“Symbols are miracles we have recorded into language.”
This week Jen has asked us to illustrate something symbolic. No doubt by clicking here for the responses of some other bloggers, you will see a wide array of choices. Personally, I’ve chosen to feature an animal whose genesis goes back even further than mankind itself, the horse.
“However expressive, symbols can never be the things they stand for.”
Beyond capturing our hearts and our imagination, horses have helped shape human history. For over 3,000 years horses were key to success in warfare until they were eventually replaced by modern weaponry. Consider the legend of the Trojan Horse, now symbolic of a secretive approach to undermining an enemy – or even a secretive program intended to destroy your computer operating system. From there through the ages to powerful images of horse-mounted cavalry, such as the Charge of the Light Brigade and the battle at Little Big Horn. WWI was effectively the last time horses were used extensively in battle. Who can forget the heartbreak of the recent movie and Broadway show War Horse which illustrated so beautifully the strength of the bond between humans and horses, and the amazing heart a horse will show in its willingness to satisfy the demands of its human counterparts.
“Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world.”
Josephine Demott Robinson
To Native Americans the horse was a symbol of power. The more horses a tribe had, the more powerful they were deemed to be. Horses are also seen as symbolic of freedom, because riding a horse makes one feel as if any restraining bonds can be broken. In Celtic mythology, horses symbolized good luck and were harbingers of good fortune. The Chinese include the horse as one of the 12 symbols of their zodiac, and they are frequent participants in some of the most important Chinese myths and legends.
The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.
Beyond the pleasures we derive from the many qualities of the horse, we are also developing an understanding of what an extremely effective therapeutic tool they are for those with physical or emotional disabilities. Successful programs are now in place throughout the U.S., reporting some wonderful results with both children and adults. It seems right somehow that the horse should be respected and appreciated for yet another contribution to the lives of its human companions.
“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – giving us escape from our mundane existence.”
I captured these beautiful creatures last month as I was driving through Seabrook Island, which is the next-island neighbor to Kiawah. As I was about to drive past their horse pasture, the early evening light combined with the peacefulness of the setting made me stop in my tracks. After I’d spent a few minutes just watching, several of the horses approached to check me out and within a moment or two were licking my proffered hand and allowing me to pat their heads and necks. From there, photographing them became a natural next step and once they had assured themselves my lens and I meant no harm they happily went about their evening graze as I shot to my heart’s content.
Throughout history horses have symbolized strength, loyalty, power, nobility, and freedom among other positive attributes. They have an important symbolic presence in all cultures and in all countries both ancient and current. Would that we all deserved such an impressive place in history!