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Energy and Action in the Year of the Horse

January 23, 2014

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.”

–       Shakespeare, Henry V

Chinese traditional paper cutting of a horse

Chinese traditional paper cutting of a horse

January 31st is Chinese New Year, ushering in the Year of the Horse, and it is followed one month later by Losar, the Tibetan New Year. As I’ve done the last few years, over at BellaOnline I’ve offered an overview of some of the traditional interpretations of the Year of the Horse, drawn from Chinese astrology. Here at Mommy Mystic I’m doing my own take, based on the symbolism of the horse in various cultures and time periods. This is part intuitive read, and part symbolic play.

I hope you enjoy it and feel inspired by the energies available this year, because if there is one prominent theme in 2014, it is that energy is in abundance. It’s a year for decisive action – no whinging, and no holding back!

Horses are noble, grounded, powerful, spirited, and independent.  In virtually every culture, they are symbolic of freedom and passion. But they are land-based animals, so this freedom and passion is based in this world, defined by action – a very different feel than last year’s Water Snake energy.  Perhaps for this reason, as I looked for images to feed my intuitive meanderings, I was less drawn to symbolic representations of horses, and more drawn to photos of actual ones. This beautiful shot captures perfectly the energies that feel on the upswing to me:

Source: Etsy, WildHoofbeats - clickthrough to view collection

Source: Etsy, WildHoofbeats – clickthrough to view collection

You can feel the strength, grace, and power in this stallion, but also there is an appraising quality, a keen intelligence. Horses do not blindly grant their loyalty. It must be earned, and if you do not keep up your end of the bargain, they will let you know. I remember a friend whose horse used to butt her with his head as she groomed him whenever her attention wandered. As she saw it, he was better than a Zen master at keeping her focused.

I think this notion of feedback is relevant to 2014. It’s a year for taking some risks and trying things out, and if you do this, you will receive feedback from the universe. Things may not turn out exactly as you planned, but whatever happens you will receive definite guidance on where you’ve gone wrong, and what you can fix. You will learn – about yourself, and about the world.

Wild Horses on U.S. plain

Wild Horses on U.S. plain – they are naturally herd animals

Another important aspect of horses is that they are social, and the power of group action is a common theme in astrological forecasts for this year. Joining together with others for a common purpose, especially a purpose that is based on strong shared values, is especially empowered this year. I think we will see this play out in a variety of social and political arenas, and with the strong force behind such actions, there will inevitably be conflict.

But this group bonding energy can also be harnessed spiritually. The idea of ‘sangha’ or spiritual community is very important for many of us this year. In a true sangha, the strong intent of the many catapults everyone much further along on their path than any one participant would go on their own. While 2013 felt much more introverted, in 2014, it’s time to reach out and combine efforts.

Wild Horses Running in Snow (clickthrough for source)

Wild Horses Running in Snow (clickthrough for source)

Horses also have an innate competitive spirit.  Even wild horses have been known to race, and will compete fiercely for the lead. It’s a very assertive, yang energy, and in the Chinese system this is also a ‘male’ year (after last year’s female one.) The energy of this can be encapsulated in one simple, trendy phrase: LEAN IN.

Don’t hold back your ideas, and don’t hold back yourself. Don’t shy away from challenges – lean in to them. This isn’t always easy, as it triggers all of our deepest fears, but that is part of the point. This is a year when leaning in will pay off in success and/or increased self-awareness (and self-awareness is the best kind of success, right?) Even if you don’t get what you want, you will grow (and often you will get what you want!)


Galloping Horses by Chinese Painter Xu Beihong, clickthrough for more info

I think there’s one point of caution related to the energy of this year though, and it’s represented by a herd of galloping horses, which at some point can escalate into a stampede. There’s a risk of unpredictability, or of things getting out of control. Staying balanced and centered is key. When we do this, we can change direction quickly, staying nimble and able to heed our intuitions as they arise.

