Wind Horses, Lightning Horses, Water Horses and the Mari Lwyd Horses

Compilation along with writings by Phoenix – Winged horses combines the sacred animism symbolism and the Soul (bird wings of air) together in the form of air & earth, or movements of the horse clans.  The chthonian (underworld) animal of the psychopomp (retrieving the soul from the underworld) is a state for purifying karma and spiritual elevation. These are from an ancient time of the soul cultures that included shamanism, animism and pre-shamanic dreaming cults. Most of us must begin a journey to the self, once enough knowledge has been passed through our understandings and that is when the difficulty begins. In Slavic traditions, the horse is always associated with water, the untamed nature of moisture, rivers, oceans, rain and snow.

The origin of the symbolism associated with traditions of the horse clans, mention links to the image of lightning and animals, supported by the diffusion of the horse and its ability to ride above them. This symbol is a part of our soul’s imagination into its  manifestation through a shamanic practice of deaths and rebirths (not plant, or drug shamanism). This is where we shaman enter our own animism soul (winged or | animal) to go through different states of soul (not mental) consciousness and karma, and the  expansion that comes from pain, to see the dreaming realms in more awakened states. Most myths through written languages have corrupted or changed the origin meanings and today they still do by modern writers who then go on to teach workshops.

The winged horse is a chimera or chimerical animal, just like the sphinx , so too the centaur and the griffin. They are composed of elements and their symbolic related to shamanism, not mythology. The horse is the power of emotion, and represents fluidity of nature through water, water being the main element of the soul. Elements in shamanism is very different than all other teachings because its about our non-human souls. No winged horses exist in the physical world, nor in the realm of dreams and the supernatural. The wings were always a symbol of our soul of herstory and the prehistory soul clans of dreaming and the earlier shamanism.


THE MARI LWYD Welsh, Y Fari Lwyd Elder Mountain Dreaming Winter Moons

Water Horse
The term “water horse” was originally a name given to the kelpie, a creature similar to the hippocamp, which has the head, neck and mane of a normal horse, legs like a horse, webbed feet, and a long, two-lobed, whale-like tail. The term has also been used as a nickname for lake monsters, particularly Ogopogo and Nessie. The name “kelpie” has often been a nickname for many other Scottish lake monsters, such as each uisge and Morag of Loch Morar and Lizzie of Loch Lochy.

Other names for these “sea horse” and “hippocampus” (which is the genus name for seahorses). The “water horse” can often be a source of confusion; some consider the two terms to be synonymous, while others distinguish the water horse as a denizen of lochs and turbulent water such as rivers, fords, and waterfalls. Some authors call one creature of a certain place a kelpie while others call it a water horse. The name “water bull” has been used for either creature.

Hippogriffs  & Hippalectryon

Offspring of a griffin and a mare. They had the beak, wings, feet and crest of a bird but in all other aspects it resembled a horse. Much easier to tame and faster than the griffin, a hippogriff was usually the creature of a sorcerer.
The hippalectryon is a fantastic hybrid celestial from ancient Greece with the front part of a horse and the rear part of a rooster, wings, tail and legs included. This puts the Hippalectryon into the myths of the Firebird. He was once a she, but now wears a yellow or red plumage according to the translations which were changed from the oral traditions. Myths and legends of her stories remain unknown.
 The Scythians were a nomadic tribe

The Earth Horses are what are referred to as the Scythians nomadic tribe that dominated the steppes for nearly five hundred years. They spoke a tongue from the Northeastern Iranian language and were obviously a horse clan renowned for their ability and adaptability on horseback. The greatest amount of territory under Scythian influence extended west to east from Ukraine to an area of Siberia just above Mongolia. Many gold pieces shows both the stag (sacrifice) and the horse (freedom of emotions or feminine clans) as part of their art history.

From…  Sarmatians and Scynthians were like cousins as far as history goes, they arose in the foothills of the southern Ural Mountains during the 4th Century BC. They conquered the Sauromatians. The Sarmatians drove their Scythian kin from Ukraine sometime shortly before 200 BC. The Sarmatians were famous for their warrior women who inspired legends about the nomadic Amazons. They wore heavy armor and used lances as weapons. Their artwork was a more austere variation of the Scythian Animal Style. Around 200 ce, some Sarmatians served as auxiliary horse soldiers in the Roman Army.

The Scythians were the people who first raised the horse nomad culture to its fullest potential. They thundered out of central Asia about 750-700 bce and drove the horse-tribes of Cimmerian (Kimmerian) out of what is now the Ukraine. They ruled the Ukraine lands around700-200 bce. The best reconstruction of events historians and archaeologists are able to make is that the Scythians chased the Cimmerians south through the Caucasus into the Middle East. The Cimmerians found refuge in what is now Turkey, destroying the indigenous civilization of the Phrygians in the process.

This was the first example in history of the “chain reaction” paradigm that would play out multiple times on the steppe over the next several centuries. Subsequent to their pursuit of the Cimmerians, according to the ancient Greek writer Herodotus, the Scythians spent the next twenty-eight years in the Middle East. By modern reckoning, these twenty-eight years took place during the 7th Century bce. The Scythians spent their time in the Middle East generally raiding, plundering, and terrorizing the settled cultures they found there.

Scythians were led by King Partatua (also called Protothyes) during the first part of their time in the Middle East. Partatua married an Assyrian princess, a union producing his son and successor, King Madyes. The Scythians helped the Medes annihilate the Assyrian Empire in 612 BC. The Scythians carried on thriving commerce with Greek colonial settlements on the coast of the Black Sea. Apparently, some Scythians settled down in the southern Ukraine and the Crimea to grow enormous quantities of grain for sale to the Greeks. According to Herodotus, a group of people of mixed Greek and Scythian blood were called the Geloni, built a wooden city called Gelonus in the forested far northern margin of the Scythian realm. All the while their mastery over horses as an earlier horse tribe clan were never matched by any tribe except the Mongols.

Snow Queen etching by Carlsen Lars Bo 1968European folk tales
The winged horse appears in some European folk tales, dated from different eras after Christianization . That of Geoffrey Chaucer entitled Cambuscan presents a mechanical horse of copper capable of flying, without specifying if it has wings. The king of Sarray receives him from the sovereign of Arabia and India: it is the creation of a powerful magician, who has made him able to fly as fast and as far as the eagle. More classic is the winged horse of the tale The Golden Dragon , collected in Gascony by Jean-François Bladé.
In Eastern Slavic folklore, the horse Sivko-Bourko is able to jump to a supernatural height. The magical horse of Neznaimo flies, meanwhile, “above the motionless forest”.



