Horses, Geese, and Me: The Language of Love


For the past few years I have had a love-hate relationship with the domestic geese at the ranch where my horses are pastured. On the one hand they are storybook creatures and I find much humor in their way of strutting around chests out, and heads held high with beaks lifted in arrogance. In my mind’s eye, I see them wearing reading glasses and peering at me over the top as if they were my superior. And maybe I am not enlightened enough to see that is true. No matter, I do not find humor in their eating the horses’ supplement (though chickens are even worse). If there were only one or two it might not be an issue, but a flock of 17 or so can devour all the spills which for one horse represents half of the supplement that started in his bucket! I see wasted $ signs in my mind, and even worse, deprived nutrition for my horse. Because of this, I have moved into an antagonistic relationship with the geese always shooing them away and then, even further away (they are very easy to herd and fun if one has the time). I cringe as I admit that I’ve been known to send them away with water from a hose. I know they are water birds, but rain, or perhaps I should call it manufactured rain from my hose is not their forte’. It makes me feel very guilty, and I have become their enemy. That is not how I work with my horses nor is it how I want to work with other beings. I tug-o-war with myself about my predicament.

A year ago when the geese were gathered for a community meeting in the common area near the horse arena (which they often do), I stood big and tall in front of them feeling very self important as the standing-room-only flock of geese all focused on me in total silence. At that time there were more than 17, so 50 something eyes were all looking at me as an interesting curiosity. I told them I did not understand their language as I do the horses,’ but I would like to appeal to them to stop eating the horses’ supplement because it belongs to the horses (and me), for gosh sake, and the horses obviously needed it more than the winged creatures in our midst. There was no applause nor “amens”…nor “boos” for that matter; only silence which is not always the case with geese who can be obnoxiously loud when they all talk at once. After my speech, I naively had high hopes, but nothing changed except for a little more temporary tolerance on my part perhaps demonstrating to them that I am truly a good person. As time went by, I gave up on being that good person and gave up my desire to work together. I turned into a bully fulfilling my role as enemy of all winged beings, and guardian of my horses’ feed bowls and my pocket book. There was no love for these arrogant beasts. Except for their eggs. I love them!

Before I tell you what happened next, first a little background. A few years ago, I embarked on a love journey with with one horse in particular, Amoura, the most unlikely candidate for this role in my opinion, but that is for another story. She is definitely not a warm, fuzzy horse, and speaks her mind quickly and succinctly embellished only by pinned ears or a threatening kick or bite, and will deliver if necessary! But hold the judgments of her loosely; she is an amazing horse and an amazing teacher.

She is giving me new definitions of love beyond the familiar to which we humans are tethered, and so I have been soaking in new experiences of love these days and less guarded about feeling and expressing it all. Whatever inhibitions that had been there are gone, and it is refreshing and free flowing like a powerful dance between two world class dancers. Amoura whispers, “That is love.” Standing at ocean’s edge and experiencing the delicate and pearly blue of water and sky, along with tranquil waves, I breathe it in deeply. Amoura whispers, “This is love.”

That brings us back to the story. Three geese had been hanging out in my work area in the barn at night, and sneaking some horse supplement from time to time. I would repeatedly shoo them away. One night, they were standing near a horse that was eating and spilling his soft food on the floor mat. I was preparing to scold them when I realized that they were further away then I’d thought and were more engrossed in something other than the feed. They seemed at that moment, so sweetly innocent and vulnerable. In relief, my heart welled up with loving appreciation and I said with spontaneity and pleasure, “I love you!” to these three geese. Well! That set off a chain reaction. A few minutes later the whole flock of geese appeared in the middle of the corral wanting to meet this human that had said, “I love you.” They huddled together so closely to each other, I wanted to wrap my arms around the whole flock at once. Instead, I only stood there and felt it. Not one of them attempted to eat the horses’ feed. Not one. My heart got even bigger as love seeped into all the nooks and crannies.

