Is this your first visit? Here’s the story so far: Continue reading
Is this your first visit? Here’s the story so far: Continue reading
Yes my friends, I am offering New Year Report Cards again this year! They sell out every year – and last year, when I didn’t even advertise them due to the timing of my surgery, people *still* contacted me to book their annual Report Cards – a few of them waiting until Spring for their reading!
I really love doing these special readings, especially for the folks who return year after year. I do have room for a few new people this year – my regulars have booked 2/3 of the sessions already, but this year I’d love to bring in a few new people!
What are New Year Report Cards you ask?
It’s a special, hour-long session over the phone, with your guides and myself looking at the energy themes at work in your life for the year past – 2018 – and the year 2019 ahead!
It’s a time to process what the past year was about, what you’re working on spiritually, and you get gentle nudges from your guides on directions to follow in the year ahead!
Many fans of my New Year Report Card have told me they refer back to their session as the year progresses and it’s helpful to them all year-long – this is why so many return every year.
And! I have a special price for my New Year Report Cards – Just $131.25 USD!
As always, please feel free to email me if you have any questions at all!
I just love the holiday season! Have a great day all!
For the first time in three years, one of my clients needed to reschedule her appointment – which means I have a last-minute spot available!
It’s next week – Sunday November 11th, at 11 am PST!
And it’s my *only* appointment spot left for 2018!
Because this is a last-minute booking, I’ve decided to extend my October coupon code for *just this one spot* – book it now and use the code FAMILY2018 for $30 off an hour session with me!
I hope to talk with you soon!
EDIT: WOW! Gone in under 10 minutes!
I confess! I have been having a really tough time getting back into the swing of things! It seems like the years past have all been driven by something major – our business struggling, our move to Tofino, my mother’s diagnosis and death, our move to Ucluelet, my surgery and healing journey – and most recently our wedding!
My goodness, this is the first time I’ve been able to choose a major direction shift in many years! That’s absolutely something to celebrate.
So what’s strange about it is I have several balls in the air – and I *want* to actively be working on all of them, yet when I get a day with some time I could devote to these projects, all I want to do is clean my house or bake a cheesecake! (An epic pumpkin cheesecake with sour cream topping, how could I wait to make that???)
I want to play with my friend’s puppy and go for walks without taking any photos, just being in the moment. I feel like it’s time for a fresh start!
These times in life can give us pause, because I know once I start down a new road, my life may become driven again by the results that come from this shift in choices.
I had planned to begin study for a BA in Health Care Administration. As much as I love my part-time job at the hospital, now that I’m feeling better and have energy, I would like to make good on a promise I made to myself when I was 19. At that age, what I needed more than anything else was independence, and set aside my childhood goal of becoming a veterinarian (after working for the local animal hospital for 5 years and seeing what life as a vet is like) and I had decided that primary care was *definitely* not for me – and decided not to return to college to complete my nursing program.
Other factors that fed into that decision were that I’d entered the two year RN program at the time because it would get me out of my parent’s house and working a decent career quickly without a lot of student debt… and the year I started the program the standard changed from 2 year college program to 4 year BA in nursing – which I didn’t want to do. I made that decision 20 years ago now, and I don’t regret it, because I remember how much I desperately felt the need to get out on my own.
So at that time, I promised myself that I could return to university in my 30s or 40s. And I certainly could… but the same student debt is there waiting for me, and honestly, I am just not into that.
I could spend the next 10 years taking correspondence courses, which requires me to transfer my year of nursing college credits and my accounting college credits to this university out of Alberta which does long-distance education… and I find myself just not excited for that option.
So I’m not going to do that right now. I suppose I could paraphrase my woo-woo sisters and say, I just don’t feel called to do that.
Or I could state it plainly and say, I just don’t want to!
Which is a surprise to me. I always thought that when I reached a point in my life where university was an option… I’d do it! And I am really interested in these courses… So what’s holding me back?
I think my contemplation here at the crossroads is really just about giving myself permission to *not* do this at this point in my life. You know what also gets me excited? Expanding the course I launched this past spring! There is a lot there I would still like to do!
You know what else gets me excited? Horses! Weirdly, it has been extraordinarily difficult for me to get call-backs from potential riding teachers in Port Alberni, though I do have a friend four hours away who has offered to get me involved with her horses. It would make for a *very long* day, but maybe that’s the way I should go.
I see this energy with clients sometimes – that crossroads branching out, opening possibilities, and there isn’t any single correct answer. Just the direction you choose based on what you want more of in your life.
I have slooooooowed right down while I ponder my options, and it’s led to a lot of cooking / baking / cleaning days, while I let my emotions and ambitions negotiate a decision.
That’s my excuse for delaying my podcast episodes! HA!
Actually, the next two episodes I have coming up I am so excited and kind of nervous about, because I have two amazing guests who helped me to tackle an extremely touchy subject in this here spiritual arena!
