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the archetypal mythology of horses

2004-2021 Beverley Kane, MD 
Page 12 of 20
qualities, and on the other hand inferior to him because of his unreason and
unconsciousness." This description helps explain why in mythology, Trickster often
appears as animals—Coyote, Blue Jay, Raven, Spider, Snake, Monkey, and Horse.
The horse as Trickster abounds in Celtic folk tales, where horses take the form of
shape-shifting water horses such as the Irish Each Uisge (ach (horse), ish-kee (water)) or
the Scottish Kelpies. Typically the water horse wears a golden bridle that appeals to
human greed. Although travelers are warned not to trust horses that appear at rivers and
lakes, the weary human wants so badly to believe in the human that promises easy
passage across the water. Immediately the human is on its back, the Kelpie dives to the
bottom of the body of water where the human suffocates and drowns. The story seems to
be a cautionary tale about get-rich-quick schemes and attempts to take short cuts on the
emotional and spiritual journey represented by the water.
One manifestation of Kelpie was a handsome man, no doubt seducing women
with the promise of the false animus. In variations on this story, if the human tells the
truth, s/he is released to the surface. 
Sometimes the horse trickster rewards the trust placed in him. In a most
enchanting Celtic tale, The Bedraggled Horse, a huge homely draft horse takes 17 of the
warrior Cuchulainn's men down to a fairyland under the sea in an almost shamanic
journey. Once there, the horse is transformed into a brilliant, beautiful steed and the
underwater inhabitants pledge always to come to the aid of the humans.
The allegory of the water horse is one of diving deep into the unconscious,
especially into unconscious emotions. If one bravely acknowledges the feelings that
reveal her personal truths and values, at the expense of her tightly-held conditioned
misjudgments, she receives the gift of Trickster. 
Living horses often play the role of trickster—ducking us in the water, getting
away with little bucks on a fresh spring day, stealing carrots from our back pockets, and
generally reminding us to keep a sense of humor about ourselves.


Willing Sacrifice is the archetype that holds the nature of our transpersonal, transcendent
Self, the part of our unconscious that is able to see beyond the temporal and material. It
is able to withstand pain and suffering for the greater good of our Whole Selves and for
the sake of others. It is the sorrowful renunciation of the earthly for the sake of the
Divine. It is the soul's consent to experience suffering in order to elucidate the nature, the
phenomenology of suffering. Suffering provides the counterpoint to joy so that joy may
be felt all the more strongly by being juxtaposed to its opposite.  The most prevalent
allegory of Willing Sacrifice in the last two millennia is that of Christ dying on the cross
for the sins and salvation of humanity.
The word sacrifice comes from the Latin sacrificium, which is a combination of
sacer, meaning something set apart from the secular or profane for the use of
supernatural powers, and facere, “to make.” At one time sacrifice referred to a religious
act in which objects were set apart or consecrated and offered to a god. Our authentic
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