Horse and Wind

by Marianna Baskin Gabriel Mejia

I was often a horse, as a child, whinnying and galloping and feeling the wind. I still make that throaty high pitched sound today, not only to honor and talk to the horses, but also, when made with a higher tone it is the zagareet sound of "bravo", "great!", for Middle Eastern dancing, the sound that I use to honor the other dancers.
Horses came most strongly into my life when I became a teenager. Needing a connection for my grounding, I received, as a gift from my parents, my own horse, Vicki. With Vicki I experienced both the earth's nurturing and a telepathic communication of her acceptance of me. And in return, I too telepathically communicated my own acceptance of her. I was fortunate to have that support. My horse, a three-fourths Arabian and one-fourth quarter horse mare, became my trusted friend, my emotional support, and my teacher. As we grew closer, I began to ride only bareback so that I could feel her more fully, her muscles moving under me as we loped over the fields and jumped streams, brush, old logs and other "obstacles" that my horse felt like jumping over. Often I leaned my neck down onto hers feeling our intimate bond deepening as we galloped, like the Indians I saw on TV and with whom I had identified since the time I was a young child. I let my horse take me to the secret places she discovered during the week when she was allowed to run free. With playfulness she often showed me new hidden trails that I had not known about, trails that wound down through the trees to the small creek. Sometimes she even found an easy crossing which led us further on our adventure. I sang to her and to the wind. I felt my power as the wind lifted my hair to the sunshine and I felt my connection to my wonderful horse, an energy funneling down through me from the wind, and then down through Vicki’s body out her hooves to the wild earth of the rolling, sun parched hills of Agoura, California.
I have always felt that my horse kept me from going crazy. She taught me about strength and beauty. Sitting directly on her back, my jeans usually transforming to wet, stiff, white horse hair covered leggings, I experienced my own power, a power I learned from feeling as one, fully connected with the elements and nature. I was both energized and made at peace feeling a part of the world. I did have a place in this world; here I could be truly me, I could be completely real and unguarded and I was OK. As I write this now I know it more consciously than I did then. I have become conscious and aware of how to explain the value of that experience in my practiced psychotherapeutic terms. But then, I only knew that it kept me sane and grounded, happy and real. And I grasped at only that, knowing that I needed it to help my survival.
So horse took care of me and gave me important teachings. I cared for horse when I was there, feeding her and cleaning her beautiful outdoor covered stable. I brushed her and combed her and checked her hooves. I practiced riding her backwards and jumping up onto her both with and without help. On the trails my cousin would let me help her up onto her horse first and then she would lean down and cup her hands and I would step up and then jump up onto my horse’s back. At the ranch I did it differently. There we had wooden porch/sidewalks and hitching posts in the dirt street. Stage set western buildings stood behind the porch presenting the invitation to continue to honor and use the imagination in many ways. I often used this wooden porch as my jumping point onto Vicki’s back. Because I was quite short, mounting presented a possible obstacle. I had to position her neck and head so that they were close enough, and then I would jump to her shoulders and pull myself around, smoothly sliding my right leg down the other side of her back. I prided myself on being independent and resourceful and I learned to use the help of the nature spirits and the animal spirits (instead of people) to nurture and keep me. Then I had no name for the help of the spirits. I only knew that this was what was really important and was the real key to my independence.
It is interesting how we are prepared for our lives in the very act of living. We are also prepared by the circumstances we come in to and how we manage to react. What is our purpose here and how do we manifest it? It is an ongoing question as I think the answer is changing and growing and refining. My horse prepared me for some of my current work. So did my dog Aloka, during my 20’s, and my connections with dog throughout my childhood. Dance too was a gift presented to me as a child. In a multi-media class which combined dance, art and music in the same time period, I remember, after first dancing, drawing my experiences with horse while listening to music which I was to interpret.
Looking back this way, now I see more than the disappointments and sadness about the lack of emotional nurturing from my parents. I see the tremendous gifts I have had from both my parents in terms of opportunity and the teachings they encouraged me to accept, in dance, music, art, crafts, and nature. They even read me the old magic fairy tales with the fine illustrations. So I was able to get and take in the pagan teachings as a child. I could experience the animals turning into humans and humans to animals. I saw the trees that spoke and had arms and hair. I read about the magic and the importance of honesty and integrity. I was instructed by the role model of the suffering one finally overcoming her many obstacles, and with the aid of a spirit and purity of soul, triumphing in the end, even a better person for the growth through the suffering. And my parents gave me the opportunity to have horse for a teacher. And, I am thankful for the gifts that my parents gave me. And I am thankful for the gifts that the spirits have given me, the instruction and caring and holding throughout my life. I have been carried gently in this life, as my horse carried me, with strength and power, softness and compassion. May I now pass this on to the future generations.

July 4, 1996

Using the Shamanic Journey in Psychotherapy

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Hidden Valley Road,   Soquel, California 95073-9708    
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Marianna drumming in the yurt where her journey groups meets.

Using the Shamanic Journey in Psychotherapy


Marianne Baskin Gabriel Mejia, MA, LMFT

    The three women, one with her long, flowing white hair, one a wizened wise old crone from the north, and the last, a beautiful water spirit woman from an ancient fairy tale, all welcomed me and sat with me in the forest near the waterfall.  "What is the work you want me to do now, in this year of 1995?" I asked.  "What you are doing," they said, "Shamanism and psychotherapy, and we want you to write it down, to write articles about it, not just for therapy magazines but for people to see."   I then saw myself sitting at my computer.  "We will help you," they added.  "How?" I questioned, really wanting the help and feeling a little helpless.  "You will do a ritual before you sit down to write and we will write through you.  You don't have to know what you will write beforehand, just sit down after calling us and we'll take care of it."  "Thank you," I said and hugged them as the drum beat changed and I turned to leave.  The drum beat was fast and insistent as I followed the trail back over the pine needles in the forest.  I hurried along the white ethereal fluff after I left the cool cathedral-like darkness of the forest finally reaching the tip of my tree which stretches from ordinary reality through past the soft white barrier of the upper world.  Quickly I slipped down the tree and back into my prone body.   The drum beat changed again and I opened my eyes, surprised by what my three teachers had told me.  


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