A few weeks ago I woke from a dream:
An old boyfriend is getting ready to move into an apartment—he is going back to school. He calls me to meet him at a friend’s house, where there are several other people whom we know. I assume he is going to ask me to move in with him. In the bedroom he tells me that he doesn’t really love me as much as he let on, and that he’s sorry he led me on, but that he just didn’t know how to tell me. I am so angry—how dare he do that to me? It turns out that everyone in the house knew about this except me.
He is very surprised that I’m angry. He offers to make love to me but I don’t want him anywhere near me. I don’t want anyone touching me. Then I tell another friend that I need to go home now, because I have an early morning with the horses.
This seemed like such a strange dream to me. The sense of betrayal and disappointment didn’t fit with anything I was experiencing in my waking life, and I couldn’t make it fit with what I know of my psychic state; nothing resonated.
That morning, still puzzling over the dream, I went out to the barn where I had recently moved my horse Galahad. I had been unusually busy the week before and hadn’t been to see him in quite a while. In the meantime, I had let a couple of other people ride him, to give him some company.
Galahad’s new home seems perfect to me: fresh grass, a flowing creek, woods, plenty of space to run in, and all the hay he can eat, 24 hours a day. He’s in a herd of six in a pasture, instead of a small dry lot and 20 horses at the place he had been living.
Idyllic as the situation seemed to me, I knew that Galahad wasn’t settling in contentedly. He wasn’t his usual playful, happy, carefree self, and he always seemed distracted. Physically, he was doing fine; it was his emotional state that had me worried. There’s always an adjustment period, but even after two months, he hadn’t settled in well.
That day Galahad seemed especially listless and sulky, and I couldn’t get him interested in anything. When I took him back out to the pasture and turned him loose, he wandered dully off toward the round bale. I watched him for a long time.
The dream kept coming back to me, so I decided to work with it again, this time trying to break it down to its basic, archetypal elements:
There is someone to whom the dream ego has given its heart and its trust. This someone has another agenda of which the dream ego is not aware, and which runs counter to what the dream ego expects. The person keeps this other agenda hidden, then unexpectedly expresses it. The dream ego is shocked and disappointed, and feels betrayed and used.
Disappointment and betrayal—and abandonment, too. Hmm…. Is there humiliation, as well? Since apparently everyone but the dream ego knew about it? No, in the dream that’s not a factor. It’s all focused on the broken “promise.”
Since nothing in that resonates for me personally, is this even my dream? Is it maybe a dream sent to me by the horses? Or is this Galahad’s dream?
I decided to do some journeying, some active imagination, and ask the Horse Ancestors for help. Sitting on a log near the stream, I closed my eyes and waited for a vision:
My Guide, the Cloud-colored Horse, comes to me in the pasture. I climb on his back. He takes me to a vast meadow. Although it’s dark and I can’t see anything much, I can hear the whuffles and snorts of the horse herd. I jump down off the Cloud-colored Horse and stand there, waiting. Dimly, I can make out another light-colored horse in front of me. This horse gets closer, and though I can’t make out much, I realize he is painfully thin. He grazes hungrily on what little grass there seems to be. Then he moves closer and closer to me until I can reach out and touch his thin body. Without lifting his head all the way, he nuzzles me and presses close. Is this Galahad? It doesn’t look like him, but I can’t be sure. Everything is dim—it must be night.
So that’s it, I think. Galahad is a rescued horse: He was so thin when the Humane Society picked him up that they nearly euthanized him on the spot. This new living situation reminds my boy of the “thin time,” especially the nighttime hours now, as it gets colder and as the grass gets thinner and thinner. He misses me. He misses his stall and lots of grain, even though he gets grain in the mornings and has hay to eat whenever he wants it.
Add the dream to the picture, and it seems to spell out the fact that he feels betrayed and abandoned, and is terrified that we will leave him and let him starve again. After all, I hadn’t been coming, and other people had been riding him. Maybe I would just vanish, after all!
Poor Galahad! I took him back to the barn via a patch of green grass where he grazed for a few minutes. Then I put him in his stall, hung out with him while he ate some hay, and fed him a beet pulp mash—nice and warm. He ate with gusto while I brushed him again and talked to him. I tried to reassure him that we will never, ever let that happen to him again.
I don’t know how much he actually understood, but he seemed to get some of his sparkle back. When the time came to leave, I led him directly to the round bale and took his halter off there. Hope it helped….
(Cross-posted on It's an Alchemical Life.)