I’m nervous to post them! I admit it! ARGH!!!! But I’m going to do it of course – it’s like I’ve also been waiting for the energetic prompt to just *get them out there already*!
I think that is my top priority right now, and everything else can wait!
PS – if you missed it, check out the comment section in my last post about Dream Spirit Work.
A lot of us are *very busy* while we sleep. We carry on conversations, visit relatives or significant figures, we learn about each other and different species.
It is rare and exciting for me to find this clip of a researcher actually sharing her dream experiences with orcas.
Fast forward to 8:52 where she shares her dreams.
You may remember me talking about Megan who helped me create my class – she’s out there, having had some experience as an animal communicator, and is now doing wildlife research! Of course, information obtained through psychic skills cannot replace research, but can it ever help fill in the imaginative gap – the hypothesis on behaviours, on what these animals experience.
This researcher who has dedicated her life to Orcas near New Zealand has experienced dreams of the orca’s extremely detailed language – having orca words for everything in their environment, allowing them to communicate complex thoughts efficiently.
Humans like to think we are the only ones with complex language, and it’s not true!
It’s so thrilling to me to see researchers engaging their intuitive skills and discussing it openly, without fear of weakening their position in the scientific field.
Dreams supplement out waking reality, and I believe our conscious life continues during our “unconscious” states. Let’s make good use of it!
I’m curious, have you ever kept a dream journal? Can you remember your dreams when you wake up?
I’m not much of a morning person myself, so I’m in no mood to write in a journal while the dreams are still fresh! But I have noticed that I generally have three types of dreams:
Spirit exploration dreams, where I learn, visit and receive visits from others, do work.
Conscious reality processing dreams, where the dreams are a function of my brain processing and integrating information from my waking reality.
Emotional processing dreams, where my dreams are processing my inner emotional experience of my experience in the waking world.
Not every dream has a spiritual experience, but I think most dreams do have a tie to some reality.
Do you remember your dreams? Do you like remembering them? Do you wish you remembered more?
I’m also working on releasing two very important podcast episodes, so hang tight!
I placed a little discount code at the end of my last blog post 😉 My session spots for the rest of 2018 are booking up quickly! Yay!
Just in case you didn’t notice it, here you go:
This code will give you a $30 discount off of a one-hour session with me!
At the time of this post, there are only 3 discounted sessions left!
You can book your session to speak to your spirit family here, and remember to use the coupon code Family2018 for $30 off your session!
If you need any help booking a session, please send my office goddess an email, email@example.com
There is a popular myth about a magical place near Victoria, BC.
It’s about the graceful expanse of a lovingly cultivated plantation known as Butchart Gardens.
Butchart Gardens was established after Robert Butchart married a young woman named Jeanette Foster Kennedy, better known as Jennie, and the enterprising couple moved to Vancouver Island to Robert’s newly established cement plant and limestone quarry, in 1902. Their house was built on the property, their family established, the first bags of cement were exported in 1905… and the production stopped just three years later in 1908. Some say the limestone ran out, other say the limestone was of poor quality and not suited to cement at all. Whichever was true, the Butcharts had established their home on a beautiful plot of land that had a three and a half acre gaping wound in the property.
Jennie Butchart was an avid gardener, and she is described as having “busied” herself with her gardens near their house on the property. I found out through further reading this past week, that Jennie also “busied” herself with the study of chemistry and pharmacology, that she loved flying and hot air balloons, she was artistically gifted, and she seemed to be a type A personality, who always needed to be working towards a goal. Prior to marrying Robert, she had attended a prestigious college for young women, and had planned to study art in Europe. She met Robert through mutual acquaintances, and married him instead!
Despite the failure of their cement business, we can assume that Robert continued to be a prosperous provider, as their family’s wealth seemed to grow, not shrink, even through both world wars and the great depression. During this time, Jennie’s garden expanded, and her vision for her gardens was brought to fruition through her seemingly limitless access to resources, be it labour, topsoil, garden nurseries, and even a couple of world-famous landscape designers!
Jennie and Robert Butchart are pictured here:
Throughout their life together, Jennie and Robert became known for their hospitality, serving tea to all who visited – whether they were invited or not! By 1915, they were welcoming over 18,000 visitors per year!
As interest in Jennie’s garden spread, the Butcharts hired staff and eventually began to charge admission. Tea was served by staff, and occasionally Jennie would unobtrusively serve tea to guests herself!
By 1921, Jennie had the massive quarry pit completely transformed by having endless cartloads of topsoil brought in by cart horses, and, with the help of a landscape architect, the barren crater had been transformed into the stunning Sunken Garden!
As my photos don’t quite do it justice, here’s a photo from Butchart Garden’s pintrest page:
Butchart Gardens is kind of like Disneyland for middle-aged women (and the middle-aged-at-heart). When you enter the gardens you’re handed a map of the attractions which are split into little worlds – the Japanese Garden, the formal Italian Garden, the Rose Garden, the Mediterranean Garden, and many spectacular fountains and statues to accent and anchor the landscaping.
