Far back, far back in our dark soul, the horse prances..


To be wild

In each one of us lives, side by side with the surface part, the so-called civilized part of us, the ‘wild’ part, that part that never got tamed, that never submitted itself to language, but is still an integral part of the animal life, the natural life.

The American Indian called this part of us the ‘totem’. That wild part of us, that ancient, untamed part, is associated with some animal, which becomes the guide in moments of need.

If we take time to listen to that ancient part inside us, this ‘animal’ will come to us in dreams, in secret hints, in unguarded moments, to show its face, its energy, its personality. That personality, that totem, is often suppressed in our daily ‘civilized’ life, but once we learn to ‘feel’ it and trust it, it will reveal things about ourselves that the surface personality does not know, does not even dream of.

Even though this totem is not ‘physical’, it lives mostly in the chest, in the heart chakra, therefore the American Indian says: ‘Let us look at the world not with our two eyes, but with the one eye that is the heart’.

Most people will go through their entire life without ever being aware of and knowing that wild part, that totem, on a conscious level, though on an unconscious level it is very much present in our daily lives, but, being kind of repressed or ignored, can also create havoc.

This totem, this spirit guide, this ‘animal’, is not something different from us. It is us, at our deepest, most true and unique level. It is the essence of us, the original part. The so called civilized part is the part which we acquire during life, but it is not our true self.

To depart on a journey of discovery of this wild part, this true part, is not only a joy, but is also our salvation from the overuse of the brain, from language, from fantasying about life. And eventually it is also the salvation of our home, Planet Earth.

In Epona and the nightingales I continue my conversations with Epo-Na, but at a certain point there was an interruption of many years, in which I did not see Her. After that episode the overall mood of the Discussions changed as I had changed.

The Voice of the Universe

I had been spending a leisurely evening with the herd. The foals were sleeping and the mares were standing quietly, keeping watch over them. The air was quiet and there was a feeling of expectation in the air when suddenly, in the trees above our heads, a nightingale began to sing.

Epo-Na came to stand next to me and whispered in my ear:’ listen to his song’.

I did.

His song penetrated many layers of my being – layers of sadness, grief, happiness, fear and anger, penetrating deeper and deeper inside me, touching many joyful and painful memories, till, without any warning, I had the overwhelming feeling of being engulfed by an immense Goodness, a protection, a love that is unknown in our human world. A profound feeling of having ‘come home’.

I looked at Epo-Na. Her deep golden eyes shone in the twilight, and I leaned against her. We both stood quiet, listening to the voice of the Universe.


My seventieth birthday (February 2012) had come and gone and March had exploded in full glory, splashing the country side with pink, white and yellow trees and bushes.

Spring Equinox (March 2012) was at the doorstep, and I had not seen Epo-Na for a while, but her words were always dancing in the back of my mind. I thought about how different my life was since I had met her. She had talked to me about the heart, and about healing the heart and mind, not by rituals or philosophies, but by the simple and humble act of being grateful for everything.

‘It does not matter what,’ she had admonished me, ‘look around you, there are hundreds of things you can be grateful for.’

I looked around me. The forsythia was vying with the sun in yellow, the apricot trees were blushing like a shy girl and the first few butterflies were drunkenly fluttering between the branches, not sure what they were supposed to do.

A leaf in the road, alone, uncaringly driven over by hurrying cars.

I was vigorously brushing my old gelding Cisco to help him get rid of his winter fur. Upper lip pointing forward, neck stretched out as far as he could, every now and then weaving his head left and right, he was telling me that I was doing the right thing, and that he was grateful thank you very much. I laughed, and afterwards collected the discarded fur to put it under a different tree each time, for the birds. I knew that in autumn I would find the - by then – abandoned nests with on the inside, ingeniously woven into the twigs, Cisco’s winter fur, a snug cradle for the new-born chicks.

A long chain of gratefulness – me for being allowed to take care of such a magnificent animal, the birds for getting his fur and the chicks for having a cosy little home as a consequence.