Jabucilo was a winged horse belonging to Momcilo, a man of immense size and strength who possessed magical attributes. Momcilo carried a saber with eyes while upon Jabucilo. Folklore: Sarac was the wonder horse of Prince Marko Mrnjaveevic. He and his horse were inseparable. His companion and friend, Sarac was piebald and could talk. Legend has the Prince looking for a horse that could bear him. In order to test a steed, Marko would grab him by the tail and sling him over his shoulder.

One day Marko noticed a spotted piebald foal and he grabbed it by the tail, but could not move him at all. Marko bought and tamed the foal, naming him Sarac (after sara “dapple”). Sarac grew up into an extremely powerful horse. The horse could leap three spear-lengths high and four spear-lengths forward, which enabled Marko to pursue and capture the dangerous and elusive vila called Ravijojla.

Zdral was the extraordinary horse of Milos, a medieval Serbian in the service of Prince Lazar. Milos was celebrated as the hero of supernatural birth and strength. His father was said to be a dragon and his mother was a fairy. Supposedly, Milos got his strength from the milk of the mare.

Winged hippocamp

The Greeks
Greeks had one word devoted to ghosts that frightened horses during a chariot race—a Taraxippus. This spectral spook, usually the ghost of someone involved with, or killed by, horses, appeared at racetracks across Greece, and were propitiated with sacrifices.

Greek city-states had their own ghost stories that honored legendary heroes; different spirits were said to haunt local spots. For example, the chronicler Pausanias described the racetrack, or hippodrome, at Olympia. The long side of the track had a spot that was home to “Taraxippus, the terror of the horses.”

During a race, the spirit would reach out from its hidey-hole, shaped like “a round altar,” and terrify the racehorses. As a result, gushed Pausanias, “the fear leads to disorder; the chariots generally crash and the charioteers are injured.”  Charioteers would sacrifice to the Taraxippus before the race, so he wouldn’t freak out their mounts.

This Hippalectryon appears in 85 Greek ancient art objects, the oldest dating back to the 600 bce and is most frequently found in paintings on vases or more rare in sculpture, mounted by a young unarmed rider. It probably adorns some ancient coins. It is mentioned by Aeschylus.

One of the reasons that most of the human population does not believe in the mystery of the earth is because they were only focused on the human soul, men’s stories and religion created by men. Anything else that existed before this trinity of man/god was feared (called evil). Even today, in many pagan and spiritual men around the world, if they are challenged by spiritual women, they revert to the old standard patriarchal behaviors and throw their quest out the window to learn something new on earth, the other half and other half of the mystery.

The prehistory fertility was the Soul through the bird cultures and the horse cultures and their dreaming symbols. The horse went through the great rape of war for thousands of years and separated from woman in many ways as her animism soul. Our real celestial phenomena Soul takes animal and bird forms in ancient animism and in order to retain all karmic demonic souls that we have built for a few lifetimes have to be purified which is extensively wrathful and beyond human pain. The observation of natural forces, water, lightning or birds is cited as possible origin of the myth of the great winged horses which connect with the upperworld (heaven).


Symbolism, Dream Quest and Shamanic Animism

Allegory of triumph in the form of a chariot towed by winged horses, 1564 – The winged horse is associated with the air for the lightness of its course and the richness of its breath, as well as lightning. Its wings make it a marvelous vehicle capable of bringing the human between the worlds and also represent immortality, by analogy with the immortal humans who are growing wings.

Mongolian musician playing morin khuur , the viola with horse’s head. The creation of this instrument is closely related to shamanism and a winged horse. The winged or flying horse is also associated with shamanism , a practice very present in Central Asia. The creation of the morin khuur ( horse-headed viol ), a Mongolian traditional instrument, is related by a legend involving a winged horse. A shepherd named Khökhöö Namjil sings so well that one day, the ezen(spirit-master) living on the nearby mountain appears to him and gives him a magical winged horse, named Jonon Khar.

Every night, Jonon Khar flies to allow his rider to join his beloved. But a jealous woman has the wings of this horse fall from the sky and die. On the advice of his horse’s mind, Khökhöö Namjil uses his bones to create a violin adorned with a horse’s head, and plays songs telling the life of his horse. The Epic of Niourgoun the Yakut, heavenly warrior , made in XVIII th century in Yakutia, is filled with shamanic references. Niourgoun summons at will a dark red horse, able to speak.

The Trail of Painted Ponies - Registry trailofpaintedponiescomHis wings are his mane and his tail. On his back, the rider and warrior saw very clearly a shamanic flight. Tchal-Kouyrouk , from the national epic Kyrgyzstan , also intervenes with its wings that come out of the flanks in a story whose shamanic inspiration is not to be demonstrated. The testimony of a shaman from Madagascar includes many visions of centaurs and winged horses, while she assures to have no knowledge at the time of the stories staging this type of creature.

The horse’s wings make it a supernatural creature that escapes the limits of the known world. They connect it to the ecstasy of the shaman who climbs to the sky on a winged creature, usually a bird. In all shamanic practices, the man who undertakes a spiritual journey is assisted by an “animal that has not forgotten how we acquired wings” , otherwise it can rise. The Xianbei of Mongolia create numerous objects of art for winged horses.

According to Germanist Marc-André Wagner says the first winged horse first appeared in the Proto-Hittites cultures (8,000 years ago), and is native to the ancient East. According to nature and life, it was the ancient women shaman artists who showed us the first winged horses which were on the petroglyphed walls of Coliboaia Cave in Bihor, Romania (30,000 bce) and the Chauvet Cave in France (30,000 bce). In reality, there are no wings because true animism is a energetic soul reality, and not an aspect, but its own full animal or bird soul.

The way that the artists of antiquity depicted shape shifting and animism was not a combination of a horse in the flesh with fleshy bird wings. Real winged horses had and still have no wings because wings are our ancient bird soul. And later came the symbols for that. Combine a humans horse soul with their human soul and we get the symbol of the wings animals in ancient art.

Pegasus would be the Greek recovery of an Asian myth of lightning horse. The winged horse has become very common in mythologies , and even more in the ancient works of art. Ludolf Malten thinks the lightning horse myth took shape around 1500 bce in Asia Minor, parallel to the diffusion of the domestic horse for war. Pegasus is by far the best known of winged horses only because the Greeks utilized written language to spread and dominate myth.
Winged bronze horse made in a workshop in Northwest Greece in the third quarter of the 6th century bce. Pegasus, by far the most representative of the Greco-Roman winged horses, comes from a former Storm god in Hittite mythology, bearing the epithet of Pihassassa. Part of his myth would have passed from the Louvre-speaking peoples to the ancient Greeks. Jacques Desautels sees this as a consequence of the domestication of the horse by the Greeks.
Frederick Weinberg Horse Sculptures EtruscanThe texts of Greek mythology mention that the hero without the heroine Pelops who steals Poseidon’s chariot which is really the sea goddess Amphitrite’s chariot because Poseidon was originally a creek and stream god. Eventually Amphitrite was reduced to a Nereid and was in her demotion at Poseidon’s new position as god of the ocean. This chariot pulled by horses with gold wings which put the armor of Patroclus back to Thetis. When Plato describes the temple of Poseidon on the mythical island of Atlantis (the dark or evil forces of Sirius, or known as the war cults of earth), the statue of the god is, according to him, standing in a chariot drawn by six winged horses. Ales equusis perhaps a metaphor for the horse of wind Zephyr:
“Recently separated from me, the other curls, my sisters, mourned my destiny, when, at my sight, the air of the flapping of its wings offered itself, the brother of Memnon, the Ethiopian, the winged horse of the Locrienne Arcinoe; he takes me, flies in the darkness of the firmament and places me on the chaste breast of Venus . It was she, the mistress of Zephyrion, who had entrusted her servant with this mission” – Catullus , Poems (translation by G. Lafaye).

