Dances With Wolves

This is a chapter taken from my book Coincidences

It is on sale with Amazon in the UK and USA

Tony Crisp
Chapter Five

Dances With Wolves

The great Indian medicine man, Black Elk, said that:

The first great peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of men when they realise their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realise that at the centre of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka,[i] and that this centre is really everywhere, it is within each of us. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is first known that fine peace which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.[ii]

Black Elk was an Oglala Sioux. He experienced a ‘great vision’ while standing on Harney Peak in the Black Hills of Dakota. Describing this vision he said, ‘I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all things as they must live together as one being.’ He understood from his vision that ‘anywhere is the centre of the world.’ He meant by this that we are each at the centre of the web of life. Whatever the mysterious link is between distant electrons that enables instant communication between them, it means that there is no distance between us. A way of envisioning this is through the image of the maypole, or of the sacred pole used in ritual dances. With the maypole each dancer is connected to the pole by a ribbon. Whichever way the dancers move the pole remains at their centre, and each individual is connected with all the others through the pole and ribbons. If we take the pole to represent what is at the centre or base of all of us, a point beyond time and space, then not only do we link with all things through the centre, but we are also at the centre of things through the link. This is similar to the recent findings of astronomers that there is no centre to the universe. No matter where one stands in it, you are at the centre.

Of course, Black Elk was not the only seer to say that we each are at-one with the primal life and consciousness of the universe. In the Upanishads it says Tat tvam asi, which means ‘Thou art That’. This means that not only are you at the centre, but in essence you are the centre.

Fritjof Capra, writes in The Tao of Physics about this one-in-all, and all-in-one experience. He says, ‘since we have no direct experience of the four-dimensional world of space-time, it is extremely difficult to imagine how a single particle can contain all other particles, and at the same time be part of them.’[iii] But many of us do at times touch this expanded awareness. As Jacob Boehme, the German peasant mystic wrote, ‘heaven and earth with all their inhabitants, and moreover God himself, is in man.’[iv] When we see with eyes of the spirit, then we can, like William Blake, ‘see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.’ We will see the animals and plants in the dance of life with us, all connected in rhythm.


Ask and it will be given

An amazing aspect of coincidences is that this mystical, or at least, subjective awareness of our connection with creation, is often expressed in terms of events rather than internal experience. Linda Clark became aware of this after attending a birthday party for the famous dolphin researcher John Lilly. Lilly’s work was in the study of alien language, so he was trying to discover if humans and dolphins could communicate. This fascinated Linda, and she longed to make friends with a dolphin, even to the point of begging one of Lilly’s associates to let her spend time in one of the dolphin tanks. The following day, as Linda looked out at the evening scene from her beachfront window, she was amazed to see two dolphins stranded on the shore. Linda immediately phoned the emergency services for help. Each service she contacted explained to her that the dolphins would certainly die. They were probably sick, and out of water they would only live for a few hours.

Not content with waiting for the authorities to act, Linda went to the dolphins with pots of water to keep them cool and wet. At her first contact the dolphins, a female and calf, shuddered anxiously, but when Linda spoke to them and lay next to them, their anxiety disappeared. Through the long hours of the night Linda poured water over the dolphins and spoke to them, encouraging them not to give up. Her clothes became soaked with water so often she had to change five times. Eventually, with the dawn, a rescue crew arrived and managed to lift the dolphins back into the sea. A marine biologist later said that he was amazed the dolphins survived, and it was only the second time in a century the species of dolphin, a deep water variety, had been stranded on a beach in Southern California.

On a TV show, Linda stressed what an amazing coincidence it was that her desire to know a dolphin was followed within hours by her experience as helper and friend of two of the wonderful animals.

In previous generations, and in most older cultures, a great deal of folklore surrounded animals in their relationship with humans. The unusual behaviour of black birds such as crows, that often feed on dead carcasses, was thought to be a sign of someone’s death. The American Indian peoples often recognised a special affinity between an animal and an individual. In a dream or a vision a person would receive an indication of that link. From then on they would never kill that animal, and they would look to it for guidance, not only in dreams, but in daily life.


