Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The táltos horse

These last few months, my life has been so transformed by my little horse Galahad that I have wondered what his significance is to me, and to my life’s work.

His appearance coincides with a time when I am casting about for the next steps on my path in life, which a year ago seemed so clear to me. These days, the way is pretty well hidden. Why this horse, at this moment? That he is special in some important way is clear, and not just to me; but in what way? What does he have to teach me?

Doing some reading at Costco yesterday, to pass the time while waiting on new tires for my car, I came across a fascinating article by scholar and Jungian psychologist Eleonóra Babejová called “And the River Swelled with Horses” (Spring Journal, Vol. 82, pp. 131-151) on the symbolic role of the horse. She talks about the ancient nomadic peoples of Eurasia, about centaurs and shamans, and about horses in Hungarian mythology. In these myths, the táltos, or the One Who Travels Across Borders, can take either human or equine form.

Horses in the myths and legends of many cultures appear as bearers of messages between worlds. It is often said that horses, extraordinarily sensitive creatures, can even perceive the spirits of the dead. For me this was a striking image, because this same idea showed up in a television program I had watched the night before. Coincidence? Or synchronicity?

Babejová speaks of the táltos horse in Hungarian myths and folk tales as being

an ugly, thin, or neglected animal, seeming more dead than alive as it lies on a garbage pile or heap of dung. Not unlike as in alchemy, the gold is found in the dung or dross, but only by the wise who know where to look. So the real nature of the horse can only be recognized by a táltos [in human form]…. Then the horse changes to a golden, silver, or diamond horse.... (p. 136)

That paragraph really caught my eye! My Galahad is certainly a táltos, by that definition (though I don't mean that in a literal sense). He was rescued, nearly dead, and brought back to life by those of us who saw his value. He clearly has something special to impart to me—I have often felt this. And I often refer to him as “my golden and silver horse.”

So: I've been given another clue. I’m going to read deeply into this article and see what other hints may lie among its words.

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