We are delighted and touched by the response to our first newsletter. The growing interest in developments at the Epona Center, as well as in the ways our Approved Instructors from all over the world are adapting the Epona Approach™ to their local needs and interests, inspires and motivates us every day. Welcome back.
—Apache Springs Ranch, Sonoita, Arizona
Linda Kohanov to Present at Canadian Symposium:
Equine Holistic Arts Expo
- September 15-17, 2006
- King Township, Ontario Canada
- Sponsored by Horse Canada, The Family Horse Magazine
Waterstone Estate & Farms will host an international symposium that brings together the key pioneering leaders in the innovative and cutting edge field of Equine Assisted Personal Development.
As evidenced by the extensive interest in the Epona Approach™, the “horse sense for human potential movement” is a world wide phenomenon that is growing by leaps and bounds. Not only so called “horse whisperers” are claiming that there is an experiential opportunity to improve the human condition by integrating horse sense into our lives. Psychiatrists, psychologists, educators and corporate leaders are finding that there are very real life skills and emotional intelligence lessons that can be learned when people study the language and psychology of horses and then apply the non-predatory wisdom of these intelligent, highly social animals to human relationships.
This is a unique event in which several leading pioneers of this cutting edge field will be brought together not only to present their own individual process of working with people and horses, with a focus on personal growth, but to work together with the audience and participants in a “think tank” format to develop a consensus and unified vision for the future growth of this dynamic and fascinating industry. Along with Linda, other key presenters at the symposium are Chris Irwin, Canada’s internationally renowned horseman and best selling author of Horses Don’t Lie and Dancing With Your Dark Horse and Ariana Strozzi, the founder of Equine Guided Education and the author of Horse Sense for the Leader Within. There will also be numerous other equine holistic arts presenters and a trade show during the symposium. Equine artist Kim McElroy, who is currently working on a deck of horse wisdom cards with Linda, will also be featured.
Be sure to mark the dates (September 15-17) on your calendars and consider seizing this opportunity to join Linda for her presentation and demonstration of the philosophy and principles of the Epona Approach™ at this international gathering.
News from the Herd
Each month one of the Epona herd members will be featured, along with other resident horses that participate in Epona’s programs.
In the year of the comet, Hale-Bopp, 1997, Comet’s Promise was born at Shelley Rosenberg’s barn in Tucson, eight years before Shelley joined the Epona Center as Ranch Manager. Significantly, Epona Equestrian Services was officially founded in 1997 as well. From a paint mother and paint father, came a black filly whose only major marking is the unmistakable white comet on her forehead.
Comet joined the herd as a weanling filly later that summer and over time has become a powerful teacher to Epona students from around the world. While expanding her training as a riding horse, Comet is a talented co-facilitator of reflective and active round pen work, horse dancing and energy field work. True to her name, she is very fast and athletic, capable of breaking into a full run from a relaxed snooze at a moment’s notice. She is gregarious and affectionate with people. She’s both loving and feisty with her mate Merlin, and enjoys telling him what to do now and then. She also has found her unique power in the herd by controlling the breeding between her pasture mates Rasa and Merlin, even though Rasa is the “dominant mare” in most other interactions.
It’s especially appropriate to highlight Comet in this edition of the Epona newsletter as she proved to be a great inspiration to the extended Epona staff during the month of July, as Linda further explains in this especially poignant edition of ranch news.
What’s New at the Ranch
Much has been unfolding at Epona since you last heard from us. The remodeling to accommodate a conference center, with kitchen, dining and guest facilities, is progressing rapidly and should be completed by the fall. Linda’s vision of a wellness retreat center for horses and humans will include several new programs soon (watch for announcements), but more than anything else, our community energies have been focused on life with the horses, and especially on the two pregnant mares, Comet and Rasa. Comet’s Promise, Comet for short, was to have her first foal in mid July. As a maiden mare, partnered with Midnight Merlin, she attracted much loving and careful attention the last weeks before her due date. When the magical moment arrived, she gave birth to a beautiful black colt, with a single white flame-shaped mark on his forehead. Named Midnight Mystique, there was great joy and gratitude at the gift of his arrival. Almost immediately, however, we were faced with the profound mystery of life when two days later he was called away by death and left us. Linda’s own words:
“Mystique’s short yet potent presence at Epona held a good measure of both the 10,000 joys and the 10,000 sorrows of life. I would not trade seeing and helping Comet’s and Merlin’s baby be born for anything. Neither would I have wanted to miss the profound mystery of holding him in my arms when he died. This beautiful colt was born around 12:30 a.m. on the 22nd. He was so healthy and alive. He had a gentle, peaceful quality to him, even when he was galloping with Comet at his side within hours of his birth.
