This week has gone by in a fog, punctuated by grief and lingering heartbreak. Last Friday night, Prince, my dear bay gelding succumbed to Cushings disease. He did not go easy. He fought and I was there with him, following him through the mud, singing to him in the dark. He was euthanized in front of his companion, Rosie an elderly mare. We tried to get him farther up the barn, but he couldn’t move. She neighed for him as he died and I think all of our hearts broke in unison at this sound. She had already lived through the deaths of her herd mates, she was the last one alive. Prince came to live with her, as her companion in her dotage but she outlived him too. We made the hard decision to have her put down as well. When she lost her companion before him, she escaped the fence and ran wild for days in the countryside before we were able to track her down.

I will never forget her neighing for him, I will never forget trying to pull him through the mud to get him into the barn, I will never forget singing to him in the dark of night and I will never forget breathing into his nose, one last time, a last goodbye, a last I love you. For one last time, we made our connection.

Something that I used to do with Prince and another horse who I was close to, Henry was to share a breath. I would put my face up to his muzzle and puff gently into his nostril. He would tilt his head towards mine and huff back out at me. We would take turns breathing and blowing back and forth, a gentle steady rhythm for just a few moments. It was meditative, kind and we would make a connection this way.

The barn is empty now, quiet and for the first since I was seven years old, I don’t have horses in my life. My dear Prince was one of the most gorgeous horses I’ve ever known. In the summer his coat was mahogany with light dapples on his rump. His mane and tail were black as night. He was grumpy, stubborn and pushy. He was loving with the sweetest, deepest eyes and he would lick me when he wanted treats.

There is nothing like the sweet dusty warmth of a horse against your shoulder, his breath close in your ear, the smell of him like dirt tinged spice. There is nothing else in the world close to the softness of his muzzle, the look in his eye when he notices that you have a treat. He can be demanding, he can be stubborn, he can be completely oblivious to the fact that you exist. But at other times, his gaze is a light in the darkness, shining right into your heart. 



This morning before I woke up, I dreamed about my boy, the one I lost. He was about six or seven, the age he would be and he was wiry with a big smile and dark tousled hair. He was sitting on me and we were laughing. I was trying to take photos of him and I was saying that this is why we have so few pictures of him, because he will not hold still. It was a beautiful, happy moment. Then reality began to set in, I suppose I was waking up. It hurts to see him and be with him but they are gifts that I treasure and I’m thankful that he still visits me.

The first time I dreamed about him was at my sister’s house. He was a chubby, blond toddler baby, a wobbly sitter. He was perched in a soft armchair and he was just smiling gazing into my eyes with so much love…the way babies do. In this dream, he was about the same age as he would have been in real life.

In between these dreams, I dreamed that he was a squirrel running across the roof of the house then he was a dark haired, small boy running through the front yard. I remember that Mark and Riona were there and we were all playing together.


The Old Guard…

This is a sacred time at our house. An elder has gone to ground and cannot stand any longer. He has been the leader of our pack for years, he is the last of the old guard. Things slow down and speed up and slow down again as I work to clean up after him, to keep him comfortable until his final vet visit tomorrow evening. There is still work to do between the love and the tears and the breakdowns…there is quiet acceptance, there is pain. and in all this, a sacred understanding that life and its cycle are a beautiful and painful experience, a blessing to be acknowledged.

We love you Clifford. You are surrounded by love. Your spirit pack awaits you in the Summerland. I can feel them gathering to guide you home.



A prayer for the resistance by Barbara Starrett

This is a prayer for park rangers.  The postal workers.  Librarians.
This is a prayer for janitors at the IRS.  The satellite technicians.  Weathermen.
This is a prayer for programers.  The building guards.  Paralegals.
This is a prayer for forensic accountants.  The receptionists.  Translators.
This is a prayer for those who will save us.  This is a prayer for the Resistance.
Roots down, branches up, I cry to Her, Hecate, Queen of the Dead.
Out of the dark, I cry to the Queen of the Dark and, lost on the road, I cry to the Queen of the Crossroads.
I pour absinthe.  I burn wormwood.  I drip hot blood into an offering bowl.
She comes as She always comes.  A darkness so vast and so deep that it can never end.
She comes as She always comes.  A gentle pressure, the surety of knowing the end.
She comes as She always comes.  A secret agent of the Moon.  And She has friends.*
“Matron of Matrons,” I call to Her.  “You have a torch, a key, red mushrooms spotted white.  Hold high, I beg, your burning torch to shine a path through the dark for those who resist.”
My Goddess holds out Her key.  In the dark, she holds a cold key in the palm of her hand. And the brave ones unlock secrets that they guard by constantly revealing.
“Matron of Matrons,” I call to Her.  “You have a three-headed dog, a labrys, a cord.  Bind with your cord, I beg, the hands of the tyrants when they seek to strangle the Resistance.”
My Goddess lifts her labrys.  In the dark, she lifts her labrys and slices away the resisters’ fears.  And the brave ones do the next right thing.
“Matron of Matrons,” I call to Her.  “You have ease for the birthing mother, comfort for shades afraid of the ferry, wort-craft for Witches.  Ease, I beg, the birth of this Resistance.”
My Goddess puts wolfsbane, hemlock, oleander, and daphne into her mortar and slowly moves the pestle.  In the dark, She grinds the poison herbs.  She points to the portal and offers the herbs to me.  “Scatter these in My name,” She says.  “Whenever you do this, do it in remembrance of Me.”
My Goddess says:
This is a spell for park rangers.  The postal workers.  Librarians.
This is a spell for janitors at the IRS.  The satellite technicians.  Weathermen.
This is a spell for programers.  The building guards.  Paralegals.
This is a spell for forensic accountants.  The receptionists.  Translators.
This is a spell for those who will save you.  This is a spell for the Resistance.
You know what to do.
  •  Barbara Starrett