The patriarch has never been a nice place for old souls, especially women, one of the stories was the Horse and the Maiden, a legend from ancient Athens. The maiden, Leimônê, meaning “Taming of the Horse”, is punished by her father, Hippomenes, meaning “Spirit of the Horse. A girl of such social status is educated to prepare her for marriage; it is a process of taming. Leimônê failed to complete the taming process and so she remained wild and free. Since she acted like an untamed horse, she was punished, Hippomenes shut Leimônê in a building with a horse and there she died.

One of the most famous wined horses is the Greek mythology of the divine in nature represented in white of Pegasus. According to the Greco-Roman poets, he ascends to heaven after his birth and puts himself at the service of Zeus but this was only after Zues destroyed Helios. Pegasus is friend of the Muses and creator of the source Hippocrene makes it spring with a hoof. Which in modern tale, the Japanese Anime uses this story in their Princess Mononoke.

Captured by the hero Bellerophon (who was one of the heroes set out to destroy the ancient goddess cultures) near the fountain of Pirene with the help of the goddess Athena to defeat a monster, the sacred Chimera. His rider is however victim of his pride and fall from his back trying to reach Mount Olympus . Pegasus finds Zeus, who ends up transforming him into a constellation , and placing him in the sky.

Winged horses of Tarquinia
The first appearance of winged horse on the European continent logically carried out in Greece on the currencies of the Corinthian VII th century bce under the influence of Asia Minor. The most widely represented is Pegasus , on pottery , coins and sculptures . The winged horses represented on helmets and shields, however, do not all appear Pegasus in particular. They have a prophylactic function , especially for warriors. An oenochoe representing the goddess Nike under girlish features, in a chariot drawn by four winged horses, is held in Berlin.

A work of the Etruscans, winged horses of Tarquinia , forms one of the most interesting among the artistic production of this people. This high relief adorned the temple of the IV th century bce, was perhaps coupled to a chariot and the inspiration of origin would come from the Pegasus, testifying of the Greek influence on the Etruscans . Hybrids of horse and bird of prey are represented in ancient times and under Merovingians.


Rabicano or Rabican is a Spanish name meaning “dark tail but with some white hairs.” This is a horse produced by enchantment and nourished only by the air. Made of hurricane and flame, this magical horse is light on its feet leaving no footprints behind and at full speed it can run faster than an arrow. He is the horse of Argalia in Orlando Innamorato who rides him until he is defeated by Aridana and falls into the underworld. Afterward, Astolpho rides Rabicano on to Alcina’s whale and to escape enchantment. In Orlando Furioso, Rabicano is described as having a coal-black hue and being exceptionally swift. He is ridden by Melissa, the good sorceress, who freed Astolpho from Alina’s spell.
Johano-ai, the Sun-God, rides across the sky each morning from his home in the east to his home in the west caring with him his shining gold disk, the sun. He has five horses, horse of turquoise, one of white shell, one of pearly shell, one of red shell, and one of coal. His horses graze on flower blossoms, and drink from mingled waters. When the skies are blue and the weather is fair, it is said the Sun rides his horse of turquoise, or the one of white shell, or the one of pearly shell. But when the heavens are dark with storm, he mounts the red horse or the horse of coal.
German-Scandinavian mythology
The winged horse is absent from Nordic mythology and Germanic traditions, although the horse’s shamanic function, which involves a magical flight, is present so they depicted the soul horse correctly. Horses able to fly, like Árvak and Alsvid , Hrímfaxi and Skínfaxi or even Sleipnir, but do not have wings.
Valkyries of Norse mythology do not mount winged horses or swans despite their close relationship with this bird. The original sources speak of “cloud mounts” shaking their mane, causing dew and hail to fall again tying the soul animism of water into the horses mythology.
Hófvarpnir, the horse of the goddess Gná (pronounced NYA) is the Norse Goddess of the Breeze (Wind) and is able to move in the air as well as the sea. Gná is a winged goddess and has a winged soul of a horse.
Jura folklore

 The French folklore account winged horses in the Jura , all listed by folklorists of the 19th century , including Désiré Monnier. The white horse of Chisseria or “Pegasus of Ségomon” is specific to the canton of Arinthod. It appears in the air in the form of a white horse sometimes accompanied by will-o’-the-wisps, sylphs and sylphs , or ridden by an armed hunter who traverses the sky.

The white horse of Foncine, or “Pegase of Foncine”, is the subject of numerous testimonies. Reputed to appear more readily at dusk, “the hour of all marvelous apparitions, ” many shepherds claim to have had the pleasure of seeing “this elegant white horse graze at the sources of Sain, then fly away with”an admirable lightness ” towards the summit of the sacred mountain, which invades them with emotions. The mayor of Foncine-le-Haut himself testifies that this horse is very well known in his time.

Hebrew Mythology and Mithraism
Among the Hebrews , the apocalyptic and legendary stories often evoke winged horses emerging from the sea. According to one of the hymns of Mithraism, Mithra rises to the sky in a chariot of gold pulled by four “flying” horses.

three horses


In India , the winged horse seems to be, like the winged elephant, a local creation, although some theories claim his affiliation with Pegasus. It is uncommon in sculpture, but the most striking examples are those of the banana of Sānchī stūpa , and the sculptures of Amaravati.

Ponkhiraj, Bengali tales , in Dinajpur  – Omnipresent in Asia, the myth of the winged horse is found in the epics of Tibet and Mongolia , which evoke horses that fly like birds. In Yakutia , the shamanic horse has wings. The nomadic people of the Xianbei , established in what is now Mongolia in ancient times, know a “celestial beast with an equine form” which certainly gives rise to an abundant artistic production. Ponkhiraj , white winged horse, is the queen of birds in Bangladeshi folktales. An oral tale Wakhi also features a wonderful colt must not touch the ground during the first 40 days of his life, or his wings will break.