“Comet proved to be an amazing mother. I was deeply moved seeing them come into greater harmony with each other over those three days he graced us with his presence, and how generous Comet was with the people who were a part of this experience. Yet I felt deeply, in some nameless way, that he was losing strength by the end of day two, though I couldn’t pinpoint how. I had intense feelings of sadness that night (Sunday), and I talked with Steve [her husband] through these ‘irrational’ tears about how this colt brought up feelings of the magic and fragility of life in me, which I then attributed to lack of sleep. The next day, when little Mystique started to fade away from us, I knew what that feeling was all about. Our new baby, it turned out, had a congenital defect, a weakness in his intestine. He passed away Monday night. Though the entire staff, and the vet Barbara Page (who helped little Spirit survive and eventually thrive), had been doing everything they could for hours, I knew, when I saw the faraway look in Comet’s eyes, that Mystique was leaving us. Comet knew what was happening, she was sad, but she accepted it with the same gentle grace with which she accepted him into her life. Several of us cried with her, and the day after his passing, she was grazing with Rasa in the same field I watched Comet carefully leading her baby around in less than 24 hours earlier.
“Thanks to Shelley Rosenberg, who stayed up with Comet night after night when the baby was close, who helped the little colt out of the birth canal when he needed an extra push, and who was among those of us who nursed him through the uncertainty and then helped him cross to the other side. Thanks to the ranch staff for being there through it all, the beginning as well as the end: Paula, Jeri, Denise, Kathy, ML, Nancy, Kathleen. Thanks to all the people who sent congratulations and to those who came to see our boy. Thanks to my husband Steve, who has courageously signed on for the ‘deluxe life experience’ package with me. Thanks to Merlin and Rasa and Spirit for holding the space. Thanks to Comet for her gift and her grace. And thanks to little Mystique, that beautiful boy, who even now is a rich source of inspiration and heart expansion to me. His body remains at Epona, and his spirit flies free. Thanks also to all those who sent letters speaking of their own experiences with horses who left us way too soon, including, amazingly, a half dozen of you, two vets included, who had experiences with a foal who died of a similar intestinal condition within days of birth. I was also stunned and inspired by letters from several people who had thematically synchronistic events with other humans during this time that mirrored the mysteries of Mystique’s journey. Life, it seems, is a much greater miracle than most of us imagine, and times like these help us appreciate it all the more.”
As Linda says, many of you have written, sharing your condolences and speaking beautifully of your own experiences of loosing a beloved horse or human family member and of the meanings you have made of it. Just as often, however, we are left with questions that inspire heart-opening introspection and profound humility. We close this edition of the Epona newsletter with Linda’s words, spoken at a small memorial service at Mystique’s burial site, preceded by her brief explanation of some of the key references in this poem.
“When I wrote Mystique’s memorial, I was very much inspired by a quote from page 165 of Marion Woodman’s marvelous book Dancing in the Flames:
‘The rose in the fire symbolizes the daily round of human passion intersected by the divine, so that what could be meaningless suffering is transformed into soulmaking….In such moments, matter is not seen merely with the natural eye, but is perceived with the inner eye. Perception requires imagination and creativity and reflection. When matter is perceived, the soul has created an image. The moment of perceiving concrete reality as an inner reality, as a soul-image, is a timeless moment, when the mundane meets the divine. This is the process of soulmaking.’
“Other details that come into play in this poem: Midnight Mystique, son of Comet’s Promise and Midnight Merlin, was born shortly after midnight on July 22, which our program coordinator Nicole Christine subsequently informed us is Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day. He died on the night of the new moon. His only marking on an unusually shiny, silky, coal-black coat was a flame-shaped white star in the center of his forehead. After he stopped breathing, his heart continued to beat for a certain amount of time, but we were unable to revive him. And finally, “Round Midnight,” is one of my favorite classic, sad and soulful, jazz tunes by Thelonious Monk.
What is it about these male muses,
How do I decipher meaning
from the Siren Songs
they chant, over and over again,
just beyond the grasp of human ears?
What is it about this
black-haired son of a shooting star,
this small, fast-burning flame
in the center of the darkness,
that splits my chest wide open,
leaving my heart beating
after all the breath is taken away
and the pain becomes
my rose in the fire?
What about this dream singing
new life into me from the other side of sound?
Must this flicker of soul-making
be so ravishing, so haunting, so necessary,
so terribly beautiful
Was it Comet’s Promise
to implore us:
the Mare, the Mother,
suckling her child
at the dawn of Magdalene’s Feast,
running with him through the green and gold
0f one, whole, perfect day,
giving her initiates a taste of sweet, light milk
the evening of the sacrifice,
holding the tears of the new moon
in the silence of her distant gaze?
Could we possibly fathom
the generosity of her love,
the grace of her release,
the harmony of her acceptance?
Would we have had the heart
to play our own parts with such abandon
had we been privy to the entire score?
Can we who are willing to
fight for life, while embracing death,
nourish the mystery and poetry in each other?
Can we find the compassion, the art, the guts,
to dispel the human nonsense
obscuring a deeper music
reverberating through the nakedness of eternity?
My boy, my beautiful boy,
You have asked these questions with your life.
How will we answer them?
—Linda Kohanov, July 27, 2006