It’s really all about flow –being able to sense the movements and shifts as they occur, and respond immediately. When you are in the flow, there’s no time to think, you just have to react, from the part of you that knows. (I found an excellent description of this in this article Zen and the Art of Snowboarding, about Olympic hopeful Jamie Anderson. )

Bellerophon riding Pegasus

Bellerophon riding Pegasus

Shifting to horse mythology, we find all of the same themes of drive and passion, but expressed a little more esoterically. Pegasus, the winged horse-god of the Greek pantheon, has come to represent both poetic inspiration and spiritual help. According to legend, Pegasus allowed the hero Bellerophon to ride atop his back to the top of Mount Olympus, but only so that Bellerophon could slay monsters hiding there. Pegasus was a carrier in this story, and so Carl Jung and others have equated him symbolically with the spiritual drive that carries us though obstacles. Springs also were said to spring forth from the earth wherever Pegasus stamped his hoof, representing his connection to the land and abundance.

The Unicorn is Penned, one of a series in the medieval Unicorn Tapestries housed at The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The Unicorn is Penned, one of a series in the medieval Unicorn Tapestries housed at The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Another mythological horse-creature is the unicorn, descriptions of which appear in cultures from the Indus Valley, to the Greeks, to the Chinese. In the medieval ages, the unicorn became a symbol of purity and grace, and only a virgin was pure enough to capture one.

I’m obviously not a fan of equating virginity with purity (because it means sexuality=impure) but I do think there is something energetically to draw upon here in terms of integrity. Horses do have a nobility and integrity to them, and this is what fuels their action. The element this year in the Chinese system is ‘Wood’ (it is the year of the Male Wood Horse), and wood in this system is associated with ethics and integrity. I think a purity of heart, and checking in with the purity of our intentions, goes a long way towards balancing the fast-paced, wild aspect of horse year energy. When things are moving fast this year, and you feel uncertain, go inwards to your heart, and ask ‘what is right?’ Your inner compass will guide you.

A Celtic knot of horses, representing power, nobility, and connection to the earth

A Celtic knot of horses, representing power, nobility, and connection to the earth

Another big theme this year is groundedness, which I harp on about quite a bit in my teachings and writings, and I think this year is asked for even more. One representation comes from Celtic culture where the horse goddesses Epona and  Macha protect the land and harvest.  Horses are muscular and strong, with feet on the ground. So too, success this year is based on staying grounded.

From a spiritual perspective, one insight that came to me is that it’s a year to really watch out for spiritual disassociation – the use of meditation or other spiritual practices as a kind of escapism. Instead, the real value this year comes from working with our bodies and emotions, and integrating our spiritual experiences with daily life and real-world experience. It’s also a year of service to others – a reaching outward with compassionate action.

Watchful Colt in Monument Valley, by Hopi Artist Raymond Naha, clickthrough for gallery

Watchful Colt in Monument Valley, by Hopi Artist Raymond Naha, clickthrough for gallery

That theme of service is also present in some Native American representations of the horse. As a spirit animal, the horse symbolizes the driving force or passion that carries us forward in life. But horses are also friends of humans like almost no other animals (other than perhaps dogs.) They have played a huge part in human culture all around the world, in the realms of transportation, agriculture, and sport. This was certainly true in many Native American cultures as well (though horses weren’t introduced to the Americas until the Spanish brought them in the 1500s, when they greatly changed the Plains Indians lives.) In other words, horses represent this combination of passion and service. In the best of circumstances, our passion is in service to the higher good, and Light.

Tibetan Wind-Horse, often found on prayer flags

Tibetan Wind-Horse, often found on prayer flags

In Buddhism, the horse is a symbol of effort and energy in spiritual practice. In some teachings, it also represents the prana energy running through the channels of our body, and particularly the mind-energy as it manifests. This mind-energy is sometimes called the ‘wind-horse’, and we can ride this wind-horse – we can tame and direct our mind – in whatever direction we want with effort and discipline.

The 11th century Tibetan yogi Milarepa speaks of the taming of this wind-horse in his  “Song of the Galloping Horse of a Yogi”:

In the mountain hermitage which is my body,

In temple of my breast,

At the summit of the triangle of my heart,

The horse which is my mind flies like the wind.

He gallops on the plains of great bliss.

If he persists, he will attain the rank of a victorious Buddha.

Going backward, he cuts the root of samsara.

Going forward he reaches the high land of Buddhahood.

Astride such a horse, one attains the highest illumination.

(translation by Losang P. Lhalungpa)

So apply yourself, stay true, hold on to your hats, and ride the energy of the Year of the Horse!


Your own comments, musings, and questions are always welcome.

57 Comments leave one →
  1. permalink
    January 23, 2014 9:57 pm

    Oh Lisa, I was hoping you would do this again. This so jives with what I have been feeling – that it is time for me to take some risks and act an ideas that have been brewing. Thank you!!!