Asian horse

China – Tianma
Tianma is the celestial horse of Chinese folklore. Capable of flying, it also protects silkworms . During the Zhou Dynasty , Tianma refers to the constellation of the celestial horse. It is associated with the Han Dynasty with Emperor Han Wudi , who appreciates the Central Asian horse. This animal is credited with many powers reminiscent of the dragon born from the waters, it is metamorphose and transcends the barriers between the animal species as much as the geographical distances. Its appearance is variable according to the stories, one of them presents it as a tiger galloping in the clouds, another as a snake with a horse’s head, another finally as close to the bird and endowed with ‘wings.


In China , the figure of a little winged bronze horse named Fei Ma (meaning winged horse) was found in the tomb of a general of the I st century BC. AD . The tomb of Wu Sansi (in) , in the north of the country, has a monumental sculpture of horse winged stone. The Fei long ma , is the horse ( my ) dragon ( long ) winged (fei) of the Chinese bestiary. He is represented as guardian of the Gaozong Tomb of the Tang Dynasty in Qianzhou. It is torn from its base by an earthquake reported in the Annals, its four feet were broken at the level of the hooves. One of the most famous works of Chinese art is that of the flying galloping horse , which without being winged itself rests with one foot on a bird.
Korea – Chŏllima
A celestial white horse appears in the founding legend of one of the three Korean kingdoms, Silla . When the people gather the prayers of the king, a horse emerges from a flash by carrying a shiny egg. The marvelous animal returns to the heavens, then the egg opens and Pak Hyeokgeose , first king of Silla, comes out.
Chŏllima, a famous horse from Korean mythology , is present in many aspects of the daily life of Koreans although it is certainly derived from a similar Chinese legend . According to his legend, he is able to travel 250 km per day. He is often represented as a winged horse. The statues of the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang , symbolize the heroism and fighting spirit of the Korean people advancing at the speed of Chollima. In North Korea , he is a particularly strong symbol since in 1958, he gives his name to the Chollima movement initiated by Kim Il Sunga system to motivate workers to increase their productivity for rapid economic development. Chollima is also the nickname of the North Korea football team, and the name of a subway line , the Chollima Line .

 The Winged Horse

The Arabic mythology ignores many Greek-born creatures such as the centaur but gives great importance to the winged horse, often in connection with the element of the wind . It is omnipresent in the imagination of the Muslim world and permeates the Arabic hippological vocabulary itself, about twenty words used to designate the members of the horse belong to the lexical field of ornithology. According to Eugene Daumas , Arabs have a belief that chestnut dress horses are even able to fly in the air.
The image of this fabulous animal is found largely in the tale of Thousand and One Nights entitled The Enchanted Horse : a king receives at his court an Indian who presents him a mechanical ebony horse, able to fly by turning an ankle . In Cairo , in the 1830s, an oral story features a winged white horse . He is the godfather of a child and presides at his birth and the day before all his life, carrying him, offering him wine and cakes, clothes, and the shadow of his wings.
He dies on the same day as he watches, a sculpture of the mosque of Cairo at the time shows this winged horse carrying the child he loves on the neck,] . The horse-thrower, a story taken from Quebec’s Marie José  Thériault’s imagination, tells the story of an Arab man who is taken for a bandit, who pulls a city out of misery by revealing a flock of flying horses. This story is inspired by the author’s stay in Tangier, in 1953.

Derived from the epic of Er-Töshtük , a branch of the Manas cycle that forms the national epic of Kyrgyzstan, Tchal-Kouyrouk (“Gray Ashtail”) is a marvelous horse capable of flying, walking in the water and to speak. He assists his master and watches over him in all circumstances, not without having recommended him to follow his advice. His jumper is whipping up blood snatching a piece of flesh “as big as a sheep” for her wings out of the sides, making it capable of crossing vast distances. His powers are superior to those of people.
Etruscan Art. Acroterion in the shape of Pegasus. Clay, 450-430 BC. Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, Musei Vaticani, Italy
Etruscan Art. Acroterion in the shape of Pegasus. Clay, 450-430 BC. Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, Musei Vaticani, Italy

Kazakhstan Tulpar

The name Tulpar designates the winged horse in the mythology of the Tatars , especially in present-day Kyrgyzstan. The tulpars of Kyrgyz tales are horses capable of flying while carrying a hero on their backs. This word does not refer to the name of a particular animal or group of animals, but to a qualifier. Manas , well-known hero of Manas , must capture the horse “Tulpar” Kak-Kula, an animal hunted rather than domesticated. On her back, Manas abducts Princess Haikle and takes her to Songkol Lake. Later, Kak-Kula loses its tulpar quality while the horse of the opponent of Manas, Karay-Boz with the forty wings, is clearly a tulpar. Another tulpar of Kyrgyz tales bears the name of “mischievous white”.
Bedouin – 
The Foal’s blood stained shoulder: During the times when nomadic tribes of Bedouin people wandered the deserts of what is now the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Mesopotamia and Persia, the legend of the Bloody Shoulder Arabian was born. For hundreds of years, this story was handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. A Bedouin warrior saddled up his most prized Arabian mare that was with foal. During the act of battle, the mare gave birth to a strong healthy filly. Struggling to keep up with the mare and with the enemy quickly gaining on them, the warrior took his lance and pieced the foal through the shoulder. The mare understood the act and realized the foal would no longer be following her. Even though she was filled with grief, the loyal mare carried her warrior rider safely to his camp.
When the warrior awake from sleep, he noticed something astounding through the tent door, a day-old filly standing by the mare’s side. This was the same foal he had killed the day before. With no injuries, the foal carried just a patch of blood-stained hair across its shoulders. Believing the foal was a treasured gift from God, the warrior vowed to raise the foal and take special care of it. The foal’s blood-stained shoulder was never lost and she passed on these special markings to her offspring.  There are different versions of this legend as well as the various names used to described the blood-stained shoulder, i.e. blood marks, blood stains, blood markings, and bloody-shouldered Arabian.

Pegasos Aithiopikos (Ethiopian Pegasus)

Ethiopian Pegasus on a manuscript of 1350, National Library of the Netherlands shows the Ethiopian Pegasus as mentioned by Pliny the Elder as a tribe of winged and horned horses that would live in the sub-Saharan Africa. Their figure is taken up in medieval bestiaries and not much is known of this winged horse.

Some attestations of winged horses are found in Africa. The Bagzan horse bred by the elite of the Tuareg Niger is credited with many supernatural powers including the fly, which is reminiscent of Pegasus. In the folklore of the Bambara of Mali , winged horses ridden by geniuses Kwore lead to regions of fertilizing rain.


In today’s Afghanistan , a fresco of the VI th century shows a solar deity dressed in the typical of fashion central Asia in a two-wheeled carriage, drawn by four white winged horses: it may relate to Surya or more likely at Mithra.


