The following is a parable for the three ways of dealing with new energies - to be overly dominating, to be overly permissive, or to have mastery. And there is something eerily real about the story's time for me, which is late 1700's to early 1800's I'd say. The story came to me just yesterday morning in a flash of weeping and rememberances for my Native American lifetimes in which I practiced the storytelling arts to heal and guide, and perhaps needless to say I am still learning the lessons of which it speaks. Thank you Great Spirit for this and many things.
The Story of the Three Wild Horses
In the time after the Spanish brought the first horses to the Americas and before white men killed too many of the buffalo, there were three native brothers who had grown to manhood in their tribe. Their parents had died from sickness long ago so they were raised by their grandmother, who was respected for her wisdom but had no horses to give to her grandsons for power or prestige. At this time horses were owned by individuals and there were not enough to go around, so they made all the difference to a family’s success. And so the brothers faced their futures with uncertainty, for each had great ambitions but did not know what to do to earn respect among their peers.
One day the three brothers went to their grandmother for advice. The youngest brother who was hot-tempered in nature said crossly “Grandmother, I wish to become a great warrior, but I have no horse to ride into battle, what am I to do?” And the middle brother who was gentle in nature said “Grandmother, I wish to become a loving husband and father, but I have no horse to attract a mate, what am I to do?” And the eldest brother who was visionary in nature said “Grandmother, I thank you for all that you have taught me, but still I need a horse for the tribe to listen to my words, what am I to do?”
The old woman sighed and said to her grandsons, “Come, let us make offerings to the Great Spirit and pray for a dream tonite that you may each be guided what to do.” And so they made offerings of sweet herbs and prayed around the campfire long into the night until at last they fell asleep.
In the morning the three brothers awoke to tell their dreams to the wise old woman. The youngest said, “Oh grandmother, I dreamt that a mighty black steed with eyes of fire was waiting to be mine!” And the middle said, “Oh grandmother, I dreamt that I received a white horse so beautiful that I would have my choice of bride!” And the eldest said “Oh grandmother, I dreamt that Great Spirit said we are each to go alone into the wilderness to find the horse that is our own!” And the old woman smiled and nodded for it to be so. She packed each grandson with provisions, and each set off in a different direction to meet their destinies.
The youngest brother came to a canyon where he spied a wild black steed with eyes of fire, just as he had seen in his dream. He cried out with victory and chased the horse into a narrow gully with high walls, where the wild horse became trapped and furious. The brother set up camp at the entrance and proceeded to break the horse’s will to be his own. The horse fought back but the brother won in the end, so at last he rode the powerful creature back into the tribe. There he was greeted by his peers who were impressed with the Great Spirit’s gift of such a terrifying horse. The brother was quickly invited into the war parties where he soon made a name for himself as undefeatable in battle and able to lead the raids to steal many needed horses.
The middle brother met the white horse of his dreams upon the plains, where the animal approached the brother with curiosity. The brother’s gentleness and soothing words of admiration caused the wild horse to come so close that the brother dared to leap upon its back. But thereupon the horse rose up and threw the brother to the ground, where he lay with his leg badly broken. The brother pleaded to the horse for help, and miraculously the horse allowed the brother to climb upon it and be carried back toward the village. The brother was met by a group of young maidens, who so admired the beautiful horse and its new owner that they took turns caring for the brother’s leg until it would be healed, and competed among themselves to be chosen as his bride.
The eldest brother traveled further than the others, until he came to a forest lake in the shadow of a mountain. There he saw a mighty wild horse of reddish brown and spotted white drinking at the shore, so he hid himself to observe. For days he watched the splendid creature come and go to its favorite place to drink and rest. The brother made a camp downwind so as to not alert the animal, and prayed to the Great Spirit for how to make the horse his own. The brother received dreams to guide him in understanding the horse’s wild energies, so he could gradually approach the animal and communicate his intentions to become its fair and proper master. The horse at first protested but in time came to trust the brother, until at last the two could ride back as one into the village. There they were met by the medicine man who said Great Spirit told me you were coming to be my apprentice now, and the brother was glad and gave many thanks.
In the years that followed, the grandmother watched as her three grandsons each explored their own paths of choice and fate. The youngest brother won many battles for horses for the tribe, and in gratitude was given by the chief his proud daughter’s hand in marriage. Outwardly the couple was celebrated and appeared happy, but privately the girl proved to be demanding and even cruel. When she could not produce a child, she used her father’s favor to forbid her husband to find another bride, and to instead order him to steal not only horses but also children for her from his war parties. This earned the brother an extra wrath from neighboring tribes, who sent spies to find and kill him. The brother and his amazing horse could not outrun every attempt upon his life, and one day they were found dead with many arrows piercing their hides.
The middle brother chose the loveliest girl who nursed him back to health to be his bride. Unfortunately, his leg never fully healed, so he became lame and dependent on his white horse to carry him on buffalo hunts to provide for his growing family. The horse remained temperamental and unreliable, which tested the patience of the loving brother. Over time the brother became so frustrated that he would lash out, but only at his wife and never to the horse who was his real problem. He feared angering the animal who was after all a magical gift of the Great Spirit to whom he owed his life. The gentle wife became increasingly unhappy, both with her husband for his treatment of her and the horse which had remained so wild that the brother’s buffalo hunts often failed and the children went hungry. Everyone in the village pitied the suffering family, but no one dared intervene for fear of crossing the will of the Great Spirit who had sent the strange white horse to create such a fate.
The eldest brother studied under the medicine man to become his successor and a powerful shaman for the tribe. His medicine animal was the horse, of course, which gave him the power to know which way the future was headed and how to work with the energies of change. When his youngest brother was killed for having warred upon so many other tribes, the eldest brother was able to broker a peace between the chiefs, return the stolen children, and even find a suitable remarriage for his brother’s widow, the chief’s jealous daughter. When the eldest brother saw the misery of his middle brother, he whispered to the white horse and taught the middle brother to at last properly respect and tame the wild animal, thus bringing peace to the entire family. When the eldest brother saw the women of his tribe both admire and fear his powers as the medicine man, he balanced his internal energies so that he might tame his own desires as a man and become the fair and equal friend to all.
In time, the eldest brother’s red and white spotted horse carried him on peacemaking missions to further and further tribes, until he became known to a medicine woman who was his true equal and peer. Together they foresaw the coming of the end of the buffalo, of the massacres and demise of the native way of life. When none would believe them in their time that white men could or would one day kill the mighty herds of millions of bison whose stampedes perfectly tilled the prairies unlike the white man’s overgrazing cows, the two shamans retired to that peaceful lake in the shadow of the mountain where the Great Spirit’s gift horse had first been found. In love and wisdom the couple worked quietly together to lay the seeds for a future time in which all would be healed once again upon the mighty land. They made rituals and prayers to the Great Spirit, Mother Earth, and Father Sky, called on the ancestors and future generations, and held conferences with the nature spirits, light beings, and star people to agree for when to intervene and when to allow imbalances to run their course.