“Travel” Tips from Linda Kohanov
Ever since I began collaborating with horses as partners in life and work, I’ve been traveling outside my comfort zone in more ways than one—the month long trip to Europe earlier this fall being the most recent of many exciting and fulfilling examples. My four-legged teachers and companions not only motivate me to visit other cities, countries and continents, these naturally adventurous beings are also in the habit of launching expeditions through the much vaster reaches of consciousness itself. In this respect they’re engaging a long-standing tradition among horses, that of fluidly carrying their human companions back and forth between the worlds. My own equine family, in fact, sometimes takes advantage of the strange effects of physical travel to jump-start other kinds of adventures.
After I returned from Europe, for instance, a part of me seemed to be hovering over the Atlantic for the first week or so. The most ambitious thing I could do was hang out with my herd. Most of us call this “jet lag,” and while I was certainly quite useless when it came to business details, another part of me was energized as I was drawn back to earth through that expanded, peaceful, connected, multi-dimensional awareness that horses live in every day. I was inspired to undertake a very special project as a result.
For years, clients and fellow Eponaquest Instructors have been asking me to create a recorded version of a journey I’ve been leading since Riding between the Worlds first came out, a guided visualization called “Becoming the Horse.” I’m pleased to say that this journey is now available as a download with music by my husband Steve Roach, who produced this evocative recording.
To download the journey, please visit my new Spoken Word site at
A bit of background on the entire idea: In myths from around the world, the horse is considered a powerful psychopomp and guide that helps heroes and artists fly to the stars, travel safely through mystical landscapes, and ultimately, bring the wisdom of the gods back to earth. Yet there’s no question that these ancient tales are based in fact. Over the years, I’ve experienced how horses act as agents of inspiration and expanded awareness, not only in myself, but in the numerous clients who’ve interacted with my herd. At the same time, these powerful animals demand that we respect both the rules and the potential of embodied existence. Somehow, they effortlessly model a grounded spirituality, one that moves fluidly back and forth between a form of consciousness that anchors itself in concrete reality and a much more soulful, creative, transformational form of consciousness that can embrace the deeper mysteries of life.
In the traditional tribal cultures of Siberia (where the word “shaman” comes from), actually “becoming” a horse, through an altered state induced by drumming, is considered the premier shamanic act of a great healer or visionary. But you don’t have to move to the frozen tundra and live in a tent to experience the benefits of this perspective. Exercising your imagination to “become the horse,” has an uplifting, physically, mentally and emotionally invigorating effect on people from all walks of life, whether or not they would normally be interested in more formal shamanic studies. Why? I believe it’s at least partly because your own body is essentially the horse that your mind rides around on. It is a sentient being, not a machine, and it holds tremendous wisdom when we give it free rein. At the same time, the horse is a non-predatory power animal, one that inspires us to access freedom through relationship—relationship to the herd, the earth, the spirit world, and the deeper potential of humanity.
In unleashing your imagination to “become the horse,” you are awakening a part of your body, mind and spirit that can travel “between the worlds” more and more fluidly, ultimately bringing back wisdom that helps you thrive in this world with courage, grace, inspiration, and a soulful sense of freedom.
For over a decade, equine-facilitated workshops and indoor seminars designed to boost creativity and vision have been among the most popular events that I have the honor of leading. Workshops like Black Horse Wisdom and Harnessing the Invisible exercise that more fluid state of consciousness, teaching the logical, practical mind to loosen the reins and let the imagination run wild, without losing connection to a more grounded perspective.
Exercising the dual nature of consciousness was an insight that came to me directly from the horses, through the birth of my mare Rasa’s twin foals. (See the excerpt from The Power of the Herd in the second part of this newsletter for an overview.) Creating a partnership between our own twin forms of consciousness—the spiritual and the practical—allows us to access deeply transformational, sometimes initially nonsensical insights that nonetheless glow with a palpable energy. You can actually train your logical mind to ride these soulful insights “back to earth,” inviting the practical side of consciousness to translate sparks of the numinous into innovations that help people evolve and excel in “this” world.
