Monday, April 26, 2010

Senses Converging

In her Path of the Horse Blog , Stormy May shares many photos of the animate entities that inhabit her horses' environment and she recently posed a question: "I know this is the Path of the Horse but as I see it, this is all related even if we don't see horses in these pictures. Do others see it this way? I'm curious to know if others can see the relationship."

Long time readers of the Journal of Ravenseyrie already know what my answer to her question is, but to enhance the interconnectedness I feel between myself, the horses and our environment, I 'll first offer up a quote from David Abram's book, The Spell of the Sensuous after which I will ask readers to join me in re-experiencing an afternoon with Altamiro and his mares and foals.

"Yet our ears and our eyes are drawn together not only by animals, but by numerous other phenomena within the landscape. And, strangely, whenever these these two senses converge, we may suddenly feel ourselves in relation with another expressive power, another center of experience. Trees, for instance, can seem to speak to us when they are jostled by the wind. Different forms of foliage lend each tree a distinctive voice, and a person who has lived among them will easily distinguish the various dialects of pine trees from the speech of spruce needles or Douglas fir. Anyone who has walked through cornfields knows the uncanny experience of being scrutinized and spoken to by whispering stalks. Certain rock faces and boulders request from us a kind of auditory attentiveness, and so draw our ears into relation with our eyes as we gaze at them, with our hands as we touch them--for it is only through a mode of listening that we can begin to sense the interior voluminosity of the boulder, its particular density and depth. There is an expectancy to the ears, a kind of patient receptivity that they lend to other senses whenever we place ourselves in a mode of listening--whether to a stone, or a river, or an abandoned house."--David Abram

Please let both your eyes and your ears now be drawn together as you participate in this video clip from Ravenseyrie:

And now this one:

What I find captivating in these two clips is the way the overall "voice" of all that we sense changes as we move through the forested marshland, the pond and then the edge of the woods out into the open land. This "voice" will change again as the season progress. The wetlands will have far less water and more mud. The open lands will have knee high grasses that sing and dance with the wind passing over them and hum with a symphony of busy insects. In fact it is by these very changes that we come to know ourselves in relation to all else. The variety of expressions generated by the ever flowing elementals are to me like a drug that allows me to penetrate realms that are otherwise imperceptible to me.

I know more and more of you are feeling the exquisite transportive "trip" that senses converging takes one on, and how being with your horses in a "non-using" capacity is a surprising facilitator of these experiences. In this context, let's read another quote from The Spell of the Sensuous:

The traditional or tribal shaman, I came to discern, acts as an intermediary between the human community and the larger ecological field, ensuring that there is an appropriate flow of nourishment, not just from the landscape to the human inhabitants, but from the human community back to the local earth. --David Abram

My tendency to engage in flights of fancy has me contemplating the concept of "horse as shaman", how about you?

Does it not often seem that our horses are our intermediaries to the "larger ecological field"? Perhaps not in the highly humanized environment of competition stables, but when we go into the natural environment of horses, how often do we find ourselves more balanced, grounded, unified, loving and feeling positive about life in general?

The medicine person's primary allegiance, then, is not to the human community, but to the earthly web of relations in which that community is embedded--it is from this that his or her powers to alleviate human illness derives--and this sets the local magician apart from other persons...
...The deeply mysterious powers and entities with whom the shaman enters into a rapport are ultimately the same forces--the same plants, animals, forests, and winds--that to literate, "civlized" Europeans are just so much scenery, the pleasant backdrop of our more pressing human concerns. --David Abram

It's apparent to me that many people who have horses in their lives are beginning to awaken to the fact that our physical and psychological human illnesses are directly tied to the injustices humans have wrought upon Nature.

How did we come to be stimulated to shift our awareness from human-centered selfishness to the greater non-human realm?

What kind of shamanic magic have horses begun to work upon humans?

When we are with our horses, in "non-using" ways, our senses open to the non-human field and through their very adept intermediary capacities, the horses who captivate our attention show us not just the beauty of the entities surrounding us but direct our awareness to the gnosis inherent within each entity, and like opening a book show us the bounty of knowledge such a primal connection can provide.

