Becoming Nature: Learning the Language of Wild Animals and Plants

Becoming Nature: Learning the Language of Wild Animals and Plants

by Tamarack Song


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A step-by-step guide to animal communication, connecting with your primal mind, and immersing yourself in Nature

• Includes exercises for learning how to become invisible within Nature, sense hidden animals, and communicate with wild animals and birds

• Explains how to approach wild animals and form friendships with them

• Details the intuitive awareness of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and their innate oneness with Nature

Animals and plants are in constant communication with the world around them. To join the conversation, we need only to connect with our primal mind and recognize that we, too, are Nature. Once in this state, we can communicate with animals as effortlessly as talking with friends. The songs of birds and the calls of animals start to make sense. We begin to see the reasons for their actions and discover that we can feel what they feel. We can sense the hidden animals around us, then get close enough to look into their eyes and touch them. Immersed in Nature, we are no longer intruders, but fellow beings moving in symphony with the Dance of Life.

In this guide to becoming one with Nature, Tamarack Song provides step-by-step instructions for reawakening the innate sensory and intuitive abilities that our hunter-gatherer ancestors relied upon­—abilities imprinted in our DNA yet long forgotten. Through exercises and experiential stories, the author guides us to immerse ourselves in Nature at the deepest levels of perception, which allows us to sense the surrounding world and the living beings in it as extensions of our own awareness. He details how to open our minds and hearts to listen and communicate in the wordless language of wild animals and plants. He explains how to hone our imagining skill so we can transform into the animal we are seeking, along with becoming invisible by entering the silence of Nature. He shows how to approach a wild animal on her own terms, which erases her fear and shyness.

Allowing us to feel the blind yearning of a vixen Fox in heat and the terror of a Squirrel fleeing a Pine Marten, the practices in this book strip away everything that separates us from the animals. They enable us to restore our kinship with the natural world, strengthen our spiritual relationships with the animals who share our planet, and discover the true essence of the wild within us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591432111
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date: 03/27/2016
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,253,364
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Tamarack Song has spent his life studying the world’s aboriginal peoples, apprenticing to elders, and learning traditional hunter-gatherer survival skills. He has spent years alone in the woods as well as living with a pack of Wolves. In 1987 he founded the Teaching Drum Outdoor School in the wilderness of northern Wisconsin. He is the author of several books, including Entering the Mind of the Tracker.

Read an Excerpt

Step 12

To Touch an Animal


I think there is something in Counting Coup—being able to touch an animal—that is intrinsic to the Human psyche. We’ve been huntergatherers for most of our existence as a species, and we have undoubtedly needed to derive emotional satisfaction from the hunt in order to continue with it.

A Disappearing Act

Animals have ways of picking up on our expectations, even when we make an effort not to focus on them. It’s best to hold off on clarifying our intention, along with waiting until the last possible moment to move or act, after we have gathered all of the available information. Otherwise the animal could suddenly bound away for no apparent reason,as happened in the following story.

Mind-Reading Deer

“I was out scouting for Deer,” Tom said to me, “and I came across a buck grazing up ahead a ways. ‘I think I’d like to take that one,’ I thought to myself, and right away he raised his head and bolted. It’s like he read my thoughts. Is that possible?”

“It’s possible,” I replied, “but he may not have done it directly. Your thought was reflected in the energ y you radiated, which set up a disturbance pattern. It may have been transmitted through your posture or your gaze, which made you conspicuous. At that moment, your focus pulled you out of attunement, and you quit Shadowing the movement around you. That may have caused the Blue Jay above you to nervously twitch, which triggered a Red Squirrel to flick her tail, which is what the Deer picked up. Or it could have been the opposite: the pocket of silence you created by dropping out of attunement became conspicuous.”

“What could I have done differently?” he asked.

“Approach the hunt as a Native would,” I suggested. “Rather than
I want to hunt that Deer, think I might like to hunt that Deer, if it is so intended. It’s the difference between putting oneself in the center of the experience and being in balance with the Hoop of Life. Rather than a simple cause-effect relationship, stepping back allows us to recognize the interrelationship that exists between the animals and ourselves. Young predator animals learn this very quickly, as it’s the only way they can keepthemselves fed.”

A Game of Deception

Following are the evasive techniques I learned from Wolves, and—not so coincidentally—from playing tag as a kid. Similar to canine pups, feline kittens, and the young of many other animals, Human children worldwide play tag. It is no more than a game of Counting Coup, which is played instinctively as training for the hunt and Guardian missions.

With these techniques, it’s possible to get close to an animal and even Count Coup, all while remaining visible. A prey animal, accustomed to the endless flow of life before him, feels threatened only when he perceives attention being directed at him. When Prairie Wolves aren’t hunting, they can stay within sight of a herd of Buffalo and be ignored.

To Delude an Animal

Approach Conspicuously, yet indirectly

Be about some other business. Don’t just pretend, but have another goal in mind.