By then all the horses were eating, and I was free for a little while. This whole love experience was becoming quite mystical. I saw myself, even at 76, as a young maiden carefree and lovely dancing in the meadows. Singing seemed appropriate. Making up what I thought was my own language and melody, I sang. They listened. All 17 geese and the horses stayed peaceful and quiet while the lyrical songs came in high soprano. We were transported into the home place where there is all beauty and unity. The place of love. The only movement was one goose who saw the cat at my feet as a threat and moved up close and sent him away. Perhaps the young feline was not entering into the love fest.

That night they brought me a story. As the flock of magical geese stood nearby, I was massaging one horse’s tail and had my forehead pressed into the cushiony part of his butt. The two of us zoned out, and the story I am writing was born.

I thought this gathering was the grande finale of the evening, but the rest was to come. After all cleaning up was done and I started saying goodbye to the horses, they drew their heads close to each other as they dropped into slumber. The geese took the cue and moved as close as they could get to both horses and me. Some even bravely wandered under the horses’ drooping heads. It seemed they couldn’t get close enough like squiggling and cuddling under the covers with someone you love. We snuggled together in silence under the starry night. The horses, geese, and me. I went home a little later wondering if this all really had happened. Amoura’s whisper came again, “That was love.”

The next night the flock was not there, but the goose who nests near my work area had left me an egg. Usually I have to sneak it which adds to my guilt, but this time, she got up from her nest immediately when I walked in and then gestured to the egg, “For you.” She was the only goose there to greet me along with her two cohorts, a male and a nanny I surmise. I wondered if the night before had been a one night’s stand since the larger flock was nowhere around.

Moments later they all came waddling into the center of the corral again. Some were a little feisty and threatening with their offensive hissing, but I said as if a little horrified, “Oh no, what about this love thing we’ve got going?” They quieted. Truly. I did a double take in surprise. The flock pressed close to each other and gradually moved within 3 feet of where I was standing where they became one big lump of geese.

They stayed bunched together, and again not one ate the horses’ supplement. I noticed, though, that if I were irritated with a horse for some reason, or raised my voice even in the slightest, the whole flock disappeared in an instant, and then returned shortly after. This night when they returned, they brought me a song. I sang it for them. It was filled with bewitching and dissonant intervals, somewhat like a jazz vocalist might sing but even more enchanting. Like automatic writing, my voice moved from interval to interval without interference from my mind. In the end, the song had been sung; all of us in the barnyard had absorbed it, and there was peace. There will be no repeats. It is gone from memory into worlds beyond, making room for another.

That “another” one came a few nights later when only three geese showed up for the magical meeting. They were waiting for me to sing their new song. It was short but with the same gratifying and softly dissonant intervals. While singing to the geese, I was standing near one horse who nudged me affectionately when I started their song, and then he dropped his head and licked and chewed as he drifted back to sleep….divine contentment. We all felt it. The horses, geese, and me. And the whisper came to my heart, “This is love.”

Beverly

 

 

If interested in animal symbolism for the goose, see the following:
Excerpt from “Animal-Speak, The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small” by Ted Andrews:
Goose:
Keynote – The Call of the Quest and Travels to Legendary Places
“…Most people have heard of the legendary Mother Goose whose stories and rhymes were designed to quiet children. Myths, fairy tales, and other stories capture the imagination of children and adults alike. The goose is thus a totem reflecting a stimulation of the childhood thrill and belief in stories and legendary places. The story(s) we most loved in childhood often reflect the life quest we have come to take upon us in this lifetime. That is why it resonated with us so strongly. Going back and rereading the one or two stories you most loved will often help you to see the patterns in your life. …”

The Black Horse Spoke Through the Sunsets: the spiritual side of death

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The black horse died. The loss for the humans was harsh. He, in his intrinsic wisdom had known his own destiny; there was important work to accomplish for his humans, beyond the realms of the physical world.

As his time approached, he quietly orchestrated comforting messages and synchronicity to wrap softly around those he loved. He had whispered to a past caretaker who lived hours away, drawing her near to share, unbeknownst to her, in his final hours. Viewed with human eyes, it had appeared that she “just happened” to drop in for a visit that weekend, but as time continued to fleet away, it became evident that she had been called.