All of these gardens were envisioned and brought to fruition by Jennie Butchart, with the support and resources of her husband Robert. Over the decades, Jennie became such a well-known ambassador of Victoria BC, that she was awarded “Victoria’s Best Citizen”.
Having devoted most of her life and all of her heart and soul to these gardens, it’s no wonder there are rumours that the ghost of Jennie Butchart can still be seen among the flowers! I certainly wanted to find out for myself!
Sweetie and I actually found out very quickly!
Sweetie sat on a bench in the Piazza while I popped into the washroom – and amazingly, while separated, we both made contact with Jennie at the same moment! For Sweetie, she gazed up at the second floor of one of the buildings in the Piazza – and was startled to see the face of an authoritative matronly woman looking down on her through the sheer curtains! There’s something that happens in your body when your brain senses something is different – your brain tells you that someone’s there, but your eyes aren’t quite seeing a solid physical body – something’s “off” so immediately the body reacts with a start. The moment the adrenaline hits the system, the eyesight sharpens and the figure disappears! But you *know* you saw something. Sweetie was pretty sure it was Jennie Butchart.
I, alone in the bathroom, took a moment to ground myself as I always do when entering crowded situations, and heard clear as a bell in my mind’s ear: I do *not* haunt my home. I watch over it! Of course I do! Where else would I be? (light intonation, like silent chuckling.)
I came out of the washroom and told Sweetie, “I think I just heard Mrs. Butchart!” Sweetie says, “I think I just saw her!!!”
There are even magical waterfalls which cascade down the steep sides of the ravine. The entire garden is a masterful exercise is colour, texture, scale and proportion. Jennie and her designer made this garden beautiful from every angle – especially above!
It’s surprisingly thrilling to be in the presence of such a living masterpiece!
To be clear – Jennie Butchart is *not* haunting her gardens! But yes, as expected, she does spend quite a lot of time there.
For Jennie, the word “haunting” does not adequately communicate her presence at the gardens.
She enjoys it, she always enjoyed having guests and expanding her vision of the gardens. Her great-granddaughter owns it now, and the whole family and team maintain the gardens and the business as they believe Jennie would want them to. They plant the gardens with colorful annuals to complement their showy and exotic collection of specimins from around the world. Their aim is to thrill, to delight, and to enchant each visitor, whether they’re an avid gardener themselves or a complete gardener novice such as myself.
Of course Jennie Butchart is there! But don’t you dare say she’s “haunting” the gardens! She’s still just as she was in life – proud, welcoming, somewhat formal, and very warm.
Jennie didn’t stay with us through our whole journey through the garden – but she did pop in a few times to drop some interesting bits of information.
The Queen *loved* the rose garden, (pointed out many specimens from Germany) and we completely replanted the Italian garden to receive her. It’s the most beautiful it ever looked – but I said they (the staff) must never try to duplicate the look of the garden on that visit – it was special, just for her! She requested to see my rose garden. She appreciated them (for what they truly were, unique gifts and specimens from all over the world, expertly maintained.)
She went on to explain that she wanted to maintain a sense of formality so that visitors would fully appreciate the gardens. This is why there were strict rules for guests, created from necessity. Costumes and cosplay are banned from the gardens, because these things distract from the gardens – the reason most people are visiting in the first place. Weddings must be formally booked, and if you show up in formal gowns without an appointment, you’ll be asked to leave.
Sweetie and I were surprised that such rules were necessary, and being handed this extensive list of rules along with the map at admission gave us the impression that the gardens were, perhaps, taking themselves a bit too seriously – but Jennie quickly showed us how those who show up in costume are not really there to appreciate the gardens, they are there for themselves. They impede the flow of people walking through the gardens, sometimes they even go off-path into the gardens themselves, causing damage!
Jennie showed me people stepping over fences in excitement, and one falling into a pond – what a disgrace, and what disrespect shown to the gardeners who spend long hours, day after day, perfecting the garden’s athestic, lovingly dead-heading, pruning, sometimes training tree growth for years! To be broken in a moment of carelessness! No, the gardens are delicate, graceful – really a pure form of beauty, meant to *represent* the perfection of life, in life, within ourselves. The installation of her Japanese garden taught her that gardens are so much more than superficial beauty – a really special garden, done well, maintained faithfully, will soothe and even uplift the spirit.
This is very serious business.
Jennie’s vision for the garden includes the manner in which her guests should take the gardens in – their attention not on themselves or other guests, but on nature, and the living art surrounding them, so that the gardens could do their work on the visitors, lifting them up, and creating a unique and delightful experience in their lives.
It was out of respect for her many guests (now one MILLION people a year) that these rules were in place.
