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Namaste ~ How One Horse Awakened Many Voices

"Namaste" Artwork by Kim McElroy

“Namaste” Artwork by Kim McElroy

Sometimes, the portrait takes on a life of its own beyond the story of the horse and their person.  The portrait becomes a work of art that means something to another, or many others.  Then the horse takes on another role, and that is to become a symbol of their kind and the lessons they have to teach us all.



Melisande or “Mel” for short, was just such a horse. Mel was an Arabian mare dearly loved by her owner Sharon, who offered her a home in retirement, after her many homes and many years spent as a show horse gathering glory for her riders.  With Sharon she had a chance to just be herself, and find out who that self was.  When the toll taken on Mel’s body from her years of service made it clear she was ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge, Sharon helped her make that choice with dignity and ease. A year later, Sharon asked me to paint Mel’s spirit in an Essential Soul Essence Portrait.  Instead of just a pretty picture, Sharon wanted me to intuitively express her essence, just as in life, in her portrait, Sharon once again invited Mel to speak for herself. 

Usually when I begin the process of beginning a Soul Essence Portrait, I do a meditation to ask for the message from the horse. Mel didn’t need to wait for my prompting. She appeared in my mind one morning as I was awakening. I felt the presence of a horse. She galloped up to me, and I saw a lot of hoof prints in the dirt, I realized it was Mel because I had been thinking about her portrait.

I asked if there was something she could share for her soul essence portrait for Sharon. I then saw an image of Mel and Sharon facing each other. In between them was a bowl. It seemed to be a ceremony of sharing the bowl – each sipping from it.

bowl and mat

I asked if there was a cultural reference to the bowl symbol and the feeling was Japanese or Asian. I saw a big shining brass gong. Then the perspective of the vision changed to where Mel was facing me as if I was Sharon sharing the bowl with her. Mel’s deep eyes were looking into me/Sharon with compassion and love – The feeling felt like the gesture of bowing in the greeting “Namaste” a Buddhist greeting translated as “The divine in me bows to the divine in you”. Reflected in the liquid in the bowl was a written the Chinese characters for the concept of Namaste.

I saw a purple shawl around Mel’s shoulders.  Later when consciously meditating on Mel’s painting I saw her eyes as a deep purple brown.  I saw a green mat under the bowl and a sage green background.  Also I saw a dove appear with the wings spread over her chest behind the bowl. 


It felt like she is a wise teacher – but humble, and that everything Sharon might see in her, she was also seeing in Sharon. A healer friend told me that in the Japanese tradition the roles of Master/Student are also called “Teacher/Learner”. The Master and the Student are considered to have the same wisdom, and the master learns as much from the student as the student does from the master. The feeling was that if Sharon were to look at this portrait of Mel, – she and Mel would be looking at each other and each would be saying/feeling the same thing – “Namaste You are my Teacher – I am a Learner….”

I shared Namaste with fans of my e-Inspiration emails, and I invited them to participate in a “group poetry” experience by sharing their thoughts on what the message of Namaste is.  A flood of emails began pouring into my inbox. The responses were so meaningful and so universal, that I was inspired to create a series of illustrated pages with the words from participants worldwide which formed an inspiring message of the profound spiritual gifts that horses offer us.  I am now offering the Namaste Story as a free download to save or print.


To purchase Prints or Posters of Namaste, and to read more about Mel and Sharon, visit this link to her page

I researched some of the symbology of the images Mel had shown me and I found the following to be significant.  I find these to be profound messages from Melisande whose name means “animal strength”       ~ Kim McElroy

In looking up the symbolism of the Japanese tea ceremony I found some different statements to be profound when seen in light of the relationship of Sharon and Mel

  1. Every encounter is a singular occasion that will never recur again in exactly the same way, and so every aspect of the ceremony is savored.

  2. The chumon (door or “middle gate”) signifies the door between the harsh physical world and the spiritual world that is symbolized by tea.

  3. If tea is served during the day a gong sounds

  4. The host enters carrying the tea bowl (chawan) The tea bowl represents the moon (yin)

  5. The Japanese tea ceremony, or Cha-no-yu, meaning “hot water for tea”, is more than an elaborate ritual.  It is an interlude in which one leads oneself for the moment to the spirit of beauty, quietude, and politeness toward others. 

In researching Dove symbolism I found an interesting connection to Japanese mythology:

Doves are intimately aware of their environment. This kind of high sense of awareness reminds me of Hachiman, a Japanese god of war who claims the dove as a sacred symbol. Amidst clamor, battle and jarring conflict, the dove of Hachiman is a symbol of the peace that will (ideally) ensue after war has ended.

The war-association with dove symbolism inevitably leads us to the concept of death. Well, not death per se – more appropriately, the dove is a symbol of the souls sojourn after physical life has retired. Slavic legend claims the dove is a symbol of the souls release from earth-bound duty. In fact, when a dove is seen, it is a clear sign of the soul’s return to celestial realms. Furthermore, the dove’s most popular appearance in spiritual consciousness is that of the Holy Spirit in Christian wisdom.

The Concept of Namaste: The whole action of namaste unfolds itself at three levels: mental, physical, and verbal. It starts with a mental submission. This submission is in the spirit of total surrender of the self. This is parallel to the devotion one expresses before a chosen deity, also known as bhakti. The devotee who thus venerates with complete self-surrender is believed to partake the merits or qualities of the person or deity before whom he performs this submission. There is a prescription in the ancient texts known as Agamas that the worshipper of a deity must first become divine himself, for otherwise worship as a transaction would become invalid. A transaction can only be between equals, between individuals who share some details in common. Hence by performing namaste before an individual we recognize the divine spark in him. Further by facilitating our partaking of these divine qualities, namaste makes us aware of these very characteristics residing within our own selves. Simply put, namaste means the following: The God in me greets the God in you The Spirit in me meets the same Spirit in you.  In other words, it recognizes the equality of all, and pays honor to the sacredness of all.

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