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Of Horses and Souls

We are the People of the Horse.

Some thousands of years ago, on the vast plains of Asia, members of our race whom we now call Indo-Europeans, and whom we once dared call Aryans, domesticated the horse.

Or more correctly, say the geneticists, a single horse, whose traits were such that it could be a partner with humans…Fierce, but tamable…strong-headed, but cooperative…wild, but loyal. From that horse are all the horses of our Folk descended. It is the ur-horse.

It has been a good partnership.

With the offspring of that horse we ultimately conquered the vast Central Asian steppe. We, more than any other people – and this is important! – were able to cover distance, rapidly. The horse gave legs to our ferocity. In the centuries that followed we flowed out of Asia and into what is now Europe, shaping a new culture and a new way of being. We rode our horses to the sea. Men with horse-names – Hengist and Horsa – conquered what is now England. We sacrificed horses and gave them to the Gods; the Gods themselves rode horses in their travels between the worlds.

Paused by the ocean, we lusted to cover still more space. We built ships…and we poetically called them sea-steed, or wave-steed, or wave-horse, or wave-charger, or dozens of other kennings for horse. Sailing toward the sunset, past Iceland and Greenland, we found new worlds where grapes grew and we made our homes there.

The descendants of these sailors reached the ends of Midgard; circled the globe But still our intrepid race sought to “cover distance, rapidly.” That lust was there in our seed, perhaps even before we sat on a horse’s back. Now it impelled us…upward. Did the stars that twinkled above the Asian steppe know our fate, our lust? Did Pegasus await us even then, or some other celestial horse whose name is forgotten by men?

We are the wandering race, who seek the very stars themselves.

Our Gods travel between the worlds on their horses. So shall we, in imitation of them, seek distant worlds.

But there is more. We have talked of the stars; let us consider another journey… the journey into death.

It is said that men and women are borne to the grip of the grave or the purifying flame of the fire by four men – a count of eight legs, like Odin’s horse, Sleipnir. Will we enter the Otherworld with a horse to speed the way? The sibyl is silent…as the grave. But allow me a moment of musing: When I leave this world, perhaps my steed-self will come to me, and bear me to the Realm of Holiness, the Hall of the Ancestors, and I will quaff mead with them…and ride the Worlds as I choose…”covering distance, rapidly.”

If it is so, let us give that horse eight stout and speedy legs – to take us to our revered ancestors, or to the realm of the Gods, to Vallhall itself!

I will give my horse “good deeds,” that I will be remembered after my death…

I will give my horse “mighty runes,” that I will wield power in all the worlds…

I will give my horse “open handedness,” that those gifts shall be returned…

I will give my horse “sacrifice,” for gifts call for gifts…

I will give my horse “laughter,” to glad the Gods and my kin…

I will give my horse “trust” in return for “trust”…

I will give my horse “honor” and accept it in return…

I will give my horse “speed” that we may – “cover distance…rapidly.”

One with my steed…One with my kin…One with my Folk.


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