As for the queen’s visit, as much as I tried, I never could find confirmation that Queen Mary ever visited Butchart Gardens, although the gardens have since received many royal visitors. I did a little research on Queen Mary while writing this post, and discovered she was the princess of Teck, a region in Germany. A few of the specimens of roses from Germany were gifted to Jennie (according to the little signs planted among the bushes) and I wonder if this is what Queen Mary admired in particular, or if she gifted any of these roses to Jennie herself! (Queen Mary was born and raised in England, not Germany, but there seems to be a connection through the house she represents.) The rose garden didn’t exist until 1929, so any royal visit to the roses would have happened after that time (though I’m sure there was a smaller rose garden in a different area.) The Italian garden was still a tennis court before 1926, and Jennie was very proud of having this formal garden in which to welcome her royal visitors, so it seems the visit she was talking about would have happened after 1929 and before 1939 (the start of WWII).
After 1939, Robert Butchart became ill, and he and Jennie moved to Victoria for better access to medical care for him – gifting Butchart Gardens to their grandson Ian Ross on his 21st birthday. Ian was called to war shortly afterwards, and Ian’s mother (Jennie’s daughter) and his aunt did their best to maintain the gardens themselves with limited manpower during the war. I feel certain that the royal visit Jennie Butchart is so proud of must have happened prior to this time.
Jennie Butchart is not alone in her spirit oversight of the gardens – she was accompanied by several dogs, a large parrot or cockatoo, and surrounded by human family. Among them, I’m sure, are her children and grandchildren, a couple of whom have owned and operated the gardens in Jennie’s stead. The gardens, clearly, are a part of Jennie’s heaven and after-life.
Similar to the garden’s rules about dress and conduct, meant to fully respect and create space to appreciate the magnificence of the gardens themselves, Jennie is quick to correct any notion of her “haunting” the gardens. She is not attached to her beloved homestead out of trauma, or unfinished business. The gardens are a part of her, and her spirit is a part of the gardens, for as long as the gardens remain in her family, and maybe even longer still.
Jennie’s spirit is both formal and warm, busy yet attentive. I’m sure, had I known her in life, I would have liked her very much.
If you’re ever in the Victoria area, I encourage you to visit these fascinating gardens. I will definitely return – the garden is constantly changing, and they’ll be different next time I go! Maybe I can head down there in the spring for the tulips, or the early summer, when the roses are all fresh and in bloom. This amazing place is the life’s work of Jennie Butchart, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, and possibly more generations to come.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to visit!
I would also like to mention our additional travelling companions in spirit: my mother, grandmother, and great aunt – all of whom LOVED the gardens and got to meet Jennie Butchart in person!
When I travel, I like to wear my mother’s rings as a way of formally inviting her to join us for these adventures, and my mother does her best to send me little signs to show me she is along for the ride!
A spider literally came along for the ride in our car, generally content on the rear-view mirror until it became restless and we had to put it outside. Spiders are a sign from my mother – a sort of joke from the afterlife, but sincerely profound at the same time.
True to her promise, we also seem to encounter schnauzers with frequency when we travel as well, but this time, while in Butchart Gardens, my mother sent a very special dog to let me know she was there.
It was a cattle dog. Just like my big dog, Mocha, whom I miss very much. This lovely dog came with accommodating owners who let me pet him and give him lots of admiration.
“What’s his name?” I asked.
“Mocha!” the man replied with a smile!
This was my sign that not only was my mother there, and had managed to send me a dog with the same breed and NAME as my beloved big dog, I also understood it to mean Mocha was with her at that time, and with me as well.
The lesson to really take away from all of this is: Our family really doesn’t go very far!
For the next 30 days, or the next 10 sessions booked, whichever comes first, this code will give you a $30 discount off of a one-hour session with me! (This code can only be used a limited number of times in total so this special doesn’t run away from me!)
If you’d like to book your session to speak to your spirit family, remember to use the coupon code Family2018 soon!
My dear friends. I have been working on quite a lot for you all in the past few months, and I’m afraid this background production has resulted in a few less blog posts than I would like!
But do I ever have a good one for you today!
I am nearing the end of a three week break from my hospital job. It’s been a wonderful – and busy – summer, and like all busy times I needed a vacation. Moreover, Sweetie and I needed a honeymoon!
We decided to take a “mini-moon” to Victoria this past week, just to spend some time away together, visit friends and play tourist. We each had some “must-do” wishes for this trip – for Sweetie, it was a day at the spa, and for me it was a day on the ocean. We each enjoyed both!
When I first proposed a whale-watching trip on our honeymoon, Sweetie rightly pointed out, “We can see whales here!” And that’s true. But I swiftly and correctly rebutted, “But in Victoria there are DIFFERENT whales!”
Specifically, if we took a boat from Victoria, we stood a good chance of seeing the Southern Resident Orcas, the pod which made headlines recently after a grieving orca mother in the J pod carried her newborn baby for 17 days after the poor baby died, in what became known worldwide as her “tour of grief”.
