Mystery of the White Lions by Linda Tucker. Npenvu Press, Mapumulanga, South Africa, 2003.
In November 1991 some guests at a game lodge in the Timbavati region of South Africa became stranded at night in the bush, deep in lion country. The Land Rover driven by their guide was lodged in a ditch with a broken steering column. Around them it was pitch dark and the presence of lions, animals who see perfectly in the dark, was announced by ominous growls. With several tawny lions situated near the vehicle, the primal terror of being eaten by a predator gripped the group and paralyzed them with fear.
Then, suddenly, human figures emerged out of the darkness – a native woman of an advanced age with a baby on her back, a young girl around ten, and a slightly older boy. Walking in a slow, trance-like state and keeping closely together, they made their way between the pack of lions that had gathered around the Land Rover. One of the stranded group ventured to exit the shelter of the vehicle. He and the young boy then departed for camp to find a rescue vehicle, while the woman with the baby and the young girl stayed close to the others. The rescue took place in a kind of dreamlike calm, largely due to the serene, commanding attitude of the black woman.
The group later learned that the woman had been able to walk safely among the agitated lions because she went into twasa, shamanic trance.
Linda Tucker, one of the people rescued that evening, has written a wonderful book, destined to become a classic on interspecies communication that will rank with he works of Farley Mowatt, Jane Goodall, and Barry Lopez. Subsequent to that adventure, Tucker became a student of Sangaan shaman Maria Khosa, the woman who saved the group, and later, of Credo Mutwa, the well-known Zulu shaman who advised John Mack (Passport to the Cosmos) on predation by alien entities. In a spiritual journey of ten years, Linda Tucker acquired a working knowledge of lion shamanism known only to a handful of people in Africa. Mystery of the White Lions is both an account of her personal quest and the record of a precious legacy that belongs to all humankind.
If her discoveries are anywhere close to the truth, the fate of the white lions may reflect, or even determine, the fate of another endangered species: humanity.
Linda Tucker was educated in Cape Town and Cambridge, England, where
she majored in Jungian psychology and medieval symbolism. In 2002 she
founded the Global White Lion Protection Trust to preserve white lions
and the race shamanic cultural wisdom connected to them.
As Her quest unfolds, Tucker realizes that the identity of the white lions carries an evolutionary lesson that stretches far back into the past and ahead into the future: “This unique lion strain declared itself some four hundred years ago in this precise spot on the globe as precursors of a new epoch” (p. 135). Their identity cannot be understood apart from the place where they appear. Timbavati, which means “the place of coming down to the ground,” was a sacred site for the black natives long before it was declared a game preserve by white South African president Paul Kruger. Sangaan shamans known for their expertise in lion lore traditionally forbade hunting in the Timbavati area. Credo Mutva, a shaman of mixed Zulu and Bushman heritage, taught Linda Tucker that the white lions of Timbavati carry the eternal essence of native African wisdom and a message of crucial importance for all humanity. The purpose of Tucker’s book is to convey that message, to the best of her understanding.
“The real art of shamanism is the respectful exchange between two species” (p. 295).
Timbavati lies on a great meridian, a line running north-south from pole to pole, but not just any great meridian. It occupies the Nilotic meridian (31 East longitude) which runs through the Giza plateau where, in times of undetermined antiquity, a massive stone lion was carved: the Sphinx. Tucker points out that the Nile is the only great river in the world that runs due north, and it does so in a straight line, corresponding to the geographical meridian. Southward into the depths of Africa, the meridian passes through Laetoli, Tanzania, and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, a massive megalithic site associated with lion lore. At its terminus, it reaches the Sterkfontein caves of South Africa, not far from where the white lions have appeared. The Nilotic meridian is connected with the most important sites of archeological discovery concerning the current theory of human evolution.
