One of the earliest teachings I heard as a student of shamanism was that the drum was the horse we rode to journey to Spirit. We are carried upon that beating heart into the cosmos of possibility where teachers are met, questions are posed, and deep listening occurs.
When I was invited to join my shamanic practice with horses and horse medicine, I knew something was as natural and resonant about it as that first teaching.
Susan Morel is a shamanic practitioner, a life coach, and certified in equine facilitated learning. She works with a small herd of horses in Southwestern Ontario and I recently had a chance to attend a weekend program she offers combining shamanism and equine facilitated learning with a handful of other circle members.
To understand how horses are healers, the group was guided to approach the work by first letting go of what we thought we knew about horses. Human interactions with horses are intrinsically predator to prey, and our natural tendency to confront, dominate and ride horses has been our shared history.
Due to the involvement of circle members, the preparation for the weekend with our horse teachers organically became the way of the circle, with preparatory journeys, conference calls to develop the theme, and personal healings with the horse spirit.
For those who have not experienced circle process, it is a unique way of creating community. The way of the circle offers an alternative to typical organizational structures and allows the participants to engage with the creation of the event that they are about to experience. The agenda is still set ahead of time, but it is a co-created intention that incorporates all voices with equal power distribution guided by the collective wisdom. I believe this spiritual midwifery is key to circle process. People collect and focus the spiritual agenda ahead of time, and the gathering becomes the embodiment of what has already been intended. We translate the mystical into the physical. By the time circle members physically arrived at the stable, we were well on our way to creating a rich and diverse experience under expert facilitation.
Balancing the free roaming herd with one-to-one horse partnerships, shamanic journey and song, we each had our own unique and communal experience of the weekend. For me, I found that I had expectations about wanting my interaction with the horse to stand out somehow. I wanted it to be special. While I was busy in the emotions of longing and self-judgement, I was missing the gift of trust that my horse was offering. I thought I was paired with the lowest ranking horse in the herd because I was not worthy of more and the horses had ranked me.
What I learned later is that my horse was giving me nonverbal and energetic messages that I was trustworthy. She connected with me in a way that the facilitator had never seen the horse engage before. It made me speechless. And I think that is part of the gift of working with horses. Humans tend to talk, and be engrossed in self-narrative as a way of creating an identity for themselves. Sometimes that story becomes a mask that we hide behind. Horses see right through it because they look at what the emotional body is communicating.
Horses interact authentically and respond to congruent energy. That is the essence of horse medicine. Participants have to be willing to surrender the self-narrative to heal and grow. Horses are great teachers because they are both acutely sensitive and wildly powerful.
It is incredible medicine for personal growth. Horse medicine.
I encourage you to reflect on what kind of horse medicine is with you now. Is it curious and playful, thundering and powerful, or a quiet sense of freedom?
* Is Horse calling within you? Join a “Horse Medicine” program, coming up in May or September of 2017. Pre-requisite: Participation of a CCSS shamanic program. No experience with horses is needed. FIND OUT MORE
Registration: Deposit is required May 8 2017. Spaces fill quickly. Contact Susan Morel: [email protected], 519-433-0703, www.thecoachingroom.com
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