Detail of a recent painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
Majestic, sensitive, powerful. Horses seem to know what you’re thinking, they pick up on how you feel. There is a quality of spiritual opportunity about them. Riding them makes you feel closer to the sky, taller than human and grounded in your power. This horse just appeared–the head and neck were something I “found” when looking at random brush strokes, so I filled in the rest. I love it when horses show up.
A recent commissioned Spirit Painting Elaine Clayton copyright 2013
If you have ever dreamed of horses or have a special feeling or affinity for them, learning their symbolic meaning is enriching. Horses represent empowerment, the majestic and pride as well as many other meanings. When you ride a horse, you are elevated above the normal height so you see things with an air of detachment. Horses have always been associated with wealth, too. Horses may mean something to you beyond the universal symbols, and so your own associations with horses is very important. One of the Illuminara Intuitive Journal cards is of a beautiful horse in a stall. Is it a well-cared for horse, protected and groomed, or is it trapped when it would rather be frolicking in the fields? Any one horse image brings up a lot of questions, and if you spend time going over what the particular image means to you personally, there is an intuitive and subtle activation happening. The unconscious gets a chance to surface into the conscious, with feeling and memory. This is true of spending time on any image, but archetypal ones are especially powerful.
While creating this one, I felt new beginnings, prayers answered and harmony with nature, even through tests of endurance. Butterflies somehow make it, some traveling for miles and miles though they are so delicate.
I am creating new Spirit Paintings for those who have commissioned one intended as a holiday gift. I never promise that I can have them ready by a certain date (as I never know what will happen when I create them–each one is unique!) but I do try.
We are so visual, seeing what has not yet unfolded is more possible, I think, than we realize. Some of what unfolds is in our own hands, probably much of what we experience. I used to play with my horse, pretending we were in the circus. This meant that trotting in circles and jumping small jumps in the ring felt fun for both of us. I learned to visualize the next jump by seeing in my mind the two of us, me and my horse, smoothly rounding the corner and approaching and then leaping over a small cross rail. It helped us to work together as I had envisioned. Every time I pictured the next move several seconds before doing it, the horse seemed to respond to it. I’d think, “How can the horse see the image I have in my mind of us together heading into and executing the next jump?” But the more I used this visualization skill, the more smoothly these plans in the ring played out, and I felt so connected to the horse. That bond helped me feel safe while riding out through the woods and in the fields; the horse and I trusted each other and the emotional connection was strong.
Experimenting using creative visualization is an enriching practice because I believe it sets our creative will power in motion, and much of what unfolds is our very own vision of how we want to spend time, and how we want to respond. Seeing ourselves getting there “before we actually get there” is empowering. I miss playing these intuition games with horses, but enjoy watching my dogs and seeing how they sense what is about to unfold. Horses and dogs may sense and inwardly see what is to come. My grandmother used to tell me that my dad’s dog would know when he was coming home, no matter what time of day he came home. The dog would begin to pace excitedly by the front door at least ten minutes before my dad walked into the house. My grandmother would know my dad was almost home because the dog tipped her off. He saw what was not yet materialized.
I’m so happy that I’ll be a guest author and intuitive reader at Cafe Jonah and the Magical Attic in Atlanta this Tuesday. Everything about it seems charming and desirable, especially the top rated food. But what could be more alluring in a cafe than a mind-body-spirit space upstairs? This seems like just what we all need: nurturing and healthy food with healing of heart and spirit, mind and body all in one place. I’m enchanted! I’ll be there from 11-4 with a few copies of ILLUMINARA INTUITIVE JOURNAL doing readings, talking, eating, being.
From a picture book I wrote and illustrated, A BLUE RIBBON FOR SUGAR
In this scene from A BLUE RIBBON FOR SUGAR, Bonnie has out grown her plastic horse on springs, and it breaks down underneath her. Her dreams of being a cowgirl or a jockey have come down with the horse. Now what?
