Updated: May 27
Namasté by Kim McElroy
Often when I am commissioned to create a portrait for a horse and their person, it takes on a life of its own beyond their personal story. The portrait becomes a work of art that means something to another, or many others. Horses always takes us on a journey of some kind. My journey with Mel was one of experiencing a connection with others through the experience of Namasté.
The greeting of Namasté is a gesture of placing the hands together and bowing in greeting to another. It can simply mean hello, but "in Hinduism it also has a spiritual import reflecting the belief that "the divine and self is same in you and me", and connotes "I bow to the divine in you". - Wikipedia
How Mel taught me about divine greetings
Melisande or “Mel” for short, 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. Sharon decided that rather than asking me to create a lifelike portrait, she wanted me to create a work of art that expressed Mel's essence. Just as Sharon had allowed Mel to make her wishes known in life, in the portrait, she once again invited Mel to speak for herself.
The inspiration for Namasté
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 prompt. One morning as I was awakening from sleep, I felt the presence of a horse. In my mind’s eye, she galloped up to me and I saw hoof prints in the dirt, and then 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 as a message for Sharon. I then saw an image of Mel and Sharon facing each other. In between them was a bowl. They seemed to be engaged in a ceremony of sharing the bowl with each of them sipping from it. I envisioned a big, shining brass gong. Then the perspective of the vision changed to where Mel was facing me as if I was Sharon drinking from the bowl with her. Mel’s deep eyes were looking at me-as-Sharon with compassion and love. I realized that the experience reminded me of the concept of Namasté. I saw a purple shawl around Mel’s shoulders. It denoted her as a wise teacher and at the same time I felt that everything Sharon saw in her, she also saw in Sharon.
In discussing this with a friend and healer, I learned 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. The master learns as much from the student, as the student does from the master. The feeling was that if Sharon was 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 ,"You are my Teacher. "
The group poem inspired by Namasté
I shared Namasté with fans of my Inspirations emails, and I invited them to participate in a “group poetry” experience by sharing their thoughts on what the message of the painting of Namasté was. 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 shown below with the words from participants worldwide which formed an inspiring message of the profound gifts that horses offer us.
The ripple effect ~ Namasté inspiring children
The journey of Namasté continued when I received an email from a fan and friend from Portugal named Ian Rowcliffe. Ian taught the English language to children in the presence of his horses as the motivation and inspiration to learn language in a new way, by expressing contextual and complex feelings and thoughts rather than merely route learning. Ian praised the group poem I had posted and he asked my permission to use the poem in his teaching. He later sent a web link to share what Namasté had inspired. I watched with tears in my eyes as I beheld Portuguese children reading the poem aloud to the horses! (View photos) I couldn’t imagine a more profound way for me to hear that poem out loud.
Those of us who do healing work with horses know about the effects they have on us. There is a quality to all healing that goes beyond our own insights, expanding into a ripple effect which continues outward to all beings that share our lives or cross our paths. Little do we know what we can create when our hearts are filled with Namasté.
All of these beautiful layers of meaning were inspired by a horse named Melisande, whose name means “animal strength.”