At the end of the brushing session I looked as if I too had suddenly grown winter fur, so clothes into the washing machine, and then afterwards the washing machine full of winter fur. Long chain of fur!

I reflected on my year with Epo-Na. She had come into my life – I thought – when I was going through a difficult moment, but then, looking back on my life, I realized she had always been there, only I had not noticed her. We human animals are masters at placing ourselves at the centre of the universe, and so age and diseases find us without defences.

As I was parking the car on the parking lot of the super market I watched the cobbled stones. Brave little dandelions were defying the rubber tires going over them, trying to make a home nevertheless in the sparse soil, and I reflected on the past year.

Gratitude is something that is not being taught anywhere, and yet it is the cream that softens our daily life. It is the one thing that takes us out of our self-centred life and self-pity, to reconnect us with the wider field of life.

After having taken care of all my work I was longing to find the herd and Epo-Na. Like the first time I had met her a year ago she was standing a little away from the herd and at my approach fixed her large, deep golden eyes on me.

‘Well, do you feel different?’, she asked, raising one eyebrow.

‘Different from what?’

‘Didn’t you celebrate your seventieth birthday just now with a lot of fanfare?’

‘It wasn’t a lot of fanfare’, I said defensively, ‘it was a lot of old and new friends coming to visit me and wish me a very happy second seventieth birthday’.

‘I thought it was your first seventieth birthday?, she asked, puzzled.

‘Yes, but that does not mean that they cannot wish me a very happy second one. You think it is premature?’

Epo-Na laughed that laugh that I had come to love more than anything else in my life.

‘You smell of indoors’, she said accusingly, ‘let us go for a walk.’

It felt comfortable and homely to again walk side by side with this magnificent white mare who once upon a time played such an important role in the lives of so many human animals. Yet, even though human animals are no longer aware of her, she is there, watching, helping where she can, bringing laughter and playfulness where those are lost, bringing dreams to those who can no longer dream, and visions and strength to those whom she is going to take to the Sea.

‘Did you practice your gratitude exercises?, she asked casually.

‘Yes, but there are so many things that I had to make a short-cut’.

‘What do you mean: a short-cut?’

‘Well, just lump everything together and be grateful for EVERYTHING at the same time.’

‘You mean like for being alive?’

‘Yes’, I said, and put my arms around her neck.

It was good to be home, to feel again Epo-Na’s strong and warm body against mine.

She wrapped her neck around me and we stood thus for a long time, without saying a word, while the sun slowly made his way around the sky.

Spring Equinox (March 2013)

It had been very hot the last couple of days, and the first midges had started to bother the horses. Epo-Na was rubbing her face vigorously on my back, so that I had to stabilize myself by putting my hands on the rump of a nearby mare.

Suddenly she asked: ‘Do you own your head?’


‘Do you own your head?’, she repeated impatiently.

‘Of course I do, what kind of a question is that?’

‘When a human foal is born, what is the first thing it says?’

‘It doesn’t say anything; it can’t talk.’ I had no idea where all this was leading to.

Epo-Na was shaking her head in disapproval.

‘It can’t talk for many months,’ I added, a little unsure.

‘It can’t talk, it can’t walk, it can’t do anything. I suppose it is resting from being born. For many months,’ she said a little sarcastically, again shaking her head in disapproval.

‘When our foals are born they can stand up, walk and drink within half an hour.’

I looked around. It was still too early for foals; they would come later.

I tried to make a small attempt at defending human animals by saying: ‘Yes, but human foals are born after nine months, while yours are born after 11 months. I suppose they are resting inside the womb,’ I added a little maliciously.

This time Epo-Na nodded in approval ‘Very wise, the longer you stay inside the better. Prepares you better for the world.’

‘What does this have to do with me owning my head?’ I asked.

Epo-Na looked thoughtfully in the distance.

‘So it can’t talk, eh? It doesn’t have names for anything. Everything it will say or think later on is put there by its surroundings . Names, ideas, everything, It takes months and months to program that little brain, and that programming will go on for all of its life. Family, books, friends, television, newspapers, you name it, they all program you to fit in nicely in the human herd.’

I was silent. I had never thought of that.

