Wounded Healers – Finding Our Sacred Paths Together

By Carol Marriott (reprinted from WHOLifE Journal)

“The Wounded Healer is initiated into the art of healing through some form of personal hardship–anything from an actual physical injury or illness to the loss of all one’s earthly possessions. If you have successfully completed the initiation, you inevitably experience an exceptional healing, and a path of service seems to be divinely provided shortly after the initiation is complete. ”

~ Carolyn Myss, Sacred Contracts

While attending a women’s circle in Calgary, Alberta, I met Jane, a woman who shared my passion for horses. She invited me to come out to her farm to meet her beloved old mare and the new additions to her herd.

After meeting her mare and new horse Arthur, my friend introduced me to Arthur’s younger brother Sammy, a seven-year-old Welsh Pony of Cob type. She told me that this horse needed someone to gain back his trust of people. He needed to be gently cared for, brushed, walked, and nurtured, and thought I would be the right person to bring him along.

Sammy responded to my quiet approach and gentle handling. I spent hours sitting on the grass as he grazed beside me. We walked all over the small town close to the farm, getting him used to cars, people, and the various sights and sounds. We played in the round pen and practiced the Parelli method of training where the focus is on love, language, and leadership.

Although I had been horse crazy all my life and had taken many years of riding lessons, I had never cared for my own horse. Through my friend I learned a new way of being with horses. A gentler, kinder way. I watched as she rode her sweet old mare without saddle or bridle, as she jumped over poles and galloped in the fields. I learned to hold the lead rope as if I was leading butterflies. I learned about asking, respect, and release. I had been reading about horses all my life and I had learned many good and important things, but I hadn’t learned that there was a way to work with horses that wasn’t driven by control, submission, and pain.

"Sammy" becoming Raven

“Sammy” becoming Raven

She began suggesting that maybe I would like to buy Sammy. She mentioned this each time I came to the farm and I always said I couldn’t afford a horse. One evening she invited me for dinner and made a list of the costs required to keep a horse. Then she said, “I’ll sell him to you for a dollar!”

Although it was a life-long dream to have a horse of my own, I still couldn’t see how it could happen at this time in my life. I lived in the city. It wasn’t even part of my consciousness that I could afford the care for a horse. I had all kinds of reasons that made it seem impossible. Then one Saturday morning as I was driving to work, I had an awakening. I was listening to the late mystic John O’Donohue reading from his book Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom. His gentle, wise, and comforting voice was my companion on this gorgeous Alberta morning and I felt a deep sense of well-being and joy as I drove through the beautiful countryside.

It was in that moment of blissful reverie that his words went right to my heart. I cannot remember his exact words, but it had to do with living our passions, following our heart, and not ignoring the messages from our souls, but embracing them. I felt a “swoosh” through my body.

Raven in the Light

Raven in the Light

I arrived at the book store where I worked part-time and went straight to the phone and called my friend. The deal was made. I paid her a dollar and she wrote up a receipt. Mine to care for now, it seemed to me that this sensitive little horse needed a stronger name. He was a survivor. He was a teacher. And he was intelligent and wise. I named him Raven.

Well-meaning people did try to convince me to sell him and buy a horse I could ride. The truth is, they couldn’t understand why I would want to keep a horse that was aloof, untrusting, and seemingly unfriendly. Occasionally I would get frustrated and wonder why I would choose this experience. I would feel sorry for myself and wonder why all these people had horses they could ride who were friendly and easy-going. And I doubted my abilities as a horse woman, and worried that I was keeping Raven from reaching his full potential.

When Raven was about 14 years old, I met a horse woman who profoundly changed my approach and understanding of horses. Her name is Barbra-Ann King, author of Opening Consciousness with Relationship Riding.

Barbra-Ann allowed me to see that Raven was not a victim to be pitied and coddled. Instead he was a horse to be admired and respected for his depth of heart, courage, sensitivity, and wisdom. She taught me how to “listen” to him, and to give him his “space”. As I stood with her beside Raven, tears streaming down my face, she gently explained with compassion and gentleness, that the saddle I was using didn’t fit him properly. She also explained said that like some people, he wasn’t comfortable with a lot of touching. As I stood there crying, Raven started to lick, chew, yawn, blink rapidly, and his head dropped low. He sighed, groaned, and released as Barbra-Ann continued to speak for him. On that day I changed how I viewed Raven. I promised to touch him only when necessary, for grooming, foot care, emergencies, etc. I saw him in a new light.

Now Raven is the herd boss at Ravenheart, my little farm in Saskatchewan. He protects his herd of mares in a loving, firm, but gentle way. He exhibits all the qualities of a great leader, and if he was a wild stallion, I know his wisdom, sensitivity, and courage would keep his herd safe.

Raven and I have found our path together. Through Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) we work with people to guide them in awakening to their greatness… whole, equal, and wise beings who, like Raven and I, are seeking wise, understanding, and gentle guides to help us access our own wisdom on the road to awakening.