India, Hinduism and Buddhism

The winged horse abounds in the texts and the Art of India . According to the Dictionary of Symbols , “all winged horses appear there” (as well as in ancient Greece), this is particularly true with regard to Buddhism . The associations between horse and bird are typically associated with a solar-solar symbolism. The winged horse is found in both Buddhist Jātaka and Jātaka Valahassa or Vidura pandita Jātaka. The flying (but not winged) horse Uchaishravas , from the churning of the sea of ​​milknarrated in the Mahabharata , seems to be their predecessor and inspiration to all: he flies following the race of the sun in heaven.

Vedism – Tarkshya, In the Rigveda , Indra’s chariot steeds are winged horses with bright black fur and white feet. Their eyes shine like the sun, they attack themselves with their chariot with the golden yoke. Their speed exceeds thought. Vedic Indian traditions also include Tarkshya , the personification of the sun. Tarkshya is presented in the oldest texts as a horse, then he becomes a bird endowed with words in more recent writings, as in the Mahabharata where he merges with Garuda.

Personification of the sun in beliefs related to Vedism, Tarkshya seems to have received this role and this symbolism at very old times. He is one of Surya’s mounts, and is also known as Ashva, which simply means “horse”, or that of Arishtanemi in the Rigveda.

Buddhism – Balāha

According to the Buddhist view (although the belief is after Hinduism), Raja cakravartin , Bodhisattva benevolent, is surrounded by seven jewels of which is a class horse Balaha, able to fly, and to move effortlessly in all directions. This peculiarity has undoubtedly pushed the artists to attribute wings to him in their representations. They are known until Japan.

The Buddhist story of Balāha horse exists in different versions, in Chinese and Indian languages. A bodhisattva comes, in the form of a flying horse endowed with words and reason (often white, sometimes described as winged) to deliver Hindu merchants stranded on an island, who have mistakenly trusted rākshasas , anthropophagic demons. In the Jātaka Valāhassa, this horse is the future Buddha himself, in one of his previous incarnations. A more recent version attributes this metamorphosis to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara , and the island is the future Ceylon. This narrative spreads with Buddhism and, since its original India, is represented until Cambodia and Japan.

Hinduism – Kalki and Arva
Kalki , Vishnu’s tenth incarnation to come , is often depicted on the back of a winged white horse. With this mount, he will destroy the old world to make room for the new. The Hindu god of the moon Chandra has among his ten celestial white horses Arva, or Arvan, who is half horse and half bird. The representations often attribute wings to him and he is generally responsible for drawing the chariot of the god. The name of the horse Daityas demons is also Arva, he too is half-horse and half-bird: it is perhaps the same mount as that of the god, a “horse of the moon”.

French horses

Norse (Scandinavian)

Arvak and Alsvid were the names of two horses that pulled the sun goddess Sunna’s chariot. It was said that the sunlight came from their manes, while the sun itself, only gave off heat. Alsvid wears bellows beneath his shoulders to cool him down. They are also called by the Icelandic names Arvakur and Alsvidur. Arvak is also known as Aavak and Alsvid is also known as Alswider
Falhofnir, Glad, Glær, Gíslis and Gyllir are horses not assigned to any specific deity, but are the horses among the many steeds ridden by the gods each day when they go to make judgments. Greyfell is a Norwegian name meaning “grey colored.” This is the name of Siguror’s horse.
Gullfaxi means golden mane and was a horse originally owned by Hrungnir, and was later given to Magni by Thor as a reward for helping him in the fight against Hrungnir. Also spelled Guldfaxe , it was equally fast on land, in the air and on the water, but not quite as fast as Sleipnir, Odin’s horse. Gulltopp is a Norwegian form of Old Norse Gulltoppr, meaning “golden mane.” This is the name of the horse of Heimdall.
Hofvarpnir is an Old Norse name meaning “hoof-thrower.” This was the name of a horse belonging to the goddess Gná, a handmaid of Frigg, said to be able to move through the air and across water. Also, Hofvarpnir was able to “act as a go-between” earth and sky and the world of mortal men and the underworld. Hamskerpir and Garðrofa are a pair of horses who sired Hófvarpnir.
Hrimfaxi and Skinfaxi were the names of two horses belonging to Dagr “day” and Nott “night.” Skinfaxi pulled a chariot across the sky from east to west bringing day and Hrimfaxi pulled his chariot west to east while his bridle (or bit) dripped the morning dew (rime-drops) which every night bedewed the earth.

Etruscan Horse

Sleipnir was the name of Odin’s grey, eight-legged steed, the greatest of all horses which could traverse either land or sea and his speed far exceeded that of any other horse. Sleipnir is an Old Norse name meaning “gliding; smooth.” He was said to be an exceptionally smooth riding horse, which is where he got his name. He was the offspring of the shape-shifting trickster god Loki who transformed himself into a mare as well as the giant stallion Svadilfari. Sleipnir carrried his rider into the underworld and the Tjängvide image stone is thought to show Odin entering Valhalla riding on Sleipnir.

Sleipnir is also the ancestor of another gray horse, Grani, who is owned by the hero Sigurd. Grani is the horse that Sigurd receives through advice from an old man, Odin.
Svadilfari is an Old Norse name meaning “disaster; ill-fated.” This was the name of a magical stallion belonging to the disguised and unnamed hrimthurs who built the walls of Asgard. A hrímthurs is any one of the particular tribe of Giants who are made of ice and inhabit Niflheim, a land of eternal cold. The stallion Svaoilfari performs twice the deeds of strength as the builder, and hauls enormous rocks to the surprise of the gods. Loki needed to devise a scheme to cause the builder to forfeit the payment for the wall to please the gods.

While fetching stone with his stallion, Svaoilfari, a mare (Loki transformed) ran from the woods. The mare neighs at Svaoilfari which makes him frantic. The mare runs back to the woods with Svaoilfari chasing after her. The two ran around all night allowing a delay in building the wall and the momentum once held by the hrímthurs and the stallion was never to be again. After time from the dealings Loki had with Svaoilfari, Loki gave birth to a gray foal with eight legs; the horse Sleipnir who was known as the best horse among gods and men.

Water horse.jpg

 The Mari Lwyd  (The White Horse) In Welsh: Y Fari Lwyd

One of the most ancient of a number of customs with which people in Glamorgan and Gwent (Welsh people) used to mark the passing of the darkest days of midwinter, like the bell ringers of the Slavic peoples Wind or Water Horse.

