An Azorean Experience

Atlantic-Dolphin, Water-Fire, Alchemy

by Barry Spendlove


Way out in the Atlantic, due west from Portugal, one third of the way to New York is a group of volcanic Islands, the Azores. These islands are often referred to as the remnants of Atlantis. If you drink enough of the local “Atlantis” wine it is easy to believe this. In July Inge and I spent a couple of weeks on Pico, the most southerly island.

We spent a week ‘Dancing with Dolphins’. Dancing with Dolphins is a marketing phrase that means being taken out in a fast inflatable boat, finding dolphins, being dropped off in their path and floating; waiting for them to inspect you or not. I don’t want to romanticise this programme and I am very unsure about the ethicalness of the intrusion into these wild animals lives and of burning so much fuel to be in a position to do so. However we did it and I wouldn't’t have missed the experience.

Our first swim, close to land but in deep water so we could acclimatise to our new environment and our wetsuits and snorkeling equipment was a revelation to me.

It was a warm lunchtime, blue skies and hot sun with Pico Mountain and its ring of cloud in the distance.


When we slipped into the water, it was a complete revelation to me: the colour, the light. The surface of the water was a moving mirror, and from the depths rays of light seemed to be reaching up toward the sun above.

This was truly an ocean wonderworld hiding beneath its surface. The photograph does not do justice to the reality of my memory


My breath was literally taken away. Then, I became aware of deep and soft watery breaths in the depths of my body. Suddenly I felt a smile expanding on my face breaking the seal of my mask. I could feel this smile spreading out into my watery body and out into the watery environment. Can you imagine how surprised I was when I felt a deep blue smile returning to me? My kidneys responded immediately by softly relaxing, accepting and absorbing. They shuddered slightly and relaxed completely. Letting go deep fears of the great watery depth, of the unknown… A quality of softness and gentle, nurturing, mothering power emanated from my kidneys, enfolding me, supporting me. I breathed in the magical blue vitality of the ocean and became aware of my biological inheritance stretching back billions of years...

I felt Inge's hand brushing mine and we effortlessly flippered back to the boat. In the boat I relaxed into my smile realising that this adventure was going to be more than swimming with Dolphins.


We were soon hurtling out towards the southern horizon. We were traveling so fast I thought we would be looking up at Jesus in Rio within the hour.


Suddenly we saw Dolphins to our right, our left, behind, in front, Dolphins everywhere. Bottlenose ‘Flipper’ Dolphins, all seemingly vying for our attention, leaping, spinning, and rolling with joy.



Displaying all the virtues: power, grace, exuberance, vitality,… They have so much vitality it’s incredible that their skin can contain them.


We could almost touch them as they exuberated alongside the boat. Inge and I entered the water and once more the ocean overwhelmed me. My eyes were soon absorbing the blue, my kidneys softening, coming alive, resonating with my lungs and the magical blue. Being completely absorbed in my inner watery world, I missed an encounter with a dolphin and her baby.

We soon caught up with the dolphins again but it was the ocean and my body’s reaction to it that entirely held my attention. The ocean surface, doorway to the blue wonderworld.


The next day I was a bit more prepared for the omni-present energy of the big blue and my kidneys enchanted response to it. We entered the water again and had a beautiful encounter with a Spotted Dolphin. It came very close to check us out and circled us curiously, adding its vibration to my watery experience. I could feel my heart stirring, opening, expanding and connecting with this most beautiful, wild and free creature. It was a heart to heart communication. I was grateful for the water softening my explosive fire that erupted from my heart. I felt the absolute privilege of this experience that seemed to last for ever. Back on the boat we were speechless, wide-eyed and legless, with smiles like creation.

After a while I began to realise that this adventure was really about a reintegration and deepening of my internal alchemical processes. The next day, in the heat of the afternoon sun, we found ourselves entering a large Church and sat in the front pew on the left. I closed my eyes and slipped into a meditation. Soon I was feeling the movement of the ocean, my internal vision skimming over the soft swell. I was waving in and out of the ocean like a Dolphin. Then I sunk into the slow, steady, soft blue of the floaty wonderworld. Inge had a similar experience and the next day we returned to the church. This time we were sitting on the right side. Here we found ourselves immediately connecting to the earth and the fire in the earth. Never before had I felt such a connection into the core fire. Not surprising though on such a “recently” formed volcanic island. We spent some time moving from side to side of the church integrating, fusing, and cooking the elements together. The next three days we spent out on the ocean enjoying the alchemical experience. The Dolphin Heart Fire and the Deep Blue Kidney Water.


We enjoyed many species of Dolphin all with different expressions of heart fire: the shy but powerful Rizzo, the crazy and flying Stripe Dolphin, the exuberant Bottlenose, the inquisitive playful Spotted Dolphin.

Now, a month later fragments of the experience are still emerging in my meditations. My alchemical meditations are now infused with Dolphin-heart-fire and deep ocean-kidney-water. I feel the deep magma fire in my earth and the magnificent water realms moving within it. The profoundness of these spontaneously emerging experiences in such a magical environment, enriched my practices enormously. I would like to share this experience and hope to be organizing at least one alchemy workshops in the Azores. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you are interested in participating.



post script

After our 'Swimming with Dolphins' week was over we spent a few days in the quiet west of the island. This included a memorable night when we dragged a mattress outside because we had never seen so many stars before. On our last day we went for a walk along the coast, I took my wet suit with me just in case the sea was quiet enough to get in. The shore line is made up of very rough blocks of lava and any sort of swell makes entry and exit tricky for an inexperienced land lubber like myself. I was lucky and after finding a nice bay and checking the best entry point I went in. I had only experienced deep water before and hadnt seen any fish, Only Dolphins and Whales. Here I was surrounded by many different varieties of beautifully coloured fish. Wonderland. The fish at first didn't take any notice of me and came very close, going about there daily business. I had only been in the water for a minute or so when the fish thinned out somewhat and I heard screams. I lifted my head out of the water and saw it was Inge. 'Behind you, behind you' she yelled. i sunk back in the water and turned around. Not a 'Great White' but a family of Dolphins, seven of them (including a young one), bareley three metres away. We stared at each other for seconds (an eternity). The youth crept closer and an adult got in between us, very close. I had no fear, my heart field included them, their's included me. Time/Space dissolving the present moment. I feel them now while I am writing this, I must go and meditate for a while.

It was a very close, short, intense encounter, which ended when I started thinking. They cruised away to the other side of the bay and started to entertain us by leaping out of the water and smacking the suface very hard making big noisy splashes. They were herding fish close together for a feed. Pure entertainment.

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Barry Spendlove, Natural Dao, 7, LL29 9HG, UK, 0044 (0) 1492 515776, 0044 (0) 7747 051 311,