Much of my energy now is to be a courier for the non-human entities of the cosmos, to receive what knowledge vibrates within a dewdrop, and a windgust, and unfurling of grasses, etc. and pass it on to those who yet remain disconnected from or unaware of the primal connection. I am an apprentice to these primitive horses and, traveling with them, seek to be also an intermediary between the wild and the cultivated human.

To finish my courier job today, I'm sharing a few photos taken during one of the many excursions I take with the horses where I place myself "in a mode of listening". I've included two images of Mistral, who is not a representative of primitive ancestral Sorraia horses, but he is wild at heart and easily reconnected with nature after his days as a competition dressage horse in our old life. Mistral was my very first equine shaman and the first to show me the power of "converging senses".

Mistral's notched ear and the rest of his wounds from fighting with Altamiro are healing marvelously well.


Belina, due to deliver her third foal, any day


Look at these amazing photos of Zorita navigating her way through an obstacle course of branches:

Fada and Animado graze in a sweet spot on one of the bluff's natural terraces

After we crossed the open land the family band went back toward the house where they each took a turn at the mineral block, and then decided it was nap time.


Sandie G Hucal said...
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Sandie G Hucal said...
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Spanish Sulphurs said...

I love those photos of Zorita! My purebred Spanish Sulphur mare is just as careful (of course being that Zorita is half Spanish Sulphur). I love the sure-footedness of the Spanish Sulphur breed. My mare loves to go off roading when we are on the trail!

Always love seeing the half Spanish Sulphur as well as purebreds.

Annemiek said...

One of the things I discovered when I started to just spend time with my horse in nature is that my own senses seemed to get more sensitive than they were before. It was as if all my senses where working so much better, I could hear better, smell more, and even my awareness of “intruders” became stronger. Rudolf is still the expert on this, but I like to let him guide me with his senses. It is so much fun to hear, see, and smell things I would not have noticed before our wonderful walks.


poniesathome said...

Lynne, you certainly read some great books. I enjoyed reading the extracts you presented here from this one and am with you completely as regards horse as shaman. I love the way those Sorraia horses blend so beautifully with the landscape by the way.


Kris McCormack said...

The photos of Zorita navigating the obstacle course of branches are just amazing. She ducks, and crouches, and carefully places her feet -- all as a matter of course. She is fully in her body and in her environment. It brought home to me (again) how traditional horsekeeping -- the stalls, the small rectangular paddocks, the regimented work in an arena where every step is dictated by a human being -- disconnects horses from their natural element, as well as from their own bodies and feelings.

June said...

Yes,that true Kris. I never quite thought about that before. When I'm leading our two-year old filly out on walks, she's always getting into stuff where the footing is "bad" - climbing on things and putting her feet onto and into weird spaces.

Lynne Gerard said...

I'm a little late replying to the comments left in this journal entry, so much has been going on up on the bluff.

Anyhow, I see now that Sandie has removed her comments. Sandie I hope that you are enjoying your re-reading of THE SPELL OF THE SENSUOUS. It was only on my second reading that it became apparent to me that horses may be demonstrating shamanic capacities by serving as intermediaries between humans and nature. I actually see all that I coexist with here at Ravenseyrie as having this capacity of facilitating a deeper awareness of the gnosis of nature and our unity with it.

Annemiek has felt the same things with her Rudolf when they take outings together that I feel when I am out among the horses here, or with the dogs, or watching the birds, or the grasses, or the clouds--all seem to awaken my perception to subtleties that might otherwise escape my modern-day mindset.

Kimberlee, you have a difficult time giving any credit to the Sorraia for the excellence of Zorita, and also probably cannot bring yourself to believe that the ancestors of the Sorraia and those of the Sulphur Mustangs share a primitive heritage. But that's okay...I know it is your love of the Spanish Sulphur that blinds you to the value of the stalwart Sorraias.

Maire, I'm fortunate to have come across a lot of really thought provoking books over the years. And both Kevin and I have made a pact: though we maintain a frugal lifestyle so that we can live here at Ravenseyrie, books are exempt! So we are very good customers!

I'm glad you noticed how lucky I was to get to see Zorita negotiate a passage through that tangle of tree limbs and branches. And she chose that route herself! I think its great that the horses have this exposure and don't always chose the easy way through their environment. They do develop a great sense of space and how their body relates to things around them.

Thanks all, for your comments!