‘I told you once, human animals do not have one thought that has not been put there by something or someone else.’

‘You do not own your head. It is owned by your world.’

She looked at me and her face was soft. Did I detect a hint of compassion in her eyes?’

‘So I am a second hand human animal,’ I asked. It was disturbing.

‘Only half of you’, Epo-Na smiled, and pushed my chest with her nose,

‘That part of you is not second hand’, she breathed into my ear. ‘Trust your heart, it is that part of you that has not been programmed, that has not been tamed, that is the wild part of you, the ‘real’ you. Listen to its voice. It will tell you things the head, the ‘civilized’ you, has no idea of.’

She and the other mares slowly walked away, leaving me standing alone, watching them as they faded into the sunshine.


I was sitting at the bar, outside in the first rays of the sun, having my morning coffee and brioche. My table was surrounded by sparrows going cheepcheepcheep and chtchtcht. To be social I answered them with cheepcheepcheep and chtchtcht. I had no idea what we were talking about, but suspected it had to do with the brioche on my table. One of them was so audacious to actually fly onto my table. Trying not to scare him I carefully pushed a crumb in his direction with my finger. He looked at me with small, round, black eyes and then, in a swift kamikaze flash, grabbed the crumb and flew onto the roof of the bar, under the loud protests of his companions.

I was trying to think. In fact, I was trying to think one thought, even one thought only, that I had not thought before.

Nothing. Each time I tried, I bumped into an old one, or a combination of old ones.

There was not one new, original, thought in my head.

With a shock I knew that Epo-Na was right: I am a second-hand human animal, programmed from birth on, like a live robot.

I held my breath: that is me, thinking that I am unique and alone.

I am as unique and alone as seven billion other human animals that think that they are unique and alone without realizing that they have been programmed from birth on – seven billion live little robots.

I rushed away from the table, forgetting to pay, to confront Epo-Na.

She was waiting for me, eyes shining.

‘Be at peace’, she nuzzled me, breathing softly in my hair, while I was sobbing from the shock. She worked for a while on my shoulders, and then made me lie down in the fresh spring grass.

‘Roll over and put your face in the grass’, she breathed softly in my ear.

I rolled over obediently. The grass smelled of spring, of fresh mornings, of millions of little creatures living there, all busy with their little lives, just like us, human animals, also busy with our tiny little lives. The grass was tickling my face, and an ant was trying to climb into my hair, thinking no doubt he had found a new, undiscovered, forest.

The grass was damp and cool, and it soon cooled my agitation.

I felt Epo-Na rolling me again over onto my back.

She looked at me and then bursts out laughing, kicking up her legs so that a spray of dew fell on my face.

‘What is so funny?, I sneezed.

‘That ant,’ she laughed, ‘just like you, thinking he has discovered something new, while in fact he hasn’t.’

She blew the ant off my face and then plonked down next to me in the grass.

I put my head on her broad neck, and after a while I could hear her breathing becoming regular as she was falling asleep.

My thoughts slowly faded as I became aware of the immense love I had for Epo-Na, for the world, for all the small and big creatures living on this huge animal that we call Earth, all programmed from birth onwards to lead their lives according to a scheme, a plan. Made by whom? By what? Why? I did not know.

And then I fell asleep too.


I was woken rudely by Epo-Na jumping up and almost trampling on me.

‘Come on, we have to go.’ She nudged me with her hoof.

‘Where, what?, I yawned, but she had grabbed me by the arm and pulled me up, starting to trot, so that I had to run to keep up with her.

We made our way thus to the end of the field, where there was a lone mare. She was lying in the grass, kicking her legs and moaning.

Epo-Na motioned me with a gesture to slow down, and went to the mare to reassure her that I was harmless. Then she motioned me to come closer.

The mare had quietened down at the approach of Epo-Na, and after heaving a deep sigh gave one more push, and one more, and one more and then just one last push and ohmygod out came one tiny hoof, and then another tiny one, and then a tiny nose and then – like a pea out of the pod – the tiniest, adorablest little foal slid out of the mare onto the ground, still wrapped up in cellophane and with a dazed look on its face. The first foal of this year.