Many believe this mother was holding her baby up for the world to see, imploring humans to behold her dead child, demanding we bear witness to the consequences of our industrial presence in her ancestral home.
I did not want to attempt to communicate with this pod through distance, I wanted to wait until some time had passed, and until I could visit them in person, rather than work off of a photo that millions had already seen and to which they had attached their emotions and ideas.
If I was very lucky, I was hoping I would lay eyes on this particular pod, but if I could be in their territory, I knew I’d be able to get a unique connection, and maybe bring something new to the conversation still echoing around the world.
So I started my calling.
A calling, for me, is more of an ask. I have no physical need to call prey as our ancestral hunters once did. I am calling from a genuine admiration, with deep-seated respect for their autonomy. I did not want to divert them from their own necessary activities, instead, I asked if they had energy, I would love to see them in person, and speak to them.
My big question for them was this: why do they not try to eat something else?
I’ll back up.
Orcas, killer whales, as a species, are prolific. They exist and thrive in nearly all the world’s oceans as the dominant apex predator. There are many sub-species, divided into the general concept of whether the orcas stay in one place, year round, or whether they migrate, nomad-like, the whole ocean their home.
The transients, the nomads, are larger, and fierce. Their lifestyle requires them to be one of the fastest adapting predators in our world. Transient orcas can prey upon pretty much anything, but particular families, pods, have their own hunting traditions, and tend to prefer a particular type of prey – gray whales, seals, sea lions – there is even a specialized pod of orcas in Monterey Bay, California, who have learned to hunt great white sharks!
So why, when their transient brethren are so adaptable, and the Pacific Ocean so prolific with life, do the Southern Resident Orcas not reach back through their ancestry and, driven by starvation, attempt to hunt other things?
See, the Southern Residents are endangered, and their population has been declining since the 1970s, all because the humans have done a very poor job managing the salmon population.
We have three delicious species of salmon out here. In my humble opinion, the Chinook salmon make the Atlantic Sockeye look like cat food. The king salmon are massive, sweet, oily and, at one point, they were everywhere, sustaining hundreds of thousands of humans and wildlife alike.
But industrial development have caused a salmon collapse, and the orcas are starving. They struggle to even come into cycle, and when they do have babies, the Southern Residents struggle to feed them.
Starvation is a powerful motivator. The salmon has been declining for decades. Why has hunger not motivated the orcas to try to get a seal, or a sea lion? Our mammal brains are quite similar, and starvation makes almost anything look edible. Why do the Southern Residents refuse to adapt?
This was my big question. I know that marine biologists have been following these whales all their lives, and they have their own ideas about why the southern residents are not adapting, but I wanted to ask, from an animal communication perspective, meaning from the orca’s perspective, why were they starving, rather than trying any other food source?
I had my little agenda, and I know well through experience, that animals, and spirits, do not necessarily conform to our personal timeline, so I released attachment without releasing hope.
I went on two whale watching trips this month, and I REALLY hoped I would see orcas on one of these trips. I had a feeling it would likely be in Victoria, but I went on a trip out of Tofino to cover my bases.
If any of you comes up to Tofino to visit, please drop me a line. I do love to show off this beautiful corner of the world, and if possible, I like to go with people out to the Hot Springs or to Mears Island.
As I sat on the small covered boat on our way out to Hot Springs Cove, earlier this month, I let my consciousness reach out, and called to the orca again. I reached out to ALL orca, not just the southern residents, because I dearly love the orca as a species, and even if I didn’t get to see the southern residents, I would absolutely love to see any orcas at all. I haven’t seen orcas since my amazing encounter five years ago.
I reached out and heard in my mind, and felt the excitement in my body, of a happy orca family, chattering and squeaking to each other. As I reached out with the feeling “I love you! Come see me!” They responded “We love you! HAVE FUN! We are too far away to see you today! We are busy hunting!”
I responded, “There are SO MANY SEALS here! Will you hunt seals here? I love you! Come show me how amazing you are!”
More chattering, more excitement. “Maybe! We will try!” Squeaking, joyful energy, and then a feeling of distance.
I know how quickly orcas can travel, and in 2013, I had seen them hunting off of Tree Island, with their NEWBORN BABY just outside of the inlet to Tofino, on our way back from Hot Spring Cove. This time though, I didn’t see them on my Hot Springs trip, so I held out hope for Victoria. I thought, perhaps, if we’re very lucky, I’ll see the Southern Residents!
You don’t want to be picky with callings. You want to be open, admiring, and genuinely excited to see whatever and whoever is able to show up for you. If I didn’t see orcas at all this year, I was really hoping to see humpbacks – a larger species than our gray whales which we commonly see here in Tofino, and a species I have never gotten a close look at… So I sent out a gentle calling for humpbacks too.
This brings us to our Victoria Mini-Moon!
We had a fabulous time, and I’ll write about our visit to the “haunted” Butchart Gardens in another post. For this entry, I’ll skip ahead to the whale watch!