  2. January 23, 2014 10:16 pm

    Hi Jean, yes, a lot of people (including myself) are feeling this right now – that it is time to act on ideas that surfaced last year, or at least to test them out in some way. Go for it!

  3. January 23, 2014 10:56 pm

    Thank you for this. Very interesting as always. I was going to google horse year at some stage and you saved me the effort lol

    Last year was a super sensitive, emotional, and murky year. Both in troubling ways and in intensely evolving ways. I have come out of that and feel energised and charged to go. And much is very practical, despite the very esoteric flavour of last year.

    The ‘positive’ energies for groups is inspiring. And personally, it’s interesting that I recently became part of yet another group and found it both comfortable and liberating. I certainly hope the strength and joy of the horse herd is true for my experiences in the year ahead!

  4. January 23, 2014 11:03 pm

    I really loved your article and I hope you do not mind me reblogging this.

  5. January 23, 2014 11:04 pm

    Reblogged this on symbolreader and commented:
    I found this post quite uplifting. I really hope this will be the year of decisive action and progress.

  6. January 23, 2014 11:21 pm

    excellent article! We all can benefit from some inspiration during these exciting yet unpredictable, chaotic times. Horse had been on my radar lately, so I am very interested to see what develops this year!

  7. January 23, 2014 11:25 pm

    Lisa, this is great. Perfectly timed. I am doing a tele gathering tonight Trusting Your Dreams into Reality tonight. I am sharing the energy that supports us this year and there is some wonderful new information here to share from your blog. Thank you

  8. January 23, 2014 11:41 pm

    Reblogged this on The 11th House and commented:
    I’m doing a full write up on the Chinese Year of the Horse next week, but this excellent post from Mommy Mystic will whet your appetite!

  9. Chez permalink
    January 24, 2014 12:39 am

    This is the best Energy forecast for 2014 thus far. I resonate with it completely! Last year, I was very quiet, introverted…just being the observer of life really. This year, I feel very called to action. I have just started a 6 month course on Feminine Spiritual Leadership. I have no idea where I am heading actually, but this course resonated with me and I am excited to get going with it. After reading your post here…I feel even more aligned with my natural untuitive gifts and this in itself drives me forward with strength, courage & grace just like the horse. (which also happens to be my favourite animal in the world). Thank you so much for sharing your insight into the year ahead. I shall keep it and read it regularly. I have also shared it on my facebook page xx

  10. January 24, 2014 2:50 am

    Hi Monica, I think of last year as a year of surfacing now, of all that was hidden under the surface, in some cases pushed down…I think know we are all a bit freer to move forward on all fronts

  11. January 24, 2014 2:51 am

    SYmbolreader, Of course, I don’t mind, thanks so much for the reblog!

  12. January 24, 2014 2:53 am

    Hi Linda, yes I downplayed the unpredictability a bit, but that is definitely a part of the horse energy. It will be more out in the open though, as opposed to hidden, murky, under the surface…

  13. January 24, 2014 2:54 am

    Bonnie, I have heard from so many people who are doing new classes, gatherings, or group offerings right now – we are all feeling this. Good luck with your session, it is the perfect energy for it:)

  14. January 24, 2014 2:54 am

    Kim, Of course I don’t mind, I’m honored, I am a fan of your site!

  15. January 24, 2014 2:57 am

    Chez, that’s great, it sounds like you have already begun manifesting your Year of the Horse – a Feminine Spiritual Leadership course could not be more perfect!!

  16. January 24, 2014 3:20 am

    I was not referring to the horse per se but the current challenges that face our planet 🙂

  17. January 24, 2014 3:35 am

    Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    God reading.

  18. January 24, 2014 3:35 am

    I think the universe brought us together as I am also a mystic! Hugs, Barbara

  19. Gede Prama permalink
    January 24, 2014 3:41 am

    Thank you friend for sharing this article quite interesting, hopefully we all get real happiness yamg rays began to warm our hearts and make the heart glad, when we can share it with sincere to each other. Affectionate greetings from Gede Prama 🙂 🙂

  20. January 24, 2014 4:22 am

    Hi Linda, on that front I was listening to the news stories in a new light the last week, after understanding the shift between last year and this year better – last year there were so many events that were about things surfacing (the Snowdon NSA case, retailer security leaks, many high profile scandals etc.). I think this year will be much more about out in the open clashes. So that is not necessarily any easier, but at least means things will be hashed out more openly in the public sphere…and anyone who wants to take a stand on any issue will have the strength, and group support, to do so…it’s a year for heroes – and for us each to find the hero inside us.