The guided visualization of “Becoming the Horse” is the first step in these workshops. Many people have found that taking this journey several times (which was previously only possible by attending several Eponaquest workshops that offer this experience) leads to some profound, deeply moving insights as a more creative form of intelligence gains confidence and facility in traveling between the worlds. Now, with the Becoming the Horse recording, I invite you to take such journeys at home. Here are a few helpful hints:
- Play the recorded journey, preferably through quality headphones or speakers, while relaxing in a quiet room where no one will disturb you. Some people prefer to lie down. Others like to sit in a comfortable chair. If you want to block out as much light as possible, you can place a scarf or soft hand towel over your eyes.
- Don’t worry about whether this is “just” your imagination or not. All truly innovative ideas that change lives and change the world start with imagination. Imagination is what motivated us to figure out how to fly to the moon, after all.
- In fact, by all means, use your imagination. Your imagination will only lead you to a place that is meaningful for you. This particular guided visualization is not intended to be a formal shamanic initiation that involves calling in spirits. This is about exercising a more fluid, creative, wise, soulful part of your own consciousness.
- Be open to how your creative intelligence is awakened: Some people do in fact see movies behind their eyes, as if they are dreaming while still awake. Others may actually fall asleep, and yet find that their dreams become more vivid and meaningful the next night. Other people, however, worry that their imagination has been so suppressed that “nothing” will happen. But exercising the imagination is like exercising a muscle. You can’t read about getting stronger. You have to go to the gym and start lifting weights. Consider this journey a way of exercising that more fluid, soulful, innovative part of your consciousness.
- If you don’t “see” much of anything as the journey unfolds, your otherworldly “twin” may simply be more of a storyteller than a movie producer. You can awaken and exercise your creative intelligence non-visually by telling yourself a story, even if it feels like you are making some effort to do so. In this case, follow my voice, adding your own unique narration with your inner voice as a co-storyteller by adding more specific details to the imagery I’m offering along the way. Answer any questions I ask you with the first thing that comes to your mind. Some people even find that their creative twin is most fully activated by writing while they are listening to the journey. In this case, keep the room gently lit instead of dark. This allows you to journal, or at least take notes that you can flesh out later into a story.
- Don’t edit or second-guess yourself. Pay attention to the smallest details, whispered half-formed notions, or sometimes symbolic, fantastical, or even initially nonsensical material. Many people find that the colors and symbols they access through this process later become surprisingly meaningful. Some people have created evocative business logos as a result of a single image flashed during an otherwise uneventful journey. Others find that the boundaries between their imagination and a much vaster spiritual reality begin to blur, and they gain access to information about their personal or ancestral past, or see visions of future possibilities. Some people meet up with horses they know, or have known, and have meaningful exchanges that offer clarity on previously confusing situations.
- The journey ends when the music fades to silence. Take a few moments to journal or draw what you experienced, even if it was a single flash of insight rather than a constant narrative or film-style vision. Writing down the simplest or most whimsical of notions is a sign of respect to the creative intelligence, which will then gain confidence in expressing itself over time.
- If you have a strong logical inner critic that never thinks anything is good enough, your creative, otherworldly twin will shrink in response and atrophy, but it can be revived. In some people, the logical mind is so dominant that it needs some sort of reasonable motivation to let go of the reins. I recommend reading Guiding Principle 6 (pages 351-360) in my latest book The Power of the Herd. This chapter offers strategies for dealing with the inner critic, while giving the logical mind a framework for supporting another, more fluid form of consciousness. (I’ve included an excerpt from this chapter below regarding the twin nature of consciousness.)
Some people like to do this journey in groups and share their insights afterward. Others find that they feel freer to experiment when they engage this process alone. If you would like to share the details of your journey with me, please email the narrative or imagery to email@example.com And let me know if you would like me to keep this confidential or share it with others in an upcoming Eponaquest newsletter.