We did see orcas – but NOT the southern residents!
On the way back, I reached out to the Southern Residents. The guides were surprised we didn’t get to see them (we did see some humpbacks too, I’ll do another post on them later.) I sat inside the boat and reached out to the water, and asked my question of the southern residents.
“I know you’re so hungry. I know the salmon are disappearing. I saw your cousins eat a seal. Why won’t you eat seal?”
The answer came back, immediately, from one of the younger females who was available to communicate.
We hunt as a family. Hunts are organized by the Mother (matriarch.) She tells us what and when to hunt. If we move to hunt seal, we cannot succeed alone. She tells us to stop, when we chase seal. She doesn’t know how to catch them, she doesn’t know how to help us. If we catch a sick one, or a dead one, she tells us not to eat it. We can’t eat it. It doesn’t taste good. (Taste of rancid, sickly meat. Starving is better.)
We cannot change our hunting ways until our Mother dies, and another one comes. Another one must tell us what to eat, and what to do. If that happens, our family may break up. Some may go off on their own to die alone. Some of us may die before we learn a new way to hunt. We may not understand, we may make too many mistakes. It is better to stay here. To stay together. Those (travellers, the orcas we saw hunting) are large, experienced. They will take kills from us. They will out-hunt us. They can out-swim us. We have lived here (on the inside, near land, near salmon.) We will live here until we die.
Maybe one day, a new male will arrive, and show us a new way to hunt. Maybe young females will go with him and learn to hunt seal, and forget the taste of fish. This has been the way. Out Mother will not change, and we love her. We will stay with her to the end.
And that was it from the Southern Residents. They love each other, their diet is more than what they eat, it’s who they are. It’s their entire tradition. Their food has created their culture, their unique ways which differentiate them from other orcas in the area. Their behaviour, their language, their day-to-day pattern of life has been formed around their ways of hunting fish. Their family members have been captured for aquariums and taken to far-away aquariums on land. Their salmon has been depleted. Their home is getting more crowded with industrial shipping, and with noise.
There are ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the salmon waterways, and to support the Southern Residents. It is not likely these unique orcas will cross-breed with the transients and learn how to hunt seals – the two ecotypes of orcas generally avoid each other – the transients moving in for a hunt while the residents are away. Once, a pod of transients were even seen being attacked by a pod of residents near Gabriola Island. Inter-breeding doesn’t seem likely, so we can only hope the humans get their act together to rescue the crashing salmon population before the resident orcas diminish further.
Back to our whale trip!
We quickly found a small male humpback called “Gerkin” who has been feeding near the Victoria harbour for quite some time. As we were watching him I heard the radio crackle and heard “Black and white” come through over the static.
And I knew what that meant!
Orcas! YAY! ORCAS! (In the background is a lighthouse on “Racer Rock”, so named for the powerful currents that race between the fingers of the underground mountains. This current forces nutrients up into the top layers of the water, and the rocks, combined with the fish attracted to the nutrients, make an idea hangout for seals and sea lions… and make ideal hunting grounds for the orcas!
I was overjoyed! Orcas! But wait! The orcas were up to something.
That tail up, the flurry of activity – it reminded me of the activity of the orca pod I had seen off of Tree Island years ago! Could it happen again??? Could we have been lucky enough to witness orcas HUNTING!? AGAIN!?
Seeing orcas hunt in the wild is an great privlege and a rare event for the tourist whale watcher! It’s something so special I didn’t dare to hope for it, nor did I ever expect to see something so incredible again in my lifetime!
But here it was! Quickly, the gulls started to swoop and our guides confirmed, the orcas had a kill!
This is how we immediately knew these girls were not our expected southern residents, but one of the far-ranging transients! Excited and celebrating their kill, I called out to them with my joy and admiration!
The matriarch rose with a large portion of their kill in her jaws. See what a powerful hunter I am! See how magnificent we are! See my family, see my joy, witness our triumph!
The matriarch of these transient groups organizes the hunt, teaches the pod members, usually her children, what hunting strategy to use, and when successful, it is the matriarch who divides the kill up and ensures each family member eats before she takes her share.
This pod used a not-uncommon strategy to charge at seals who are safe on the rocks, and cause them to panic and instinctively dive into the water for safety! Seals have a hardwired survival mechanism when their adrenaline kicks in, they immediately want to get into the water – they’re more mobile in the water, and they’re trapped and practically immobile on land! Do you remember how you feel when you’ve had a scare? Most of us at least get up and walk around for a minute, our own flight instincts are so strong.
Well seals can’t even walk around – they HAVE TO swim when they are frightened. So the orcas make it their mission to TERRIFY the seals into flight – into the ocean – and into their jaws!
The behaviour of these orcas was reminding me so much of the pod I saw off of Tofino, they were so joyful and full of themselves after their successful hunt, they started mugging for their audience on the boats! They started spy-hopping to check us out, and as I called out in my mind, “Come here, gorgeous, come show me how beautiful you are,” two females approached our boat, coming within 20 feet!