There was also a woman who had walked closely with him from the first week of her arrival at the ranch a year before. He had recognized her as a human who understood the language of horses, and had spoken to her almost audibly. They’d had numerous conversations together through the year. She referred to herself as the “woman in the wings,” and was soon to become his mouthpiece as she translated his messages.

Though the black horse was uncomfortable in a body stretched beyond its limits like a woman in painful childbirth, his soul was fully at peace as he stood in the warmth of coastal sunshine in the presence of the two he deeply loved, his guardian and the caretaker, pressing his head quietly against them. It was surreal. The “woman in the wings” was there lightly touching his rear end and his tail attempting to stimulate physical relief. However, the pain relief he experienced came from the love and peacefulness he felt that day as he stood close to his humans, and whenever his person was near.

Later that night, in the haze of his last hours, others who loved him seemed to float in and out as if he were in a dream. He felt their love and intentions, but could not respond. In the end, he departed in the quiet of the night seemingly alone. He was not. He was in his own barn in the rich golden light of a multitude of angelic beings who had been there all along, silently encircling him in the shadows as he travailed in his parting work. As the time neared to escort him home, there was a mix of somberness reflecting the seriousness and intensity of his calling, and eagerness as they slipped in close for the release of his pain body.

They were joined by the spirits of the horses from his herd both alive and physically near on the other side of the barn door, and those who had charted the way ahead years before, including countless other beings along with the “woman in the wings” who was often called on to accompany humans or animals into their new life. All were gathered around him for the journey. In the reverence of these moments of his departure, all were feeling the deepest awe and respect for what this horse was accomplishing beyond normal human perceptions.

Though not with him physically, the “woman in the wings” had felt celebration and release during the late night hours. She had hoped for his healing on the earth plane. That was not to be. Instead, she was experiencing his powerful surge as he ascended leaving body behind. And then there was quiet calm.

A sadness settled in at the ranch with the loss, but a quiet and fragile joy emerged in having known this magnificent being and having been a part of his life and his mission.

That night was a new beginning, not only for him, but for the “woman in the wings.” The evening after he had transitioned, he came through the sunset. She was dismayed because a very large and compact tree blocked her view except for tantalizing hints of warm light rich with deep color around the edges. She was quizzical. “Why a blocked sunset? There was nothing comforting in that.” He reminded her that he had died of a blockage in his body. In her grief, she brushed his response away because she already knew that. It was not a new understanding. So what was the metaphor? She had missed the sunset and the richness of the sky on fire. There was nothing resolved for her, and she was left with her intense sadness and a sense that he had betrayed her by only a hint of the sunset. However, she was able to rest in the comfort that he had come to her even though she did not understand the reason for his mysterious message.

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The next evening she was surprised by another sunset. This time the blockage was gone. She could see the unobstructed full expanse of the sunset as it rested peacefully over the Pacific Ocean. The black horse then revealed to her that he had absorbed the blockage and taken it away in his death, her blockage, and those blockages of the humans in his life. He explained this was why he had to go on his own terms. It was a sacred act. The blocked sunset had been an important metaphor for this message.

She began to understand the meaning of his death beyond normal human perceptions. The black horse had intercepted physical and emotional issues that would have weighed down the humans he loved. The weight would have been more than they each could bear. He not only had intercepted taking it into his own body, he had carried it away as he departed the earth plane. This was not a new phenomena, he reminded her. Some veterinarians have observed their 4-legged patients developing disease while their guardians go into remission. His homeward journey was making sense. He called her into the comfort of his mystical home and as she sat with him by the crackling sunset fire that was clearing away the obstructions literally in her life as well as her mind, she understood the magnificence of what he had done, and the cosmic scope of his act. He had given her another glimpse into that transcendent world she was seeking even while confined in a physical body.

