Swimming With Tahlequah


Most folks by now have heard the story of Tahlequah, the young orca whale whose calf only lived a very short time after birth before she died. She was last spotted was spotted two days ago which marks her grief ritual of 17 days long of carrying her dead calf.

You’d need a stone heart not to be moved by this and her story and grief speaks deeply to me. It speaks to the woman who keens, the woman who honors the need for death rituals, our human need for ritual and ceremony. It also speaks to me as a Human Ecologist, the activist who know it is us humans who have created this chain of environmental events which has accumulated to cause the starving condition of this pod and their poor birth rate.

It’s been interesting to see the reaction of people to this story from animal communicators, to those who believe she is sending a message to humanity and to those criticizing these anthropomorphic interpretations. We are empathic creatures, extending our empathy to other creatures in trying to understand is a good thing, however, not recognizing the signals and blindingly overriding them is not so good a thing. This article invites you into a deep magic, to swim with Tahlequah, you’re also invited to share your art and join us in our Facegroup group to share the art and tomorrow I’ll post on practical ways to help.

A Dark Moon Invitation

Tonight is a dark moon and if you have clear skies you might see some meteors from the Perseid meteor shower. The dark moon is also an ancient tradition of setting intentions. Not some new age wish or a fancy car or big new house but a time to consider your work in the world. A time to consider the steps you next need to take which are aligned to your soul’s purpose, your true work in this world – work that creates a creative action against this crippling grip of patriarchy. The mess we are in today is a natural progression of a death culture which has no regard for the endless supplies of resources it needs to feed the ugly, hungry monster of capitalism.

So this dark moon I invite you to sit by your altar, sit out under the meteor shower and allow yourself to feel. Swim in the waters with Tahlequah, feel the weight of her pain, her grief. Feel the collective pain of the pod and allow yourself to swim through the cool water currents. Swim with her, help her keep her calf afloat – we know she must be exhausted as well as starving – body and soul crushed by her grief. Her’s is a beautiful grief ritual, it allows her to feel her pain and connect to our own pain – to that part of yourself that feels the destruction of habitat, the degradation of river systems, seas and oceans and the stories of so many animals, insects, wingeds and wild ones who are suffering.

Keen for her, let go of the grief that you are used to carrying yet shoved it somewhere as your never ready to deal with it. Cry, sing, chant, tone for her – use your voice as much as your body. Play wild music, dance your feelings, sweat your prayers to her.

Be gentle with yourself, hold your heart for this is heartbreaking work. use your own language of a simple gesture of ritual or ceremony it can be as simple as breathing with Tahlequah, it can be as simple as imagine holding her calf with her. The deep trough of grief she expresses show the deep love she has for this small one who has moved on to the otherworld.

Be gentle with yourself. You might want to lie down with some soothing music, move your body as if you are swimming through the deep, dark waters. Send her strength, understanding, and love, whisper to her.

Be gentle with yourself once you’ve finished your ritual. This is real stuff – record your impressions of being with her – write, drawn, paint. Collage your feelings, make this matter!

Tahlequah by Leah Pinken Kolidas – click image to view her page on facebook

All feelings and interpretations of this mother whale’s grief are relevant yet they are lost if we don’t take action in helping the plight of the entire pod. They are starving due to the lack of salmon and yet they face other stresses such as pollution such as the level of PCB’s found in the salmon, the noise and the sheer volume of marine traffic in the Pudget Sound. Tomorrow’s post will outline those who are working to help this pod of Orca’s and have been doing so. We can help support those doing this work otherwise we simply turn our head away from Tahlequah.

Feel free to share your evenings ritual, your art here in the comments or join us in the Sisterhood of the Antlers facebook group.


Raising Our Shields: A Spiritual Activist Workshop

sheild Collage

My head is still ringing from the words of Rev. Barber and the many causes us Ashevillians brought out to campaign against. There’s the folks that say such demonstrations do nothing but even taking the politicians themselves out of the picture it serves to inspire those how turned out, for us to realize that we are not alone in thinking our state has literally turned politics into the dark ages. The dangerous war on women’s rights as abortion has almost been made illegal in this state! We are going backwards, not forwards – it wasn’t all that long ago that there was segretion of blacks and whites in this town!

A war against women, animals and nature

There is a war going on. It is a war against women  it is a war against animals and it is a war waged on the planet. Five minutes online and i’m subjected to reports that feminists have received open rape threats on Twitter (which goes on unchecked by Twitter), brutal conditions of intensive farming, hell we gas unwanted pets in this state not to mention the ravages carried out in extracting the Earth’s resources such as fracking and mountain top removal.

All this doesn’t serve to make me wanna get up and fight I feel overwhelmed, bombarded with this onslaught and all I want to do is to retreat, hide in my little world and pretend none of this is happening.

Threshold time

One thought that gives me a little hope is that this is threshold time. The only way to get out of this dark age is to plant the seeds for a gold age – and that is what thousands upon thousands of groups around the world are doing. The threshold is the magical time, on the cusp, between one and the other, and yet of neither. It occupies a very special place – as this is the space in which magic occurs.

The Workshop

Raising our shields is a day retreat. A day in which we will gather in circle and listen to each others stories. A day in which we will dance in trance as endless generations of women before us have done (ok your near ancestors might not have but I am talking of our ancient elders who were handmaidens of the great feminine divine).

Who is this workshop for? It is for women, women who give a damn about something. WOmens who are seeing their rights in this country be eroded. Women who are building a better world, women who are creating alternatives. Women who call on the great mother goddess, women who see the goddess in themselves. Women who sometimes want to go and hide in the face of what they see happen in the world. Women who draw their strength from being in circle with other women. Women who want to sing, dance around fire and replenish their reserves!

Circle of women


Women have always gathered in circle, creating a safe and sacred space. It is here that we speak our truths and are heard, witnessed. We will gather together in circle in this retreat exploring our relationship with the warrior archetype and how we psychologically use our shields.                                                                                                    We will ground acknowledging our strengths, their sources as ultimately without a deep spiritual roots we are unlikely to sustain our momentum and succumb to the shiny array of distractions our modern world has created to turn us into consuming, brain dead zombies!                                                                                                                       We will also discuss what activism means to us, as well as discussing Celtic warrior goddesses such as  Brighid, Scathach and the Morrighan as well as others and what lessons we can learn from them.

trance dance


With live drumming will cover our eyes and journey to the otherworld – fully prepared with our intentions, and with our allies we will meet the ancient ones. We will gratefully receive any form of wisdom received and then spend time drawing and journalling our impressions. You are welcome to lie down for your journey if you prefer.

Sacred art

We will take our lessons, our impressions whatever gifts we are given in our dance with the ancestors and translate them into art, creating our shields with symbols, talismans, signs, scenes or figures.


We will create a fire ceremony, where we can raise our shields and renew our commitment to the great goddess and the work we carry out in the world. We will consecrate our shields while in this fire circle, dancing and singing to drumbeats – feet deep in the earth and arms raised high to the stars. We will renewing our commitment as the living ancestors (honoring the ancients who have gone before and the future ancestors still to be born) as well as our commitment to each other, our family, friends wider community and our more than human community and of course our mother, Gaia.

Date & time

Saturday 21st September. Starting at 2pm and finishing at 9.30pm. Location: North Asheville.


Price is $55 with the early bird price of $50 which is available until Sunday 11th August.

Paypal – use the email themoonandtheoaktree@gmail.com

Facebook event: click on this link 


Please email me at judelally@gmail.com with any questions