Again, you can download this journey at
If you choose the option to pay an additional amount over the basic price, this portion will go into a scholarship fund that will allow people in need to attend workshops and private sessions with the Eponaquest herd.
Excerpt from The Power of the Herd
Twins are not common in living horses, yet they play a significant role in horse mythology. From Greece to India to the Celtic lands, stories associated with the Divine Twins have a strong equine element. In most mythical texts, this is mentioned only in passing. Yet in 2002, the Year of the Black Horse in Chinese astrology, oddly enough, I was gripped by this archetype when my own mare Rasa gave birth to twins sired by Merlin, despite modern veterinary protocols to prevent it. (For an in-depth discussion of the events leading up to this pregnancy, see my 2003 book Riding between the Worlds.)
Born six to ten weeks early, the firstborn foal, who we named Spirit, weighed twenty pounds, a third the normal birth weight for an Arabian horse. His stillborn brother was significantly larger, but hadn’t been able to survive the cramped space of Rasa’s womb. The vet was doubtful the other foal would live through the night. The first hurdle involved siphoning his mother’s milk into a bottle, and hoping he would drink. After a moment of fumbling, he grabbed hold of the nipple and sucked the fluid down like ambrosia. Then he let out a deep, delighted whinny.
As Spirit continued to grow and thrive, in part through the efforts of people who volunteered during the ten weeks he needed extra care, I decided to investigate the symbology of twins. I was surprised to find that in cultures around the world, male twins are closely associated with horses. Most often, one brother endures the death of the other, who then connects the survivor to the Otherworld. The myth of Castor and Pollux is a prime example. Castor was famous for training horses, Pollux for his skill in boxing. As close as two brothers can be, Pollux was inconsolable after his twin was slain in war, and begged Zeus to take his life in exchange. The Greek god instead granted Castor semi-immortality, directing him to spend half his days in the underworld, emerging every other day to visit heaven. Upon Pollux’s death the two were reunited as the constellation Gemini.
In Thebes, Amphion and Zethus were abandoned at birth and raised by a shepherd. Hailed as great equestrians, they were called the “White Horses,” “The Horsemen,” or “Riders of White Horses,” mirroring the equine associations of Castor and Pollux (who are collectively referred to as the Discouri, the “horseman gods”). In India, the Asvins were born to the goddess Saranyu. Twins who could take on human or horse form at will, they were also abandoned at birth, yet the brothers went on to create the healing arts. The Navajo creation epic features heroic male twins who bring horses to earth after defeating a group of carnivorous monsters. A number of Celtic and Eastern twin myths also have equestrian associations. Many feature a weaker twin who dies, continuing to influence his earthly brother in subtle yet powerful ways.
In his book The Soul’s Code, psychologist James Hillman reflected on the mythological theme of sacrificing one of the twins to create balance between this world and the other.
In an internet discussion of an obscure scholarly paper, “Twin lights of consciousness, biology, microphysics and macropsychology,” Howard Teich, Ph.D. took the symbology of twins to a much deeper level. According to the psychologist, writer and lecturer, who also weaves archetypal/mythological studies into his own leadership training program, the “twin nature of light as waves and particles” in quantum theory is reflected in these myths. He theorizes that the overwhelming tendency to depict the twins as two males, rather than as male and female, is an expression of the genetic chromosomal code. “Since females are already twinned at the chromosome level (XX), perhaps the symbolic archetypal image of twin males…is a mythological compensation for biology.”
As I literally raised an equine twin, it took me months of research and reflection to integrate these concepts. Basically, the entire experience gave me yet another reason to acknowledge a vast coordinating intelligence that speaks to people through dreams, art and visions — and occasionally, through the physical manifestation of archetypal themes. Through Spirit and his stillborn brother Sanctus, the twin nature of consciousness engaged our attention in the most vivid way possible. We saw, for one brief moment, the two lying side by side. In naming the stillborn twin, in touching him — and in being touched emotionally by his brief, sad life — we forged a stronger bond with the numinous, archetypal realm of origins.