He was not yet finished. There was a third sunset. This one had obstructions, but there was something different about it. The “obstructions” were elements of artistry. They were formed by human hands, ornamental and reflective, both attractive and functional. The sunset graced all that was natural and that which was manmade with its color and beauty. She was standing in divine presence with color literally surrounding her. The metaphor came to life and throbbed with vitality within her. Residual, tattered and time-wearied skepticism that had always taunted her began to disintegrate along with the blockages they bring. The actual transformation had been activated in her. She began to experience blockages as ornaments and reflections of beauty in her own life that she could never have imagined. Spirit merged and gilded all that was natural within her and that which was mundane and functional in her life. The process had begun. The black horse had launched the next chapter of her life’s story. Empty pages were beginning to be filled with new awakenings as old patterns were replaced with authenticity and a life infused with the spirit-filled ornamentation of her true self. The change was tangible.

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Her tribute to the Black Horse: You are a divine portal that has transformed our lives. Thank you for carrying our painful blockages, and for lighting the way to the world beyond with all its magical mysteries unfolding in our everyday lives. You have spoken. You have spoken through the sunsets.

-the woman in the wings

Continue reading “The Black Horse Spoke Through the Sunsets: the spiritual side of death”

He Sent Me Home to Paint

 

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[This post was published briefly months ago so may be familiar to my followers. It has been rewritten and edited]

There was sweetness in the sorrow I felt when my memory took me back to the day my first horse, Apolinaire, died. At the end of his recent visitation through Dollar,l my emotional balloon was stretched to full capacity. Knowing I needed  to release my tears, I was driven to walk the pasture paths that the horses have created through the wooded areas, revisiting the different places where Apolinaire and I had been together during the last four days of his life. Retracing our story together, I lingered at the very spot where many months ago he lay in exhaustion.

He had sent me home that day to paint.

To leave him in such a condition was difficult but I had been through this drill many times before with the other horses who were having acute or chronic physical issues, with miraculous results. Each time I had been guided to write, sketch, paint, to simply stand nearby and tune into nature, or to “please leave and let me work this out myself.” The malady magically disappeared time and time again.

Knowing his directive was not one to ignore, I left.

Once home, I painted with a restless spirit but with spiritual awareness, sensing that Apolinaire and I were most likely walking his death journey as companions. It was premature he told me that night and reminded me of the day years ago when he’d shared the way he was to die.

At that time, he had wandered away from the herd which was unlike him. He stepped over to another pasture and stood alone silently calling to me. I responded and stayed at a distance giving him space and dignity. Since it was late afternoon, the coastal fog had found its way inland and dimmed the light of day, creating an appropriate mood for what he was sharing. When he finished, I had thought his death was imminent, that he would likely disappear during the night. There was no distress. Sadness, yes, but most of all I felt a deeper closeness to him. He had trusted me with something intimate and sacred. But, the time for manifestation had not come.

Now, years later, I understood that it still was not time for Apolinaire to go, but an ominous feeling was pressing in. He was giving me continuous instructions as to my role in the partnership and in the process.

I was to hold space for him while he did his intercessory work which was very serious and challenging would make the difference in whether he was to live or die. For the most part, the magnitude of his cosmic work was not revealed.

I was to hold the belief he would recover as the other horses had done many times before. This time, however, my growth was in the believing. It was important even if there was never a manifestation of that belief. That one was tough for me. It didn’t make sense to me nor can I make sense of it now. All I know is that deep down there was a powerful freedom in it and there still is. I gave up attachment to results, and was free to hold space for his recovery and allow the Divine to flow. There was no more resistance to “believing” because it might not manifest since that was no longer a part of my formula. This is new to me and there is much more for me to discover about that practice.

Back home after putting away my paints and returning to the pasture, I quickly found my way to the spot where I had left him lying on the ground. My breath caught with new hope when I saw he was no longer there. There were indicators that reminded me of the “yellow brick road” that helped me find him tucked in the thicket, well away from where he had been lying. His eyes were brighter, there was new energy in him. I was encouraged.

As time went by, I continued to work on my painting and holding space for Apolinaire. Each time I returned, he showed improvement. My hopes were running high. Things seemed to be progressing.

