Look North

What to do when your son is invited to a birthday party on that side of the mountain and you have a couple of hours to kill? Head down to the local beach and take some photos, of course.

It wasn’t the best day weather-wise, so the photos must reflect the drama and the moodiness of the prevailing conditions. White sand, grey skies, black mountains: it was almost monochrome, so that’s what I worked with. I’ve only had chance to edit and upload a couple of images so far, but this one defines the afternoon quite nicely:

See it bigger and better on black here.

I have ordered a new ND filter for the camera, but I won’t actually get it until June (it was 4x more expensive in SA than in the UK, so I’m picking it up when I get over there). In the meantime, I’m limited (even on grey days like today) to 1/8″ – so that sea should be smoother. Still, I do kind of like it.

I’ll pop a link up to the other images I took today once there’s something to actually link to.
Aaaaaand… it’s here!

Self-googling hippie takes offence after 6½ years

Trigger warnings: Whale Death, Middle Earth Dwellers

Something of a record, this one. Elephantine-memoried readers will remember this post from June 2009, in which I passed comment on the Kommetjie ceremony to honour the 55 pilot whales which were daft enough to beach themselves and then got shot by local authorities because they weren’t stretchy enough (or something).

Well, Chief Shaman and all-round resident of the Dark Lands Beyond The Lentil Curtain, Shelley Ruth Wyndham, was googling herself over the weekend (Halloween actually, but I’m sure this was just a coincidence) and found that she had been mentioned in that 2009 post. Presumably, the goblins in Noordhoek who archive the internet using quills and parchment so that the “magic shiny screen” doesn’t scare people in Misty Cliffs have finally got around to documenting 2009.
Well done them.

It seems that Shelley disputes the report that I used when writing up the post, and instead suggests that we read her version. I did, and it’s quite funny. Here’s how she begins:

Thank you all my loved ones, colleagues, those adversaries and my friends all of whom have helped me become who I am today, to know who I am and who I am not as I continue to awaken myself, like us all, growing, evolving and continually finding my place in all of Creation. Aho.

A ho? Unfortunate spelling error there.
But she continues, and she’s not alone. She’s brought the rest of the Loony Toons Crew too:

I am Shelley Ruth Wyndham; I am a Shamanic Healer Teacher. I stand here together with fellow Earth-walkers Sean Caulfield, a Shamanic Artist and Drummer; Kate Ann Spreckley, a Spiritual Healer Teacher; Mandy Scanlen business entrepreneur, Change Facilitator and Project Manager and Jennifer Godwin Registered Professional Nurse and Reiki Master. We five people walk the Good Red Road together.

The Good Red Road is the Deep South version of Blue Route, I think. It was originally going to be called the Yellow Brick Road, but they had to change their plans after a copyright claim by the estate of the late L. Frank Baum.

Anyway, despite the nasty little “Earth-walkers” dig at the recently-deceased whales, who, as they’d comprehensively indicated, are fatally incapable of “Earth-walking”, she expects us to respect her message:

I have been trained and guided by ancient indigenous teachings steeped in the wisdom this world needs to remember. Although I speak in ways which are coloured by Native American principles, from the First Nation People’s of the Americas, I speak a Universal message of Universal principles that needs to be respected.

Well, I would have respected the Universal message, but sadly, I was having trouble waking my consciousness and aligning my spirit that day. My chi was totally off – probably brandy related, I’m guessing.

So, what did I miss?

Whale carries the history of Mother Earth.

Heavy, man. Have you seen the Encyclopaedia Britannica? No wonder whales are so big. No wonder they are so difficult to push off a beach. If they were a bit more evolved, they could stick it all on a Micro SD card. Simples.

Whale medicine teaches that sound frequencies can bring up records of ancient knowledge from within us human beings and teaches us to use the sounds and frequencies to balance our emotional bodies and heal our physical forms and ways.

Presumably, this is like when that orthopod did an ultrasound on my ankle? Weirdly, I do recall several records of ancient knowledge flashing before my eyes. That could just have been intense pain though.

Seek the whale song from within you; in this way each of us will enable connections to be made to the ancient ones, to the ancient aspects of ourselves, on a deep cellular level for all humans to remember.

Aho! A-ha! Now cellular communications, I do know about. You’re talking about G-protein coupled receptors, receptor tyrosine kinases, and ion channel receptors? And all this can be triggered by the whale song within me? I never knew. Actually, I never even knew I had whale song within me at all, let alone it’s triggering ability on trans-membrane receptors.
Whales (which are mammals, not fish), are chock-full of whale song, though. Their cellular receptors must be firing all over the place. No wonder they get sommer distracted and swim into beaches. It’s like the tannie driving on her cellphone and crashing into the parked car.
Thus, perhaps a little less whale song (using your cellphone while driving) might result in fewer whale beachings (cellphone related road traffic accidents).

I can like to be the king of the analogy.

But, all jesting aside, I thank Shelley Ruth Wyndham for her rather tardy, but very welcome interaction with us here at 6000 miles…. And thus, I think it’s only fair that we leave the final words to her, as she (finally) signs off her June 2009 speech.

Each of us is a key, today this is a door, let us walk through this door together and be the change that is needed in this world so that we have a thriving, balanced, sustainable future for all life here.


