Marilyn’s Constellation

One of our experiments in our constellations with horses brought us to the home of a wonderful animal communicator in Vermont. Nicole has 3 horses. Two of them have been with her for a long time and the third Gelding had recently joined them from Dakota, after telling Nicole that he had things to teach her.

There were only 4 of us humans, who came to ask this little herd if they might be willing to constellate with us as we were learning how to include all our relations in this work: Nicole, the animal communicator, Annie, our long time horse woman, Marilyn, a long time IAI team member and myself, Samvedam.

We gathered in the pasture in 4 chairs that ended up aligning with the four directions, and I spoke a bit about this work and asked the horses for their participation. Nicole’s two longtime horses were intrigued and came close right away. Curious and completely unafraid of humans, they seemed to almost want to sit on our laps! That’s a bit close for such a large animal! But they were “in”.

The third horse stayed more distant. When I asked more about this horse, I learned that he was a descendant of a herd belonging to a Lakota tribe that is known for its bravest warrior, Crazy Horse. That brought me into this horse’s field and I understood how much trauma had been suffered, not just by the warriors but also by their horses. When I spoke to this and asked the horse if we could be of service in any way to him, he approached and slowly worked his way all around our circle. It took him time to complete the circle and more needed to be acknowledged, before he walked past the last chair.

With this movement, the field opened and we had permission to proceed.

Now we needed an issue and Marilyn volunteered. She shared how much she struggles to find a balance between helping her elderly parents and taking charge of her own life. We decided to work with this theme and Marilyn chose the horses to represent her father, her mother and herself.

The mare, who represented Marilyn, stood right behind Marilyn and offered her body to be leaned against. She nuzzled Marilyn, which brought some tears to her face. When she reached up to stroke the mare, the horse did not like it.

Nicole offered a translation, “She says that she is giving to you and does not want you to give back. It is a bit like getting a massage and stroking the massage therapist. She wants you to just receive it.”

The image hit home right away. Marilyn actually is a massage therapist, which she had not shared here this morning.

The two horses, who represented Marilyn’s elderly parents began to graze near each other and they bickered, nosing each other, acting as if they were biting or kicking each other…all in a harmless kind of way. Nicole was amazed as she had never seen these two act like this with each other.

Marilyn laughed and said that her parents have bickered and postured like this for as long as she has known them.

The two of them kept moving further down the pasture. When watching the two horses walk away together, even though there was tension, there was also playfulness and a general sense that they were really ok.

Marilyn became distressed that they were moving far away from her. I pointed out that they seemed ok, and that it did not serve them (or her) that she was so overly focused on them and busy trying to save them. After letting that really sink in, Marilyn’s sentence emerged " I don’t know my Self without them, I'm not ready to let go"!

The horse representing Marilyn then stepped towards Nicole, who translated: “She says you need to seek friendships in order to find support during this transition. The mare nuzzled into Nicole and said to her "tell her to find a friendship like we have".

As the two “parent” horses continued to graze further down the pasture, Marilyn’s mare looked after them but then slowly turned and walked to the gate of the pasture. She asked to be let out and we opened the gate for her.

She easily crossed the threshold and sweetly began to nibble on the greener grass outside the pasture. She seemed quite content.

When I asked Marilyn, if she would like to leave the pasture and stand with her representative, she could not imagine, leaving this pasture. The threshold felt like a giant, dangerous river to her.

We stood at the threshold for a while, looking back at the two grazing in the lower pasture and then looking forward at the mare nibbling the sweeter new grass. The threshold moment took its time and Marilyn experienced many feelings as she slowly stepped out of the field and joined the mare.
It became a truly embodied step into a freedom that she had not known before.

Once she settled there, the two horses representing her parents came back up from the lower pasture and stood on the other side of the fence, looking at Marilyn and the mare on the other side.

Such a profound visual of two worlds, separated by a gate and a threshold, but very connected by the hearts of these horses.

Marilyn reflects on the day with these words and this quote:"What I loved most about this constellation was that the horses brought me directly and quickly to my primary feelings, of which I had not been fully aware.  Once I was able to feel and accept them I was able to move into a more balanced position. Still walking with my parents but also tending to Self."

"I felt so honored to be seen and held by the Herd, the Land, and three wise Women"


"A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a stage of life that it intensifies towards the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope. This is one reason why such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual. It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds: to take your time, to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there, to listen inwards with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward. The time has come to cross."

~ John O'Donohue, "Benedictus" ("To Bless The Space Between Us")