The Mari Lwyd itself consists of a horse’s skull that is decorated with ribbons and affixed to a pole; to the back of the skull is attached a white sheet, which drapes down to conceal both the pole and the individual carrying this device. On occasion, the horse’s head was represented not by a skull but was instead made from wood or even paper.
Mari Lwyd (name) in ancient times had originally meant “Grey Mare” and this etymological explanation would have parallels with the name of a similar hooded horse tradition found in Ireland, which is known in Irish as the Láir Bhán and in Manx as the Laare Vane, in both cases meaning “White Mare”.
In Mongolia and some other traditions the Wind Horse is a shamanic term of the psychopomp, the transformation of time and space in dreaming. Its also similar in its original Slavic meaning of the natural power of the flow of nature’s water, clouds, fog and our emotional and soul bodies flow that is natural and the same. That is what horse medicine is at its core.
The Mari Lwyd “Grey Mare” associated with Mary in popular folk culture is more common in the last few hundred years and not really associated with the lost shamanic cultures. An observer of the tradition as it was performed at Llangynwyd during the nineteenth century noted that preparation for the activity was a communal event, with many locals involving themselves in the decorating of the Mari Lwyd.
The Mari Lwyd custom was and still is performed during the second moon of winter or what traditions call midwinter festivities, specifically around and after New Year and varies between villages. Like the Bulgarians it was to clear out any roaming shadows in villages and clans or tribes and was carried out for several consecutive nights. There is a unique example provided by an account from Gower in which the head was kept buried throughout the year, only being dug up for use during around and after the Winter Solstice and its season.
The custom used to begin at dusk and often lasted late into the night and the Mari Lwyd used to consist of women until pagan and religious bans of the grandmothers cultures. Then they consisted of four to seven men, who often had the women’s folk traditional colored ribbons like the slavic peoples, and rosettes attached to their clothes and sometimes wore a broad sash around the waist.
Its nice that the more warrior spiritual women are just doing the dress anyway and the shamanic and witch women are stepping into their grandmother roles and dress (where men used to dress as them) as you can see in the photos the men dress as the grandmother. As grandmother returns now as the sun cults are fading fast, the dreaming or moon cultures will begin where it was left off and then both men and women will lead the ceremonies. More modern post 14th century festivities are not really shamanic but that is changing as we speak also.
John Bradley Storrs American, Winged HorseBallad of the Mari Lwyd 1941

Mari Lwyd, Horse of Frost,
Star-Horse, and White Horse of the Sea,
is carried to us. The Dead return.
Those Exiles carry her, they who
seem holy and have put on corruption,
they who seem corrupt and have
put on holiness.They strain against the door.
They strain towards the fire which fosters
and warms the Living.
The Living, who have cast them out,
from their own fear, from their own
fear of themselves, into the outer
loneliness of death, rejected them,
and cast them out for ever:
The Living cringe and warm
themselves at the fire, shrinking from that
loneliness, that singleness of heart.
The Living are defended by the rich warmth
of the flames which keeps that loneliness out.
Terrified, they hear the Dead tapping
at the panes; then they rise up,
armed with the warmth of firelight,
and the condition of scorn.
It is New Year’s Night.
Midnight is burning like a taper.
In an hour, in less than an hour,
it will be blown out. It is the moment of
conscience. The living moment.
The dead moment.
Pitch black Darkness. A Long Table laid
with a White Cloth. A Door on Stage Right
A Broad Window next to it, the Two Loads
of a Pendulum — When light comes it is so
contrived as to throw their shadows to
the extreme ends of the room. Between
these ends stylistic figures whose movements
exaggerate human movements.
A Skull may be suggested at one shadow-limit
of the Pendulum, and a Fillet at the other.)
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Now dead rise in the frost of the stars
and fists on the coffins knock.
They dropped in their graves
without one sound;
Then they were steady and stiff.
But now they tear through the
frost of the ground as
heretic, drunkard and thief.
Why should you fear though they might pass
ripping the stitch of grief, The white sheet
under the frosted glass, crisp and still as a leaf?
Or look through sockets that once were eyes
At the table and white cloth spread?
The terrible, pick lock Charities
Raised the erected dead.
Under your walls they gnaw like mice;
Virtue is unmasked.The hands of the
clock betray your vice. They give what
none has asked.
copyright Jim Johnston.4For they have burrowed beneath the graves
And found what the good gave most:
Refuse cast by the righteous waves
In fossil, wraith and ghost.
Chalice and Wafer. Wine and Bread.
And the picklock, picklock, picklock tread.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Good men gone are evil become
and the men that you nailed down
clamped in darkness, clamor for rum,
and ravish on beds of down.
The vision your light denied them,
laid above the neglected door;
and the chattering speech of skull
and spade beckons the banished poor.
Locked-out lepers with haloes come.
Put out the clock: the clock is dumb.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
The breath of a numb thing, loud and faint:
Something found and lost. The minute drops
in the minute-glass; Conscience counts the cost.
What mounted, murderous thing goes past
The room of Pentecost?
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
What shudders free from the shroud so white
Stretched by the hands of the clock?
What is the sweat that springs in the hair?
Why do the knee-joints knock?
Bones of the night, in the naked air
Knock, and you hear that knock.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
A knock of the sands on the glass of the grave,
A knock on the sands of the shore,
A knock of the horse’s head of the wave,
A beggar’s knock on the door.
A knock of a moth on the pane of light,
In the beat of the blood a knock.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
The sands in the glass, the shrinking sands,
And the picklock, picklock, picklock hands.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Fasten the yard-gate, bolt the door,
And let the great fat drip.
The roar that we love is the frying-pan’s roar
On the flames, like a floating ship.
The old Nick will keep the flies from our sheep,
The tic, the flea and the louse.
Open the flagons. Uncork the deep
Beer of this bolted house.They stoop to the fire
One Figure: Unseen fingers are aching now
(Hark at the pendulum’s chain!)
Out of the night they have pulled the Plough,
Pulled the Dead Man’s Wain.
Bones of the dead are clattering, clinking,
Pulling the Plough from the shore.
Dead men’s fingers are feeling, knocking,
Knocking now on the door.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Another Figure:
Crammed with food the table creaks.
The dogs grow fat on the crumbs. 90
God bless our board that springs no leaks,
And here no ruffian comes,
No beggars itching with jackdaws’ eyes,
No fox on the trail of food,
No man with the plague from Hangman’s Rise,
No jay from Dead Man’s Wood.
Chalice and wafer that blessed the dead,
And the picklock, picklock, picklock tread.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock
Third Figure:
Bones of the dead should come on their knees
Under a pilgrim’s cloak, But out in the dark
what devils are these that have smelt our
Listen. Listen. Who comes near?
What with a price on his head?
What load of dice, what leak in the beer
Has pulled your steps from the dead?
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘Starving we come from Gruffydd Bryn
And a great meal we have lost.
We might have stayed by
the fire of the inn, sheltered
from the frost. And there a sweet
girl stood and spread
the table with good things,
Felinfoel beer with a mountain’s head,
and a pheasant with hungry wings.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘There were jumping sausages,
roasting pies, and long loaves in the bin,
and a stump of Caerphilly to rest our eyes,
and a barrel rolling in. But dry as the grave
from Gruffydd Bryn we are come without one rest;
And now you must let our Mari in:
She must inspire your feast.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘For She knows all from the birth
of the Flood to this moment where we stand
In a terrible frost that binds the blood
In a cramp that claws the hand.
Give us rhyme for rhyme through
the wood of the door,
then open the door if you fail.
Our wit is come from the seawave’s roar,
The stars, and the stinging hail.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Go back. We have heard of
dead men’s bones
That hunger out in the air.
Jealous they break through
their burial-stones, their white hands
joined in a prayer.
They rip the seams of their proper white clothes
and with red throats parched for gin,
with buckled knuckles and bottle-necked oaths
They hammer the door of an inn.
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
‘O pity us, brothers, through snow and rain
We are come from Harlech’s waves.
Tall spears were laid on the mountain.
We hid in the warriors’ caves.
We were afraid when the sun went down,
When the stars flashed we were afraid;
But the small lights showed us Machynlleth town,
And bent on our knees we prayed.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Though you come from the grim
wave’s monk like hood
and Harlech’s bitter coast,
White horses need white horses’ food:
We cannot feed a ghost.
Cast your Lwyd to the white spray’s crest
That pounds and rides the air.
Why should we break our lucky feast
For the braying of a mare?
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
‘In the black of En-gedi’s cave we hid;
We hid in the Fall of the Bride.
And the stars flew back from the lifted lid;
We saw those horsemen ride.
We hid all night in the cowl of the wave;
Chariots and kings we saw
In Goliath darkness, bright and brave
Felled by an ass’s jaw.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
O white is the starlight, white on the gate
And white on the bar of the door.
Our breath is white in the frost, our fate
Falls in the dull wave’s roar.
O rhyme with us now through
the keyhole’s slit 185
And open the door if you fail.
The sea-frost, brothers, has
spurred our wit, Ay, and the killing hail.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
What thirst consumed by the leaping flames,
What thirst has brought you back
From the starry writing of holy names
The spittle of Hell turns black.
Austere star-energies, naked, white,
Roused you, but still you play
With a bottle drowned in a drunkard’s night,
Brought by the wicked spray.
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
The slinking dead, the shrinking sands,
And the picklock, picklock, picklock hands.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Hark, they are going; the footsteps shrink
And the sea renews her cry.
The big stars stare and the small stars wink;
The Plough goes glittering by.
It was a trick of the turning tide
That brought those voices near. 210
Dead men pummelled the panes outside:
We caught the breath of the year.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Out in the night the Night Mares ride;
and the nightmares’ hooves draw near.
dead men pummel the panes outside,
And the living quake with fear.
Quietness stretches the pendulum’s chain
To the limit where terrors start,
Where the dead and the living find again
They beat with the selfsame heart.
In the coffin-glass and the window-pane
You beat with the selfsame heart.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
(Very faint)
‘We bring from white Hebron
And Ezekiel’s Valley, from
the dead sea of Harlech
And mountain-girt Dolgelley,
All that singing way
From Cader to Kidwelly,
A stiff, a star-struck thin
Blown by the stinging spray
And the stinging light of the stars,
Our white, stiff thing,
Death and breath of the frost,
That has known the room of glass,
Dropped by the Milky Way
To the needle and thread of the pass.’
Hark, they are coming back, those fellows
Giving the stars another name,
Blowing them up with a pair of bellows
From a jumping, thumping, murderous flame;
Men of the night with a legion of wrongs,
Fists in the dark that shudder with shame,
Hated lechers with holy songs,
Bastard bodies that bear no name.
(Loud and near)
‘We bring from Cader Idris
And those ancient valleys,
Mari of your sorrows,
Queen of the starry fillies.’
You’ll not play skittles with us,
White Spirit. Spray of malice;
Froth from an old barrel:
Tell us if that be holy.
 copyright Jim Johnston. 2

