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Holding Space For Dying Orca Animal Ambassador Tilikum

Holding Space for Dying Orca Animal Ambassador Tilikum

When I first started bringing people and animals together in ceremony at the request of the animals I felt very alone—to the best of my knowledge no one else was doing such a thing—and I struggled with how to carry out the promise I had made to the animals.

Years later I now have students who carry the methods that the animals taught me out into the world—a humbling and wonderful thing to witness.

This week I received an email from Reiki and shamanic student Claudine Moyer-Records who lives nearby controversial SeaWorld in Orlando, FL, home to iconic Orca Animal Ambassador Tilikum who was the focus of documentary film Blackfish.

For several months Claudine has been making monthly visits to listen to the Ambassadors at SeaWorld and bring their prayers to ceremony, and has spent some special time with Tilikum.

In her email Claudine told me that SeaWorld had announced that Tilikum is dying. She shared that she had visited SeaWorld twice in the last two days, and that she doesn’t think it will be long now. She said, “They have security all over the stadium during the show in case it happens during the show. They’ll shut down the stadium. Of course Tili isn’t performing, but if you sit in just the right spot, you can look past the stage rigging and to the second pool back. That’s the med pool where he is.”

I found myself feeling so grateful for her and for what she is doing. Most Zoo Animal Ambassadors are well cared for and happy to be ambassadors for their species. And they are delighted when they find someone who sees them as sentient beings. But captive orcas are a different story. There is no facility in the world that can offer them what they need to prosper physically and emotionally. They only thrive in the wild.

What Claudine is doing takes a lot of courage. She is putting to the acid test all that she has learned about how to support the animals with the help of Reiki and shamanic allies and how to support herself emotionally. Like Tilikum she is standing on what I consider the the front lines of the battle being waged over the rights of animals—visiting an Animal Ambassador that is living in much less than ideal circumstances—and doing it quietly with no public fanfare. And if that is not enough, Claudine has made herself available to hold space for him as he declines. But she is not alone—she has my support and that of some of my other students who have volunteered to support Claudine as she walks this path.

I am so grateful for all my students who bring what they learn into their lives, homes and out into the world to help others. I am proud of each of you, and honored to have had our paths cross.

I don’t feel it appropriate to dwell on negativity about SeaWorld at this time. Instead, let us offer gratitude to Tilikum who has devoted his life to creating change for all orcas, and celebrate the shift in awareness that he continues to support.

Blessings to you, Tilikum, you have worked hard for many years to be an Ambassador for the Orcas. May your passing be as swift, joyful and painless as possible, and may you be met by all your loved ones who have gone before. Swim free once again.

Rose De Dan
Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing

Postscript: Since this appeared in my newsletter I have received several emails which included emotionally touching “thank you’s” and questions about what could be done to help Tilikum.

This same question is being explored right now on the group Reiki page for my students. I share a portion of what I wrote in case it might be helpful.

For those of you who are not Reiki or shamanic practitioners never doubt the power of prayer and loving gratitude. The same guidance below applies for letting go of how we want things to go and turning the outcome over to a higher power.

“I’m going to take this opportunity to turn Tilikum’s dying into a teaching moment since it is exactly the type of situation that causes people to lose sight of the central teachings of letting go of attachment to outcome, highest good and boundaries associated with permission, which is what can happen when we get caught up in our emotions and need to help (doing) rather than coming from a place of balance and being.

There are a lot of people with an emotional and energetic attachment to Tilikum, all of whom are bombarding him with their sadness. That is not good for Tilikum. You can help by first doing your own clearing work around whatever emotions come up for you using Reiki, shamanic practices, prayers, walking in nature, etc. Because we are all connected each of us doing our own personal work helps create shift toward balance.

For those Reiki 2 practitioners who have the ability to send energy, boundaries and permission are paramount in a situation like this. Tilikim’s energy is very fragile, and who knows how many people are sending Reiki directly to him without his permission since that is not something that is stressed by all teachers of Reiki. Yes, the Reiki energy has an intelligence of its own, but when you don’t have permission you are in essence saying that you want to push the energy at him rather than have him aware and accepting.

Since Tilikum is a public figure it is more appropriate in circumstances like this to simply offer prayers or send Reiki to the situation ONLY and let the universe allocate it as needed. Sending without permission is also not looking at animals as equals who can make their own decisions to just send them Reiki because you feel they need it. Full grown animals are not children, they are sentient adults in their own right no matter the species.

I know that holding space from a place of balance and non-attachment to outcome is challenging since I have experienced it deeply with the passing of my own animal companions. Perhaps article Animal Reiki Teachers about wise Master Teacher cat Saqqara can help.

Final Note: Tilikum rallied for a while from his illness, even wanting to be back in front of the public. He crossed over on January 6, 2017. Read Tribute to Orca Tilikum, Master of Splash for more on what Claudine learned from him.

Swim free in spirit, Orca Ambassador Tilikum. Your messages inspired many to protest for change.


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©2016 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.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Such a compassionate post. It’s so important for us to not impose our self will on what is called for in any of these types of experiences. I love how you reinforce the idea and integrity of not sending reiki to anyone without their permission, no matter human or non human. So touching that your students have made themselves available to hold that impeccable sacred space. People don’t always understand what that means but it’s incredibly sacred. Much love to all. I thank Tillicim from the bottom of my heart and send him much love.

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