In quantum theory, the most basic building blocks of life have a dual nature, appearing as particles with a set location in time and space, and waves, invisible regions of influence that can flow through walls, resonate with physical matter, and yet not be limited by the laws that hold physical beings together. Through this strange, unusually public horse birth, a cross-cultural theme emerged from obscurity — and continued to expand.
If women already contain “the twins” genetically (as XX chromosomes), it alludes to why feminine wisdom is associated with intuition — ways of knowing not limited to physical and logical laws. The two male twins seemed to be an attempt to bridge the gap between the worlds in masculine consciousness. They manifested this time, not as horsemen, but as actual horses: non-predatory beings who, though domesticated, retain a vital connection to instinct and nature, while also being associated mythically with a strong sixth sense and the ability to carry riders between this world and the other. The fact that the stronger, larger twin was sacrificed emphasized, for me, the need for a stronger connection to the otherworld at a time when logic has become much more dominant than it was during the era of Greek myths.
Nearly a hundred volunteers, clients and Epona staff were drawn into horse consciousness through the act of caring for a foal as one of their own. This never would have happened if Spirit had been able to stand and nurse at birth. In this sense, Spirit also bridged the gap between horse and human, drawing nourishment and love from both species. In the wild, he never would have survived.
Yet perhaps even more interestingly, people who came to help Spirit felt a palpable sense of numinosity in the room. They left deeply moved, sometimes experiencing life changing responses to the unmistakable presence of a huge, open-hearted being in a tiny, fragile body. Spirit’s ability to inspire others during his time of greatest physical weakness also underlined the paradoxical power of vulnerability during an era when technology insulates us from the elements and allows us to destroy our enemies with remarkable ease and efficiency.
Rasa’s boy grew up, smaller than his mother and father, yet strong willed and unusually brave in situations that would unnerve the average horse. Teaching him to treat his caretakers, and eventually own mate Panther, respectfully was quite an ordeal for all of us as Spirit’s unbridled enthusiasm and total lack of fear made it necessary for the humans in his life to boost their own courage, ingenuity, and solid boundary setting skills.
As Merlin’s first surviving son sired his own daughter Artemis in 2008, I began using the metaphor of the worldly/otherworldly twins to help people access more creative forms of consciousness. Even the most skeptical leadership clients were inspired by Spirit’s story. Those whose inner critics vehemently warned against “losing touch with reality” could accept the metaphor of accessing and exercising “the twin.” The idea that consciousness, like light, might also have a dual particle and wave nature allowed their heavily defended, logical minds to entertain a more creative, whimsical “partner.”
The benefits of engaging the mythic imagination were impressive. Innovators who had “hit the wall” accessed unexpected ideas scintillating with a vital energy that inspired others long after these initially metaphorical ideas were translated into practical applications. At the same time, personal challenges, relationship quandaries, even illnesses and accidents were also handled in imaginative, surprisingly effective ways.
Consciousness separated from spirit interprets daily existence as an empty progression of chance encounters and meaningless suffering. Learning to move fluidly between multiple states of being is difficult for the modern mind. While we need to exercise reason and problem solving skills, another essential yet long-ignored part of our psyche loves to improvise on timeless themes, creating new symbols, myths, and metaphors: road maps into the unknown.
Embracing the mythic dimension of life is like meeting a more adventurous twin, one that changes form at will, sprouts wings, flies to the stars, and brings a piece of magic back to earth, where its logical brother works hard to manifest some practical aspect of this glistening, otherworldly gem. Now, more than ever, we need both of these boys on our side. Exercising the twin nature of consciousness helps us maintain contact with reason while letting our imaginations run wild, leading to all kinds of creative impulses, half baked ideas, and whimsical discoveries that eventually, in some cases quite literally, blast us to the moon and safely bring us back home again.