‘Hers the white art that rouses
Light in the darkest palace,
Though black as a mole’s burrow:
Truly we come to bless.’
You come from drunkards’ houses
And bent, picklock alleys.
You come to thieve or borrow:
Your starved loins poke and press.
‘Great light you shall gather,
For Mari here is holy;
She saw dark thorns harrow
Your God crowned with the holly.’
Have you watched snowflakes wither?
They fasten, then fade slowly,
Hither and thither blowing:
Your words are falling still.
‘Deeper sadness knowing
Than death’s great melancholy,
We journeyed from Calgarw,
From that skull-shaped hill.’
A White Horse frozen blind,
Hurled from a sea wave’s hollow
Fostered by spray and wind,
Profane and priest like thing!
‘She has those precious secrets
Known to the minstrel solely,
Experienced in the marrow,
Quick to tame beasts unruly.’
She should have been a whistle
For that tames our collie;
He darts on like an arrow,
Then he creeps up slowly.
‘O, if she were a whistle
She would not call your collie,
But through this keyhole narrow
Try, your wits to rally.’
Go back to Cader Idris,
To your Dry Bones Valley.
death shall pounce to-morrow,
And break upon your folly.
‘Clustered thick are the stars,
And the fire-irons lying still;
Dust in the iron bars;
Frost on the window-sill.
The fire warms many hands,
But there where the shadows press
A single point of light
Can bring great loneliness.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.

‘In the black of the churchyard yew we lay
And the long roots taught us much.
We groped for the sober light of day,
Light that we dared not touch.
The sleet of the stars fell cold and thin
Till we turned, and it touched our crown;
Then we yearned for the heat
in the marrow of sin,
For the fire of a drinkers’ town.’
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
‘But brightest brimstone light on him
And burn his rafters black
That will not give when his fears are dim
The treasure found in the sack.
In the mouth of the sack, in the stifled breath,
In the sweat of the hands, in the noose,
In the black of the sack, in the night of death
Shines what you dare not lose.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘Under the womb of teeming night
Our Mari tries your faith;
And She has Charity’s crown of light:
Spectre she knows and wraith;
How sweet-tongued
children are wickedly born
By a swivelling devil’s thrust
Mounting the night with
the murderous “horn”
Riding the starry gust.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘Under the edge of the spray of the stars,
In the hollow dark of a wave,
We heard the fire-irons stirring the bars,
Laying the ash of the grave.
We saw your faith in the pin of the tongs
Laying your fears at rest;
You buried our bones with
your drinking-songs
And murdered what you love best.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘But the pin goes in to the inmost dark
Where the dead and living meet,
And the clock is stopped
by the shock of the spark
Or the stealthy patter of sleet.
Where disdain has cast to its utmost pitch
The strands of the finished thread,
The clock goes out, and the ashes twitch,
Roused by the breaking of bread.’
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Go back, with your drowned and drunken eyes
And your crooked mouths so small
And your Mari foaled of the starry skies:
Go back to the seawave’s fall.
If we lift and slide the bolt in the door
What can our warm beer buy?
What can you give for the food we store
But a slice of starving sky?
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘O who has woven the skein of the hair,
And who has knotted the ropes of the fist,
And who has hollowed the bones of the eyes?
One of you answer: the hands have kissed.
I see in your eyes white terror,
I see in your locked hands hate.
Press, we are one step nearer
The live coals in the grate.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
The slinking dead, the shrinking sands,
And the picklock, picklock, picklock hands.
Hark, they are going; the footsteps shrink,
And the sea renews her cry.
copyright Jim Johnston