Animals are brothers and sisters

In African tribal peoples such links are also taken seriously. Each clan has a totem animal they must never kill, even if in general it is a food animal. This is perhaps like the sacred cows in India. Cave paintings showing animals often represent this special affinity, and also the symbolic meaning of each creature. This arose because the behaviour of each animal explained many things to human observers. Credo Mutwa, describing a cave painting from his knowledge of traditional tribal beliefs, says:

Moving on to a second impala shown upside down with what looked like blood pouring from her mouth, he said, “When the time came, the mother impala gave birth to her young. It was delivered into this world, but she herself died. Here you see her body. And next to it a young antelope licking its own back. They that have no parents must look after themselves. That is the meaning of this painting. It is the story of life and death. It is what we call Noka ya bophelo, the river of life, of continuity. It shows how life is given and life is taken, but Life goes on![v]

It is this symbolic and mysterious aspect of animals that is often involved in some of their synchronistic behaviour. Carl Jung noticed such events in his dealings with clients. He describes one such coincidence as follows:

For instance, I walk with a woman patient in a wood. She tells me about the first dream in her life that had made an everlasting impression upon her. She had seen a spectral fox coming down the stairs in her parental home. At this moment a real fox comes out of the trees not 40 yards away and walks quietly on the path ahead of us for several minutes. The animal behaves as if it were a partner in the human situation.

These experiences deeply impressed Jung, and led him to define a theory to explain them. He came to believe that our internal world of personal experience is not separated from the external world of events. But he did say that synchronistic events were nevertheless not causally evoked. In other words, the thoughts and actions of the individual do not cause the event in the way striking a match and applying the flame to paper, would cause the paper to burn.

A synchronistic event that most impressed Jung was in connection with a patient who dealt with all attempts at help with rigid rationalism. He describes the woman as ‘intellectually inaccessible’. Through her excellent education she always felt she knew better. So Jung contented himself with hoping that something unexpected would occur that would question her rational theories. Soon after this decision he was sitting, ‘listening to her flow of rhetoric’ with his back to the window of the room. She described an impressive dream in which she had been given an expensive piece of jewellery in the form of a golden scarab beetle. While she was in the middle of telling this dream Jung heard a gentle tapping on the window. He turned to look and saw a large insect trying to fly into the room. When he opened the window the creature flew right into the darkened space, and Jung caught it in his hand as it entered. He says, ‘It was a scarabaeid beetle, or common rose-chafer (Celonia aurata), whose gold-green colour most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab. I handed this beetle to my patient with the words, “Here is your scarab.” This experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance. The treatment could now be continued with satisfactory results.’[vi]


I am lifted up

This power to change our feeling state, or to speak to us beyond the limitations of words, is a powerful characteristic of many coincidental encounters with animals. A friend, Chris M., who I met while teaching on the island of Skyros in Greece, told me such a story. During a period of depression, when he felt he had hit the lowest point, and even the weather was dark and dreary, Chris had crumpled onto the floor of his small room. Full of feelings of hopelessness, his attention was suddenly diverted from his despair by a tapping on the one small window of his room. Rising from the floor he went to the window and saw a swallow hovering there. It remained for a few moments as he watched. Then on swift wings it was gone. The action of this small creature magically shifted Chris’s mood, and he felt ready to try to meet the difficulties of his life again. As part of the change he decided to move south from Scotland to the Mediterranean, where the brightness and warmth would support his lighter mood. Having taken the train to Brindisi in Italy, he boarded the ferry to make the sea crossing to Greece. As the boat pulled away from the harbour, Chris stood at the bows looking out to sea wondering what lay ahead. Suddenly a single swallow appeared just in front of the bow of the boat. For several minutes it kept its position, leading the ferry out to sea. Who can tell what it was doing there. But for Chris it was a confirmation of his journey toward a fuller and happier life. He was taking the right direction.

Animals, through the way they sometimes coincidentally weave their life into ours, may confirm us in other ways than personal growth or direction. Steve Nicholl’s experience quoted at the beginning of chapter two is an example. Steve, in a ‘dream’ walked downstairs from his bedroom into the family living room. To remind you of the scene I quote again what Steve said:

Everything in the room was as it should be, as if I was awake. I could see the clock on the mantelpiece, and the time of the ‘dream’ was just past 11:00 p.m. We had a dog at the time and he was lying in front of the fireplace. My father was sitting in a chair reading a book. As I focused my attention on the dog, he raised his head and started whining. He then rose and began pawing the ground. I was convinced that I was in this room and not just dreaming, as I could see very clearly what was going on.

Steve’s father admitted that the dog had whined and pawed the ground at that time of night. The co-occurrence between Steve’s dream and the dog’s actions, turns something that could be ‘explained away’, into an extraordinary experience. The supersenses of Steve’s dog, enabling it to be aware of Steve’s mobile self, confirmed for Steve that there are sides to the human mind that are not known to present scientific theories. So apart from confirming what Steve felt about his dream – that it was an experience of reality – the dog also pushed against the boundaries of Steve’s father’s disbelief.


