The Magic of the Horse
Throughout time, a great deal of symbolism has come to be associated with different animals. The horse is features prominently in folklore, myths and legends.
In Norse mythology, Odin, the father of all gods, rides an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. Images of Sleipnir have been found on stone carvings dating as far back as the eighth century. Many scholars believe that Sleipnir represents the shamanic journey, which implies that this horse's origins may date into the Proto-Indo-European religion.
Epona was a goddess of horses honored by the Celtic tribe known as the Gauls. She was said to have been born to a white mare. She was one of the few Celtic deities celebrated by the Romans. Her annual festival, held on December 18, involved tributes to horses and the erection of shrines and altars in stables. Epona can be represented by symbols of abundance and fertility, such as cornucopias. The Welsh Rhiannon is an adaptation of Epona's role as goddess of the horse.
Early Western Slavic tribes were said to have used horses as divination tools. In a method known as hippomancy, sacred horses were bred to be used as oracles. Divination was performed when a horse walked over spears placed on the ground in front of temples. The pattern in which the horse stepped over the spears (and whether a hoof touched a spear) helped in determining the outcome of the matter at hand.
During the Beltane season, many parts of the United Kingdom and Europe hold Hobby Horse celebrations. In England, this tradition arks to the island's early Pagan roots, as the hobby horse welcomes the season of fertility and celebrates masculine energy.
You can capture the magical energy of horses and incorporate it into your magical workings. Horseshoes once were made of iron, a material believed to ward off evil spirits, and traditionally held in place with seven - considered a lucky number - nails. Horseshoes found along the side of a road are considered particularly powerful.
Opinion is divided as to which way horseshoes ought to be nailed. Some say the ends should point up, so that the horseshoe can catch and hold luck. Others believe that the ends should point down, so that the luck is poured upon those entering the home.
[Image: The Two Crowns (1900) by Sir Frank Dicksee (1853-1928).]