On day 3, an acquaintance stopped by the pasture. I was not able to tell her that I was in an important process with Apolinaire. In fact I tried to hide it from her not wanting to talk about it. I surrendered to her arrival thinking maybe it was meant to be and might bring the ultimate healing. I completely forgot about my deal with Apolinaire. My only hope was that he would stay hidden.

Forgetting I was on a sacred mission with my horse, I lost my connection with Apolinaire that day as I followed my distraction. It can happen to me so easily. I suspect I am not alone in that tendency.

I had not spoken up which was a disservice to my guest, to Apolinaire in particular, and to myself. I lost the day with him. I lost my sense of confidence and holding space. I didn’t paint. Didn’t even think of it. From that day, he went downhill extremely fast and I forgot everything I’d been learning and went into crisis mode.

The next morning, he waited for me to arrive. When he turned and looked at me, I knew he was dying. My heart sank, and I gave up. In less than an hour, he was gone.

I had known it was a challenging task. I do not feel guilty nor that it was my fault as one might expect. We were on a treacherous journey together. I had known that.

My painting had brought continuous improvement for Apolinaire as it had done for the horses over the years. This time there was a bigger challenge. I became distracted and stopped painting. He went downhill. He died. It is sometimes a tough journey.

When he sent me home to paint, he sent me home to that other worldly place where the soul sighs with relief. There I find my joy and the peaceful pool of healing. There I am out of the way; the Divine is free to flow and the extraordinary follows.

Kaheka Rumpelstiltskin

Today Kaheka was peeking at me from around the corner of the barn… only half of his face was visible. I looked briefly, then looked again. It was deja vu for me. I suddenly remembered a forgotten memory, a Rumplestiltskin character that I use to see where we lived nearly 60 miles south of here.

This old and wrinkled being would often peer kindly at me from around the corner of the rustic siding of the house. Silent, still, just there, looking, watching. He was ancient and otherworldly with knobby knees and boney knuckles, wearing soft eyes under his oversized felt hat, colorless like a living pencil sketch. I knew he was there, but didn’t take notice. Sometimes I saw him standing under the apple tree on the way to the barn. His presence was like a friendly smile that felt good. I would see him but didn’t acknowledge him even to myself. He was just an everyday part of my internal landscape like a moss covered fence post, seeing without seeing it.

I’ve kept him a secret for 14 years. This morning, with Kaheka looking around the rustic siding of the barn, I am reminded of that being again. Who is he? Is Kaheka hosting him here, or could it be that Kaheka, my long-legged, lanky, and warm-eyed thoroughbred, is he?

So, whose eyes were fixed on me today, unblinking, beckoning? I paused, stepped forward, and lingered with warm and familiar feelings.

 

Beyond the Blue Door


sidewalk chalk drawing “Youth In Arts Italian Street Painting Festival” youthinarts.org
Click on image for original color

She saw many horses coming and going across the misty pasture that night, but when she counted there were only 6. She heard them first from behind, then ahead of her. But when she counted again, there were only 6; just her own herd lazily moving toward the barn from the pasture ahead. But there were others. One over there, then here. Ever so briefly.

At first it seemed her eyes were playing tricks. When she looked hard, they disappeared. Dollar, her solid, no frills horse, could see them. As the two stood together while he was eating, he lifted his head and grew peacefully still, staring intently down the hill at them. He knew. There were many. She could feel them nearby. When her eyes relaxed into a soft focus, there were gentle hints of form as if a skilled artist had used single strokes of a brush to capture each essence.

All pretense was shed. She became as a child who had stretched on tip toes and cautiously turned the knob of an old and creaking door, its blue paint faded by the years, forbidden but beckoning. With barely a touch from her hand, the door had fallen open to her and she had entered the world beyond, both in the seen and unseen.

Lifting her face to a smiling moon and to the expanse of the sky beyond, she heard the melody of her heart in harmony with the longings of her soul. This was life as she had known it merging with life as she was experiencing it this night. She stood quietly beside her horse, both knowing they were in the presence of powerful, yet ordinary and playful mystical beings who were the bridge between the worlds. Her own herd a part of them. She took a long deep breath and slowly released it as quiet contentment wrapped its arms snuggly around her.

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