  21. January 24, 2014 4:22 am

    Thanks for your reblog Barbara, happy year of the horse. It’s a good year for idealistic rebels:)

  22. January 24, 2014 4:23 am

    Same to you. Namaste. Barbara

  23. January 24, 2014 4:23 am

    Thank you Gede Prama, yes I hope too that the yang rays will warm our hearts. That says it perfectly, and open hearts will provide the balance the strong horse energy needs.

  24. January 24, 2014 4:30 am

    You are very wise Mommymystic ( love your name BTW)
    I see what you mean and hope this trend pans out. Please check out my blog some time. I think I blog on some topics that may interest you.

    in light,

  25. January 24, 2014 6:32 am

    My intention is to live fully present in this moment; *however*, Year of the Snake was a bit challenging and I am so so ready to celebrate and live the Year of the Horse energy – I have been counting the days! My daughter rides horses, so we are literally going to ride to celebrate the New Year. I find it interesting that my personal practices recently tend to be about grounding my energy into my body – bringing my “ethereal” energies to Earth and sharing in practical ways – your reading affirms that for me. And I love the part about earning a horses loyalty – yes. I was raised with horses – a passion I had forgotten about until my daughter began her exploration and I feel like all of this now is a “coming home” for me in many ways. Thank you!

  26. January 24, 2014 12:42 pm

    I really enjoyed this article, thank you. It resonates a lot with me at the moment – beautiful choice of photographs too.

  27. January 24, 2014 12:54 pm

    Great post, Lisa! I have been feeling the deep call to connect with co-creators around a vision I’ve nurtured inside of myself passively, forever, and very actively since 2011. And YES, last year found me more introverted as I moved some mammoth mountains within, a biggie being the whole hiding behind the elusive realm of spirituality. This year is all about inspired action from that solid footing within, in real-life relatable ways that even the most spiritually averse can’t help but embrace. As my mama and her friends say…”oh boy…giddy up!”

  28. Jean Sampson permalink
    January 24, 2014 1:57 pm

    This is an amazing post, Lisa, and the year has, so far, started off exactly as you said, lots of service to others and a lot of action. Unfortunately, I have not been able to ground as much as usual because I am struggling with on-going vertigo and ear distractions. I guess my lesson is to make sure, no matter what, that I am grounded before going into all of the activities that are presenting themselves right off the bat. Thanks for this right-on post!

  29. January 24, 2014 4:46 pm

    I think this was a great interpretation of this coming year. I love all the insights you presented and the way you did it. I also loved your choice of photos, as I have a strong connection with horses. Looking forward to the incoming energies. Thanks for writing.

  30. January 24, 2014 6:53 pm

    Joy, thanks for sharing your experience I am also feeling a great need to ground my energy in my body on a new level (per your upcoming theme, this is a kind of ‘bringing it home’ energy, no?) Riding in the New Year – what a beautiful way to start.

  31. January 24, 2014 6:53 pm

    Thank you Moira.

  32. January 24, 2014 6:54 pm

    Angel, ” inspired action from that solid footing” – definitely sounds like you’ve found your horse year energy!

  33. January 24, 2014 6:57 pm

    Hi Jean, we are still in the transition energy, so perhaps you will find your footing in the coming weeks. The chakra-geek in me can’t help but think about your ear and vertigo issues – ear issues (assuming your vertigo is inner-ear related) are linked to throat chakra, it covers ear, nose, and throat. So from a mind-body perspective, it might be worth inquiring into some of the throat chakra themes, in addition to whatever medical means you are pursuing. Throat chakra themes are self-expression (or inability to do so), authenticity, integrity, all forms of communication (both directions) and connecting heart to mind. Perhaps there are some blocks or shifts there that working through could help you ground…

  34. January 24, 2014 6:58 pm

    Thanks for commenting Clarissa and Happy Year of the Horse!

  35. January 24, 2014 9:14 pm

    Good article…thank you xx

  36. January 24, 2014 9:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Writing Wings and commented:
    An inspirational read as we approach the Year of the Horse.

