Golden Mantled Tamarins & All of Life
Journal Entry 5
I would like to acknowledge that I am writing this submission on Bundjalung country. I offer my respect to elders past, present, and future.
I would also like to thank the many plants, animals and other beings of the land, water, and sky, for their support of this work...
The following is a submission published with the International Multispecies Methods Research Symposium, held at the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Canada.
Prain, B. (2023, March 30) . Golden Mantled Tamarins and All of Life.[Paper with Supporting Videos]
There are many ways to contribute to humanity's evolution into a harmonious relationship with Nature. I feel that the post-colonisation era of being human is almost upon us and that our continuing collective existence hinges upon healing through cooperation, grace, and dignity. It is my ontological hope that by contributing to the epistemology in the field of Intuitive-Interspecies Communication, colonial concepts of anthropomorphism will be teased out into the realm of acceptance and wonder for all beings.
I surrender to the knowledge that my life is orchestrated by my deep love of Nature, and, that this love is reciprocated. Beyond that I recognise that many people have this deep alliance with Nature and therefore Life itself. The patterns and the teachings I have experienced coalesce in my overview that Nature is orchestrating my development as a willing soul that wishes to contribute to the health and well-being of Nature.
This submission is primarily about my intuitive interspecies relationship with Tamarin monkeys, specifically the Golden Mantled Tamarin Monkeys of Tiputini Biodiversity Research Station in the Yasuni Biosphere of Ecuador.
To better understand the ripples of action that have led to my communication with these beautiful mammals, I have summarised the events prior. By outlining these extraordinary events I intend to show the method in what may seem like ‘the magic’ of being connected to Nature, and therefore contribute to the awareness that this level of connection to life is available to all who are willing to act in ways that support co-existence.
In 2011, after 4 years of fast-tracked study, I graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Audio Engineering, and a Diploma in Film Production, from SAE, N.S.W. Australia.
These studies were motivated by my dream of making music from the sounds of frogs. A dream which began when my forever-favourite teacher appointed me 'Frog Monitor', at age 11. Miss Gunn made me responsible for raising a tankful of tadpoles into frogs for their release into the river system. I am eternally grateful that she 'saw' me.
In the early 2000’s statistics about amphibian decline were horrifying me. Dependable sources were stating that a third of amphibian species were in danger of extinction.
As environmental indicators, frogs are incredibly important. Their presence notifies us of the health of an ecosystem. I felt that I had to do something to contribute to their conservation.
It is my understanding that the more attuned humans are to loving things the more likely we are to protect them. I decided to create music centred upon enlivening one of our most emotionally connected senses - hearing. I chose this methodology because hearing, or listening, has a profound effect on our subconscious. Our subconscious correlates with our Alpha brainwaves and is the doorway to the Theta brain state which is the dreamtime - our collective creative presence.
Two weeks after graduation, on the 1/11/2011, I received a phone call. “Congratulations, you have won two tickets to Paris, London, or New York!!!”
I had been staunchly shopping local and spent a fortune at the Mullumbimby chemist on a Revlon mascara which meant my name had gone into a prize draw about a month before. The owner Craig Watson easily agreed to change it to a world ticket for one.
I had always wanted to go to Madagascar or Ecuador. The resonance of their names had always drawn me, but at this point I wasn’t consciously aware of their incredible biodiversity. Craig chose Ecuador as less taxes were involved. I started researching on the internet. Ecuador, then the Amazon! Then biodiversity, and voila!! Up came the name of the research station I was going to fall in love with - the Tiputini Biodiversity Research Station, TBS.
At that time TBS only allowed academic researchers into the station. So I emailed them, stating all the reasons why I was an exception to their rule; activism, my studies, my passion for the conservation of Nature. They replied that I could stay for 3 nights and in 2013 when I had finally saved enough dollars I found myself in pristine, primary rainforest.
My Kichwa guide, José Macanilla, had grown up in the rainforest. The two days I spent with him in the forest felt like two weeks. Time was suspended as we slowly and lightly made our way along the trails. José pointing out animals, insects, frogs, birds, fish, and reptiles. Luck struck again as founding director Kelly Swing was there and I corralled him with the Station Manager Diego Mosquera to ask if I could come back under the academic auspice of a Creative Masters. They said yes!
