Animal Teachings: Enhancing Our Lives Through the Wisdom of Animals by Dawn Brunke with illustrations by the amazing Ola Liola is one of the most versatile works of art I’ve ever laid my hands on, paged through, or smelled. Does that sound odd? If so, I’m glad. It emphasizes why this elegant 160-page paperback needs to exist as just that—a real book, not a digital something.
In marketing circles, it’s common knowledge that the most important thing about any book is its reader benefits. The benefits of Animal Teachings scream.
First and foremost it is a work of art—a reminder of what is possible when a writer, an artist, a designer, and a publisher decide it is important to do the very finest work they are capable of.
Animal Teachings is a reference book—for people who love animals, dream animals, want to deeply understand who they are in connection with other life forms, people who love story and metaphor and elegant, educated intelligence.
Animal Teachings is a tool. You can read it from cover to cover or you can meditate on the spectacular rainbow-colored images of animals that manage to evoke more of who they are and their message to humans than literal renderings would. You can practice bibliomancy—close your eyes, point, open, and read—to get a message about whatever is going on in your life.
Full disclosure: Animal communicator and Animal Teachings author Dawn Brunke is a friend of mine. So I heard about this book while it was being born. I heard about the art, the research, the whole process. Sounds interesting, I thought. I even saw jpegs of some of the art. But none of that prepared me for the feeling of Christmas, my birthday, and finding treasure all rolled up into one experience as I pulled the book out of its envelope. If you love animals, get it. If the art weren’t copyrighted, I’d splash it all over the page here.
Today’s bibliomancy landed on Seal: “While seals can be lively and full of fun, Seal’s serious side pulls us far down. Seals can stay submerged for an hour and dive to a depth of well over 1,000 feet. This connection with deep water reveals Seal as a wisdom keeper, in touch with oceanic rhythms and currents of the psyche. Seal assists us in remembering our deepest dreams, especially those we have forgotten because they seem too dense or cumbersome to bring to the surface.”
The picture of Seal reminds me of an ancestor I never met. Of someone that I long to meet. He makes me sad and glad all at the same time. So does all great art. So does this book.