Leotoli and the Olduvai Gorge where the primate skeleton called Lucy was discovered lie in the Rift Valley, a massive landseam formed by seismic upheavals in the earth’s mantle. Following shamanic lore imparted to her by Credo Mutwa, Tucker suggests that the phenomenon of the white lions is deeply related with what we know, and have yet to lean, about the origins of our own species and our survival over the long term. She connects the Nilotic meridian with the Zulu legend of an underground stream corresponding to the Nile that runs all the way to the tip of Africa, and this in turn with the reversal of the North-South magnetism of the Earth, immanently due to reverse its poles, if scientists and geologists are not mistaken. Tucker speculates:
Here, as in several other points in the book, the author is stretching her thesis to the max, and the connections she strings together risk credulity - but like the taut string of a lute, what resonance she produces. The impact of her book lies as much in this resonance as in the vivid and detailed information she packs into it.
At Sterkfontain near Timbavati archeologists have found an unusual number of austropithecine fossils showing signs of violent death, possibly by animal predators. Australopithicus is the name for a hominid or proto-human animal thought to have lived as long ago as 2.5 million years, during a massive glaciation. Tucker carefully considers the archeological and anthropological evidence suggesting that hominids lived in close proximity with Dinofelis, the long extinct sabre-toothed tiger. She relates an arresting thought of travel writer Bruce Chatwin, who wondered if “Dinofelis was a specialist predator on the primates” (p. 77). In the complex picture she draws, the sabre-toothed tiger emerges as an ally to the human species who preyed on hominids, yes, but also allowed humans to become predators themselves.
What Tucker calls the “hominide-Dinofelis hypothesis” involves a human-lion contract that afforded a huge evolutionary leap for our species, because it enabled us to become meat-eaters. Without exception, current theories of evolution based on African archeology assume that humans learned to hunt by necessity and purely by trial-and-error, but Tucker’s hypothesis, closely supported by the shamanic teachings of Credo Mutwa, suggests that we became meat-eaters by a sacred contract with a lion species, Dinofelis.
In support of her case, Tucker presents Bushman rock paintings showing human-feline interactions. Credo Mutwa told her that these paintings “act as a visual counterpart to the ancient memory carried by African initiates” (p. 91) The carvings do not show fanciful events, or even symbolic events, but they are detailed depictions of crucial moments of human-animal exchange. Among these moments, one of the most decisive was when humans took on the role of predators and killed the very animals that had previously preyed on them. The sacred contract behind predation was violated when human beings exceeded the proper bounds of the kill. Our excessive consumption “desecrates natural law,” Tucker says, and because we allowed ourselves to become excessive in predation on other animals, we do the same in every area of life (p. 299). She believes that the white lions have returned to remind us of the predator-prey contract and bring us to our senses, thus saving us from our own mad excess.
For the people of Africa, the skies are full of life; yes, even the origin of life may be attributed to the stars! For the African mind, the living animals of the Serengeti plains are reflections of their heavenly cousins. The herds of Eternity are really in the stars; there also is to be found the origin and destiny of humanity. (p. 279)
The hominid-Dinofelis hypothesis is one of the richest, most carefully argued themes in Mystery of the White Lions. In a series of brilliant metaphoric links, Tucker weaves her anthropological argument with mythological lore from Africa and elsewhere in the world. Early in the book she points out that the Great Goddess in many cultures is associated with lions. Atamgatis, Cybele, and Rhea are among the Near Eastern goddesses shown flanked by lions. In Germanic lore, Freya rides a great cat, and her Babylonian counterpart, Ishtar, does the same. In Japan, the mother of the Buddhas, Monjubosatsu, also rides a lion. In Buddhism, the lion’s roar denotes the ultimate realization of enlightenment. The Egyptian divinities Shu and Tefnut are born as lion cubs. Also in Egyptian myth, the lion goddess Sekmet destroys humanity when it has become too degenerated to partake of the miracle of all sentient life.
Credo Mutwa adds oral African lore to the comparative evidence:
The "Exiled Lion" in this legend is the constellation of Leo. African shamanism is replete with star lore relating the various species of animals to different zones of the Zodiac, but the Leonine star-pattern is paramount. “We are told that the lions came from the sky-lion constellation,” the shaman told Linda Tucker. All through her book, she interweaves the stellar motif with the other elements of her argument.
