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A story of animal communication and compassion



"Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul." — Pythagoras (philosopher and mathematician)

Ceremony with the Lions

Lion Stare, ©2008 Rose De Dan

Every year I lead a group of like-minded people in shamanic ceremony to visit the Zoo Animal Ambassadors at the Woodland Park Zoo.

Shortly before August 2015 Evening Walk on the Wild Side, beloved wild African lion Cecil was killed by a trophy hunter. Cecil’s death devastated wildlife supporters, creating shock waves of grief and anger around the world.

It was clear that some form of healing was needed, so I asked for guidance from the animals and my shamanic allies. I was told that our group should carry an additional prayer stick in honor of all Lions and bring it to lion Zoo Animal Ambassadors Xerxes, Adia, and their three cubs Tandie, Gandia and Mandla—together we would do some kind of special ceremony.

When we arrived, I was directed to bring the group to the glass viewing area. Our group could barely see Xerxes and his family who were hanging out together on the far right.

When all the people were in place Xerxes got up and moved toward us. I offered the Lion prayer stick to him, saying something like, “We carry this prayer stick in honor and respect for Cecil and all Lions everywhere.”

What happened next was incredible.

Xerxes faced the long, grassy field to our left and began to roar. I heard the sharp intake of breath from everyone around me. In that same moment the hair on my arms stood up, and tears sprang to my eyes as I saw the grassy area completely fill with the spirits of lions who had come to participate.

Xerxes’ roar was answered by other living felines—it appeared that the tigers and snow leopards were joining in.

When Xerxes completed his magnificent roaring you could have heard a pin drop. We all stood there in shock and awe. The moment was so incredible—so sacred—that no one even thought to take a photo or video.

But Xerxes was not done. He strode majestically over to the center of the area in front of us, and laid down facing his family. I felt him call his cubs to him, and they greeted him with many demonstrations of affection. Then he “told” them to go to us.

The bravest of the cubs approached the viewing window where Jan Thompson happened to be. Jan held the prayer stick for all of the Woodland Park Zoo Animal Ambassadors up and offered it to him. The cub touched his nose to the glass and held it there, sensing the energy and adding his prayers. Our guide told us that the cubs almost never approach the people.

Meanwhile, in the background, Xerxes calmly watched as his cubs interacted with us, and the prayer stick. Lioness Adia (who is notoriously protective of her cubs) continued to relax quietly over in the corner.

All this time the prayer stick for Cecil and all Lions had been moving from person to person so that everyone could participate in the ceremony—each person having the opportunity to carry the prayer stick on their behalf.

Finally the prayer stick returned to me. Once more I offered it to Xerxes. With a very full heart I bowed, and said, “Honor. Respect.” And Xerxes rose to his feet and began to roar once again—adding his voice on behalf of ALL lions, everywhere.

I felt my heart and the hearts of the people answer. And so, the ceremony with the People and the Lions was complete.

Together we can heal.

Together we are strong.

In memory of Cecil, whose tragic death sparked so much positive change.

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©2015 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved.


Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.

Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.

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