You create your environment

The last point is important in that belief, or disbelief, is a powerful force. Like a solid wall, belief/disbelief can act as a barrier against information and relationship. Allied with fear, dis/belief can become a fortress against change or learning. It is a fortress against which argument is usually an ineffective weapon, as with Jung and his client. But sometimes a little old hound dog can breach the wall, or it might be a beautiful insect that is the enabler.

When I was 18, and stationed in Germany in the RAF, I had a similar experience to that of Steve. It also involved my dog, Vince, who was a beautiful and loving Alsatian. What happened to me didn’t seem like a dream. It was even more vivid and real than waking life, although of a much different quality. I had suddenly been awoken from sleep by an intense feeling of rushing upward, and expansion. Everything was black until I could suddenly see my body asleep on the bed below me. Then, with my knees clasped to my chest – not at all the Superman image – I flew way above the ground across the summer evening landscape. At one point I could see ripples of energy rising from the ground. I wondered if this was people praying. Then the flying ended and I was immediately at home in London.

This was such an enormously impressive experience I stood for a while stunned, trying to understand what was happening to me. My mother was sitting knitting watching television, and Vince was asleep in front of the gas fire. My father was not there. Excitedly I called to my mother, ‘Mum, look what’s happening to me!’ She obviously didn’t hear me, and this was incredibly puzzling because I was so real and solid to myself. So I felt there must be some sort of barrier between us. I therefore shouted to her, trying to ‘get through’, or attract her attention. Physically she still carried on knitting. But a part of her, that felt to me as if it were ‘downstairs’, underneath her usual actions and awareness, responded. From that part of her there was no separation between us. At the same time Vince jerked awake, having apparently heard me shout. He looked around to where I was standing behind our settee, and came bounding to me, howling and barking as if in agony. This was something he always did if I had been away for a while and returned home. He was crazily in love with me and didn’t mind showing it.

There the experience ended. I woke back in German, with my body feeling as heavy as lead after having experienced the fluid lightness of life apart from it.

Later, when I checked with my mother what had happened that evening, she told me that my father, a part-time musician, had been out playing in a band, and she had been sitting alone knitting. Most importantly, Vince had suddenly reared up from sleep and rushed to the back of the settee, howled and leaped about for no reason she could see.


My dog saw my spirit

My experience was strong enough not to need Vincent’s corroboration of action. But his loving response did remain a strength in face of cynical doubts that darken us all at some time. What was more important to me was his response itself. That this coincided with my own attempt to communicate was profoundly meaningful. This because my mother’s response was paradoxical. She both did and didn’t respond. If the dead exist in the way I did during that flight of awareness, as a bodiless personality, I can understand their frustration in trying to let the people they love know what is happening to them. Although I was totally and vividly real to myself, even to feeling completely solid, my mother in her physically observable personality, had no awareness of me at all. But some part of herself she was unconscious of responded to my call. However, Vincent heard, saw and responded.

If I was physically present and Vince barked and howled on my return, that would not be considered a coincidence. But as my experience is thought by science to be a purely subjective one, and my mother, as a physical witness did not see me, then the event is synchronous. For me the experience has remained a source of strength in meeting the materialism of our times. It has also been a great learning experience. For instance, was the part of my mother’s mind that responded to me what psychology calls her unconscious? If so, is the unconscious similar to the sensitivity in Vince that responded so fully to me? Perhaps what was active in Vince is also alive in us humans, but often covered over by thinking and daily concerns. Maybe this heightened awareness breaking through to consciousness is what we call intuition. I believe it is, and when we listen to our intuitive ideas and feelings, we are more in tune with the great web of sentient life.

Animals appear to live to a much greater degree from this intuitive awareness than we do. This is why they interact with us synchronously in the way they do. This is obvious in the case that appeared in the San Francisco Call-Bulletin. Welcome Lewis travelled to San Francisco from Los Angeles with her boxer dog. As she was staying in a hotel she decided to take her dog to Lafayette Park for a walk. She found a place to leave her car alongside the park, but her dog completely refused to get out of the car. He was agitated and kept barking. So after a few minutes Welcome got back into the car and drove back to the hotel, where the dog got out without any fuss. The next day Welcome drove past the park, and noticed that a huge tree had come down, smashing a car exactly where she had parked on the previous day. Fascinated, she made enquiries and discovered the tree had fallen minutes after she had driven away.

