Cleaning Stalls and Cleaning Your Spirit

Fall is a great time to unclutter. As the year’s end approaches, we enter a reflective time and consider what it is we want to keep and what no longer serves. To me, cleaning my horse’s stall presents a literal and symbolic way to do this very thing.

Even though the barn itself is beatific, we still come to it carrying the events of the day, the week, the year and even longer. Sometimes, we enter carrying way too much, awash in confusion, indecision, hurt or angry. A solution is at hand- or at the end of the pitchfork. In earthy terms: Dump your shit with shit!

Visualization is everything. It’s transformative. So as you pick your stall, each clod of manure becomes something that you clean off yourself.

Let’s start with anger, or its close relative, hurt. Someone has done or said something to hurt you. Before you start your cleanup, look at the pile(s) of manure and speak your truth- aloud if possible- and name the problem. Example: “X was hateful to me. She said/did ‘x’. That was really shitty! I push those words/that deed onto this manure. And now, I remove its power.” And clean the stall. Each forkful of manure becomes the means to remove the sting, because little by little, it gets gone and both you and the stall become clean. You can affirm the spell when you are finished with a simple statement that is obvious, like “my work is done, and that shit is gone.”

Let’s say you feel overwhelmed with too much to do, and feel like it’s all too much to handle or you don’t know where to start. As in the previous example, look at the pile(s) of manure and name it: list your problems. All of them. You’re not going to remove the problems, you are going to lessen their weight on you. ” I have ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ going on right now. And that’s really shitty. I unload all those on this manure.”

If you like to use chants as you are shoveling or dumping, you can make one up. Here’s an idea:

“By my power, this shit is gone. With it goes all sense of wrong. This horse’s stall is clean and bright; all inside me peace and right.”

Is this going to make all your problems go away? No, but it will help return you to a place of balance. I’ve had it remove my anger and frustration completely (especially if I had multiple stalls to do!)

The Sacred Horse: Blog series

The Uffington White Horse

When something is sacred, or holy, it merits special attention. Sometimes, that means making something very BIG. The Greeks erected huge statues of their gods and goddesses in temples, so large as to inspire awe in the comparatively small humans who stood at their feet.

The Uffington White Horse, located in Southern Britain, is perhaps the best known surviving rock “carving” from the Iron Age. 360 feet long- the length of an American football field- and 130 feet high, it is cut into the side of a hill with white chalk beneath. Laser soil dating shows it was cut about 1 century B.C.E., which would put it of Celtic origin, and probably linked to the worship of the Celtic horse goddess, Epona. Later Saxons may have revered the White Horse as sacred to Odin.

Until the late 1800’s, the Uffington White Horse was cleaned or “scoured” every seven years in a scouring festival that lasted for days and included games, sideshows and vendors.

” The owld White Horse wants zettin to rights/And the Squire hev promised good cheer/Zo we’ll gee un a scrape to kep un in zhape/And a’ll last for many a year.”

Ballad, “The Scouring of the White Horse’ by Thomas Hughes, 1857

I like to think about the effect that this White Mare might have had on passerbys two thousand years ago. What did they think about her? Did it uplift their hearts to see her cantering on the land, her every step a blessing of strength and fertility? Did they stop and say a prayer of thanks or blessing? Her presence would have been rock-steady, day in and day out, a permanent reminder of Deity that stayed through human births and deaths. How reassuring her presence would have been.

Kudos to the British government who thought to protect her in more modern days from potential bombing during World War II by employing camouflage. May she gallop on through time to come. -November 1, 2019 E.P.