The Magic Dog
There is a folktale of the Ute Plainspeople, recounted in Hamilton’s seminal book, Zen Mind Zen Horse, that in the beginning all living creatures were born equal and could communicate with one another and lived in harmony. Coyote, the mischief - maker, tempted the various creatures with supremacy over others if they would learn to speak. Only humans accepted the challenge.
Soon all the two-leggeds were fluent in their secret tongue. Slowly human beings forgot the other sounds they had originally shared with their fellow creatures. As time went on, the two-leggeds listened less to the other animals and winged ones and began to think of themselves as separate and better. And so it came to pass that the animals ceased to trust the humans, they feared them and hid from them.
The Great Spirit was angered and severed the earth with a great crevice, separating humans from all others. The humans cried out in fear, asking for forgiveness, begging the others to cross the chasm and join them.
Only dogs and horses came out of hiding and leaped across the crevice. The Creator reminded humans that dog and horse are special and unique friends. The horse, considered a special spirit, was named “Magic Dog” and in Native American folklore, the horse is given as the most special of gifts from the great Creator. It is the mission of Magic Horse Gardens to return to the way of early days when there was respect for nature and animals. To a time when all could live in harmony and trust and respect.
We are dedicated to move from the important but largely abstract movement to fight the material impact of modernity on the wild earth to one more aligned with what Turner describes in The Abstract Wild in which he urges us to preserve the authority of wild nature, the authority of its presence in our experience and hence in the structure of our lives.
My first step was to bring two legged, four legged and winged creatures together to live in one shared space and in harmony. That requires patience and trust. And intention. I intend for all of us to live in harmony. I trust we will be able to do this. I am patient in letting that happen. When an eagle devoured one of the ducks, I found three guinea fowl to warn the chickens of danger. When a coyote consumed two of our ducks, I purchased two mini lamas to live with us.
The llamas are natural enemies of the coyote. Instead of locking the chickens and ducks and guinea hens up, I invited the llamas to become part of the family. I was warned the llamas would not live in harmony with the horses or dogs. I was warned it would probably take at least a year, if ever they felt comfortable around one another. It took three days! Caesar, the guinea rooster is still a bit bossy, but all the winged creatures share the two coups, moving back and forth, roosting together, eating food together, happy to have that bossy guinea looking out for them.
We have tenants on the farm who help out with the grounds and clean up and feeding. One tenant who promised to be great with horses was determined to control Twilight. Her attitude was destructive and she had to leave. My experience is that it is more difficult to have the two legged creatures live in mutual respect and harmony than it is the animals. Humans, as predators, have a hard time letting go of control.
The humans have a hard time letting go of their feeling of superiority.
Twilight is the alpha horse, Joshua the alpha llama and Caesar the alpha rooster – all three take their role of guarding the herd or flock very seriously. And I am leader in that they look to me to supply a steady supply of clean space and good food and tons of attention, which is my delight and privilege to do.
Turner, in his book, The Abstract Wild, tells us that we only value what we know and love. And we no longer know and love the wild. I believe it is even worse than that. We no longer know and love nature and her creatures, even in the not so wild.
I do agree with his wise council that in order to reverse this situation we must become so intimate with wild animals, with plants an places that when we respond to their destruction from the gut, as we would if we found the landlady strangling our cat. He insists we must do this with wild animals and I add not so wild, in as natural a way as we can, moving the abstract into the real.
Wild animals and not so wild animals. In as natural a way as possible. Out of the abstract into the real.
I invite two footed creatures to commune with four footers and winged creatures. I invite them to do this without a lot of instruction for either, in the most natural way possible.
To make clear the relationship between the exchange with animals and their own lives, I use narrative as a tool for humans to revisit times and places that flood their memories as they interact with the creatures on the farm.
Thoreau said that he was born just in the nick of time, as do we, still able to remember our relationship with nature. But it is fast fading. This farm is dedicated to enlarging the circle of concern and reducing environmental generational amnesia.
I believe we can remember what it is to be close to nature; and to remember what it is to care for and respect her.
(If you wish to read more about circle of concern and environmental generational amnesia read “Partnering in a Living Event”).