Having devoted the prior two journal entries to beauty's dark side and Altamiro's glorious wild horse expressionism, another article written by Imke Spilker has been presented to me at a perfect time for its first publication in English here in the Journal of Ravenseyrie.
This article was initially published in 1995 in a German environmental magazine called Umwelt Direkt, appearing in the segment Nature and Man. The title of the article is, Wild Horses and, like me, I think you will be amazed at how far ahead of her time Imke Spilker was, to be writing fifteen years ago about things we are just now coming to terms with.
The translation of Wild Horses is by Kristina McCormack. All the photos accompanying the text were taken by me, here at Ravenseyrie, with the exception of the black and white image of Imke Spilker and Reno which was captured by Hans-Peter Gerstner.
Many thanks to Imke Spilker and Kris McCormack for trusting the Journal of Ravenseyrie with the publication of another thought-provoking article.
Earth has been subjected by mankind -- this idea characterizes now as ever our behavior toward the environment. But subjugation is not the only answer we can give to the living world around us.
Nature in Germany is tame. No bear lurks deep in the woods, every tree has its owner, and the wind-and-waterproof Goretex jacket resists every bit of bad weather. We have our Nature firmly in hand. We love her, enclose her, cultivate her. We help the turtles cross the street, live in a nature conscious way, and feel like her big brother.
****They fly off into the distance on thundering hooves, confidently tossing their flowing manes, eyes flashing they rear and gambol, full of unbounded power and joy in living: high-spirited, playful, free horses. The sight of them pulls us under their spell. Horses, it is said, are noble, proud, symbols of freedom and power.
Human beings go into the mountains and desert, in ice and snow, into oceans and virgin forest seeking primordial wildness -- always remaining outside it, only observers. Because wildness is fright and yearning all in one. The magnificent, colossal unboundedness provokes horror when we feel completely at its mercy. Powerless, abandoned to a Nature that we no longer understand, that we no longer trust, panic seizes us and we feel alienated, strangers in a strange land.
Horses are tame harmless pets. Work animals sacrificing themselves in the service of mankind. Livestock. We love horses. They are familiar to us. Horses are strong and fast, far surpassing humans in their powers. Domestication has done little to change that. When they are left to themselves, they shift effortlessly back to a wild horse existence. Horses do not need us.
As long as the river stays in its bed, the garden is free of weeds, and our apartment is free of vermin, we feel at home in nature. Subjugated, she allows us harmony. We feel in unison with tamed nature. But as soon as Nature “leaves the reservation”, comes too close and becomes unpredictable, the uncontrolled-ness of it all disturbs us at the deepest level: we decimate, cultivate, train.... It is still fascinating for man to control, “break”, and bridle the horse -- that symbol of wildness. Dominated Nature, that carries him.
But horses are not wild! They are afraid of us and our incomprehensible world, they sense our conflicting emotions, they would like to trust us, and above all they do not make an attempt on our lives with their superior strength. Horses are not only NOT aggressive, they are actually addicted to harmony -- a characteristic that has made them extraordinarily useful in the history of human beings. Their working days are over. Today we have stronger, faster, more easily maintained machines. But, the fascination with horses is intact.
The fact that they are no longer needed as beasts of burden offers us a new opportunity, but instead of seizing it and learning a new art of partnership from horses, we instead still use them --- as leisure-time appliances. Horses are drilled, controlled, enslaved like (almost) no other animal. Every step is proscribed for them. The arsenal of methods for completely controlling and dominating an animal that once roamed free on the steppes is continually perfected. All too often this “creature of the wind” loses his health and his joy of living because of this.
It could be different. We could become familiar, intimate, with the horse as with a friend. We could give up control and bridling and entrust ourselves to a togetherness that bridges the separation between animal and man.
Horses can teach us harmony, unity between inner and outer. They can take away from us the fear that underlies our preference for separation and control. If we learn to open ourselves to them and perceive their subtle language, we will also come closer to our own true nature. For life -- and this applies to us, too -- is always somehow unpredictable. Thank goodness!
Communication instead of control -- that changes even the horses. The conscious, proud art of movement engenders a new and healthy perception of self. Dance and play, horse and human -- elevated, exhilarated, joyful and free.
“And Allah took a handful of south wind, breathed into it and created the horse ... ‘I have given you the power to fly without wings and triumph without sword..’” --Bedouin tradition