This Friday I shall celebrate Chinese New Year at our annual Shamanic Healing workshop, sharing secrets: some I was born with and others learned since being asked, at the age of fifteen, by a shaman of the Wakamba, to lay hands upon his sick wife.
As you know already, each Chinese Year honors a different animal in the cosmic bestiary, and each year I reflect on the nature of its totem and what I can learn from it. Which of its characteristics do I recognize in myself, in my clients and students, and how can this help in my teaching and practice?
Friday heralds the Year of the Horse. Gentle and sociable animals by nature, they like to do things together. They can be willing and helpful but, mistreated, spiteful, vicious or tricky. Horse has keen visual ability, excellent auditory, a strong voice, kinesthetic power, a good sense of smell, but limited sense of taste. Their first defense is to run away but, cornered or challenged, fight with flashing teeth and flailing hooves. They can be competitive too. From Black Beauty to Sea Biscuit, they don’t give up. Unlike us humans, the horse will run until its heart stops.
Every traveler on life’s journey brings a message: for my three-score years and thirteen, I have heard the message of Horse. At the age of eighteen, on a vast estate in the highlands of Kenya, I taught myself to ride, at first from a book, Cross-Saddle and Side-saddle. I would read each evening and practice next day. But the map is not the terrain. After falling off once too often I chose a route through the spiky paths of a sisal plantation where, if I fell, I would be impaled: a kinesthetic threat motivating me to stay up, and the horse to run straight and not shy. Resources for change exist within each individual, and his horse.
Later, in a desert outpost on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, I worked in the stables caring for beautiful Arab stallions. Hooves pounding, manes flying, they would as soon buck you off as carry you up the beach. Not getting enough of what stallions need, I guess. I walked home a lot. But the problem carries the seed of the solution: under the tutelage of an Irish jockey, I got to ride in a flat race. Flicka refused to start until the others were almost out of sight. I was very proud for not coming in last: all results are achievements, whether or not desired outcomes.
I had my first taste of polo in Cyprus, and years after that a season in Hong Kong. Now I was running the stables, again by the book, this time Stable Management and Exercise, and teaching polo to my colleagues from Introduction to Polo. One of my life’s peak moments was scoring my first goal at a flat gallop – I can still hear the applause! I used this incident when acting as subject in my first NLP training but when my programmer tried to anchor the peak moment he said ‘…scoring the winning goal,’ collapsing the moment: my team had not won.
An ex-Olympian coached me to win my first (last and only) rosette in the Open Showjumping. Half way, five fences to go, my saddle slipped: I had not checked the cinch myself, and finished the round with saddle under horse’s belly. Despite this ‘under’ achievement it was a winning moment, with the desired outcome.
All this equine experience supplied a remedy for being well beaten at Tai Chi forty years later by a man twenty years my senior: the late Master Lim, then 84 years young! I recovered my pride by taking a riding holiday from coast to coast in the North Island of New Zealand.
More recently I have learned horse-whispering, discovering their sensitivity and psychic power: by utilizing our presented communication and behavior, they know what we are thinking!
Now entering the Chinese New Year of the Horse we leave the past where it belongs: behind us. The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people’s ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. The Wood Horse Year is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. (Do they celebrate in Troy?)
Horse is considered a fortunate year that brings luck and good things. Magical Horse has supernatural powers, is heroic, strong, and can even fly! A white celestial cloud Horse is sacred to the Chinese Goddess Kuan Yin. And one of the Eight Immortals revered in Taoism carries a paper horse in his pocket that comes alive when he takes it out to ride across the universe. 3-D printers have a way to go!
In the Native American tradition, Horse is Power: physical power plus unearthly power. The Tibetan wind-horse carries prayers to Spirit. In shamanic practice throughout the world Horse enables shamans to fly. And all our cars are packed with horse-power!
So, how do you see your Year? Will you spring into the saddle and gallop into a new and exciting future? Of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance? Or will you gently canter to the music of your power? Trot steadily ahead to fulfil a plan? Or simply walk your talk?
On the other hand, you might choose to sit in the saddle and watch the world pass you by, or embark on some wild scheme that carries you out of control over the hills and far away.
Click here if you would like to join Kris and Anamarta at their annual Introduction to Taoist Shamanic Healing, Friday 31st January thru’ Monday 3rd February, 10.30am to 5pm.
Kris’s latest book, ‘From Stress To VITALITY NOW! Secrets of Love and Life Management for Men and Women’ is available on Amazon.