“There are two kinds of people in the world, those who divides the world into two kinds of people, and the other kind.”~ Gretchen Rubin
Knowing that, let’s get on with the categorisations :
Horse People and Cow People
Now I’m not suggesting anything surly about cows. Cows are gorgeous. Very happy out in their fields, moving slowly, chewing grass, then chewing cud, then chewing more grass… all day long. They’ve got big gorgeous eyes that seem to say, I’m content with the world just as it is…
Then there’s horses, who never seem content with the world as it is, always pushing another boundary, heading another charge, taking off with great power to create a shift in the world that can neither be ignored or explained by the previous reality. Horses conjure the imagination to enter into freedom, power and great strength.
At least, this is my experience of both cows and horses*. I like cows. I unequivocally love horses. I’ve been travelling with a Horse ally for as long as I can remember. In shamanic traditions it is usual for a person to find allies (animal, mythical and other worldly) in the non-ordinary reality, and through my development as shamanka, my horse friend has been around forever. I have a special fondness for Horse Medicine. I’m not so sold on cows.
I’ve never met anyone who said they have a shamanic cow ally. Let me know if you do…
Horses have a long and powerful connection to human story and shamanic work. A keystone in shamanic practise is the use of percussion, most often a drum, as a pathway to shifting from the ordinary to the nonordinary realities. In the tradition I studied (from a European horse-centred culture), it was taught that the drum can be named the Shaman’s Horse, meaning that it carries us to places we desire to go. In a work that is based on journeying to places unseen, the drum’s beat can be the hooves of a horse, and the sensation of the vibration within Self is the feeling of moving atop a thundering, powerful animal.
This symbolism is important because it’s a keystone for transformational work in the shamanic model. Another keystone is the ability to enter into the mask of other beings/stories to develop an understanding of the world. It was explained to me, as though you are looking at the world through a particular filter, noticing how situations show up from that world view. The mask or filter is a powerful tool for noticing how you perceive the world, as well as the limiting points of view you’ve been using to control what happens around you. (hint : control is the opposite of freedom!)
The work of Self Crafting refers to the choice to create a life that sets you free : free from all the limiting ways you’ve been trying to live that don’t even fit you and your vision for the world. Self Crafting is an act of resistance and rebellion, where you are actively saying NO to staying small, and saying YES to being all you came here to Be. Self Crafters are renegades, who by choosing to Be the authentic version of Self, are modelling the path to Unity. When we live the life of freedom we find that which our soul is calibrated to : our unique and precious place in the web of all life. We discover Unity from the point of view of authenticity. Self Crafting is another way to say Real-eyes-ation That We Are All One.
The Medicine of Horse provides allied practise to the work of Self Crafting in many forms. You don’t need to have a real-live horse to work with Horse Medicine. Simply entering the Horse Mask, or viewing the world through the filter of Horse Medicine Point of View, will provide insight in your process.
As a prey animal, horses are super sensitive. Evolving in an environment filled with many sharp toothed, long clawed, strong jawed beasts who desire to eat you, will generally lead to sharp senses and alert awareness. Entering the Horse Mask can provide you a way to tune into awareness, developing your own sense to attention.
What else is possible?
In the store/story telling of our culture, Horse has featured as the adventurous partner in tales of triumph and glory. Horse has carried humans into new and wild places for discovery and to create change. Horse literally supports us to ask “What else is possible?” then will wander with us to any destination in order to find out.
Oneness = One Us
Horse tells us that we are never alone. As the animal who has most often trekked humans across new lands, carried us into battle, and performed feats of gallant bravery, Horse is a formidable ally when you are in need of courage to take on a new or difficult project. Horse will let you know that you are never alone, and that the ability to enter into deep partnership is a birthright to us all. Entering into Horse Mask can encourage rediscovery of the connection in the lines of your ancestry, in the telling of our heritage that we once knew : that we are all One.
Trish Broersma talks about how working with a real-live horse teaches us to be in our higher intelligence, an awareness space we must enter “that dwells between the two beings, horse and human, so that a fluid, back and forth interaction takes place”. Horse does not allow you to go through life chewing cud, rather, Horse demands you to pay attention, and Be in your presence. Entering into Horse Mask is an act of rebellion from the everyday, mundanity that lulls people into a false sense of security. Horse invites you to be fully present and take your place in realationship with the world.
Communicating with a mighty animal, finding a mutually respectful space between you allows you to learn realationship. The word “relationship” refers to the space between two things. REALationship implies authentic contact within that space. Many cultures have found realationship with horse, so much that Horse Medicine has spread just about everywhere on planet Earth. Entering Horse Mask when dealing with people of diverse backgrounds and differing points of view can create a meeting space that defies set constraints and allows you to blend boundaries that were previously locked to your reality.
Horse is a teacher of the act of Leadership, in showing how to stand in the responsibility of self authenticity without threats or the need for aggression. Learning assertiveness to one’s own needs is a key to Self Crafting, where we take on the creation of our own reality. The position of assertiveness is not the same as aggressiveness. Calm and assertive looks very different to high pressured and angry. If you wish to move a giant animal, you must find a space where the two of you can meet, rather than demand a response. For some people this looks like practising a stance, and for others it’s adopting a choice to make the world happen FOR you. Entering Horse Mask will assist you in becoming responsive to your own needs by meeting the world where you are.
Entering Horse Mask can give you a sense of freedom unlike anything else. The power, strength and tenacity of Horse, blended with the presence and awareness is the essence of freedom, where nothing holds you to any reality but your own. Walking with Horse can give you a taste of the possibilities that life could be, if you only choose it.
So with all that in mind, are you a person who likes to categorise people into categories? And if so, what type of person will you choose to be? A Cow Person (who’s content just chewing the cud all day, making no effort for change), or a Horse R.E.b.E.L. who says “you can ride bedside me, or choose to get behind me, just don’t get in my way while I’m creating the life that sets me free!“
* I’m aware that I’m making a gigantic stereotype assumption of both cows and horses. Of course not every horse and cow maintain the typicality of what I’ve written. Often, shamanic ally work is a metaphor for life, and each person is best directed to find your own truth in the experience.
The article Horse Medicine : OR what could wearing the Horse Mask contribute to your life? was published by Hollie B., for the Institute for Self Crafting.
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