Suzanne Lewis, Editor
I’d received a writing and photo from an online Storyteller, Mark Watts, on the site called Cowbird. The photo that greeted me was of a Tibetan Horse race celebration, a panoramic colorful snapshot of this ancient sacred community horse celebration. In a crescendo of insight, I heard Who can own the origins of the magnificent relationship of the horse to its community. I have been a devotee to the mythic, mighty symbolism of the horse, the one that represents the high feminine, deep loyalty, great strength, grounded—but most importantly, the one who would break it’s heart in order to meet the needs of its master.
The horse is a revered component of my spiritual community, visible and invisible. This early morning’s meditation demands I remember my first horse ceremony (on Earth). In the late 90’s I received an invite through the Indigenous Peoples “telegraph system” to a ceremonial gathering in Northern Montana to share in sacred ceremonies. The invite inferred that Wisdom Keepers from North to South would come and offer their Medicine Bundles, sacred community medicine. The message inferred the possibility that the GHOST DANCE Ceremony might happen.
For a long, long time I’d been studying and learning all I could regarding the Ghost Dances in the late 1800’s when the Whites rounded up and drove the Native People onto “God for Saken” reservations. A holy messenger was reported to have appeared carrying and delivering sacred information and prayers to honor those who had died, giving their lives for the sake of their people (the great give away). The land based people snuck off their “prison” and met in hidden places in the middle of the night where they would circle, pray, sing and dance with threat of severe punishment. Hundreds of dancer adorned in white with sacred symbols of promised that they would always honor and remember the “ghost dancers”. It was prophesized that the Ghost Dancers would return at a time of great chaos and crisis in the White Material, greedy, arrogant, abusive world. The ghost dancers would step in, reappear. The time of “if the elders/wisdom keepers will speak the young will listen.” The Ghost Dancers will bring eternal, natural truths/laws of being in good relations with all the family of life, light and nature.
My only child, an engineer student at U of I, would rendezvous with me to help drive me to the far North location. In 1987 a twelve year old boy, walked away from his mother’s spiritual life pilgrimage after being traumatized during an event I sponsored called Dance Awake the Dream/Harmonic Convergence. Our ceremonial leader, Brooke Medicine Eagle, the vision holder for the long dance ceremony asked my son to hold the form for the masculine alongside the eldest male. The elder male had Alzheimers and was unable to step w/ my son to initiate the dance as the Eldest woman, Brooke and I initiated the feminine steps. Brooke saw the plight of broken masculine/warrior and put the promise of a healthier male onto my son. My son stepped for the masculine alone surrounded by over 500 dancers. It blew him away too much energy. This is such an important snippet, step in the movement of visioning a balanced masculine and feminine.
But back to the Montana Ceremony and Horses. Today as I reflect, there is total amazement that I’ve had such a rich life involved with land based people sharing their ancient oral traditions and ceremonies. Remembering following the map and arriving at the high mountain meadow and being aware of hundreds of beings responding to the call, converging, respectfully and honoring the wisdom keepers, ceremonial leaders, the dancers and the community. Learning how to be present and participate in a destined exchange.
The first ceremony we were invited to join was the Dance of the Deer, with Brent Secunda, a Peruvian wisdom keeper. Drums, flutes, calling, instruction and committed intention were required before we stepped the trance dance. For those like myself with a spiritual gift of “far seeing”, sometimes called Shamanism, our first training assignment is to commit to spend an hour a day in nature. We are to learn good relations with all of nature’s family whether it be the wind, trees, water, frogs, flowers, butterflies, rocks, winged ones, etc. We learn to mimic, become one, alert to these “powers and presence”.
The Deer family also is part of my internal spiritual strengths. Deer is associated with the South on the Great Wheel home of the Healer, the Mother Earth connected to heightened sensory awareness.
I loved the Deer Dance, it was so natural the leaping and turning and with grace and ease. My son, once trapped in the Dance Awake the Dream ceremony, was the lone wolf, invisible at the edge of the forest clearing, silent and watchful. After the drums ended this dance, we promenaded to the community of white haired elders, wrapped in shawls and scarves, sitting in folding chairs circling the dance arena. One beaming, brown deeply terrained face after another showered this dancer with gratitude. Hands touching hands, they cried “Oh thank you, we saw your love and enthusiasm. Thank you for dancing for us.” This was my first connection with the likes of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers advocacy.
The second day of ceremony in the early morning hours a messenger came to our camp stating the Ghost Dance Bundle carrier had died, but the Ghost Dance had occurred.
Then came the evening ceremony and the mysterious Horse Ceremony. The picture of the Tibetan Horse Race and the prose mirror my remembering of the eternal, ancient Horse Honoring. The community makes a great circle and then the horses and riders display their fanciest strength, agility, speed, horse/man team work, maneuvering and counting coup. Since I am not of that clan and there was only sensory interpretation and participation; it was an experience rather than an oral teaching.
The Community cheers and supports the skills and talents displayed in this fancy horse dance. Now I treasure this stimulated historical HORSE memory. Simultaneously the Tibetans live this ancient, high feminine, honoring as a way of spiritual life in ceremony. The Olympic Triage competitions leave me no recollection of familiarity.
“There’s No Place to Go,
There’s Nothing to Do
But, Everything to BE.
I was traveling overland from mainland China to Tibet, through the eastern foothills of the Himalayas. The area was historically the Tibetan province of Kham, home of feared horsemen and warriors, and known for its rolling hills and meandering rivers. I had heard from other travelers that the annual local horse festival was soon to occur, so I stopped for a few nights in the monastery town of Tagong.
The day of the celebration started early and consisted of much eating and drinking, races both on foot and horse, feats of acrobatic riding and competitions of strength and archery all in the shadows of prayer flag painted hills. As the afternoon turned to evening I could feel the energy slowly building. The horsemen had previously been riding individually, making runs through a hundred meter gauntlet formed by cheering onlookers, performing various tricks as they passed. Abruptly, the crowding became more intense. On the far side the horsemen were gathering, pacing and trotting in small circles as their horses bristled with nervous energy. I wandered into the open space between the lines for a better view. With no warning the mass of riders broke free and mounted one last glorious charge, laughing and whooping and tossing up handfuls of colored