  37. January 24, 2014 9:44 pm

    Wonderful inspirational article that I was led to from symbolreader at I very rarely reblog but this had to be shared. Thank you Mommy Mystic

  38. Antoinette permalink
    January 24, 2014 10:37 pm

    I really enjoyed this post Lisa, and I feel it really plugs in to the energy of the coming year – a passionate, grounded, expansive energy…I’m quite excited about the coming year and already feel the introverted energy of the previous year shifting and opening. Being a Pig, I do tend to prefer the openness of Horse to the hidden opacity of Snake. Also, my lovely daughter is a Horse, (Water Horse) so I’m well-acquainted with Horse, and love that Horsie energy.
    Also, just wondering which Horse year we’re coming into…? Is it a Fire Horse? I know that energetically the different elements influence the type of Horse energy that manifests.

    Thanks again for your post.

  39. Taurean Mermaid permalink
    January 24, 2014 11:59 pm

    Thoroughly exciting! Yes, last year was such an internal, underwater time. I definitely felt the need to retreat inward almost constantly, while from the very first days of 2014 I’ve felt the desire to break out, move forward, and be more social and daring in my endeavors. Thank you for continuing with this fantastic “Year of” explorations!

  40. January 25, 2014 4:07 pm

    Thanks so much for the reblog Roland, and Happy Year of the Horse!

  41. January 25, 2014 4:08 pm

    Thank you Marilyn, Happy Year of the Horse.

  42. January 25, 2014 4:10 pm

    Hi Antoinette, it is the year of the Male Wood Horse (mentioned that briefly above but it got a bit lost)…Wood is considered very compatible with Horse, so that is one reason this year is considered part of a shift – the last 2 years the element and animal (water and dragon then water and snake) were not considered to mesh easily…Among other things wood is linked to ethics and integrity, so that is part of what will balanace horse energy this year – if we pay particular attention to ethics and integrity in our choices and actions, they will have more power behind them.

  43. January 25, 2014 4:11 pm

    Taurean Mermaid – wonderful, that’s a great instinct to start the year off with.

  44. January 27, 2014 1:13 pm

    Thanks so much for this insightful article on “the Year of the Horse.” One of my most recent mixed media paintings is of a running horse (with an angel holding on). As often happens I often don’t know consciously while creating the piece what it really is all about only that I’m compelled to make the image. Your insightful exploration of the horse was very helpful. A few weeks ago I wrote this about the piece, “The awareness and discernment to know when to let go and when to hang on, when to “go with the flow” and when to “charge ahead” is an on going, often unconscious battle for me. Working with images like the horse help me to bring to this to consciousness and create a space to discern which most honors my body, heart, and mind. While unconscious of it at the time, this theme of “when to hang on and when to let go” would be a good one to focus on in the coming year.
    Thanks again,
    You can see the image entitled “Ushering In Dream Time” at

  45. January 29, 2014 1:04 am

    Absolutely the best blogpost I’ve read so far about the ‘Year of the Wood Horse’..grab a fistfull of mane and hold on to the reins..yeehaa!

  46. Anonymous permalink
    January 29, 2014 2:48 am

    I keep climbing and climbing towards that impeccable emotional integrity and truth that I’d like my life to represent with all, not just strangers with whom I feel I can be my true self! We need to remember to be gentle this year, as when these truths come forward, we can ride like the wind!

  47. February 1, 2014 12:57 am

    Happy Year of the Horse everyone!

  48. February 1, 2014 3:06 pm

    are there places to retreat , live near , horses ? where one is living next to wild or tame horses , & dharma centre/s nearby ? or – dharma centre villages where lay people live nearby with their own pets or some dogs plus horsezs plus mountain walking & riding & everything else ?? & of course the animals would be enlightened .

  49. February 1, 2014 3:08 pm

    i wonder if any dharma centres would have animal & horse rescue shelters onsite if they had more money ?

  50. Anonymous permalink
    June 12, 2014 1:52 pm

    I am looking for a similar symbol- but with 3 women, we call it the 3 sisters symbol- do you have that symbol…? I am looking for a good picture of it for a tat….

  51. June 14, 2014 6:58 pm

    sorry Anon, I get most of my images from open source sites like wikicmedia commons

  52. Aya Gamal Othman permalink
    April 3, 2019 8:19 am

    hai ,, i have a question , this picture that have 3 horses in a circle . do
    u know from where it is . is it represent for an old era or something ? thanx in advance :”)


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