The wild nature of the horse is so like the ocean. At times they are calm and beautiful on the surface, shimmering above mysterious depths. Then a sudden cascade of powerful emotional waves sets them into motion. Their elusive nature inspires us to access awe and humility. We can never truly tame their spirits, any more than we can tame the sea.
Kairos is an ancient Greek word that signifies a proper or opportune time for something to unfold. My creative process has been the most tangible way I have been able to experience the phenomenon of kairos, and kismet.
An Opportune Time
It was 1993, I was in my mid-twenties and running my successful art business. I was working on a series called "Horses in the Elements," which came about when I realized I could see the shapes of horses in clouds, waves, and other elements. That is another story, but when I first released these works of art in print, they caused a big stir. The paintings of horses in waves were particularly popular. I wasn't sure why but I knew I was onto something. These works of art seemed to tap into a universal understanding that horses are more than physical beings.
Horses are an essential part of nature. They allow us to tap into nature... because of their nature.
"Eye of the Storm" ~ Six horses ride the crest, as one watches
From the Horses in the Elements Series
That summer, I was looking for inspiration for a new painting. Back then, there was no internet, so when I wanted to look something up, I went to the library. I had a feeling that I wanted to know more about horses than what breed they were or what sport they could do. I sought to understand the essence of horses.
Going Back in Time
I had grown up loving horses, and stories like Misty of Chincoteague still echoed in my heart. I loved those stories because I related to the horses' characters, and I put myself into the persona of the horse. The horse was the star, and the human characters were merely bit players, setting the stage for the horse's story in a human-influenced world. But I found the human world uninspiring. I wanted to hear from the character of the horse.
The books I found in the library were no different. They were all about what people did with horses. I wanted to access an older and wiser perception of horses. So, I looked up Greek mythology. Surely there would be something in those myths to explore. But the books I found were all about human history and gods, and at first, I couldn't find any references to horses.
Undeterred, I walked downstairs to the children's library. There I found what my intuition was seeking. In a children's book about Greek myths, there was a story about Poseidon, the sea god. Poseidon wanted to impress the goddess Demeter, so he fashioned the first horse from the waves. Poseidon fashioned… the first horse from the WAVES!
There I was, sitting like a child on the library floor, and suddenly a huge puzzle piece of my psyche fell into place. The horse was an ELEMENT! I had known this intuitively but not intellectually. My schooling did not include Greek myths, but even if it had, it was only at this moment in my life I could connect the dots and develop a new interpretation.
These feelings went into creating a magnificent horse the color of sea foam, taking shape from the element of water, the origin of all life on the planet.
"Poseidon's Gift" (Detail)
Time to Reflect
I recently read a definition of animism: which is the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence and perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork, and perhaps even words—as animated and alive. I realized that animism defines how I have always viewed the world, and why I paint horses in the elements, and in the heavens. Poseidon's Gift taught me to follow my intuition. I'll never forget that moment when following my inner guidance led to my discovery of an ancient understanding.
Next time (Kairos time) you have a feeling tapping you on the shoulder, it might be a big idea, waiting for you to discover what your heart knows, but what your psyche needs to understand. May Poseidon's Gift inspire you to catch that emotional wave.