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Dylan Payne's Prairie horses

Photography: Dylan and Angela Cowles “Wild Horses”

The unconscious imagination rarely follows the rules of rational thought. We work to interpret dream symbolism as best we can but, as many dream workers know, symbolic meaning often eludes our conscious understanding.  Dreams speak to us on many levels at once, are multi-dimensional representations of reality, and cannot be defined as ‘this or that’ with 100 percent accuracy. This is true even when we keep lists of common dream symbols over time and have a good working knowledge of those that do show up.

Still, we strive to get as close as we can to the meaning of what comes up from the unconscious. Our dreams, meaningful coincidences, and visions show up because these experiences have something to convey to us on a conscious level. So we pay attention, write them down, and contemplate them as best we can. I find it best to let the imagery talk to me over time.

However, when a dream is followed by a synchronicity, this helps to convey its meaning surprisingly clearer, faster. A few months ago, I had a dream with unusual Horse imagery. It was followed by several meaningful coincidences in quick succession.

In the dream that I titled “Horse Kisses, ”

I am with two women friends, T and K. I am going to go horseback riding with them, or I’m thinking about it (I’m not crazy about horseback riding). But I like being with my friends, so I push back my fears and hoist myself on the back of the horse in front of me. I am proud of my prowess, especially at my age. The horse is not too far from the ground, and I feel rather safe on it’s back. Then T, who owns the horses, brings out the one I am actually supposed to ride on our journey together. It is a huge bay colored beauty. I can’t even see to the top of its back. I’m quickly changing my mind about riding. For one thing, how am I going to get up on this beast? If I do manage to get up to ride her, I might fall off and seriously hurt myself. Just then, Horse kneels down for T to climb on her back. I go over and stand next to the animal’s neck and pet her. She nudges. I’m a little fearful that she will bite me when she turns her head back toward where I’m standing. (Old memories surface of the biting horses at the riding camp I attended as a young girl.) But Horse snuggles up next to me, leans backward, and licks my face. I say to K, ”Horse kisses!” enjoying the affection from this beautiful animal. Pretty soon Horse and I are good buddies in the dream. However, I am still resolved to not riding her for fear of falling and getting my ‘old bones’ beaten up if she goes for a gallop. I ask K if she will be galloping her horse during our ride, and she says that she always gallops back into the ‘home stretch.’ That settles it. I have grown to love this horse, but will not be riding her today. […] The scene skips to Tamara bringing out some papers and putting them on a table in front of me. As she lays them down, I see the back cover of a book with my picture on it. I’m thrilled, because that means that my book has been published. When I ask T about it, she says that the papers are some that she has written based on her own graduate studies, and she shows them to me. Now, my book cover isn’t there. But I know now that the publishing of my book is in the realm of possibility, because I’ve gotten a glimpse of it. (End of Dream)

After recording the dream, I thought about its message. It appeared to be showing me fears around aging; healthy fears as well as those that might stop me from engaging in activities that I enjoy and am still capable doing, like writing a book. Both T and K are writers, as am I.

The symbol of Horse in this dream seemed to be encouraging me to let go of fear of whatever it represents and trust its love for me. I had some vague ideas about Horse symbolism as representing strength and spirit. But since I have too few personal associations to its meaning in my dreams, I did something I rarely do with dream symbolism: looked it up on the Internet just to get an idea of what others have to say. I found a website where the meaning of Horse seemed to touch on qualities that a person – me, for instance – might fear losing during the process of aging:

  • A driving force, what you thrive for or carries you in life
  • The balance between the instinctive and tamed part of your personality.
  • Sexual energy, especially – but not limited to – masculine energy
  • Strong emotions, passionate desires (Access information at http://www.spiritanimal.info/horse-spirit-animal/)

As I am approaching my 68th birthday this fall, many of my dreams deal with the theme of getting older. In this particular dream, Horse—my inner drive, instinctual body sense, libido, and passion—was showing its love for me, but I was fearful of going for the ride and hurting my old bones. Contance Reeves memeLater that morning on Facebook, I quickly came across a post that felt meaningful in relationship to the dream. A friend in a women’s group I belong to had posted a meme. The picture was of 102-year old cowgirl Constance Reeves, standing in front of two horses, dressed as if she had just been or was about to go riding. The text read, “You just don’t let that rocking chair take over. You get up and go, even if you don’t want to!”

As if that meme wasn’t enough, what I came to next was so on the mark that it was almost unbelievable. T, whom I had not yet told about my horse dream in which she herself played a prominent part, had posted this quote:

The great love affair, the love affair with life is to live as variously as possible, 
to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, 
climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, 
life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, 
but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between. ~ Diane Ackerman

Within a few days, my son Dylan and his wife Angela, posted pictures they had taken at state parks they’ve visited in Florida. Their wild horses photo that I’ve included at the top of this blog, taken at Payne’s Prairie State Park, was one of them.

Not long after that, my daughter-in-law Aimee posted this picture of my granddaughter Luna standing next to a huge horse statue!Luna and large white horse

“Boy howdy!” as they say here in Texas where I am currently on retreat finishing my book titled “Synchronicity Journaling: Working with Dreams, Visions, and Meaningful Coincidence,” I guess there’s nothing for it except to get up on that Horse and ride! I can now trust its energy to carry me forward with strength, vigor, passion, and the belief that the journey into the savage and beautiful country of my life with all it valleys, pinnacles, and detours is well worth the risk.