I had started working out the best way to do this when in 2014 the Ecuadorian government reneged on their environmental policies. TBS initiated a volunteer program and I leapt at the chance.
On June 21, 2014, I began a month long stay at the station. I had several tasks: record the Rio Tiputini height each morning before breakfast at 6.30am. This was wonderful as I learnt the often unseen relationship between the rains in the Andes and the Amazon catchment.
Help care for the 517 Turtle hatchlings who were part of a hatch and release project aimed at boosting the Turtle populations downriver under threat from hunting and deforestation. Their dug out pond needed weekly replenishing of water and river sand, especially because one of the two species were meat eaters and the pond could turn rank without regular changing. I would feed them iceberg lettuce, and gather particular leaves for them twice daily, with sausage meat on alternate days.
I kept the library tidy. I’d been a librarian at my University so being amongst the stations great collection of books was wonderful.
On Sundays I would collate the kitchen inventory with the staff so we could order the right amount of food and extras for the incoming student groups.
When the students left I would make sure they had done the right thing with their gumboots. If not I’d wash them off and stack them to dry.
All in all I had few duties which meant I was free to explore the environment.
When I first arrived I cried happy tears when Station Manager Diego Mosquera said I was free to go out on the trails alone. He also clarified that once I had proven I was adept with the safety harness I would be able to climb up into the swing bridges and 45m perch whenever I chose to collect the entrance key from him. I felt like I levitated out of his office.
On the second day, going downriver to get more river sand for the turtle babies, we came around a bend in the river and heard a crack. A branch broke and the resident 3 Toed Sloth fell into the river. I was so excited watching it swim that I didn’t even raise my camera until the Sloth was climbing up a tree in the middle of the river. A Sloth was hanging in a branch smiling at us! I gazed in blissful wonder thanking my lucky stars for being alive.
Within a few days of being in the Amazon I felt known. It was as if the word was out, ‘she’s cool’. Animal encounters were frequent. At dinner I would sit with the scientists telling stories of our day and quickly realised how incredibly fortunate I was to be there in a free flow state. No pressure meant every whim, every intuitive bidding, could be explored. I would spend hours sitting 45m up a tree on a 1.3m² perch. First I’d wow out, then I would meditate, wow out some more, write in my diary, and continue to wow.
The second time I was up there I was watching the rain come in from the horizon. Transpiration whirling above the canopy, Toucans sounding like a chihuahua whose family had gone out and left them to bark. All while the sky darkened. Rain is frequent of course and I had my raincoat on, but, for some reason, not once in my life had I noticed that wind precedes rain. And the wind that came before this rain was big and gusty. My Fig friend was lurching back and forth as I hung on, hood up, camera under my jacket, hugging the tree and laughing. It was amazing and quickly over. Soon I was back to making pacts with the Conga or Bullet Ants, and the big Tintina Ants. Inwardly saying, ‘I’ll be careful not to hurt you so please don’t bite me.’ It worked, thankfully, because a Conga bite can make you sick for two days.
Within two and a half weeks I had hung out with 9 of the 10 species of primate that frequent the 7㎢ that is the protected zone of TBS. Since 1994 local communities of Kichwa and Waorani people living nearby have willingly agreed to uphold this no hunting zone, so the inhabitants are used to being safely observed.
I had seen the Night Owl monkeys, eyes huge in the torchlight way up in the big Fig next to the laboratory.
One of the primate scientists told me that the Squirrel monkeys were up above the Harpia track so I’d run up there and began our relationship. Me, following them and sitting amongst their exuberant energy trying to learn how to follow their frenetic action with my camera. They, curious and bouncing around me. The second time I saw them, I was out on another trail when the troupe came through the canopy above. I felt the pull, the collective, “come on!”, and followed them. One of the gang but not nearly as agile.
Another day a lone Capuchin stopped on a branch to look at us when we were out on the river.
I’d seen glimpses of Tamarin fur disappearing.
Kichwa guide Froilan Macanilla had taken me to see the Pygmy Marmosets on their special sap tree.
Spider monkeys had elegantly looked down upon me.
Red Howlers in the canopy followed us up the Black River.
A Titi baby had gazed into my eyes while his Dad watched the skies.