The big stars stare and the small stars wink;

The Plough goes glittering by.
It was a trick of the turning tide
That brought those voices near.
Dead men pummelled the panes outside:
We caught the breath of the year.
Dread and quiet, evil and good:
Frost in the night has mixed their blood.
Thieving and giving, good and evil: 395
The beggar’s a saint, and the saint a devil.
Mari Lwyd, Lwyd Mari:
A sacred thing through the night they carry.
Betrayed are the living, betrayed the dead:
All are confused by a horse’s head.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Lazarus comes in a shroud so white
Out of the hands of the clock.
While baskets are gathered
of loaves of light,
Rape is picking the lock.
Hungering fingers,
bones of the night,
Knock, knock, knock.
Bones of the dead with their crooked eyes
And their crooked mouths so small, 410
Night-nags foaled of the starry skies,
Threatening our feast, they call.
We face the terrible masquerade
Of robbers dressed like the dead.
The cold star-energies make us afraid
Afraid of that picklock tread.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
A starlit crucifix hits their knees
And a chain of bloodstained beads
Drops to the fork where the fingers seize
Their good and evil deeds.
Those blasphemous hands can change our mind
Or mood with a craftsman’s skill;
Under their blessing they blast and blind,
Maim, ravish, and kill.
The slinking dead, the shrinking sands,
And the picklock, picklock, picklock hands.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Resurrection’s wings and corruption’s moth
Beat on the window-pane.
The tombs are ripped like a table-cloth,
And madmen teach the sane.
A voice redresses those ancient wrongs
With a wrong more deep than all.
Holy Charity’s bastard songs
Burst from a sea wave’s fall.
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘Hell curse this house
for a badger’s holt
If we find no man devout.
God singe this doorway,
hinge and bolt,
If you keep our evil out.
Long-limbed we hung
in the taunting trees
And cried in our great thirst:
Give us a drink, light breaks our knees.
Give, or the house is cursed.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Snatch off that mask from
a drinker’s mouth
All lit by phosphorus up.
Men of the night, I know your drouth;
Your mouths would blister the cup.
When the big stars stare and
the small stars wink
You cry it’s the break of day.
Out of our sight; you are blind with drink:
Ride your Mari away.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘Pity our penitent fingers now
Telling the beads of a chain.
Out of the night we have
pulled the Plough,
Pulled the Dead Man’s Wain.
Out of the torment of huge night
Where the cruel stars are hung,
We have come with blessing to heal your sight
If first you will cool our tongue.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Go back, with your drowned and drunken eyes
And your crooked mouths so small
And your Mari foaled of the starry skies:
Go back to the seawave’s fall.
If we lift and slide the bolt in the door
What can our warm beer buy?
What can you give for the food we store
But a slice of starving sky?
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
‘Surely, surely you’ll open the door
Now that you know our sins;
For all grows good that was foul before
Where the spark of heaven begins.
Where the spark that cleaves to
the chimney’s groove
is blown to the freezing weather
It is men’s good that breaks their love,
Their evil draws them together.’
Chalice and Wafer, Wine and Bread.
And the picklock, picklock, picklock tread.
‘Know you are one with Cain the farm
And Dai of Dowlais pit; you have thieved
with Benjamin’s robber’s arm;
With Delilah you lay by night.
You cheated death with Barabbas the Cross
when the dice of Hell came down.
You prayed with Jo in the prisoners’
fosse and ran about Rahab’s town.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘O, had we never drunk a drop
You might receive us then,
Men of the snow-deep mountain-top
And soot-faced mining men.
Do you not hear like an anvil ring
The smith of the rock of coal
Who fell on his steel like that great king
And sundered body and soul?’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘O crouch and cringe by the bounding flame
And close your eyelids fast.
Out of the breath of the year we came. 515
The breath of the year has passed.
The wits of a skull are far too great
Being out of the hands of the clock.
When Mari Lwyd knocks on the door,
In charity answer that knock.’ 520
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Go back. We have heard
of dead men’s bones
That hunger out in the air.
Jealous they break through
their burial-stones,
Their white hands joined in a prayer.
They rip the seams of their
proper white clothes
And with red throats parched for gin,
With buckled knuckles and bottle-necked oaths
They hammer the door of an inn.
‘O a ham-bone high on a ceiling-hook
And a goose with a golden skin,
And the roaring flames of the food you cook:
For God’s sake let us in!
To see the white beer rise in the glass
And the brown jump out of the jug
Would lift those stiffened loons in the grass
Like lambs to the darling dug.’
Sinner and saint, sinner and saint:
A horse’s head in the frost.
Go back to your Hell, there are clean souls here,
Go back to your barns of muck.
Go back to your Hell, and leave our beer,
And your Mari bring you luck.
We’ll feel you with stones, we’ll strip you clean
In the stars, if you’re not gone.
But Jesus! why are you all unseen
On whom our lamplight shone?
The slinking dead, the shrinking sands,
And the picklock, picklock, picklock hands.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
Eyes on the cloth. Eyes on the plate.
Rigor mortis straightens the figure.
Striking the clock when the hands are straight, 555
You have seen a god in the eyes of the beggar.
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.
‘O white is the frost on the breath-bleared panes
And the starlike fire within, 560
And our Mari is white in her starry reins
Starved through flesh and skin.
It is a skull we carry
In the ribbons of a bride.
Bones of the Nightfrost parry
Bones of the Fire inside.’
(Loud and near)
‘None can look out and bear that sight,
None can bear that shock.
The Mari’s shadow is too bright,
Her brilliance is too black.
None can bear that terror
When the pendulum swings back
Of the stiff and stuffed and stifled thing
Gleaming in the sack.’
Midnight. Midnight. Midnight. Midnight.
Hark at the hands of the clock.

Three bottom photos of the Mari Lwyd Horses, copyright Jim Johnston via



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Halia says:

    Carry with me on my FB profile.

    Liked by 1 person

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