Don’t be concerned about creating a disturbance, which will allow our disturbance to be a voice in the chorus.

Transition in an instant from casual, passing interloper to keened, tensed predator. If we hesitate, all we’ll see is the animal’s track.

Anywhere Training

The beauty of learning to Count Coup is that it can be practiced anytime and anyplace. It requires no equipment, it’s always open season, and everything is fair game, whether it’s people, pets, or Squirrels in the park.

Let the Animals Come to Us

I’m writing this while sitting under a Maple Tree overlooking a small woodland pond. A short while ago, a Squirrel made her way silently down the trunk of the nearby Tree and peered around at me. I doubt that she knew I was aware of her. Now a Raccoon comes up to me and sniffs my shoulder. We engage in a brief, wordless communication, and he ambles on.

Letting animals come to us could appear to be the reverse of stalking, yet the two approaches require the same indifference and nonchalance. When Raccoon sniffed me, neither of us made a big deal of it. I continued with my writing as though I was unaware of his approach, so he wasn’t threatened. He calmly left the same way he came.

This letting-them-approach method works because foraging animals generally have a curiosity for any disruption from the norm. They make a portion of their livings by noticing and exploiting whatever foodstuffs are kicked up by disturbances, and we can take advantage of this survival trait to lure animals to us.

To Attract Animals

Stir up silt in the shallows of a pond or lake, to attract small Fish that feed on the minute life forms that reside in the pond muck. The small Fish will attract predators.

Use shiny objects and swatches of bright cloth, which are irresistible to some creatures.

Create a brush pile, upturn a log, or mound dirt, all of which will draw attention.

Plant a scent, such as an open can of sardines or a ripening piece of flesh.

Act silly or out of character. The more clever Wolves are great at hamming it up to mesmerize small prey animals.


It’s inevitable: some of us have found the process of Becoming Nature to be overwhelming, at least at times. That’s beautiful, as I can think of nothing better than being overwhelmed by rejoining the Trees of the forest, the Birds of the air, and every other living thing, in the splendid community of Nature. I assure you that once you reawaken to what it is to be fully Human, you will find Becoming Nature as easy as breathing. And the discoveries—the endless kaleidoscope of discoveries that await you!

Table of Contents

In Honor of My Teachers

To Know Nature Is to Become Nature

A Different Approach to Connecting with Nature

Relearning the Old Way

To Know Nature Is to Know Yourself

Transformation through the Animal Mind

Step 1 Remember Nature Speak, the First Language

The Personality of Nature Speak

Why We No Longer Talk with Animals

How Nature Speak Works

Where We Get Stuck

Relearning Nature Speak

Nature Speak and Domestic Animals

What to Expect from Nature Speak

Step 2 Learn the Silent Language of Birds

How Birds Teach about Themselves

A Bridge to Nature Speak

How Birds Teach about Other Animals

From Symbolic to Direct Communication

How to Learn Their Silent Language

Rock Dove

Red-winged Blackbird

Great Northern Loon

The Anatomy of a Birdsong

Step 3 Awakening the Animal Mind

My Coming Out

I, the Animal

Our Two-Track Brain

We, the Conflicted Species

Thinking without Thought

Beware of the Rational-Mind Trap

Knowing the Experiential Mind Set

Letting Go of Goal Orientation

How to Live in the Now

What It’s Like to Be in Animal Mind

Step 4 The Time-Media Trap

Leaving Tools, Entering Relationship

A Fresh Perspective on Cultivating Relationship

Our Brains on Media

Media Creates Reality

Re-attuning Our Ears to Nature Speak

It’s All in the Mind

Seeing Is Not Always Believing

Audiovisual Material Meets the Animal Mind

Time by Dictate

Step 5 Be Where the Magic Happens

How We Live Can Help Us Find Animals

Dawn: The Place to Begin

Next, Attune to Our Body’s Rhythms

Step 6 Enter the Silence, Listen, and You Will See

The Dynamic of Silence

Learning to Listen

Listening Beyond Words

Honing Our Listening Skills with Shadowing

Big Ears: A Deep Listening Example

Deep Listening and Time

Looking Versus Seeing

The Problem with Seeing Too Much

A Lesson in Listening

Step 7 Energize and Attune Your Senses

The Awareness

Overcoming the Barriers

The Stories

The Exercises

The Answers for Step 7

Step 8 Walk and Paddle Quiet as a Shadow

Natural Walking

Shadowing Canoeing

Step 9 Turn Invisible and Instill No Fear

Seeing through Our Biggest Blinders: Prejudice and Fear

How to Become Invisible

To Stand Out Is to Blend In

Be the Landscape

Visibility: A Survival Strategy

Step 10 The Best Tricks for Seeing Animals

What to Do When We See an Animal

Step 11 Become the Animal


Step 12 To Touch an Animal

Counting Coup: The Concept

Learning to Count Coup

When Noble Fare Is Far Away

To Touch the Soul


Appendix 1 List of Stories

Appendix 2 List of Exercises





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