Woolley monkeys were abundant, their raucous movements leaving no doubt as to who was coming through the canopy.
9 species in 2.5wks!
And then there were the Sakis. I was up in the perch. Upon completing my meta meditation I had written in my diary, ‘I wonder if I’ll get to see the Sakis today?’ Half an hour later, Mr and Mrs Saki appeared. They seemed annoyed that the Woolley monkeys were eating the ripe fruit below me. I held up my lunch as if to say, “I brought my own”. We gazed at each other for 40 minutes.
I experimented with the Butterflies and recorded that their numbers and connected presence correlated with my loving curiosity.
When it rained I hoped I had a better chance of encountering one of the 21 Jaguar that camera traps had proven roamed that area. I thought maybe the rain would make me less conspicuous, smell less, dampen the sound of my footsteps. But of course they are far more sentient than that.
During my stay there were a few times where the jungle would quieten, and I was sure I was being observed by a big cat. We are not their natural food, too stinky, not fleshy enough, but more than that... I knew I was safe if I walked in wonder and respect. I did have a lot of dreams where we connected in reverence though.
But, the Golden Mantled Tamarins had made a massive impression on me.
The fleeting glimpses made me yearn to know them in the flesh. They felt magic, as if they were watching me, appraising my forestness.
I wished for more connection, and the day before I was to leave they came to breakfast. Swirling around the open air dining room, like chattering whizz bangs. And then they were gone. I was elated that they had come out into the open in my presence.
After breakfast I went down the track with lettuce and leaves in hand for the Turtles. Suddenly I felt a presence. I looked up as the leaves parted. A catlike little monkey face looked intensely into my eyes and started downloading. Chattering away, delivering a lecture deep into my being. I stood transfixed, receiving. No mind involved. I mean I wasn’t trying to understand, I just knew that I was being programmed, or prepared, or simply told. It felt as if I was being poked at, as point after point was driven home. And then my Chichico teacher was gone.
I was changed.
I knew beyond a doubt that our loving relationship was real. The fact that this relationship was with the entire ecosystem was made even clearer the following day as I left the station by boat.
From the micro to the macro.
I was sitting in the prow with Waorani guide Santiago Shiguango. We were focused on the river bank as 2 weeks earlier Santiago had seen a Jaguar there. We were relating about the spiritual significance of such a rare sighting when Assistant Station Manager, Pablo Negret, opened his eyes from a snooze and yelled, “Stop the boat”. There, in a tree, we saw the huge silhouette of a Harpy Eagle. As we edged closer Pablo turned to me wide eyed and said “you are so lucky in this life!!!”. In tears I could only nod.
To see a Harpy Eagle in the wild is much rarer than seeing a Jaguar. The sun was shining through its head feathers and my hands shook as I raised my camera and took in the magnificent presence.
I vowed there and then to take all that I had learnt and give it to the World.
To be a champion for Nature and share the big picture prolifically across platforms. This continues.
Over the 9 years in between visits to TBS I would often refer to the Tamarin encounter. It was so deliberate. To me they have Kadaitcha status, they are my spirit medicine monkeys.
So, in 2022, when I learnt that the 11th Latin American Course of Conservation Biology was to be held at TBS for the first time, I leapt down the rabbit hole which quickly turned into a super highway. Financial support for my professional development was directly offered by my workplace and my landlady. Within 8 weeks I was leaving Australia for Ecuador. The 8 day course was truly amazing. With 7 passionate Professors teaching 21 students, the fun and saturation of knowledge was massive. Of course, the true Professors were our guides. People who have grown up in the rainforest and have dedicated their lives to teaching people like me the wonders of our Natural World.
I had organised to stay for 4 days after the course finished. Time to just be in the rainforest, move to the whim of intuition, immerse in the wonder of true abundant coexistence.
So when my amazing new network of friends devoted to Nature left, I was the only one there not employed by the station. I was super tired from trying to keep up with rapid fire lectures in Spanish, absorbing new knowledge, being up all night roaming around close to the station buildings with elated students spotting snakes, frogs, tarantulas and other cool night critters, field work, team projects, team learning debates, river floats... so much exhausting fun but now I was alone with people who spend the majority of their lives in this forest and deep satisfied bliss was spreading through my being.
