Interview With Ted Andrews
By Edie Weinstein-Moser
Reprinted with permission of Wisdom Magazine
Described as a Renaissance man, Ted Andrews has his heart and mind in many realms simultaneously. Best known for his "Animal Speak" book and cards, he has also delved deeply into subjects as wide ranging as faeries, shape shifting, music therapy, unicorns and falconry. A former school teacher, working some of the time with special-needs students, he has also studied ballet and martial arts. Music delights his soul as well, and he is a multi-instrumentalist.
Edie: One of your most recent books is on the subject of shape-shifting, talking about being between the physical and spiritual. How is it for you to live in both worlds?
Ted: I've done it for so long, that sometimes I don't even pay attention. I think that's really the key, because most children live in both worlds. They see Spirit, they recognize Spirit. They have faerie encounters, but they get socialized out of it. Of course, as they get older, then it's kind of frowned upon. The key is paying attention and not to get discouraged from what your experience has been.
Edie: Did you have those experiences as a child, seeing things that most adults didn't see?
Ted: I didn't think it was that unusual. I was too stubborn and I wasn't going to accept it when people were telling me I wasn't seeing or experiencing it.
Edie: Unlike most children, you carried this with you into adulthood. It wasn't socialized out of you.
Ted: A great deal of that has to do with the fact that I've been so connected to the natural world. When you're out in nature, it heightens your senses and you have a tendency to attend to things more closely, more consistently.
Edie: As a teacher, did you find that kids would come to you with stories like this?
Ted: Oh, absolutely. They all had stories. It was quite a common phenomenon. In fact, one of the last years I was teaching, I was at a junior high school and all the teachers were required to start a club, to do once or twice a month with the kids. I started an ESP club. That opened up a whole lot of things. I was really fortunate, because I wasn't sure the school was going to allow me to do it, but they were very open to it.
Edie: Imagine how many young metaphysicians you helped to create!
Ted: It was amazing because when they put up the list for kids to sign up, they started attaching extra sheets. We were only supposed to have 30 at the most and we had like 100-some sign up.
Edie: Do you ever miss that setting?
Ted: Occasionally, until I see a news story about what's going on in schools and I say "Ok, I'm glad I'm out of there." It was an excellent training ground.
Edie: It sounds like you are still and always a teacher.
Ted: I still do things in classrooms. I bring my hawks and owls in the classrooms and do story telling and educational programs.
Edie: When you connect with the natural world, do you feel like you are a part of it?
Ted: Oh, absolutely. We are a part of nature; we just lost that aspect in modern society. We are always going to be a part of nature, no matter how much we cloak ourselves in civilization. Everything that happens in nature has repercussions upon us, and everything that happens to us has repercussions upon the natural world. We just have a tendency in the modern world to separate it from ourselves, as though it’s distinct, not part of us, something to be taken advantage of. That's unfortunate.
Edie: How can we reclaim that aspect of ourselves?
Ted: I think the easiest way is to spend time in nature; take a walk out in the woods. There was a survey that was done, probably eight or nine years ago. It said that the average person in the United States spends less than an hour a week out doors. I found that absolutely shocking. Nature is the one place where we can always find balance, where we can be healed, where it heightens our intuition.
Edie: I'm very fortunate that one place I work is a hospital with beautiful grounds. There is definitely faerie energy there. My co-workers tease me because I always walk through this same little patch of land that has pine needles on the ground, with toadstools in the summer and pine cones in the winter. They asked why I was doing it, and then some of them have begun to walk through it. I always ask the faeries to join me in my office as I venture through it; cautioning them not to cause too much mischief. The winter before last, I had taken my coat off and put it on a chair in my office and walked out. When I returned, my coat was on the floor and no one had been in there. I put it back on the chair, walked out, came back ten minutes later, to find the coat on the floor again. They were definitely playing tricks.
Ted: That's great that they have that kind of place on the grounds, especially when there is so much tapping of energies and so much emotional drain. It offers a space where those who are at least somewhat aware, can get out and re-balance themselves.
Edie: One of my co-workers commented last week: "Oh, you're walking through the wall of enchantment again." Another thing that happened a few years back involved the 100 or so foot tall oak trees that line the driveway at the entrance to the hospital. A huge wind storm passed through and as I was leaving the campus for lunch, I stopped the car at the admissions building and had a thought: "Wouldn't it be something if one of these trees came down?" No sooner had the thought moved through my consciousness, than BAM!, one of the trees came crashing down across the driveway in front of me. I had two simultaneous reactions: the first being gratitude that no one was coming down the driveway, at the time and the second, 'what did I just do?'
Ted: It wasn't what you did, you just picked up on what was going on. We focus on the animals, but we don't always realize that the plants and trees have spirits as well. That's a wonderful thing to be coming into, especially in an environment where there is pain and healing going on.
There's real old strength and energy that can be tapped. Nature's talking to us all the time, we just forget to listen. One of the first things to do in the morning is go sit outside for five or ten minutes and pay attention and enjoy. What aspect of the natural world got your attention? At the end of the day, look back on the day's events and study something about that aspect; was it a bird, a plant or tree? It won't take more than two weeks of doing this to see what's capturing your attention and what's unfolding in the course of the day.
Edie: When you receive messages from nature, do you hear words, or is it more of a felt sense?
