A Horse is an important sacred animal associated with fertility, Magic, Clairvoyance, and OMENS.

In Britain and throughout Europe, the eating of horse flesh was taboo, except during an October horse feast. In ancient Rome, the feast was begun on October 15 with a chariot race on the Field of Mars; the right-hand horse of the winning chariot was killed as a sacrifice to the god by being stabbed to death with a spear. The head was severed, decorated with a string of loaves, and fought over by two wards in a ritual battle to determine which side would get the head as a talisman. The tail was severed and taken to the king’s hearth where the blood was dripped on the hearth. The rest of the blood was preserved and, the following spring, mixed with other blood by the Vestals and given to shepherds to be burned as a purifying agent for their flocks. The entire festival was a fertility rite to ensure good crops, with the horse representative of the corn spirit. In Denmark, the October horse feast was marked by the sprinkling of horse’s blood toward the east and the south by a priest, in observance of the incarnation of the horse as Spirit of the Solar Year. The feast was banned in the Middle Ages by the church.

The horse as corn spirit appears in other pagan crop fertility rites. In Hertsfordshire, England, the reaping of crops was ended with a ceremony called crying the Mare. The last blades of standing corn were tied together as the Mare. The farmers threw their sickles at it, and the one who succeeded in cutting through it won blessings.

The Gallic Celts worshiped the Greek fertility goddess, Demeter, as the Mare Goddess under the name Epona, or the Three Eponae, associated with the Triple Goddess. Epona was adopted by the Roman army, which considered her the protector of horses; the goddess enjoyed a widespread cult throughout Europe. A cult which survived in Ireland until the 12th century performed a ritual in which a petty king undergoes a symbolic rebirth from a white mare. He imitated a foal by crawling toward the mare naked and on all fours. The mare was slaughtered, cut into pieces, and boiled in a cauldron. The king got into the cauldron and ate the pieces and broth. Then he stood on an inauguration stone and received a stright white wand, which he held while turning three times left and three times right in honor of the Trinity.

Other Greek deities with horse aspects include Athena, Aphrodite, and Cronus.

Poseidon, Greek god of the sea, whipped horses out of the waves, symbolizing the blind, primeval forces of chaos. The horse is associated with the burial rites of ancient chthonian cults. It was dedicated to Mars, god of war; an unexpected appearance of a horse was an omen of war. The horse also is linked to thunder, which it creates with its hooves.

The Celts believed that their souls traveled on horseback to the land of the dead.

Dreams of horses, especially white, are universal omens of good luck.

Carl G. Jung believed horses represented the magical, intuitive side of humankind. Throughout history, horses have been believed to possess a clairvoyant power that enables them to sense unseen danger. Consequently, they have been considered especially vulnerable to bewitchment . According to lore, witches borrowed them at night to ride to sabbats, driving them hard and returning them at daybreak exhausted and covered with sweat and foam. To prevent “hag riding,” bewitchment and the Evil Eye, horse owners placed charms and amulet s in their stables and attached brass bells to halters. During the witch hunts of the Inquisition, the devil and witches were believed to have the power to shapeshift into horses (See: shapeshifting).

Taken from :The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.