BOOKS: Animal Voices: Telepathic Communication in the Web of Life & All My Relations

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2004:

Animal Voices: Telepathic Communication in the Web of Life
by Dawn Bauman Brunke
Bear & Company (1 Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767), 2004. 278
pages, paperback. $15.00.

All My Relations
by Susan Chernak McElroy
New World Library (14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949), 2004. 240
pages, paperback, $14.95.

“Oh no! Don’t put me in there! I’ve seen those things
before. They eat people and then spit them out. I’ve tried to talk
to them and there’s nobody there. They have no decent migratory
pattern, and they make no sense at all. Oh no, I’m not going to be
eaten by a plane!”
These thoughts Dawn Baumann Brunke attributes to a parrot.
Living in Wasila, Alaska, Brunke describes herself as “a freelance
writer and editor who specializes in the areas of bodywork, healing,
metaphysics, and spirituality.
I have worked and lived closely with birds and animals now
for many years. Rehabbing the orphaned, sick and injured. I feel
close to them. But I have never heard voices in my head or any other
form of telepathy.

For example: I recently rehabbed four rock kestrels who came
to me as chicks. After their release they disappeared for a couple
of months. The day they returned they found me up a ladder doing
repairs to my eagle aviaries. Three kestrels hovered above my head
and called down to me. I know that they sought me out to let me know
they were home, but they certainly didn’t spell it out in complex
I know that cross communication can happen among humans and
animals, including birds, because I have seen it. But I do not
think that a parrot could tell me that she was once a Buddhist monk
living in Tibet, as Brunke does on page 24.
By the time I reached page 47 and read a full conversation
with the parrot, my skepticism was in overload. Then a dog
explained that in previous lives he was a bear, a horse, and a
seal. I read a little further. Violet the cat “spoke of past lives,
her fondness for the feline form, and the series of events that led
her to find Nedda [her human partner], all with the artistic
flourish of a storyteller.”
Eventually a horse put it in a nutshell: “Those who think
(this book) is too strange are not ready and won’t read it. And
that’s okay. This book is not for them.”
I tried a little further but when the mosquito told Brunke
that “Perhaps we will move to another planet or dimension,” I
realized that this book was not for me.
Putting down Animal Voices, I picked up All My Relations,
by Susan Chernak McElroy, a somewhat better known self-described
“facilitator” of communication with animals who resides in Idaho.
Her publicity materials inform us that her book will explain,
among other things, “what bugs have to teach us about romance.”
I wondered whether McElroy’s bugs would be more mosquitoes,
the bees of the birds-and-the-bees, or black widow spiders and crab
lice. But I didn’t get that far.
After the moose came off the wall to tiptoe around the house,
and the illusional wolf cured McElroy of cancer, I decided that this
book was just too much like Animal Voices to hold my interest.
Brunke and McElroy argue that animals are sentient, should
be treated in a loving and caring way, and in Brunke’s words, “have
a birthright to be on the Earth and the Earth and humans and other
animals need their presence here.”
Many readers will agree. But Brunke and McElroy build their
cases on claims so shaky as to invite rejection by any critical
reader. Those who oppose moral consideration of animals, including
the hunters of their own home towns, will find much to use in
ridiculing the whole pro-animal cause.
I do not wish to debunk paranormal experiences, such as
telepathy between humans and animals, simply because they are
outside my own experience, or because reincarnation into chosen
forms is a paradigm outside my own. These books are for those who
believe such things are possible.
–Beverley Pervan

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