Dancing with Whales

I’ve been swimming with humpback whales off a remote island in Tonga.  Great beings, vast as mountains, moving so gracefully through turquoise blue waters.  They’re so close that as they glide past me I see small scars on their skin and deep striations of the folds on their white of throat and belly.

                           ...suddenly I’m being looked at. It’s like being seen by God

A long body moves past me, then an eye and suddenly I’m being looked at. It’s like being seen by God. I am held in one of those eternal moments, being seen and gazing back.  Such a vast one, a great conscious presence, huge as whirling galaxies, seeing me, meeting me. I feel so small and exposed, a butterfly next to a mountain. Not just physically small - I sense the youthfulness of humanity in relation to this being. Whale feels so very ancient. It’s like my perception suddenly shifted and I become aware of another realm of beingness.  Awe washes through me, awe and joy. I realise I’m making small deep sounds through my snorkel, over and over, an OOOO ooo rising viscerally from my belly base.

A mother whale glides slowly up from her sleeping depth near the ocean floor, to meet her baby who has been circling close by. She’s a faint blue shadow moving far below me.  I’m holding my breath. Water ripples and glints of light shimmer and suddenly her full shape emerges. She swims up and past us, such strange, tiny fish in our black wet suits. Breeching the water, she breathes the essential air, slaps her tail with a mighty boom on the ocean surface, then dives down again to the deep shadows, taking with her the light and the borderland realm of sky and water. The memory of earth lingers in her body.

                           Do you know that whales and dolphins returned to the ocean? 
                           The memory of earth lingers in their body.

Do you know that whales and dolphins returned to the ocean? In an earlier epoch, they left the water to emerge on land.  They lived millennia as a hippopotamus like creature, before choosing to return to their place of beginning, shape shifting once again. Losing legs and gravity, gaining fins and grace, they retained their lungs and bridge the worlds.  A great air breathing mammal, that dives to the deepest depths, bringing the experience of light and air into the shadowy unknown. Then, rising from the deep to the surface, bringing dark to the light, with effortless ease.


After that first encounter swimming closely with a whale, being seen, moving out of it’s way, watching it glide through water, I shook and cried. I felt overwhelmed by the immense otherness and Presence of the whale. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, only hold the experience close in my being. I didn’t want words to dissipate the thrill of being touched by something so rare and precious. I felt overwhelmed by being witnessed by such a one.

                         ....the consciousness of whales, their deep stillness, being
                             enveloped in such great love has deepened my understanding
                             that love is the essential basis of our world.

The experience was so far beyond anything I’ve ever known. It has reframed my sense of self. I now have an intimate awareness of whale energy in my field. I feel more spacious and loved. Not personally of course, but the consciousness of whales, their deep stillness and my experience of being enveloped in great love has deepened my understanding that love is the basis of our world.

I’ve been aware of my own borderlands and shadow realm over this time in the waters of Tonga.  Touching my edges of earth and water, land and air, feeling into the elements of my inner and outer landscapes, blurring my boundaries. Human blood has the same salt and mineral content as the ocean.  The only difference is that iron changes our inner ocean to red.  Our human salty ocean within, with its own tides and flow.  So many correspondences between us and landscape, a continuum of existence. We breathe in what plants breathe out, and they too rely on our exhalation. The chlorophyll which allows plants to breathe, is identical to human haemoglobin, but with a magnesium core replacing iron.  Such patterns and connections, such symmetry across the spectrum of species.  All parts of one whole.

I’m feeling into these harmonies and borderlands, my breath reciprocating with the breath of trees, my blood oceans and cell pools eddying under the moon like great world seas lapping against rock and earth.  All of us meeting within the rhythm of an eternal current. I feel the universe and its movement within me and each person I meet now. Ocean world to ocean world, breath to breath and through all of this, the whale. Great star beings, record keepers whose songs resonate the ocean, and now me.

I’ve been seen by the eye of the whale. 

Copyright J Bushell 2016

Jacqui travelled to Tonga to participate in a retreat with Amber Elziabeth Gray a Fluid Continuum instructor. The whale swimming experiences werre guided with such integrity by Erez Beatus of Apnea Australia