“Humans have an incredible capacity for imagining and then manifesting new visions that benefit others, sometimes at a global level. But on a daily basis, exercising our creative and intuitive gifts gives us immense personal fulfillment, enlivening the soul, helping us to integrate reason and feeling, embrace both logical and mythological/symbolic insights, and connect much more deeply with nature and spirit, self and other. In this respect, horses act as agents of inspiration and expanded awareness, a reputation they have long held in cultures around the world.”
— Linda Kohanov, bestselling author of Riding between the Worlds, The Tao of Equus, The Power of the Herd, and other books on how horses help humans become better people
Black Horse Wisdom Comes to California
For the past 15 years, Black Horse Wisdom has been one of Linda Kohanov’s most popular workshops. Normally offered as a four-day advanced seminar at her home base in Arizona, Linda has agreed to do a three-day version of this intuition and creativity-building workshop for both introductory and advanced clients in Northern California July 21 through 23, 2017. (No horse experience necessary.)
“I’ve turned down invitations to do this workshop in other locations for years because it requires special facilities, and horses who are familiar with equine-assisted learning activities designed to enhance the particular skills I teach in this seminar, ” Linda says. “After leading several events at Julie Bridge’s Tabula Rasa Ranch in Sebastopol, California, I now feel confident to offer the workshop at her place.”
This powerful seminar is for people who would like to exercise their intuitive abilities through reflective and active engagement with horses, journeying, and interactions with mythic equine images and archetypes. Linda will coach participants in multiple intuitive/creative techniques, simple yet profound animal communication techniques with members of the Tabula Rasa Ranch herd, visionary/journeying experiences with music, and ways of using her Way of the Horse wisdom cards (art by Kim McElroy) and guidebook for personal reflection and guidance. For more information and to register http://eponaquest.com/workshop/black-horse-wisdom-2/.
Wings of Inspiration
“Vision precedes innovation,” Linda emphasizes, “and we need it now more than ever to solve all kinds of challenges. In this respect, horses can become our greatest allies in accessing parts of ourselves that are all-too-often often lost in our overly logical, technology-oriented culture.
“Pegasus, the winged horse of the ancient Greeks, is just one example of many cross-cultural myths that emphasize the ability of the horse to jump start imagination, intuition and other visionary states in humans. Most people know that Pegasus was the companion to the muses and a messenger of the gods, which symbolically points to the horse’s ability to enhance creativity and non-logical sources of insight and expanded awareness. Yet a lesser-known aspect of this Greek myth is even more revealing. Early in his ‘career,’ Pegasus flew up to Mount Helicon, the mountain of the muses, and stomped his hoof firmly on the ground, creating a massive earthquake. In this act, Pegasus opened a chasm in parched earth and solid stone, releasing a hidden spring that gushed forth and cascaded down the mountain, creating an oasis of new growth. Forever thereafter, as the story goes, the river known as the Hippocrene (literally ‘horse spring’) flowed with inspiration. Artists, writers, composers, and inventors would hike into the wilderness to sit on its banks, drink its energizing waters, and listen to its gentle music, always returning with a new song, poem, painting, or vision of change and renewal.
“Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen quite clearly that the myth of Pegasus lives on in our flesh and blood horses. When people are supported in spending time with these powerful yet gentle animals outside conventional training and showing contexts, horses reliably enact the Pegasus myth, opening deep chasms in our hearts, blasting through limiting habits of thought and behavior that have solidified through social conditioning. At that moment, we suddenly have access to flowing sources of inspiration, intuition, and renewal.”
What’s In a Name?
So why did Linda name a workshop that accesses “the Pegasus experience” Black Horse Wisdom?
“Well, it was a literally black horse named Tabula Rasa who first took me on that journey of expanded awareness and creativity,” Linda says, referring to the adventures she wrote about in her first book, The Tao of Equus. “At the same time, the color black underlines the fact that there will always be an element of mystery to how these amazingly beautiful and regal beings connect us to a deeper, more soulful vision of ourselves. If white horses represent conscious knowledge that we can eventually explain through logic and science, black horses teach us to ride those feelings and forces that we may never be able to fully explain, and yet learn to use reliably over time.”