This is the closest I have seen an orca in the wild. Once as a child, I saw orcas in captivity in Marine Land, but seeing captive animals who have no choice but to show themselves is far from the same experience.
These orcas were wild. They were doing what they were born to do – hunt, travel thousands of miles, perpetuate their family, their hunting style, and their unique pod language (orca pods can be identified by their unique dialect, as well as their physical markings.)
It was a privilege, a rare and amazing thing to even SEE these animals in the wild, let alone witness them hunt! TWICE!
As the approaching large female turned to flank our drifting boat, a much smaller dorsal fin surfaced beside her.
See my baby! See how fast and strong he is!
Again, I was reminded of the orcas we saw in 2013. They were also a pod of only females, with a small male and a newborn (at the time) male. No mature male with his six foot tall dorsal fin towering over the females, just the maternal family pod, feasting, thriving.
As though in response to our gasps and thrilled exclamations, the big female took one more spyhop, getting a good look at us admiring her family.
Just like that, they were finished. The matriarch gathered her family, and they left. The whole incredible event took less than 15 minutes!
On our return to the Victoria Harbour, the guides made a positive ID of the pod we had just witnessed hunting. They were the T109’s – a family centered around the so-named matriarch, born around 1975, and documented here:
She could be positively identified by the guides by the unique pattern of scratches across her back, the notches taken out of her dorsal fin (both inflicted by prey animals fighting for their lives) and her unique white saddle patch.
A bell rang in my mind. T109. That was familiar.
I asked the guide, “Could these orcas have been up in Tofino?”
“Yes! They have been sighted up there! Did you see them?”
The bell turned into a triumphant gong! “I saw a pod right after they made a kill on the day they had their baby! Does this pod have a baby known as “Baby Tree”? He was born outside of Tree Island in Tofino, and was named for the island there! I saw him right after he was born!”
The guide checked with the more experienced guide who was driving the boat – and soon the answer came back – “Yes! Yes that’s THEM! The same male is still with them!”
“YOU’RE KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!” I was jumping up and down in my seat, smacking my hands into the table in front of me! “YOU ARE KIDDING ME! THOSE ARE THE SAME ONES!!!????”
“Yes! You saw them a while ago, right?”
I confirmed, it was five or six years ago since I had seen the baby, and the young one they’d seen that day would be the right size – and they guessed this was Baby Tree!
The guide also informed me that the T109s while they are an active group, they are not seen very frequently – just sighting them was rare enough, and they would be reporting the sighting to the researchers who keep tabs on all the transient orcas to monitor their health. The T109s hasn’t been seen in quite a while, and it was amazing for the GUIDES to see them – they were incredibly excited to have witnessed a hunt!
“What are the chances we would see the VERY SAME FAMILY we saw years ago in Tofino!?”
The guide shrugged and said, “They’re your spirit pod! It happens! Some of us guides see some groups more frequently and don’t get to see other groups at all! They’re just your pod!”
They’re my pod.
And then I knew for sure, they were. I was certain when I saw the T109s back in 2013 that my grandmother had helped to orchestrate such a spectacular and rare sighting – to see orcas hunt with a newborn baby – even professional researchers may not get to see such a thing during their entire career!
To see the same group TWICE, years and hundreds of miles apart – hunting AGAIN! This wasn’t a random event.
This was a miracle. I’ll take my miracles in orcas, thank you.
Many thanks to Orca Spirit Adventures for an incredible trip, and these fabulous photos!
First of all, isn’t my graphic for this Pet Session Special just so cute? I changed this one from the original to show some animals across the “rainbow bridge” and I wish I’d thought of that sooner! I really do enjoy the creative marketing piece of my psychic business!
More importantly – the special on Pet Sessions is 2/3 sold already!
If you’re on the fence, I suggest you just go for it, as the demand for pet sessions never lets up enough for me to offer many sales, and the only reason I can do this now is that I’m taking time off my hospital job! Yay!
You can book your session here:
Talk to you soon!
I’m going to be taking a break from my regularly scheduled life in September, and I want to bring a few extra Pet Sessions into my first week – So! I am bringing back a Pet Session Price I haven’t offered in years!
This is a super-limited special! I’m only offering a few sessions for ONE WEEK ONLY and I don’t know when or if I will offer this discount again!
I’m sending this out to my clients and blog friends first, before the facebook promotion goes live – so please snap up your spot quickly!
I’m so looking forward to talking with you and your animal family!
Talk with you soon! Kate
I was saying hello to the deer in my neighbourhood this morning, and I was invited into the experience of this mother deer followed by her two growing babies. She was methodically eating.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
No clear response, just a vague, Grazing. She showed me she that her babies follow her, but she has no set course for the day today. She was just grazing, going from tasty weed to leafy bush, whatever looked good, the next thing, and the next, no plan of any kind. She was completely in the grazing zone.