I wrote this story (it’s autobiographical!) and realize that from the beginning of life, when we’re learning to develop our sense of self, we imagine ourselves being and doing all sorts of things. As a natural progression, we adjust our dreams and sense of who we are and would like to be as we outgrow what surrounds us. In this story, Bonnie uses a plastic horse to create a sense of herself as a real cowgirl and when her tools for experiencing this fantasy break down, she’s at a loss.
As adults these things happen, too. A job we once deeply longed for comes crashing down around us, or we live out and exhaust interests we no longer find fulfilling. Support for something we thought we wanted to do or be collapses and then the space is wide open for us to leap into a new sense of self, and to gather (slowly or quickly) the tools to live out the new dream. The value is in knowing that when something breaks down around us, a job, a long-held goal, a creative modality, whatever–it is time to allow ourselves to squirm into a new scenario and give ourselves the support we need in order to be reborn into new dreams-come-true. Or to get closer than ever to the original one (in this book, Bonnie actually gets to ride a real horse next).
It’s the Year of the Dragon, which sounds so mythical to me. I think of St. George and the Dragon, and how St. George slays the evil dragon while on horseback, with a sword. Horses seem to get us through no matter what year or beast we face. I’m thinking of horse-power for 2012 and having the endurance necessary to allow dreams to come true in “divine timing” (I usually want dreams to come true when I want them, like a kid wanting a birthday gift before the actual birthday). Here’s to taming the dragon on horseback (at heart if not in reality) in 2012.
LEOPARD DANCE A charcoal and watercolor drawing I did in the mid-1980’s
In junior high school era of my life, I used to collect owls; I wanted to be wise. I always longed for and related to horses, and am not fully happy when I’m not around them. Birds appear to me in dreams (and bird people). Animals and their “traits” hold symbolic significance to humans. For example, dogs symbolize loyalty. Horses symbolize endurance and power. What animal do you feel intrigued by? If an animal leapt out of you, or you could change into an animal, what would it be? Once you sense which animal or animals you relate to (there can be many at a time, and specific animals we relate to through certain and particular stages of life), you begin to know your unconscious signifiers. Knowing these signifiers helps us become more intuitive, more sensitive to how we react and why, and gives us a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.
Developing our dreams (mine still is to be a cowgirl again, as I was born and raised to be on our ponies in Texas until about the age of 10) through these “earth changes” is not easy. In a recent intuitive-psychic reading I did, we talked about having dreams and wanting them fulfilled, but doing this while systems we have come to count on are shaky and possibly stressed to the point of coming down. This is not easy, living through and creating through these changing times. The feeling is not to give up on dreams, but realize the spiritual connection we have so we create the dreams into reality along with the universal life source, going with a new flow, and not against it. We can’t bring back the way things were, but we can find our way even still, even if things are rapidly altering before our eyes (or at times slowly twisting into new shapes). We can get these dreams realized, riding along and going strong, using our sense of the mysterious and our soulful connection to the divine as we go.
I drew my own cowboy boots for this illustration from THE GEORGES AND THE JEWELS by Jane Smiley
When I was asked to do illustrations for books written by Jane Smiley, I felt a kind of grace come to me in the process. Reading Jane Smiley’s writing is like being with an oyster as it cultivates a softly shimmering pearl. She takes her time with you (this is how it feels; personal, calm and patient) and you breathe with her as she allows the story to evolve. In her series (THE GEORGES AND THE JEWELS, A GOOD HORSE and TRUE BLUE) for young readers, Abby, the main character, is a girl who works as a rider with the family horse operation, on a modest farm. The story takes place in the 1960’s and I enjoyed the memories it brought up for me of riding our ponies in Texas. I did not illustrate the story as it is for teens, but rather, I illustrated the horse equipment I have myself been obsessed with for years. I love horses and want to know everything about anything a horse and rider might use or need. I highly recommend this book if you have horse crazy daughters or sons, and if you want a good read for yourself. I love how at one point the main character and another horse person eat breakfast at a diner and order Coke-a-Cola to drink. A Coke for breakfast with my cowboy boots on (and the promise to ride afterwards) is kinda my description of heaven! (Click here to buy these books.)