The mother began to lick it vigorously to liberate it from the birth sac, to stimulate the blood circulation and to reassure the surprised little creature that all was well, mum is here, don’t worry.

Epo-Na laughed. ‘You see,’ it is the same with us. Now the mother and the others of the herd are going to teach this new-born baby all he needs to know in life, what to eat, what not to eat, whom to fear, whom not to fear, whom to respect, whom not to respect – programming, just like human foals. We are all the same, we are all programmed from birth on – and ultimately only the programmer knows why.’

We watched for half an hour the new born baby struggle to get up on legs that seem to get entangled all the time, buckling under and straightening out again according to their own volition, bringing it all the time crashing down to the ground before struggling to get up again. Finally it managed to stand up long enough on long, shaking legs to start the next adventure: hunting for the nipple. After trying in vain the legs, the tail and the neck of the mare, he suddenly found the nipple, attached himself like a leech to a leg, and began to suck noisily.

‘Come,’ Epo-Na said softly, ‘climb onto my back.’

I did, and then we cantered back to the herd. The mare would follow later, when she was sure that the little foal would be strong enough to follow her.

I thought about the foal: human foals, animal foals, they all need to be programmed in order to survive in this strange, often dangerous, always mysterious, world.


I spent a couple of days at home, thinking about thinking and programming. Trying to calculate:

Say human animals have been around one million years. One generation is maybe forty years? One million divided by forty – mind boggling. I was not even a second hand human animal, not even a third, not even a fourth, not even a fifth hand human animal, but a million-years-divided-by-forty years-th-hand human animal.

I was eager to share my calculations with Epo-Na to see what she had to say about it. When I had finished talking she began to laugh and started: ‘Can you imagine – one million years. Repeating the same dull old thoughts for one million years: “Where do I get my dinner for tonight, should I shoot a deer with my bow and arrow (prehistory) or go to the supermarket (21st century); where do I drink, do I go to the river (prehistory) or to the bar (21st century); where do I get my clothes, do I strip a tree of its bark (prehistory) or do I go to Gucci (21st century).” That is what human animals call evolution: it took human animals one million years to evolve from bow and arrow, rivers and tree bark to supermarkets, bars and Guccis, repeating the same thoughts, generation after generation.’

Epo-Na again laughed, and the more she laughed, the funnier it all got, and I joined in laughing, and we both laughed till we were shaking so hard with laughter that we had to lean on each other for support.

And then I suddenly remembered that I had run away from the bar where I had had my breakfast a couple a days ago without paying.

Perception of time

We were leisurely walking through the fields. The foal was now a week old, and exhibited all the exuberance of his age, bucking around his mother, and every now and then even aiming a disrespectful kick at the great white stallion, who was smiling indulgently. Later on would come the time to teach manners and respect, but now everyone was just amused by the antics of the youngster.

The fields were covered with dandelions, bright little suns laughing up at the big sun overhead: yellow and green – the perfect combination against the background of a clear blue sky.

Epo-Na seemed thoughtful. We walked in silence for a while, when she suddenly stopped in her track. Far away the cuckoo was singing his I-am-back song, and we both listened for a while. I had noticed him a couple of days ago, and, like every year, his song gave a jolt to my heart, so joyful and so mournful at the same time.

‘You see’, Epo-Na began, ‘thinking is useful, but it is also a trap, entrapping you in the frame of time.’

‘In what way,’ I asked.

‘Thinking is language, and language is time, the two are the same. You make your world with thinking, and that world is caught in time. But thinking is a very poor mason – its constructions are very primitive, and do not stand up to reality, it is too slow to catch the fleeting moments of life.

She was silent for a while, and then she touched my chest with her nose.

That part is the fast one, she breathed.


Here the Discussions ended and there was an interval of many years, in which I did not see Epo-Na.

On the 29th of May 2014, my world suddenly fell apart from one moment to the next, taking me with it.

Cisco died. I had to euthanize him for a strangling colic.

It was the end of an era, the end of a love.