Ever poised between yielding and taking action, Horse is the living symbol of power and how to access it.
Horse Spirit Animal Totem- Horse Power Animal Spirit Guide
The power of the horse built the Western world as we know it from antiquity to modern centuries shaping beyond measure how we live our lives today. Without the strength and willingness of the spirit of Horse to join and assist the spirit of Mankind there would be little to no technology to speak of on Earth. When we first climbed upon the strong back of the horse, took up her thick mane into our hands, and weilded her astounding strength and speed, she closed vast distances of time and space and opened uncountable opportunities beyond basic survival.
Like the harnessing of fire, the bond between horse and human is a triumph of nature that teaches how to balance physical strength with mental fortitude, how to overcome psychological resistance to collaboration and how to work in harmony for the greater good. This medicine asks you to look at your methods and advises gentle collaboration rather than brute force. Are you jerking on the reigns of a situation fighting for your way? Force is not the same as power. Power can be used without harmful force. Communication and patience enable us to navigate the powers that be towards our benefit and this Totem teaches how to be strong using the act of yielding. Horse shows us how much more can be accomplished when we let go of abusive tendencies and learn to respect all animals as our equals.
Horse Spirit lessons also speak of the true nature of physical perfection and how to reach optimal performance without distressing competition or egoic motivation. Her teachings are all about getting the job done and obtaining physical results in the real world. What gets in our way of doing our best and how do we remove (or leap over) those obstacles? What is truly possible with the body we have been given? When Horse medicine has come into your daily life, the sound of her clopping is a reminder to check your ego and pay close attention your physical technique in regards to the tasks at hand. The lessons of horse, like elephant, can not be postponed. She will not be denied. Her energy requires immediate and full attention, which, if not respected, could lead to dire consequences. Power is a formidable teacher and horse knows that the only way to have true power is to release it as it flows through its chosen vehicle. True power is the ability to yield, as the spirit of horse yielded to mankind. Yielding is not an act of weakness. Quite the contrary. Yielding releases the mental anguish that makes life unbearable. Horse frees her mind when she stops fighting the world. Beyond the struggle is a vast field of peace and pleasure. This animal knows that it is not necessary to display ones power in order to have it. She understands that power is not a thing to have, but rather a way to be. Horse warns against the unsatisfying practice of putting on a show to convince others you have power, Doing this is cheating yourself out of the process that will enable you to obtain true power. Regardless of outside appearances, you, and you alone know if your experience is fulfilling to you or not. The need to impress others is a petty distraction preventing you from working through the awkward phases of your task to reach lasting improvement.
From mane to hoof, a horses body is one solid mass of muscle built for unstoppable action. Even when her enduring assistance was replaced by the automobile we aptly named the power of a car’s engine horse power; never forgetting the legacy of gifts her tribe brought to ours. The history of that legacy is a story of great struggle and pain which is confounding to gentle souls. The old method of bringing a horse into the family of man was called ‘breaking a horses spirit’ and is now recognized as profoundly cruel and insane. The high level of sensitivity and willingness of this animal to collaborate willingly is now much more understood and archaic methods of physical abuse to ‘train’ a horse are no longer legal. The notion of ‘training’ a horse is outdated as horse and man recognize each others equality. Just as you would not think to ‘train’ your husband or wife, nor would you ‘train’ this majestic animal companion. Horses respond just like people to negative and positive behavior, teaching us that all communication is about intention.
Power is a tool, neutral in its essence. Everyone on Earth is here to learn about it. How you use the power you are given will determine the quality of your next experience in life. Will you apply your power with grace and humble gratitude or will you push your power upon others and cause conflict? If you are a gentle soul, Horses message to you is, do not fear power. You can not avoid the fact that you possess power. Energy and power is the only way to accomplish our goals in life. Reducing our desires and goals for fear of the power it takes to obtain them is a failure to honor the nature of being alive. Assert your space and find a way to obtain what you need in life to reach joy. If you are an aggressive soul, Horses message to you is, do not confuse your true self with the power you have at hand. You are much more than the temporary movements of power. Power undulates in our lives like the ocean tides, teaching us how to receive and release.
People who believe they are the power they wield quickly learn the hard lessons of illness, loneliness and resentment when they find no one around to share their experience of life. Using power to inflict harm will only harm yourself. The ethics of harnessing nature can not be summarized and applied in a unified standard across all situations. How you ought to conduct yourself on Earth is situational and inextricable from the energies at hand. A horse, if left to her own devises, would rarely summon the motivation to perform the breathtaking feats her structure and design enables her to perform. It is her relationship with mankind that enables her to excel. Her willingness to interact with humans equally elevates our own consciousness as well as we both teach each other about the nature of power. Though there are no longer any purely wild horses in nature, (only feral descendants of once domesticated breeds), a horse in the ‘wild’ is content to graze and amble comfortably with the herd. Her full potential is only reached when pulled into conflict with the external determination of a trainer who has a much wider understanding of her capabilities. Horse medicine teaches that the process of improvement involves a willingness to stop fighting the external guides who’s greatest joy is in assisting us to reach our fullest potential.
