Sometimes it crosses my mind as I go deeper into the most wild parts of us what it would be like to be a real hunter. What kind of soul exchange happens when an animal gives it’s life for humans to survive. From the seal hunters of the far North to our buffalo hunters of the Midwest and everything in between and beyond.
I have heard stories from hunters sharing this intimate secret. I have listened to the whispers of the voices of those who have been hunted simply through my own curiosity and practiced ability to tune into them. I have close friends who are strong incredible people both men and women who have hunted and though they share the experience, I can see in their eyes that there is a whole other world that is a part of taking another beings life for the purpose for food that is not easy to put into words.
Though I have not experienced the hunt or the kill, I feel the inspiration to share a tiny story of my own initiation into yet another profound experience that the horse spirit has gifted us. I say us because there is no way I will ever be the same person after I share the following and as you know, through my work, the willingness of me to go into unique territories be it physical or mental or spiritual, the impact it has on my work and how I share with the world is invaluable.
I received a call the other day that a friends horse had died through natural causes. We suspect a heart attack. I offered my help and support in any way that I could. I had lived with this horse, her herd, and their humans for 2 1/2 years.
She was a beautiful bay mare. Her coat gleamed in the sun on the best of days and her sweet nature was always a welcome place to share space.
Now before I get anyone upset, please understand that the people who are the closest to me have a beautiful and real view of life and death. Of flesh and spirit. Like anyone close to the land and their animals in a true farmer sense where the cycle of life is so prominent and honored. Where animals die, sometimes they have to be shot because they are old or suffering. Sometimes roosters need to be culled. Sometimes coyotes need to be shot but very little goes to waste here. Their lives are a constant awareness of appreciation and gratitude for their ability to live off the land as much as possible. And the death of this horse was no exception.
I arrived only knowing that we were going to save her hide which meant that we would need to skin her. I had no idea that I would be taken into another dimension of timelessness and Awe.
She was already hanging as to bleed her out. My friend who has experience in skinning animals was already at work and had gotten the insides out and was now delicately taking the skin off the body. I was so moved by her beauty. This incredible being that still sent waves of love that were emanating from her flesh and bone even though her spirit was long gone. It felt as though she was literally giving herself to us. All of her. I felt a jolt of Joy and emotion and in that instant everything around me disappeared. Suddenly I became one with her. As though it was her that took the knife and showed my hand what to do. What to hold, how to cut without damaging her gorgeous silky Hide. We had to work fast. The day was hot and our makeshift market tent was dangerously hoisted on anything we could get the legs on, including the side of a fence and a wheelbarrow with fruit boxes stacked on each other. This was our shade. We needed her to hang so the tension of her weight would help us in perfectly and delicately preserving her hide.
The smell of death and blood was so strangely sweet and comforting. There wasn’t a thought in me to feel grief or sorrow. It was replaced by something so incredibly primal. As though I was witness to an ancient and sacred right of passage. For 7 hours we cut. For 7 hours I was existing only in this space of wonder and a humbleness that I never experienced to this degree. Having studied equine anatomy, I found myself following the various muscles groups, fascia, ligaments, bones. I got to know her more intimately than any other human other that my friend who I was watching and learning from.
I could hardly believe that even though she was no longer in her body, her body was giving this experience to us. My hand would follow her still warm flesh and through it I was getting pieces of information. I would love to have had more time to look into her more carefully and perhaps get out my anatomy book to really understand the mechanics of her body, but , this was not the time for that. This was a soul experience. An initiation into a whole other way of seeing the horse. I now know them inside and out. I have touched their most deepest precious parts that not many people have gotten to feel. Each time my hand met her body I could feel my heart as though it itself was in my hand.
I really can’t describe what or how this changed me. I can’t describe nor will I attempt to the strange familiarity and flashes of past lives that wove themselves in and out of my essence and hers. I can’t describe where time went, or how I never became hungry or thirsty or how my own cuts on my hand from the knife would bleed but I felt no pain. I watched as her blood and mine became one. I could not tell anymore where I stopped and she began, and I have no way to explain what this feels like.
Did I become a part of her, or did she become a part of me? THIS is where I have understood that part of the hunter. That part where our society and culture has so lost touch with, for if we all were to experience this sacred and lost aspect of ourselves we would understand this place of beauty in ourselves. We would understand the cycles of the unseen. This part that that allows our hearts to feel the process of a transition both within and without through all aspects of our lives. This part that is so equally moved by death as we are of birth because we are given the opportunity to feel that there is no difference. That death and life are one of the same. Through this understanding, we would lose our fears, and through losing our fears, we would become more whole. And through becoming more whole we would not need. And if we would not need, we would be able to experience our humaneness in it’s absolute totality that we can’t even begin to imagine in our current human mood.
So, I don’t fully know what happened, nor do I need to. All I know is that there is a deeper knowing in my Soul. I received such an extraordinary gift, that words would fail any attempt at describing it. I only know that this change will come out through me and into my life. And through my life, into yours.
Forever grateful to the spirit horse. My hands are yours as is my heart.
Love ~ G
Out of respect for the process we left photos out, but one day perhaps I will be inspired to share a photo of her hide when she is ready.