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Way of the Horse Card Reading – One woman’s quest for an answer to her insomnia

 On my Way of the Horse Facebook page I discuss how to use the “Way of the Horse – Equine Archetypes for Self Discovery” Book and Card set which I co-created with author Linda Kohanov

I invited readers to ask a question I could pose to the Cards as a sample reading.

Victoria wrote:  “I would so love to learn the message behind my insomnia of the last ten years – I have tried so many things and have tried to learn why, what the message is, and what I need to do to rebalance myself. I am having trouble with my intuition on this subject, and in general, as I am just too tired and drained of energy. I feel in a complete fog. Thank you so much.”

I selected 2 Way of the Horse Cards for Victoria

Spirit of Shackleford Prints and Gifts are available at

Spirit of Shackleford Prints and Gifts are available at

For the Message Behind her Insomnia the card I chose was

Card 20 – Close to Shore

(Excerpts from Text by Linda Kohanov)


Detachment and Surrender

The Pain and Wisdom of Old Age

An old chestnut mare stands at the edge of a vast ocean that the rest of her herd cannot see…This horse has reached the final crossroads of her life, the place where she will share her hard-won wisdom and surrender to a higher will.

The Gift What you’ve loved, or at least have become accustomed to, is coming to an end.  Still, the transition to the next phase of life or work will be slow enough to let you appreciate where you’ve been and allow you to fully, consciously activate the wisdom you’ve gleaned from past experience.

The Challenge A new life is calling, but the form it will take isn’t quite clear.  In the meantime, your challenge is to stay in a job, relationship, barn, or body you’ve outgrown, yet avoid becoming a “lame duck” or a frustrated and manipulative old codger. 

Excerpt: Part of the lesson Linda write of involves harnessing the archetype of the Crone – and the detachment that comes from suffering.)  “The crone would be able to cut with a well-honed sword.  She would be able to see what is no longer essential to life – a relationship for example, that has become destructive.  She would perceive it, see through to the heart of it, and cut where necessary, but cut with love.”

Kim writes: Victoria – perhaps you can do some meditations on aspects of your life you’d like to change by embracing the power of horses and their level of clear and unemotional discernment.   The crone archetype could also be considered to reflect the energy of a Lead Mare.

 The Creation of “Spirit of Shackleford

the reference photo by Carolyn Mason

In the Way of the Horse card deck, “Close to Shore” is based upon a painting called “Spirit of Shackleford”.  It was inspired by an aging horse standing on a dune on Shackleford Banks Island in North Carolina.  Overlooking the horse is a beautiful white cloud in which the image of a young horse appears.  I created the artwork to help support the Foundation for Shackleford Horses and to help the horses stay wild and free and well cared for. 

When I visited the island there was a definite feeling to me that as a human I was the intruder.  There was a sacred wildness to the salt scrubbed island and the tenacious wild horses who survived there; a rare feeling of the ancestral lineages of horses that had graced that islands for generations since arriving there off shipwrecked Spanish ships.   Mankind brought the species Horse back to North America, and Shackleford island was one of the first places they stepped foot onto land.

My experiences there were a reminder to me of the ancient wisdom of the horse and the depth of the history of their species.  They have much to teach us about patience and fortitude, and how to survive and even thrive despite harsh surroundings or life events.  You can learn more about the horses and The Foundation here

For the 2nd Card Victoria’s question was how to balance herself

"Moonlight" Prints and Gifts available at

“Moonlight” Prints and Gifts available at

Card 9 – Language of the Breath

(Excerpts from text by Linda Kohanov)

The Gift When you use your entire body as an organ of perception, you embrace the world and sense your place in it more deeply.

The Challenge The idea that we are separate brings is an illusion.  Managing the contagious nature of thought and emotion is difficult when your head is at war with your heart.

(Emotion) is our sixth sense:  not a supernatural gift but an ancient instinct that humans lost through disconnecting mind from body.  Horses become noticeably agitated in the presence of people who are incongruent, who try to cover anger, fear, or sadness with an appearance of well-being.  This is not an equine judgment of our tendency to lie about what we’re really feeling, it’s a reflection of emotions physiology – and its contagious nature.  … Studies show a person’s blood pressure escalates when he tries to suppress feeling.  It takes energy to hide these feelings, which adds to the anxiety radiating from your body.  Most of the time, this exchange happens unconsciously because we’re trained ourselves to ignore somatic input.  The good news is that positive feelings are contagious too.

Kim writes: Victoria – There is much more to this reading – read more in the Way of the Horse.  My suggestion from this card is perhaps you can look into some workshops with horses or somatic workshops to begin to learn how to listen to your body’s awareness’s.  Perhaps if you learned how to read your own body’s messages you could learn to sleep better too… You can also do two 5 card readings asking for more insight into the central themes behind the cards Close to Shore and Language of the Breath

The Creation of “Moonlight

“Language of the Breath” is originally titled “Moonlight” and was inspired by a photograph of a horse looking out of a stall.  The distant gaze of the horse made me feel she was listening intently to the environment, and so to allow her to feel this more purely when I painted her image, I removed the bars and the artificial barn lights, and I returned her to the moonlit night.  I painted steam rising up from the heat of her body and her breath to depict the space between the air and her skin becoming one.

It is wonderful to read Linda’s writings inspired by this painting, and to note that out of 300 works of art the publisher chose “Moonlight” to be on the cover of “Way of the Horse”.

I hope you all enjoy these thoughts, and Victoria, I hope this helps you find wisdom about your insomnia. Let us know…

May the Horse be with you ~ Kim McElroy

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