How do we navigate all the egos in our day in a way that does not compromise our own genuine need for respect? One glance at a horse and it is clear that she is power. There is nothing she needs to do to convince us of this. She need only stand there to communicate her truest nature. Like horse, humans are majestic beings beyond comprehension. Our power is inherent in our form. We do not need to prove to others we are strong and we do not need to display our power at the expense of diminishing another. Horse knows that power is most effective when it is possessed with a quiet, standing reverence. When you are feeling small and trampled, call on Horse Spirit to carry you back to the true state of your inherent majesty.
Horse also knows that the desire for improvement in our personal skills and abilities is the joy of life. This medicine teaches how to walk in balance between ambition and safety. Striving beyond our limitations certainly requires subjecting our ‘wild’ untrained self to new and frustrating conditions, (conditions which are often experimental and open to debate.) Which method should I use to obtain the best results? When horse medicine is out of balance it is easy to fall into a pattern of resistance and a mistrust of ones chosen method. Critique and doubt will dismantle any method regardless of its effectiveness. The method we chose to explore our interests is less important than the act of simply making a choice and committing to the parameters of that choice. Our desire to learn is the most vital ingredient for learning. Breaking the obstinate spirit of doubt will allow us to get to the real change we are seeking. And once we have committed to a chosen method of learning, navigating the edge of our limits is a constant process of extending past those very limits and finding our way back from the fall that is our teacher. The conversation between what is physically possible and what is theoretically possible is found in the discomfort of breaking past boundaries. Horse says, you are stronger than you think you are. The only thing a trainer ultimately does for a horse is forces her to get up again against her will. When your mental perspective is no longer able to get yourself up from that last fall, it is time to call for help and let someone pull you up. No animal lives in total isolation. All of life is a community. Let the world in before it tramples down your door.
As we travel into that unknown wilderness of finding our personal best, Horse medicine also reminds us that just because you are strong does not mean you were built to suffer or carry burdens for other people. Because horse medicine is so physically strong, there can often be a ‘normalizing’ harmful conditions and an enduring of abuse beyond spiritual productivity. Just because your body and mind may have the strength to carry a heavy load of challenges does not mean you should use your energy in such a way or seek out such adversity to prove you are powerful. Constantly engaging your time and effort in excessively harmful activities is an egoic trick bridling your creativity to the service of pain. In such a situation, you may have defined your self worth based on how much pain you can endure. Has pain become a psychological currency your spirit is using in exchange for self-esteem? Horse asks you to remember that you do not have to do anything to prove you are valuable. Being at peace with just being alive is more valuable than any action you could take. How comfortable are you with standing and doing nothing? The universe only wants your ultimate joy and your energy is yours to use as you desire. Even though honing your skills does require you to step into a harness of training and structure, it does not mean you have to tolerate physical or psychological bondage or endure humiliation. There are people who seek power by diminishing other peoples power. This psychological dynamic believes that power is a limited resource impossible to distribute equally among all life. If such a perspective is allowed to persist, power will destroy humanity, and many other species along with it. Every being, great and small has personal power. Powerful beings can live in harmony with each other without compromising the force of their power. The ability to obtain this state of grace in regards to power involves recognizing when we feel threatened beyond realistic conditions. Horse says rise up to full strength and kick when necessary. But recognize that most situations do not require your full strength. If you have a tendency to kick too much and break your relationships, Horse medicine is asking you to change that pattern of rebellion. But how do we really change a pattern of rebellion, or any pattern which is blocking our progress? Thoughts and emotions are like horses; strong and demanding with an unstoppable power. Anyone who has ever attempted a tug-o-war with a horse quickly learns that the horse will always win. Likewise, you can not wrestle your thoughts and feelings and win. The power of your inner life, if battled directly, can break furniture, kick holes in the wall, and knock you to the ground fast. Our ability to domesticate the horse did not come from a physical strength to ‘control’ this majestical creature. Domestication is a partnership of mutual respect and mutual humility. Domestication does not equal degradation. Horse knows that how you treat another is ultimately how you treat yourself. You are responsible for the quality of your experience in life. And though it may feel satisfying to yell at that sales clerk or throw your weight around to the discomfort of others, it is ultimately you who will suffer most by those actions. When Horse medicine emerges in your life she is asking you to drop the struggle and find a less confrontational approach.