Incredible guide and friend, Froilan Macanilla, turned to me when everyone had left and said, “well Brigid, what do you want to see?” We made the usual joke about seeing Jaguar. A joke because those who know, know that Jaguar choose to see you.
My heartfelt, greatest desire choice, leapt from my lips, “The Tamarins!!!” I replied. Froilan knows this area intimately, so off we went in the direction of their general territory.
That day we saw them three times! The first two times we were being checked out. Glimpses of fur disappearing, their bird like whistles around us. But the third time, it was ON. And this little magic furry being was above us, looking at us from all angles, darting about, then pausing to chat. I felt elated and secure, connected and loved. For the next 3 days we saw them everyday, shadowing our travels for a while as we gently moved through the rainforest encountering creatures and plants.
Over that next four days, when I wasn't sleeping, and in between Tamarin moments, Froilan and I were out wandering about reverently in the rainforest, paddling the canoe on the Oxbow Lake, taking the dinghy down the chilly Black River of reflections, climbing the Tower for above canopy perspective and transpiration admiration, watching the sunset as we floated down the Rio Tiputini...On the trails Froilan bade me go in front. Not only to improve my tracking I suspect. The person in front gets all the spider webs! We startled a Tawny Breasted Screech Owl from it's nesting tree with the sound of my squelchy gumboots, stalked a Tapir all night until we met, exchanged grunts with White Collared Peccary boars who were making sure we didn't come any closer, saw more frogs than I'd ever seen in the Amazon, shared long and what I can only describe as - melancholicly motivating - stares with Spider Monkeys and Howlers, we heard a Woolly Monkey troupe crashing through the canopy and giggled as Mama Woolley Monkey draped herself across a branch looking down at us as she struggled to stay awake, we marvelled at butterflies, gently hassled a tree snake into posing, were humbled by the huge and tiny presence of the Pygmy Marmoset, followed Jaguarundis, surprised a deer in the night, torch spotted the eyeshine of the Night Monkeys, smiled as the frenetic joy of Squiral Monkeys bounced around us, spotted a Sloth in a distant tree on the river bank, hung out with a Piping Guan and Opal Crowned Tanagers and CaraCara and Giant Potoo and Many Banded Aracari and White Throated Toucan and Black Necked Red Cotinga and Hoatzin and Kiskadee and Yellow Rumped Casique and Red & Green Macaw and Lineated Woodpecker and Blue & Green Macaw and Amazon Kingfisher and and and so much more and so much joy.
On my final morning the Tamarins came to say goodbye to me as I left my cabin for the last time. I recorded their high, bird-like whistles, joyful tears streaming down my face.
I play that recording often.
That night I stayed in the little town of Tena and the next day met with Boka Nenquimo. My Waorani friend took me back into the rainforest to visit his family and community at Konipare.
The next day his friend visited my cabin.
A Saddlebacked Tamarin!
The Amazonian Indigenous Cosmovision.
The return to Pachamama, where Space, Time, and the Multiverse are ONE.
My reasoning for including the history relating to this moment is that I wish for everyone to know that this level of relationship is available to all.
It is based on a mutuality and the willing acceptance of transpersonal experience. Being conversant with the unknown is also about being comfortable with that which is beyond words. Trust and respect feature greatly.
As a child my predisposition was to gravitate towards the animal and plant world as a place of safety and solace. I still do and it still is.
Writing this submission I often found myself searching for a suitable way to express the ineffable. I hope I have succeeded.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the field of Intuitive Interspecies Communication and trust that the ripple effect of endeavouring to help those who are willing to communicate consciously with Nature will open up the senses collectively to greater relations with all beings.
We all eat, we all die, and we are all born into some semblance of coherent molecular structure that houses the I.
In essence, I feel you feeling me and therefore wish for your greatest happiness. I wish for your sense of purpose to be joyfully fulfilled in coherence with all that surrounds you. This way I help myself help you help everything.
By experiencing pristine primary Amazon I have been imbued with a sense of the ancient - an unsullied ecosystem is true abundance for all that naturally reside within it.
This leads me to conclude that together we can all return to this level of animated lifeforce with respect, love, and willing cooperation.
a company dedicated to loving life