Since a child I have loved anything that anthropomorphised animals, I got into this after seriously becoming a mega fan of “The animals of Farthing Wood” TV series and being an avid collector of their magazine and other merchandise; it wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered that “The animals of Farthing Wood” was actually and originally a novel.
I think I was one of the first children in this country to fully understand the impact humanity has on the environment and the animal kingdom, because I remember being commended in one of my schools for a poem I did about pollution and its effects on animals when I was just seven (that’s 1989). I was a child, who was raised in the suburbs of North London, but I was often shipped out to other relatives around the country who lived rurally and on farms, so being a natures child in every sense of the word, I saw the massive changes humanity did to the world.
Every other month as I grew up my heart broke time and time again as more and more of my favourite outdoor places became new housing estates or had a railway track inserted through it and the dead animals that lined the tracks were heart wrenchingly numerous.
As a mostly isolated child who was ignored unless needed, I was often made to play in the large gardens with the pets I had, usually dogs and a rabbit, but squirrels and various birds became very tame around me as I was growing up that they became extended outdoor living pets. I grew to empathise more with animals than with people.
To me, the animals seem to speak to me and we had an understanding, I learned their habits as much as they learned mine and we respected each other and each other’s ways. This is why I found it easy to fall into shamanism, because it wasn’t so much as I wanted to be a shaman, rather than, I flowed into it without realising and it wasn’t until a high school friend said to me she thinks I am a shaman because of my ways, that I accepted that maybe she was right and I am that.
So I read some books on the subject and I was laughing at how basic the training was in it, been there, done that was my response to a lot of it. It was just so natural to me, that it seemed ludicrous to think people need courses on these things – whereas if they weren’t so involved in being human and doing modern human things, they’d all be like this too – it’s natural.
I know as I was growing up, cousins and even my own mother would be frustrated at how the squirrels and the crows won’t go near them, when they wanted to pet them right then and there like I could… I would tell them, you need to do this and do that before they come to you, you need to respect them and do it like this because they see it as impolite if you don’t – “you’re mad” was often the response as they grumpily slump off back inside, hating nature for rejecting them!
“The Animals of Farthing Wood” were not the only inspirations however, there were many others such as “Blinky Bill”, various Disney movies, “Rude dog and the dweebs” and so much more!
So animals in some way or another are a regular feature in my stories.