Mutual respect is essential when interacting with this animal and the same is true when interacting with our own spirits. The powerful river of thoughts and feelings that are constantly flowing through our conscious mind can not be stopped or changed with a force of will. We must learn to have a different sort of relationship with our frustrations and learn how to communicate them to others without creating even more frustration. Horse knows that even though your emotions are real (it is true you are really feeling them) and even though they are strong (just try to stop them!), this powerful experience does not make your emotions an accurate description of reality. Feeling righteous under the sheer intensity of our feelings is a misguided conclusion about reality. Reality is always larger than our limited perspective. Emotions are like blinders preventing us from seeing right or left as we process one experience at a time. The only way to get rid of those blinders is to place all our attention on the feelings in front of us. It is quite inconvenient to be gripped by tears, rage, passion, or doubt while trying to maintain a respectable position in society. We can’t have bankers bursting into tears or teachers knocking their students about in anger, can we? But the truth is, bankers do burst into tears. And teachers do knock their students about. These inconvenient behaviors happen all the time despite our willful determination to not have it be so. The only reason tears and anger are considered inconvenient is because our culture has not made any room for the true nature of our process as sensitive evolving animals. We are told to keep it together and many self help approaches focus on being strong. Horses may be strong but they are not indefinitely so. They endure for a length of time to get the job done and then they must be released from that task to recuperate. Working a horse past her limits will bring an inevitable lesson in conservation of energy. It is time we, as an individuals as well as a collective human culture, make room for the inconvenience of our feelings and manage them with patience and acceptance. How do we make room? There is no single right answer except to chose one way (any way) and work with that method consciously. If you find that the contents of your thoughts are leaving you feeling miserable, the spirit of Horse suggests you to take a look at meditation techniques. There are hundreds of ways to quiet a turbulent mind, from TM, to chanting, to visualization, to golf, cooking, knitting, hiking… The list is endless and there is no standard method for everyone. Whether it is vocal, silent, in a group, or privately, finding a daily training, whatever your method, is the medicine Horse offers. An enduring daily connection to a task is more important than the task itself and building your commitment to finding time for your chosen way will allow you to remove your dependency on ever shifting external conditions. The world does not need to be ‘just so’ for us to perform our best. We can function in a wide range of conditions if we practice.
According to fossil records the modern horse originated in North America about 4 million years ago and traveled into Eurasia via the northern land bridge. That same ancestor disappeared from her original birth land about 13,000 years ago and was then reintroduced by invading explorers from Spain in the 1400’s who carried the animals by boat across the fathomless seas. In an astounding tale of invention and determination, Horse returned to the land of her origins to wander back into those long grassy fields to find a nation of indigenous people there who would amaze the world with their ability to harmonize so completely with this majestic creature. No other culture on Earth communed with the horse riding skills the way the Plains Indians communed with this animal. So deft and nimble were these tribes at riding their long lost equestrian relatives that they were able to maneuver themselves in such a way as to flank the side of her galloping body, make the horse appear riderless. They rode without gear and merged their bodies to the rhythm of their animal companion. The People living on this land before Western conquest treated all other living beings, from trees to insects, with equal reverence, honoring each creatures unique personal power and allowing each their space to be. This merging of spirits is the highest of Horses’ gifts to mankind. Every nation, be it white, red, black, or yellow has an indigenous way to commune with nature. And each individual has a personal way of their own to discover. The goal of all methods of meditation is the same; to return to harmony with the natural world through quieting excessive mental activity. Be it Wicca, Yoga, Whirling Dance, or Sweat Lodge, every culture has found a way to heal the kicking confusion of the mind and ego. It is the power of the horse and her willingness to serve human industriousness which has led to life as we know it today. Her willingness has allowed us to advance and build the technology for our global community. Webcams and rockets started with a horse pulling a cart of stones, closing the distance between survival and discovery. It is good medicine to honor and return in kind the energy Horse gave to humanity. Each individual, when taking the time to quiet the mind and do less in this time of overdoing is walking well with Horse medicine. All methods of communing with nature are available for us to discover. Indigenous cultures of Turtle Island (North America) use the elements of nature (fire, water, and smoke) to harness the wild mind and commune with the raw materials of life. Native way teachings are simple. You need only pick up a stone and listen, build a fire and behold it’s power. Horse reminds us it is not necessary to do a great deal of tasks in order to experience greatness. She lives ever connected to the power of universal strength.
The definitive teacher of Horse medicine: Buck Brannaman