Non-Fiction Review: Horses and the Mystical Path

Horses and the Mystical Path:
The Celtic Way of Expanding the Human Soul
By Adele von Rüst McCormick, Ph.D.,Marlena Deborah McCormick, Ph.D., and Thomas E. McCormick, M.D.
Hardcover $21.95; ISBN: 1577314506; 208 pp.
New World Library, Sep 2004
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Book Review by Ann Gilpin

Imagine a politically torn nation in which a rancher must rescue his beloved horses from the threat of approaching war. As he and his family prepare to flee in their trucks, he speaks heart-to-heart with his twenty-five year old stallion, begging the animal to follow the vehicles. The stallion goes to the herd, appears to communicate with its members, and they all seem to understand the dire situation. For three days they run, with little food or water, following the trucks. The trek is arduous, crossing high mountains to reach refuge in another country. They all arrive safely. With his task completed, the ageing stallion modestly accepts praise from the rancher, lies down and dies.

This story of communication between horse and human is true, and along with many others, forms the heart of the book, Horses and the Mystical Path. These stories come from the authors’ many years of developing and operating programs that combine psychotherapy with the healing power of horses to help emotionally disturbed people.

The unique relationship between horses and humans goes back many thousands of years. The authors came to understand this relationship as a divine-like connection and found explanations in a number of spiritual traditions. Most significantly, they discovered ancient Celtic tradition highly revered this connection. In the book, the authors outline the history of Celtic horsemanship, then explore mysticism at length, drawing from the era of the early Celtic church’s so-called “golden age of saints” (ca. 5th - 9th cent. C.E.). While they do touch on the much longer history of the Celts’ spiritual tradition, they curiously do not explore its pre-Christian animist beliefs that heavily influenced the early Celtic church and saints, or mention its divine horsewoman, Epona.

Without a doubt, though, the stories of the horses are the best part of this book. They demonstrate the profound depth horses can reach in their relationships with humans, both in the conscious, daily world and in the unconscious, mysterious world of the soul. Many of the stories will bring tears to the reader’s eyes. With inspiration and wisdom, Horses and the Mystical Path shows how these animals can teach the human to turn away from the cocoon-like self and find a greater perspective of the world all around.

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