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the archetypal mythology of horses

Copyright
2004-2021 Beverley Kane, MD 
Page 2 of 20
deep personal awe we feel in the presence of Horse. To see, smell, touch, fear, and
mount a horse in the flesh is to feel the stirrings of archetypal energies arising from at
least 35,000 years of human awareness of Horse. 
When we encounter Horse in waking life, she already possesses a dreamlike
quality. When we encounter Horse in dreams, we apprehend the living myth in
manifestations that are easily related to the magic she evokes in waking life. In She Flies
Without Wings: How Horses Touch a Woman's Soul, Mary Midkiff says, "A horse's
body and limbs are not just palpable but symbolic, not just functional but suggestive."
The nature of myth as something larger than life, a story on steroids, begs for
protagonists that, like Horse, are literally—and so figuratively—more momentous than
ourselves. 
For contemporary cultures no longer dependent on the horse for food, draft, or
transportation, the living horse has ceased to be part of daily experience. If we see him at
all, it is in parades or mounted patrols, from a car window on a drive in the country, in
televised sports, or, uncommonly, as an aide in hippotherapy, therapeutic riding, equine-
assisted psychotherapy, and equine experiential learning.¹ 
The mundane associations having receded from our experience, what is preserved
and magnified are Horse's mythic qualities. Urban children become familiar with Horse
mainly through folk and fairy tales, movies and television. For them, only a mythical
relationship to horses exists. Yet even children who grew up on farms with horses retain
a sense of wonder and love for them. When Horse enters our dreams, her magical
qualities emerge whether or not we are currently in a relationship with a waking life
horse.  
Most folk tales portray Horse as
extending the physical abilities of his rider and
so becoming an accessory to the Hero's quest.
He is literally and figuratively a means of
transport across the terrain of the tale's setting
and into the internal landscape of the Hero's
journey of self-discovery and awareness. In
Egyptian, Greek, Armenian, Norse, and Hindu
mythological traditions, horses pull the sun (and
sometimes the moon) across the sky.  Al Borak,
a horse with the head of a woman and the wings
of an eagle, raises Mohammed to Seventh
Heaven. Bucephalus, a horse mythically
enhanced from historical record, carries
Alexander the Great into victorious battles.
Gods and goddesses such as Diana, Epona, and
Odin rode horses. So too, did Hades, god of the
Underworld, on his steeds Nonios, Abaster, and Abatos.  
In the Rig-Veda of 3000 BC several references are made to the Aswin, the twin
sons of the sky Dyaus, and brothers of Usha the Dawn. The Aswin were gods with horse
heads and their sister Usha brought forth the dawn on her horse-drawn chariot. The Book
Mohammad ascending to
Seventh Heaven on Al Borak
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