The constellation lore of the white lions is closely associated with Orion, the Hunter, known as Matseing to the Bushman. In Greek myth, Orion was condemned by Artemis, the goddess who guarded non-human animal life on earth, for exceeding the quota allowed for his kill. Tucker does not relate this mythic anecdote, but it fits beautifully into her thesis about humanity’s unrestricted consumption of nature due to breaking the prey-predator contract. The lesson here is: without reverence for the interspecies bond, our species cannot keep to to its proper boundaries in the natural world.
In a fascinating twist, Tucker connects the appearance of the white lions of Simbavati to the possibility of an Ice Age. Far back in prehistory, hominids may have cohabited in caves with lions during glaciations. In the near future we may need to heed the presence of the white lions to understand massive global changes that now face the human species. Tucker proposes the idea that “a unique white gene might make an appearance in anticipation of a radical climatic change,” and indeed, “in respect of Mutwa’s view of the White Lions as prophetic messengers, this makes absolute sense” (p. 288).
She points out that in Zodiacal terms we are in fact entering the Age of Leo, and with a shift in the cosmic timeframe we could be facing massive Earth changes. Her chapter entitled “Ice Ages and Snow Lions” contains far-reaching speculations about this prospect, again stretching her argument to its limits. Yet there remains something irrefutably right about the direction she is takng with her speculations (if one can call them that). The sweep of associations she invokes is truly huge. It seems that we must understand the while lions in a cosmic perspective, or not at all. Tucker cites Laurens Van der Post on the skylore of the Kalahari Bushmen for whom "the song of the stars is cosmic language" (p. 210). In The Lost World of the Kalahari, Van der Post proposed the term "Great Memory" for the capacity of indigenous peoples to remember events in the life of the human species. Credo Mutwa uses the equivalent term "shamanic recall." (I proposed these term in Sharing the Gaia Mythos, before encountering it in Tucker's book.)
Van de Post said that the Great Memory involves more than the oral tradition of story-telling, which is a cultural outgrowth of it. It is a shamanic faculty "synonymous with a heightened, or deepened level of consciousnesss" (72). "Heightened awareness" was the term introduced by Carlos Castaneda the paranormal perception in shamanic states. It is worth noting as well that one of Castaneda's early shamanic tests involved an encounter with a saber-toothed tiger. The Great Memory belongs to the entire human species, but it only becomes active in the special case of shamans who explore paranormal states of awareness. Yet Tucker's book suggests that the Great memory may also be realized more universally whenever the interspecies bond is honored.
Mystery of the White Lions is not just another book on interspecies bonding: it is an interspecies revelation.
In addition to its sublime moments, which are rich and varied, Tucker's book carries some gruesome material. We learn that the cause of the white lions has become known globally through the glitzy Las Vegas burlesque of animal trainers Siegfried and Roy. The brutal truth is, no white lions today live free in the wild. They are raised in captivity under the risk of being marketed as "canned lions," the vulgar term for lions bred to be hunted and killed under closely controlled conditions - a commercial parody of the sacred hunt. So far one white lion has been killed in this way, as a trophy. Needless to day, this is a magnificent trophy animal that commands a heady price because its rarity. The breeding of future white lions may depend fate on those few animals now living in Timbavati, because the price they command as trophies can pay for the cost of raising them. How's that for a paradox?
Linda Tucker believes that the current situation of the white lions is exemplary: the choice we make regarding them is the choice we make about ourselves. The dilemma of their survival is comparable to our own: life is nothing but commerce. The way we treat them represents our judgement on ourselves as a species. Is this true or not? Read her book , dip into the mystery, and decide for yourself.
Linda Tucker and White Lion Konkoela
jll: Flanders NOV 2005
Scientists cannot explain how this genetic variation arises, or why white lions should appear at this time, but Tucker provides some fascinating leads.
Linda Tucker: Mystery of the White Lions
Linda with Konkoela
Lina with Mara
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2013 by John Lash.