Of course, the intuition of animals is proverbial, as for instance with the stories told about rats deserting a sinking ship, or animals leaving volcanoes that are about to erupt. The actor Raymond Massey and his wife had strange experiences that show a new facet of these old folktales. The Masseys had purchased a house in East 80s in Manhattan. Opposite was a mansion that was empty when they first arrived, but was later owned by a well known woman in the town. When talking with the Masseys the woman complained that the house was infested with mice that she couldn’t get rid of. Shortly after that the Masseys were astonished to see a horde of mice leaving the house. They appeared agitated and dazed. Not long after that the woman committed suicide. The house was then purchased by a ‘wealthy playboy’. During his occupancy, the Masseys once more saw the desperate fleeing of the horde of mice. The playboy’s death followed shortly afterwards, making front page news.

A well known businessman was the next owner. While looking after a windowbox one morning, Mrs. Massey again saw the ominous mice exodus from the mansion. A few days later the businessman, while flying his private plane, crashed into the Hudson River and drowned.


Animals reflect our feelings

There is a strong suggestion in the case of the deserting mice, that our life and the way we live it, is inextricable interwoven with everything around us. The mice certainly appear to have been influenced by the lives of the people living in the same house. Most of the time we fail to recognise this influence we have on others around us. We might think our influence is through what we say or do directly as an action. But what flows from us, and to us, is much subtler than that. People near to death, or during a death experience such as cardiac arrest, have their workaday personality stripped away, and live more fully in their intuitive unconscious. Then they see just how extensively their life interacts with others. During such an experience, P H Atwater experienced what he describes as a:

… total reliving of every thought I had ever thought, every word I had ever spoken, and every deed I had ever done; plus the effect of each thought, word and deed on everyone and anyone who had ever come within my environment or sphere of influence, wheth­er I knew them or not (including unknown passers-by on the street).[vii]

Many psychic experiences appear to be the result of what is going on in the lives of those around us or close to us emotionally. Emily, who had a near-death-experience due to a road accident, said that she remembered her whole life, and was able to feel her own feelings and the feelings of everyone else she was involved with, connected with all the events in her life.


Animals are part of eternity

When looking at our coincidental link with animals, this collective awareness is important to remember. Sometimes this awareness even transcends a given lifetime. One of the most astonishing coincidences that I have come across concerning an animal illustrates this. Greg[viii] was driving with his family and dachshund dog across an area of the US he had never been before. They were passing through farming country, it was fine, and the dog had its nose out of the window sampling the new smells. Suddenly the dog became agitated and leapt out of the window of the moving car. It recovered from the fall and rolling, and ran headlong across a field toward a farmhouse. Greg stopped the car and immediately chased after it wondering what was going on, as the dog had never before done such a thing. On arriving at the farmhouse he found his dog, still excited, trying to get into an outbuilding. He explained as best he could to the woman owner of the farm, Kath, why he was there, and she opened the door to the barn. The dog immediately ran to a ladder leading to a hayloft. Despite its shape, the dachshund climbed the ladder, and whining, ran around the loft sniffing and searching. Then, having searched it became quiet and from there on was normal again.

Kath, having witnessed this, told Greg a strange story. Some years before, her son had owned a farm dog, a bitch, whom he loved. He had trained the bitch to climb the ladder in the outbuilding, because it was fun to see her running up and down. One cold winter when she had her first litter of pups, the place she chose to give birth was up in the hayloft. Perhaps she felt it was a safe place for them to be. Shortly afterwards a phone call came reporting an emergency with a family member. Kath was upset, her son was away, and she rushed out of the house, only realising later that the dog was locked in the house and couldn’t get to her pups. When Kath got home three days later and opened the door, the dog streaked out of the house to the barn to feed its pups. It was so frantic that it fell from near the top of the ladder because of the ice, and died from the fall. What Kath felt that she and Greg had witnessed was the return of that mother to satisfy a frustrated need to find its pups. Even death did not end that love.


[i] Wakan Tanka can be translated as World Mind, or Wholeness, as used in this book.

[ii] From Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt, New York: Pocket Books, 1959.

[iii] From The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra. Flamingo. UK 1976. ISBN: 0-00-654489-4.

[iv] From The Way to Christ and Signature of All Things by Jacob Boehme. See:

[v] From The Lightening Bird by Lyall Watson. Hodder and Stoughton, UK. 1982.

[vi] From, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, by Carl Jung.

[vii] Taken from P H Atwater’s ‘Coming Back to Life’ but quoted from an article in Time Out, November 7-14 1990 titled Nearly Departed, by Colette Maud.

[viii] False name given by author.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved