Tribal people who live close to nature, like the aborigines may have an animal totem they are given at their birth that they identify with for life, but they do not usually have a name for life, instead they chose a name that describes who they are at the time and it changes if their life situation, their role in the group or something changes that engenders a new identity. I tried to do the same and called myself ‘wildtree’ because I was a little ‘wild’ and I was researching and observing wild dogs. ‘Tree’ because I wanted to be rooted and to bear fruit and provide shade for those who came to rest under my branches. Since then I have been ‘ButterflyBird’ when going through times of transformation, etc.. On WildLife EcoTours participants often choose a name that describes who they are or who they would like to be. It is amazing that by doing so all the normal things that identify us falls away – wealth, colour, academic or sporting status, thin or fat etc. and we begin to see ourselves and each other for who we really are. Being a team becomes a lot more flowing. Some of the guest comments below are written by participants who have signed off with their aborigine name

My new name is ‘Bubbling River’. I chose it because I want to be like a river – constantly flowing and exploring – bubbling with energy & vitality – nurturing those around me – animals and humans alike. I like the idea of flowing water that cannot really be held back – it will explode and proceed along any available avenue to continue its path. That’s how I want my life to be – with stumbling blocks only being stumbling blocks for a very short period of time – I will always overcome it no matter what. As far as the elephant experience goes I truly ‘soaked it up’ – every minute of it. I have not been so relaxed in the presence of ‘strangers’ before. The whole adventure was quite mindblowing. I really enjoyed being with the elephants – especially Constant – she stole my heart. And I still cry a little for the two elephants that were killed on the railway line. Hopefully it will not happen again – bless those huge souls. Thanks again for a wonderful weekend and I will keep in touch as far as ‘getting this huge soul into the air’ goes. Bubbling River.

[ Note from Mandy: Bubbling River entered this 5 day / 4 night Wisdom of Elephants experience disgruntled and powerless after a messy divorce. She emerged having found her voice and decided to lose weight, to downscale from a house to flat and use the money to achieve a passion she had always had – to fly a light aircraft and get her pilot’s license. A year later a thinner ‘Bubbling River’ phoned me to say she had been airborne for her second flying lesson and intended when she was qualified to fly for the Bataleurs, a voluntary conservation group. ]

Self-introspection is not always the easiest or most fun of activities, but it is so worthwhile. Thank you for introducing the elephants to my journey and for your insights. Brown Soaring Eagle.

Living in Cape Town is so beautiful but it never quite meets my yearning for true African bush. There is something about the space, the brown grass, the grey flat thorn trees, and the deep bush ‘silence’ that never fails to recharge my spirit. What I found extra special about the ‘eco-therapy’ sessions was that they added purpose and personal growth to an already special time. I received two very powerful lessons that could be applied in my personal life, just from our observations and interactions with the elephants. I do wish that the sessions could have been longer, but I guess hyhena-hour in the bush takes priority! The game drives were great! Bumps and bums and cold-morning beanies! Just needed more whisky in my coffee. One of the themes I had been working through in my own therapy is my inability to set boundaries that protect me…so it was insightful to observe the orphan mums with their calves. My mother lost her mother when she was 2 years old, he dad remarried and when she was very young my mum got sent off to boarding school at the age of 9 years. So I could draw parallels with the orphan mums and my  own un-mothered mother, and then myself as a young calf like Pixel or Mvula who wander too close to the game vehicle…reminding me of my need to be a bit more instinctually-wild and self-protective!! I think it is time to re-read Clarissa (Estes – Women Who Run With the Wolves). I chose the name Earth Joy, Earth because I know that I am a  solid, sustaining, nurturing life force (even if I don’t particularly feel like it now!) and Joy because I know that a large part of my essence is joyful…not just ‘happy, happy’ but deep joyful, without sounding ‘syrupy’…it is something about understanding that this life if for a time only and it is a gift (despite all the einas and the tears!) and that there’s incredible beauty in the journey. Earth Joy.

And so I found the ‘Ground Space’ in me and recognized the birthing of my femininity and an innate wisdom. The time and space to root myself again in me and the truth of inner insights. Thank you for a special time together, for your quiet guidance and intuitive feedback. This doesn’t feel like goodbye. Love and hugs Liz.

I have discovered my light and am so present to the fact that this is only the beginning of a life’s journey. It was an awesome experience from start to finish – thank you for giving me that safe space I which to heal, discover & explore. I am one of those beings that said at a very early age that I would not be having children, and now at the age of 35, and after having had this awesome ten day experience (including the Wisdom of Elephants) I am enrolled in the possibility of being a mother!…I have discovered my light and am so present to the fact that this is only the beginning of life’s journey.  It was an awesome experience from start to finish – thank you for giving me that safe place in which to heal, discover and explore!…’ Ingrid (manager at a local Cape Town company).

I always seem to be ‘surging’ forward with something at work with a fair amount of ‘endless energy’. But being out here feeling the wind in my face and through my clothes it feels like I can let go and all that energy can be released into the wind. I feel like a ‘breaking wave’ free to enjoy myself. I love watching waves break. Waves are constant and I feel that I am. As they break they explode into fragments (blossom) and then rush back and regenerate. A wave needs to break in order to regenerate. Breaking Wave (Airline Pilot).

 It is often difficult for me to express feelings in words, but our time together has been awesome. We were blessed with magnificent sightings and time with the Elephants. They certainly responded to our requests. It has been a time of great healing, permission to move on without fears – all of which has been affirming for me. The call of the bush for me has always been strong, but observing the family of elephants and their interactions together brought great insight as to where my role in life is at present. You have shown me a clear path and I have moved from ‘Weeping Women’ to ‘Searching Spirit’ in 24 hours.

The memories created will be held in my ‘precious box’ and brought out often to go over and relive. Thank you Mandy for your gift of sharing and nurturing. May the elephants always be there to guide us and hopefully our passion for them remains constant. To be supportive, held close, yet allowed to grow – wow! Thanks to Dina (an elephant) for sharing her twins with us when I asked. Laughter abounded amongst the silence, topped with so much beauty. As I said before, awesome, fulfilling, enriching. God bless you and may He grown you from strength to strength. Lots of love. Searching Spirit.

When I saw that Constance, the Orphan Cow had managed to have a baby I rejoiced at her endurance. She had lost her first baby, probably because of her damaged back leg, the first baby was stillborn. The other elephant that left his mark on me is Temba, he is the biggest Tusker I had ever seen – his name means Belief. The two of them helped me believe that one can overcome. The tortoises who move so slowly and who we saw so many of reminded me that if you get to the finishing line having smelt the roses along the way, the journey has been worth it, and that transformation can sometimes take a while. ButTorCoTemBo.

But(for butterfly who transforms to fly) Tor (for tortoise) Co (Comstance) TemBo (Temba and Overcoming). As I reflect on my life I have been quite nomadic and covered great distances visiting 76 countries. I have been like a Shooting Star. This journey in the bush has grounded me and I feel I have come to rest and have roots in the relationship with my new wife and in this place, Africa. Shifting Sand (Agricultural Developer of large Projects in Africa).

Thank you for being a stepping stone on my journey to wholeness. May you be blessed with joy, wildness and love on your path. Shedding-Skin-Shifting-Soil-Stepping-Stone.

Thank you Mandy for your truth, your sincerity, your patience. You made me think in a very useful way on my journey. Old Bones Remembering.

Thank you Mandy for initiating me to learn to embrace a part of Mother Earth I new existed, yet the resonance was missing. I am now ready to discover it. Discoverer.

I personally found this bush experience, Wisdom of Elephants, very rewarding as I was able to put my true self in touch with nature & therefore be enriched as I discovered who I am & where I want to be going in my future existend. Thanks for enabling me to clarify my thoughts & put me in touch with natural beings & their relationship with us whilst on this planet earth. Ann.

Watching my elephant, Ngani, eating, looking, living – that is how life is – just be and just do – all is ok. Be in touch with your greatness – with your safety, with your oneness, with your goundedness. We are here to live and there is no danger just an experience. Open your eyes and your heart and settle your mind and simply live. Feel your you, your right, your belonging – you do belong, are safe, and there is an abundance of all we need – know it, live it, trust it. Trust your wisdom, intuition and knowing – drop your masks & fears and just be! Karin.