Mitakuye Oyasin
Four Winds

(Yeah, ok “Four Winds”, but let’s face it, mainly a strong to gale force South Easter most of the time.)

More on those whales

Well, this looks like one of those stories that – much like the whales – isn’t going to go away until a digger picks it up and dumps it on a truck bound for the local landfill site. 

The outcry over what was and what wasn’t done to help the beached creatures, together with the hysteria over what might have caused them to run aground in the first place is amusing, to say the least. And while the experts have stepped back and refused to speculate as to what might have been the reason for the beachings, the Kommetjie eco-massive know exactly what happened.

Is it possible they are telling us that the toxin levels in the water are too high?
By diane on 2009/05/31 03:12:18 PM

It’s possible, Diane, but unlikely. It’s true that whales don’t like toxins, but they like sand even less. Once they ended up on the beach, they were in a bit of a quandary. Sand or toxins, toxins or sand? Whales are notoriously indecisive and it was probably this inability to reach a decision that meant that they dried out to the consistency of Pick n Pay biltong while still considering their limited options.

Harrold has other ideas:

Their primary means of communicating, navigating, locating food, and remaining healthy is through the use of sounds. Their sound frequencies are as necessary to them as breathing is to us. It is their lifeline…

No, Harrold. Breathing is as necessary to them as breathing is to us. That is their lifeline.

So if you want to know what is causing the whales to beach themselves you need to look at who has been making a noise in the ocean lately…
By Harrold on 2009/06/01 02:49:00 PM

Well, according to you, Harrold, it’s the whales. So they only have themselves to blame then. Daft bastards.

Hi i arrived at Kommetjie beach at 10am and at 1pm when i left after watching how it was going to be for the whales, the helpers and the people watching. why did the Navy which is 2 mins away come and help with tugsm divers and support to help the helpers already there. it does not makes sense for the whales to not get the helped that we could of given them, 2009 this is not 1909, if it were people to be helped there would be many heli and boats. come of people. and the amount of people that were just watching and getting in the way, why didnt you get you feet wet????
By karen on 2009/05/30 07:30:35 PM

Now, I can sense that Karen is a bit upset. (It’s a gift I have). However, I do have to take her to task over a couple of her comments. I’ll let her appalling punctuation slide, just this once. 

The Navy is not two minutes away. Except by jet. 
And if the Navy had turned up in a jet, Harrold would have been even more annoyed by the whole noise thing.

Also, I have been in innumerable situations where there have been many hundreds of people lying on beaches in the Western Cape – Camps Bay in early January springs immediately to mind. There were people drying out in the sun all over the sand and at no time did “many heli and boats” come to help them. In fact, I’d venture that if “helpful” people had tried to roll them into the water, they would have swum straight back onto the beach. Much like the whales. Then the authorities would have shot them and taken them off to a landfill site. (That last bit might not be quite right).

Talking of “getting in the way”, Karen – it sounds like you were one of the people who were on the beach against the wishes of the authorities. Authorities who had a plethora of rubber ducks and whale stretchers, but couldn’t get near enough the whales to actually use them. Just saying.

P.S. Technical question:
These “whale stretchers” that everyone is going on about – how does stretching a beached whale help? And what qualifications do you need to be a professional whale stretcher? It sounds like a great job.

Sunday evening quota post

I am literally shaking with lack of sleep. Or it could be lack of red wine. Or lack of hot weather.

On days like today – grey, overcast, chilly and damp – it’s sometimes difficult to remember the heady days of summer, even though they were here with us just a few short weeks ago. Here’s a quick reminder of those warmer times with Alex and I splashing in the shallows at Struisbaai.   

Of course, these days, the beaches of the Western Cape are much more famous for beached whales.

Surfers in South Africa are being warned to watch out for sharks off the coast of Cape Point where the carcasses of 55 whales are beached.
The stranded whales were found at Kommetjie Beach.
Hundreds of volunteers had tried to push the False Killer whales back out to sea – around a dozen of them later died of exhaustion and stress while 40 more were shot by authorities.
Although the authorities are clearing the carcasses, Ian Klopper of the National Sea Rescue Institute warned people to be on their guard because sharks may be looking for the whale carcasses.

The official line is that the authorities were shooting the whales because their cries of distress were attracting more whales onto the beach. However, it seems more likely that the whales were shot because South Africans enjoy shooting things and this was too big an opportunity – and too big a target – to miss. Like fish in a barrel. Sort of. 

Obviously, this sort of thing is very sad. No-one likes to see 55 whales dying on a beach. However, I do feel that the criticism of the council response by the local tree-huggers was a little melodramatic:

Carol Brown, formerly with the Durban dolphinarium, said Cape Town was clearly not geared for a mass stranding.
“There should have been rubber ducks and whale stretchers.”

Of course there should, Carol. Unfortunately, the 2009 rubber duck and whale stretcher budget was apparently cut after there were precisely zero mass beachings of whales in the last decade in Cape Town and was spent on something slightly more worthwhile; like building houses for those people living in shacks and providing food for hungry children.
Do make a submission to the City Finance Department for an increased rubber duck and whale stretcher budget for next year though, won’t you? Or better still, move back to Durban and waste their bloody oxygen instead of ours.