The Spirited Horse
A Symbol of Power and Freedom
written by IndieWolf
“Since childhood we have all had encounters with the Classic Horse. It is the horse of our dreams, fanciful and airborne, with a long flowing mane and tail. Its nostrils flare, displaying an inner spirit as magnificent as the mighty wind. It is the waves of the ocean and the fire of the setting sun. It saves us from the world. This mythic horse has marched forever through time with humans. This enduring image is a catalyst, opening us up to new horizons and teaching us about our inner feelings, the doorway to intuition.” ~ Adele von Rust McCormick and Marlena Deborah McCormick: Horse Sense and the Human Heart
For thousands of years humans have relied on horses for tasks such as transportation, farming and carrying heavy loads. Though these roles are accepted by many in our modern society as their primary purpose, legend and lore of the spiritual gifts of the horse abound, as these mighty creatures have been associated with some of the most glorious of gods and goddesses, along with courageous heroes and heroines throughout the ages.
The spirit of the horse is often linked with feminine power and sensuality, as it represents what is wild, beautiful and magical in the feminine soul. Sunna, the Norse goddess of the sun, is believed to drive her horse-drawn chariot across the sky, wielding the power of life-giving energy. And the Celtic moon goddess, Rhiannon, is depicted both riding a white mare, and shapeshifting into a white mare, as she accompanies souls from the physical to the spiritual world. She is also known as a protector of horses.
The horse also lends its speed and grace to many male figures in history and mythology. Probably the most well-known of the male deities associated with the horse are the Greek god, Apollo; Jupiter, the Roman god of the heavens; and Odin, the Norse god of mystery, magic and shamanism, who rode an eight-legged horse.
“When Allah created the horse, he said to the wind, ‘I will that a creature proceed from thee. Condense thyself.’ And the wind condensed itself, and the result was the horse.” ~ Marguerite Henry: King of the Wind
So true to its nature, the horse embodies energies from the full spectrum of female and male, moon and sun, earth and sky, and across all cultures. We see its spiritual influence with many native peoples during ritual and ceremony, such as the shamanic journeying which is prevalent in several indigenous tribes. The shaman is said to “ride the horse into the otherworld”, which is often represented by the beating drum during the journey.
The relevance of animals as spirit guides, or totems, is now widespread around the world, based in Celtic, Native American, Mayan, and other traditions. As with all totems, also known as power animals, or in some cases “familiars”, the horse serves as a guide representing certain qualities and messages for the person who resonates with them.
The main qualities of the horse are recognized as power and freedom. The horse also helps you to find the courage to be your true self, and to move into a new experience, be it traveling to a new place, meeting new people, or any path that is unfamiliar to you. Whether or not horse is your main totem animal, or even if you have no idea what your totem animal is, the spirit of horse can help you in these areas if you call on her.
Outside of the shamanic journey, or working privately with horse energy, there is also a growing movement engaging horses for therapeutic purposes in a number of facilities around the world. The horses participate in trust-building experiences with humans, and the healing seems to flow both ways and on every level - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. They have been found to be very intuitive, reading their human partners energetically as they teach the humans how to develop more trust and self-confidence, fluidity of mind and body, and a new depth of joy and love for themselves and others.
With their beauty and magnificence, horses capture our imagination and our hearts, and can be powerful teachers for us if we only open ourselves to their message:
“Know that your freedom isn’t necessarily something granted or earned, nor is it just a physical freedom. It’s a state of heart and soul, one of autonomy from the cultural and societal conditioning that tries to restrict you from expressing yourself, from being who you truly are. No trauma can be so harsh as that of self-denial and self-repression. It restricts breathing and causes one’s heart to ache and one’s soul to wither.” ~ Steven D. Farmer: Power Animals
~ She Flies Without Wings: How Horses Touch a Woman’s Soul - Mary D. Midkiff
~ The Tao of Equus - Linda Kohanov
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