When I first met my spirit-horse, the one who travels with me through my drum, or who allows me to ride him in spirit, I was intimidated. I knew that many spiritual traditions had spiritual horses that took them where they needed to go, and that alone made me uneasy. I didn’t want to ‘gib’ other traditions’ practices. When Odin introduced us that quickly fell away. I felt an instant connection to the spirit-horse (he has asked me not to write his name) and he all but swept me onto his back, and away we went. He made it clear we were to work together as partners, that though I rode him and occasionally directed him, that I had to put my utter trust in him in kind. It was, at first, quite intimidating. Over time it has become easier. Where I once mounted him with worry or low confidence, I now slide on and we go. Drumming-wise, it only takes a few strums until I am ‘down‘ and we are gone. It used to take me about fifteen minutes to half an hour to get that far down. I have only ridden horses on trails in my adult life, so riding through the Worlds at a full gallop took some getting used to. I can only imagine what the drumming sounded like, as ‘gone’ as I tend to be when that happens.
I’ve read a post by Kenaz Filan, Jalkr TempleKeeper, and Galina Krasskove on Ehwaz and horses today, and that is how I got the push to start this article. In my own experience, is the Rune of Fast Travel, a Journey Rune (usually short, though that depends on other Runes that may be around it), speed, virility, and natural grace and power. My spirit-horse has me use it as a kind of signal, especially if I need to be away from a place quickly. As a spirit, the Rune seems very horse-like to me, perhaps like a stallion or matriarch of a herd. It’s a Rune that communicates leadership and confidence as much as it does swiftness, resilience, endurance, and power.
I’d certainly say that my spirit-horse partner has these same qualities, but he has a kind of gentleness or patience about him that I don’t feel as much from the Rune. I’m thankful for it; he had a timid partner at first, and I’m sure that was frustrating. I’ve worked with him for almost a year now, and it is amazing to me how far we’ve come in trust, and how many places we’ve gone. It’s a powerful partnership, one I’m happy to have. In his own way, my companion has pushed me to grow. Before I accepted my work as a shaman, I was very-much a “go-it-alone I need no help” kind of magician; I was very used to just making my own way. I’ve had to unlearn a lot of that, and see that while I poured on the armor, spiritually speaking, it was a tremendous waste of energy. If I just trusted my Gods to have my back, or a spiritual friend, I would not have had to be as keyed-up anywhere near as much, and could have focused on the work I needed to.
I wasted a lot of energy watching my butt and doing continuous cleansing work; some of it was needed for the work I did then. Most of it was because I didn’t ask for Anubis’ help, nor did I ask for a ridealong partner from any of the totem animals I knew, or spirits I worked with. I didn’t want to inconvenience, but I also did not want to trust that deep. I liked the working relationship Anubis and I had, as well as the genial brotherhood relationship, but I took care of my own stuff and that was it. When Anubis eventually pushed me on to work with Odin (I had it in my head I would be working with the Egyptians the rest of my life), I was taken entirely outside of my comfort zones. I was placed into a magical and spiritual practice where spiritual alliances, such as with my spirit-horse partner, were part of my path and comprised close bonds where trust was paramount. Where I had once trust my Gods to watch my back for big things, I now entrusted my Gods with the little things. I once thought my Gods were too big to care about my problems, big or small to me; it turns out most of Them (though some do have that attitude) just wanted me to trust Them enough to let Them into my life. The same with my spiritual companions. My spirit-horse companion follows me most anywhere, and my Gods speak with me on a regular basis. For me, it was allowing that connection to be, whether at first between Odin and myself, or later with my spirit-horse companion and I, that was the challenge. It was a lot of working through self-doubt, and especially self-esteem issues (i.e. “My Gods have better things to do than listen to me”, or “I don’t want to be an inconvenience to my spirit allies”), something that has taken dedicated work and opening to the Gods and spirits that I didn’t do four years ago.
In becoming a Northern Tradition shaman, I have realized that, at least in my path and work, this opening is necessary. Without it the Gods can’t use my body for communicating with people, spirits can’t get their messages across through me, and the magic of the Runes I have come to know, both in knowing them through Hanging on Yggdrasil, and as spiritual beings, would be reduced. If I were not spiritually open, I would still be seeing the Runes merely as tools. A large part of my life that I now lead would be shut to me, and my journey as a shaman would have gone nowhere. That’s what Ehwaz also speaks to me: trust, implacable trust. If I do not trust my spirit-horse, I could drum for hours and go nowhere. If I do not trust my Gods, all the prayers in the world will not matter if I give Them nothing to work with. If I do not trust my friends and family, how can I say I love them? Inviting spirits and the Gods into my body requires a large deal of trust. I have to at least trust that Odin, being my patron, will have my back if the spirit or God/dess begins to do something foolish, illegal or immoral. I have to trust myself, that I can and will go down far enough for the spirit or God/dess to use my body, and trust that my assistants will support me. I have to trust that when I mount my spirit-horse, that we work together as one, trusting him to carry me where we need to go. This has taken healing, but it is healing I sorely needed. So in a way, becoming a shaman and following this path has healed my heart, psyche, and soul. It has helped to put me into a better place. Perhaps they were broken so I could come to this path and find that healing. Either way, I am here. The growth has been slow, but very-much worth it.
I should have the entry where Odin introduced us up soon.