides of the spine but not on the spine itself. Do this from the back of the neck all the way down to the part where the tail is joined to the body. To balance a pet’s energies when she’s feeling too aggressive or too weak, you can trace the number eight (8) sideways a few inches from her body. Do this several times.

Quartz crystals can also be a big help. When my cats get sick, I put the appropriate crystal in his or her sleeping corner. Once when pewter-haired Ishtar was throwing up everything she ate, I placed a pink quartz crystal under her stomach while she slept the whole night. By the time I woke up the following morning, she was busy playing with her two-month kittens. A few days ago, Ishtar gave birth again (her fifth litter) to four kittens. On that morning, she climbed up my bed and miaowed loudly in my ear to wake me up. I knew it was time so I stroked her stomach and talked to her gently. An hour later, she gave birth to four healthy black kittens.

When my Persian cats get pregnant, they always ask for some healing from me. They usually come to me and demand attention just before they are about to give birth. Artemis, a silver-haired Persian, was overdue by a couple of weeks so I helped her by gently stroking her stomach and assuring her that her babies would be all right. She slept with me that night and gave birth the following morning.

Often, animals get sick due to stress just like people. Stress can come from the wrong diet, chemicals, poor housing conditions, competition from other animals, lack of attention, the weather and many other factors. Geopathic stress – that which occurs naturally in the earth and that created by man - also affects them. Animals instinctively avoid places where such energies abound. But sometimes, they cannot avoid the so-called harmful ley lines when they go right through the places where they are kept in a house or building. Stress may have physical, emotional or mental origins. Animals are sensitive to the energies around them that they easily get affected by negative energy waves. When there’s a lot of anger in the home, pet behavior can turn erratic. Some animals even absorb the negative energies released by their human companions. When this happens, stressed people usually say they always feel better when their pet is around. Problem is, it could be toxic for their animal friends.

Animals also get hurt when people intentionally do things to harm them. A tri-color stray cat who took up residence with me suffered a lot when somebody threw a big chunk of rock or hollow block on her. Li Shou’s back caved in and for a while it was really touch and go for her. She was in so much pain and could not eat. I immediately went to work on her. Everyday, I put my hands on her back and passed on energy to her. Because of the gravity of the situation, it took me about 2-3 weeks to heal her. But she got well and was able to walk and run again.

Wildlife, animals who don’t know you, or those far away are a different story. Long-distance healing would work best for them. I once healed a friend’s dog whose hind part was swollen. I send him healing energy and a phone call later less than an hour later confirmed that the swelling had indeed subsided. When I was still a student in France, I used to spend my afternoons watching the swans as they gracefully glided along the Ill River in Strasbourg. I would give them bread and it came to a point when they would come rushing to shore as I approached the bridge. One day I noticed that one of the swans was limping and having a hard time coming to meet me. For three days I did mental healing on him and at the same time I sent him a lot of love energy. I wasn’t sure I was getting anywhere but on the fourth day, he came to shore with the others and even stayed behind as if to thank me.

Sometimes, though, there are animals who can no longer be healed. For some of them, it’s simply time to leave. On such occasions, I just thank the animal for the love and company he shared with me. Often, they come back or reincarnate and end up with me again. I usually recognize them because of they exhibit the same habits and behavior as a dearly departed animal friend.

In China, Japan, Thailand, Australia, the United States and Europe, vets already use acupuncture on their animal patients. Acupuncture cures almost all diseases including arthritis and mental disorders. It is an ancient Chinese therapy that requires the insertion of needles into the skin at specific points in the body. Sluggish animals usually regain their energy after an acupuncture session.

There are still more kinds of alternative cures but nothing beats prevention. Exposure to the morning sun does a lot of good for the animals. And of course, lots of love and attention works wonders for them. It’s always the best way to heal – and protect – them from disease.