May 29, 2018
The horse is an archetypal symbol which will always
find ways to stir up deep and moving ancestral memories
in every human being.
~ Paul Mellon, American philanthropist and an owner/breeder of thoroughbred racehorses.
The year 2006 was my third Ireland tour and my third post-tour pilgrimage to Inis Mor. It’s the largest of the three tiny Aran Islands hovering off the West Coast of Ireland. I encountered a horse there that would reawaken in me an ancient memory of who and what I am. A woman of power, strength and dignity.
Each evening during my solo retreat I took myself on a walk down a narrow, rocky path to watch the sunset. I wanted to witness the ocean swallow up the sun, imagining what my ancient ancestors thought of this daily event. My seat for the sunset show was atop a very old and rickety stone wall. I recall my senses being startled by the many shades of grey in the sky and water, the many shades of green in the lush grasses, and the many sounds of birds heralding the end of yet another day’s work. Sensing that I was not alone, I looked down and to my right. My eyes spied a beautiful grey horse standing proud, almost regal like, revealing an innate sense of power. Never one to pass up a mystery, I hopped off my perch and walked the winding downhill road until I was at the gate to the horse’s small pasture.
What a fine horse this was! Full grown yet retaining a sense of youthful playfulness. Its body was dappled shades of grey, and its mane a sturdy steel color. Its eyes were dual portals to a reality I did not fully recognize but found compelling. I was intent on gazing into the horse’s eyes and was amused by the dilemma of which eye to look into since they were so wide apart. “Ah ha, look between the eyes,” a mystery voice whispered. There I discovered a beautiful white starburst pattern. It is into that “third eye” that I gazed.
An unpleasant childhood experience with a horse triggered a wee bit of fear in me. Then I recalled spending a day with a trainer who taught me how to approach a horse—directly, from the front, so that the horse would know my good intentions. There we stood that May evening, face to face, gazing deeply into each other’s souls.
I spoke softly to this horse in human words, letting it know I came with good and pure intentions. Who are you? What are you doing here? What do you ask of me? I’m not sure who was asking the questions, the horse or me.
This first visit was casual, kind of like a first date. But when I said goodbye and started to walk away, the horse followed me along the fence line. I sensed the horse did not want me to leave. I promised to return the next day, which I did right after breakfast.
The horse was munching on the luscious grass when it noticed me. The grey beauty sprang into action. It was like having a long-lost friend greet me at the airport. I spoke softly again, standing directly in front of the horse. This time I put my hand out and slowly raised it to eye level. It was a moment of awkward trust, for both of us. Would I hurt the horse, or would it hurt me? Slowly I touched the magnificent white starburst on the horse’s third eye.
The moment of contact was like lightening, a precise bolt that illuminated a deep recognition. I didn’t know the history of this horse, its name, or even its sex. But I knew I was attracted to it on many levels—body, mind and spirit. It felt a bit like sensing a past life with another human, one that was erotic, sensual and profound. Was this horse my lover in a past life? This was too much to grasp, so I said a quick goodbye and left.
Later that day I came for another visit. This time the horse sauntered up to the gate and put its massive head over the top. I read it as an invitation to come closer. I reached out and touched the magnificent face. With each gentle caress I again felt that sense of deep longing and recognition. I stepped back a bit, still looking deeply into the horse’s face, and asked aloud— Who you are? What are you doing here? What do you ask of me?
Suddenly the horse stepped back, bowed its head, and pawed at the earth with its left front leg. I was stunned by this and had no idea how to comprehend the answer to my questions. So, again, I said goodbye and walked away. This time the horse did not follow me, but instead stood very still. When I had traversed the hairpin turn in the road, I looked down and saw something that both intrigued and embarrassed me. Here was the horse in a stance that demonstrated it was male, now in a state of full arousal. Horse owners sometimes refer to the stallion’s erection as a ”fifth leg.” It’s that obvious. My five-legged friend stood there in all his glory, now oblivious to my presence. I turned a few shades of red as I looked around to see if anyone else saw this. It’s a small island, with few people. I didn’t want to be a source of gossip.
On my final night on the island, more was revealed about this horse. He was not alone this time. Someone was feeding him. I soon learned that it was the owner’s cousin. He thought the horse’s name was Mayflower, which seemed way too wimpy for what I saw in him. Stud-flower would be more appropriate. That’s when I learned he was a valuable Connemara Pony, used for stud services rather than riding. The man warned me that this horse bites and proceeded to demonstrate. I said I had had a different experience. For my demonstration I slowly reached my hand to the horse’s cheek. As he stood still, I gently patted his face. There we stood—the horse, the man, and me—an odd little trio.
When I returned home from Ireland that year I sought guidance from the friend who studies horse. This was her reply:
How fascinating to hear of your “encounter”! I wish I could have seen you two!!!
Here’s my insights as a student of horse nature: You were VERY CENTERED IN YOUR OWN POWER!!! It sounds like the horse was literally attracted to your power. Horses love centered power in people, as then it makes them feel safe. That is a HUGE compliment to you!!! However, it has to be balanced with love and affection, or you’re just scary. As you know, when personal power isn’t balanced with love, cruelty can be felt in a person’s energy. Horses fear and hate cruelty. Yet even more they disrespect when a person isn’t in touch with their own inner power, it’s how they pick their leaders within the herd, because they inherently know that the horse that is most in touch with his own inner power can keep the entire herd safe. You were in that perfectly balanced place with both power and love – and as you found out, it is irresistible to the horse. And they only bite those they perceive as being lower on the “pecking order” than they are. Congratulations.
Would I have had the same experience had I known the horse was a biter? Would I have approached the horse differently if I’d known up front that it was male and valued for his stud services? Would I have been so bold if there were people watching?
I will be forever grateful to the beautiful Connemara pony that stirred in me ancestral memories of my innate and authentic power. In the absence of fear, I felt only love. Now, in moments of self-doubt, all I have to do is call upon my beloved horse and re-member what he saw in me, and what I saw in him. Power, strength and dignity.
Ancient Celtic Folk Song (In Gaelic)
Lyric Translation in description
This hypnotic and mysterious song tells the tale of a young girls’ encounter with the ‘each-uisge’ or water-horse.