the archetypal mythology of horses
2004-2021 Beverley Kane, MD
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of mares and the sad plight of PMU (pregnant mare urine) foals to produce estrogen for
Many of the living horses with whom we come into relationship have in a sense
sacrificed their freedom and bent their wills in order to bond with us as partners in work,
play, and discovery. We too enact the drama of willing sacrifice, giving up both luxuries
and even necessities to provide food, shelter, amusement, and companionship to our
horses and mucking out their stalls at 5 AM on a dark, freezing winter morning.
A special subset of the Hero archetype deserves separate mention here because it is so
indelibly associated with Horse and set on horseback. From Genghis Khan to the Iliad to
cowboys and Indians, from The Lord of the Rings to El Cid to Ben Hur, the warrior
archetype holds for us notions of bravery, courage, justifiable
aggression, and glory. The bloody images of battle both
antagonize us with their violence and gore, and arouse us with
their massive displays of power and ruthlessness. Richard
Strozzi-Heckler, in his book In Search of the Warrior Spirit
describes his time spent training United States Special Forces
(Green Berets) and other top flight military troops in the art of
He describes the nature of the true warrior when war
was a gallant hand-to-hand, horse-to-horse combat, not one
fought impersonally with missiles and guns and bombs and
other actions at a distance.
It is ironic that the wars fought today enact the failure
of the integration of the true Warrior spirit both by those who
fight and those who condemn the fighters. That is, hawks and
doves are eachother's Shadow archetypes. Pacifists do not
understand the basic human need to enact and integrate the Warrior. Warmongers
running unchecked use their armies for their own Shadow plays. They do so with hatred
and mass destruction that is inimical to the Warrior spirit.
Outward Bound and ropes courses, corporate paint ball fights, and contact sports
attempt to express healthy forms of courage and aggression, but there is nothing like a
good old fashioned war, where one's very life is at stake, to bring home the lesson of the
Hero and the Warrior, and their related archetype, Willing Sacrifice.
It is ironic that one
of the most prominent wars being fought today, that in Iraq, was formerly the
battleground of the most courageous and valiant war horses, fighting perceived infidels
then as now.
Strozzi-Heckler and his wife Ariana own horse ranches where Ariana teaches equine experiential
learning. The programs emphasize principles of somatics, martial arts, and the warrior spirit.
A popular computer software product is named Code Warriorevoking the notion that nerdy little guys
who write code (computer programs) are capturing the warrior spirit.