Book Love: Deborah Bird Rose Lovefest

I've been meaning to read Wild Dog Dreaming for a long while, but when I first learned of it, it struck me as just so sad that I would have to wait... until that day, someday, if and when I could handle it.  It's hard being an animal lover and an empath, wouldn't you say?  Practically every type of work with animals, learning about animals, being-with and becoming-with animals is fraught with emotions I'm not capable of assimilating.  This is a problem, since I can't stay away from them!

Sleppy Cavern by Rayamira on DeviantArt

Sleppy Cavern by Rayamira on DeviantArt

My summer reading list ended up being heavily weighted toward work by Deborah Bird Rose.  And it includes Wild Dog Dreaming, and I am so grateful!  This book may have changed my life, at least I hope it does - I want it to stay with me forever!  There are parts - including some photos - I could only glance over because they were just far too upsetting - BUT most of the book was mindblowingly beautiful and profound.  I really hope you'll read it yourself, and so I'm going to hit some highlights to entice you!

Much of the book recounts Aboriginal Australian beliefs and (hi)stories that have to do with Dingo life and law - at one point she even calls this "Dogsology," an "earthly theology"!!  She also has a section called Silent Dogs!  It has to do with the silenced dogs in the biblical Book of Exodus, and how their silence was forced, but also served as its own testimony.  It's all very deep and synchronistic for me right now.

But just imagine that your belief system goes like this (if it doesn't already, I mean):

  • Dingos are the ancestors of all humans!!  That's right! 
  • Reincarnation cycles across species.  So when we look at Dingos and all other animal others, we are looking at our fathers, sisters, mothers, kin. 
  • This means that all families, all kin - are multispecies.
  • This totemic, animist universe is full of persons, only some of whom are human.
  • God can be anywhere, incarnated into any creature, at any time.  So we better be good to them!

Deborah Bird Rose is very clear though that most humans have lost our way - we've lost the scent.  We need to find our at-home-ness again and embed ourselves in the world.  The attempted eradication of Dingos has been the a result of shortsighted colonial power-over and humans who believe we are The exceptional critter on Earth. 

So what can be done?  Bird Rose doesn't leave us stranded here.  She tells us of the Aboriginal practice of singing the ancestors back home.  They need to be sung back, by the Dingo angels and also by us!  Old Tim, an Elder she studied with, gives us these laws: 

  1. Do not turn away from animal death.  (I need to work on this.)
  2. Turn death toward life. 

So we sing!  Sing so that death is not final.  Sing so that death and life are transformed.  Sing them back, and sing ourselves back.  Call us back to love, to ethics, to connection!!

wild dog dreaming song.jpg

There's no way for me to really do justice to this complex work.  But I had to share!  I wonder what you think about facing our sad animal stories, about dogsology, and about turning toward life with our love ♥

Posted on June 5, 2017 .