After studying cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary writings and stories involving black horses, Linda saw a recognizable theme. As she wrote in several of her books, including Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery and The Power of the Herd:
In dreams and myths from around the world, the black horse heralds the reassertion of qualities difficult for the well-groomed persona to handle, revolutionary insights and energies that can’t be readily tamed by the rules of polite society. To those courageous yet humble souls who ultimately aspire to ride the black horse, this explosive force becomes a vehicle for expanded consciousness, inspiration and innovation. To those who suppress or ignore its talents, fear its passion, or try to harness its energy without compassion and integrity, the black horse becomes an impetuous and compulsive element, inflicting mood swings and bizarre cravings on people who once seemed the epitome of good sense and reason.
Black horse wisdom challenges people to step off the well-worn paths of civilized thought. It is wisdom shrouded in mystery, wisdom that’s felt more deeply than it can ever be explained, wisdom we often ignore unfortunately, until some difficulty in life opens us up to other possibilities. This universal archetype champions knowledge rejected by the mainstream: instinct, emotion, intuition, sensory and extrasensory awareness, and the human-animal partnership associated with tribal cultures. Science may never be able to dissect this wisdom, to bring it into the light of conscious understanding, but through the metaphor of the horse, and through real-life interactions with these animals, we can learn to track these mysteries, maybe even ride them if we develop the right balance of trust, discernment, skill, abandon, and power.
A Sane and Balanced Approach
Linda, however, emphasizes that a sane and balanced approach to integrating these insights is essential. “Even as we explore the limits of human consciousness, it’s important to maintain connection to a logical, earthly, well-grounded perspective,” she says. “This keeps us from misusing intuition, imagination and creativity. As a trained musician, and later as a music-critic, I met far too many famous artists who led dysfunctional lives. Sometimes their egos raged out of control, due in part to the ways in which fans tend to put musicians, writers, and actors on pedestals, sometimes literally worshiping those with prodigious talent. I’ve also met more than my share of talented intuitives who lost contact with the practical side of life. Intuitive insights can be valuable, but they are often symbolic, not literal. When people lose contact with reason and discernment, we get all kinds of dangerous behavior that gives intuition a bad name, including but not limited to cults that disempower followers and individuals who lose touch with reality.
“Working with horses in a seminar like Black Horse Wisdom demands that we remain grounded and present even as we explore the limits of what is possible in life, love, imagination, and personal development. Maintaining a healthy skepticism, one that nonetheless lets us explore what has not been mapped by logic and science, is key.”
Linda strived to capture this aspect of the visionary’s challenge in the following passage from her fourth book, The Power of the Herd:
Innovators must walk a razor’s edge, entering the great, unmapped territory of human experience without getting lost or going crazy. Here skepticism becomes a healthy tool — if it isn’t used to disregard feelings and forces that defy the current worldview. It’s therefore important to remember that from a limited sensory perspective, the appearances of most phenomena are misleading.
Even so, life’s mysteries shouldn’t be worshiped or dismissed because we can’t see the whole picture. The moon, after all, seems to wax, wane, die and be reborn each month because it’s reflecting a temporarily hidden sun in relation to the earth’s shadow. And it is here that art, science, and utility merge. Lunar cycles inspire poets and control ocean tides. The soft, blue light flowing over the landscape is aesthetically stirring and deeply comforting — perhaps even more so because we now know that the harmonious interaction of three celestial bodies gives rise to this subtle nocturnal luminosity, motivating us to explore other areas where relationship creates functional, mutually-supportive realities that are, at the same time, magnificent to behold.
Still, midnight travelers don’t need a working knowledge of astronomy for the moon to light their way. And so it is with the invisible, inexplicable forces that horse trainers, healers, artists, and other leaders can draw upon to reach their goals, and even help change the world, before cutting-edge science, let alone culturally accepted thought, can even begin to catch up.
For more information on the upcoming Black Horse Wisdom workshop http://eponaquest.com/workshop/black-horse-wisdom-2/.