Ted: It really depends on the aspect of nature. With some animals I will hear it as if someone is talking in my head. Other times it's an emotional response. Every aspect of the natural world communicates a little bit differently. How often have we walked down the street and caught the fragrance of a flower? If we're with someone and say: "Doesn't that smell good?" they may look at you and say: "What?" Every tradition taught that this is one of the ways that plants and trees speak to us: through fragrance. It was probably speaking to you and not the other person, and the more we acknowledge those encounters, the stronger they become, the more clear they become.
Edie: When you were creating "Animal Speak", how did you determine what each one was representative of? Where did the information come from?
Ted: It came from a lot of different sources. Over the years, I've collected myth and lore and folk tales about animals. I've been doing that since I was a kid. My grandfather was a big influence too. I spent a lot of time out in the woods with him, where he would explain what things used to mean. When I began working in a nature center in Ohio, in their animal program and doing some of their trail guide work, taking people out to teach them about nature.
I began to realize that when you look at the ancient shamans, they were scientists as well as mystics. Yes, they had their myth and lore, but they also studied nature, because it was by studying the natural world and the elements that caught our attention, that you could really understand what the message was, or avoid becoming superstitious or misinterpreting it. In conjunction with the myths and the lore, I would also study the behavior; how it adapts, what its qualities were, and look at that in relationship to the major myths and lore. You begin to see the common threads that run through them. Once you combine the science with the mythology, that's when the accuracy really comes to the forefront.
Edie: Are there particular animals that resonate with you, that you feel are power animals for you?
Ted: We always have more than one animal that's operating in our life in any one time. And we do have, depending on the tradition, many different totems or power animals. There are others that pass through from time to time. They show us how to best resolve a problem or how to accomplish a task. I've always worked with birds of prey; I've worked with hawks and owls in my educational programs. I’ve had both federal and state permits to have my own for fifteen years, so that's a big influence as well. I also do a lot of work with horse energy, as well as dogs and cats.
Edie: Butterflies have been a big part of my life. I've also had a lot of dreams about camels. I don't think that camels were part of your book.
Ted: It wasn't part of "Animal Speak" but it was part of the sequel, which was "Animal Wise". It came about because over the years, I didn't do a single workshop in which people didn't ask about an animal that wasn't in it. It has about 150 animals that weren't in "Animal Speak", and I'm currently up to forty that weren't in either one. I'm assuming that there will be a third volume. Camel has a tremendous ancient mythology about it, often associated with ancient dragons and ancient winged serpents. In the Zohar, the serpent in the Garden of Eden was often described as a flying camel. In Asia and Africa it's used for transportation, and can go great lengths with little water. It teaches us how to replenish and survive, to make journeys in the most effective means possible.
Edie: An interesting parallel, because of what the dreams meant to me, is that in yoga, the asana of camel is a heart opener. The journey that people go on often opens their heart. It felt like the appropriate time for that symbol.
Ted: Usually when camel shows up, it may indicate that the journey in your life may be a little more difficult than you anticipated, but it's always a sign that you'll have what you need to complete it successfully.
Edie: Is connecting with Spirit as a medium a large part of your work?
Ted: As I mentioned, I've connected with Spirit since I was a child. Back when I first started getting into the metaphysical field, there wasn't anything much literature-wise. This kind of dates me, but we're going back to the sixties. There were some organizations you could go to in order to develop, and some were the spiritualist groups. They provided an outlet to develop my psychic, intuitive and mediumship abilities. I used to do work with police departments to help locate missing children. I was very good at it, but it was just too difficult for me to handle, and I would probably be in an insane asylum if I had continued to do it.
Edie: You also speak another language fluently, the language of music. How do you incorporate that into your work?
Ted: Music is probably one thing I found pretty early in my life that triggered a lot of my quest for alternative healing modalities, but it also helped me find ways of opening doorways into other realms and possibilities. I was a sickly child with very bad asthma growing up. I found that when I sat down and started playing piano, my breathing became easier. This ultimately led me to study music therapy, and incorporate that with sound and color and light. When I make a spoken audio recording, I compose music for it, to enhance the images I am using in the meditations, and so the most impact is felt by those experiencing it. It's nice to do meditations that take you out into the ozone, but I'm very pragmatic. Show me that if I do this and this and this, I can expect these kinds of results. I compose music specifically to enhance the imagery I'm using.
Edie: Is there one particular part of your work that really lights you up?
Ted: Sure, that's an easy one. It may have to do with nature and the animals and the faerie realm. My primary role is being a teacher. Probably the most common question I get is, Why do I push being out in nature so much? I do that in every workshop I teach. In our modern world, it's so easy to get wrapped up just trying to fulfill our responsibilities and obligations, we sometimes forget that we can starve as much from a lack of wonder as we can from a lack of food. Nature and animals keep that wonder alive. One of the things I consistently do in my workshops and books is to stir and awaken a sense of wonder, so that people can seek that out for themselves as well.
Ted will be appearing at many venues throughout New York, New Jersey and New England over the next few months. His books are available through www.dragonhawkpublishing.com or www.amazon.com, as well as metaphysical bookstores.
Edie Weinstein-Moser is an interfaith minister, social worker, writer, speaker, reiki master and clown. She recognizes the blessings in every relationship in her life. You can reach Edie at 215-249-9190, or via her website, www.liveinjoy.com.
This article was reprinted with permission from New Visions Magazine, www.newvisionsmagazine.com.