It got me thinking about how her grazing state of mind could potentially last for days. Eating what looks good, wandering in the general area going from plant to plant. Returning on autopilot to her resting spots and her sleeping spots.
If she didn’t encounter people or predators, she and her babies could continue in this state for days, maybe even weeks, eating and travelling in familiar circles, gradually gaining weight for the winter, recovering from her pregnancy, getting ready to become pregnant again.
I asked her how it felt to be pregnant (and this doe seems to have twins every year.)
Normal. She replied. When she felt the new babies start to move around in her belly, it was almost reassuring. Her years had taken on a routine. In the fall, when the males begin to rut, they will isolate a fertile female to mate. It’s a stressful few days. During those days, the doe doesn’t eat. She spends most of her time feeling pursued by the bucks. Her instinct is to run from them, to see their advances as threats, until she sees one who changes her mind.
It’s usually the young buck who chase and harass her. She goes into the center of town during this time, where she can keep a clear eye out and have room to maneuver away from them. The bucks follow her, but get distracted with each other, testing their young shoulder strength against each other in mighty clashes of tug and push, antlers interlocked.
The doe does not always successfully evade these young bucks, but she does enjoy it when a more mature male shows up to scare them.
A mature male has a wider rack of antlers. He doesn’t waste energy running around or with false charges. He means it. He is attracted into town by the female’s scent, and the sound of the young male’s fighting. He is drawn to it as though he is waking up to himself for the first time in a year. He knows himself. These young males, they don’t know much. The large buck does not respect the young bucks, and that message pours out of him as he emerges from the bush to take control of the drama.
The doe likes and prefers a mature male buck. She likes to watch the mature buck scare the young ones who harass her. She stays to watch, where as when the young ones fight with each other, she uses the distraction to slip away.
It is satisfying when a large buck arrives. She does not run from the large bucks. Her brain goes quiet when she sees him. He frightens her a bit, and she did run from a large buck once, but he eventually, after a day and a half, tired her out. Once she realized what the whole encounter was about, she decided not to run from the large bucks, they could always catch her… but the young bucks usually couldn’t. She could evade and kick at the young bucks. She didn’t like their smell. They repelled her. She couldn’t relax around them. She liked it when the large male arrived – his presence could be felt before they saw him. Usually, all the big male had to do was charge once, powerfully, towards the young bucks to inspire fear in them. They would forget what was so important, and clear off.
This time of stress and being pursued lasts only a week or so, and once she has mated a few times she knows the males will melt away, and her life will go back to normal. The only difference is this conflict with the young and large bucks tends to scare away her babies, who, by this time, are able to run the grazing circuit by themselves. She will run into them again, but they will not have as much desire to stay near her, and she will not call them. Fall and winter is her time to be alone with herself.
She knows this now, when I talked to her this morning. She has done this so many times that she knows the time of the bucks is coming soon, and the two half-grown fawns who follow her now will be on their own soon. They will meet still in their usual sun-bathing spots, and watering spots. They will form groups for companionship and protection during the heaviest rainy months, when the days are short and the predators are hungry. She knows how to stay safe in the winter, and at some point when the days are getting shorter, she will feel that flutter in her belly that tells her she has company again.
All this came in a flash to me, this morning, when I asked her how it feels to be pregnant.
It’s interesting because I’m not sure she makes the connection between the mating and the pregnancy – it’s just that all these year markers seem to happen on a cycle, she knows what to expect by now, and when they do happen it’s reassuring. Things are happening just as they should, all is well. The rutting season is stressful but short. And the winter is long. Pregnancy begins and slows her down. Her hips hurt towards the end, so she doesn’t move around much in the spring. She prefers to stay in the center of town, eating from lawns and gardens. She will even forgo eating for a few weeks if there is nothing particularly appetizing or easy to eat.
Two years ago, she had her babies in our back yard. It sounds amazing, and the twin fawns were super-cute, but we were worried about them as it was below freezing outside and the doe had promptly abandoned them as all new deer mothers do – because SHE smelled like afterbirth and would attract wolves and cougars, and fawns are more likely to be safe in the first day or two if they are alone.
And alone they were. They weren’t even huddled together – one was in my neighbour’s fire pit, the other was on our side of the yard, in the middle of the lawn.
After 24 hours, we were WORRIED! Had the mother been caught by the wolves?
Thankfully, she returned, and soon her babies were old enough to eat from my garden (seriously guys? I put up netting to save my strawberries.)
She told me she has not seen the same male every year – always a different one – with the exception of two consecutive years when it was the same fellow, but already he felt *old*. With her telling it, it seems as though the bucks have a very small window of opportunity – or maybe the males simply move on to other territories? Or are hunted? It was surprising to me. She did recognize the same male two years in a row, so she *does* remember them.
I’ll see if I can ask a buck about this, if I get an opportunity.
Wild animals are so fascinating. I love my deer.