Today, I enjoyed a FaceBook post by Robert Moss in which he discusses how the hero Bellerophon dreamed that the goddess Athena gave him the bridle he could use to capture Pegasus, the winged horse – and woke to find the bridle beside him.
“And so mighty Bellerophon eagerly stretched the gentle charmed bridle around its jaws and caught the winged horse.” – Pindar
Robert was suggesting that gifts from the Otherworld can be brought through to this world. I don’t disagree.
The point of Robert’s musings aside, I was impacted by the fact that dreaming a bridle (albeit as a gift from the wise Athena) and then capturing the horse with this goddess-sent charm was the solution to the dilemma of how to ride Pegasus.
The knowledge that I ride a winged black horse without bit or bridle in my dreams is probably the catalyst for my discomfort, because it occurred to me suddenly that our relationship is based on mutual respect. He is one of my original helping spirits; a pegasus, to be sure, if not the Pegasus of legend (as was pointed out to me), but certainly related in kind, if not in reputation. I was musing along a different track concerning what might have happened if instead Bellerophon had approached Pegasus with respect and entered into a relationship of equals with the original winged steed. I wondered how their relationship might have been different had he dreamed an object of love instead of an object of submission.
I know this is an ancient Greek myth rife with symbolism. But I now approach it from the perspective of a woman who has lived and worked with horses most of her life. And perhaps I also read it from the perspective of a woman who has shrugged off the shackles of the patriarchy and realized that love is more powerful than coercion. Perhaps this is the perspective of a horsewoman, shaman, counselor, and teacher that respects all life and sees sentient beings as equals. Perhaps I see the need to dream a new dream and write new mythology, one that values cooperation over dominion. Perhaps I see the flying horse the way I see all horses: as someone to be with in loving relationship instead of something to subdue.
It is my hope that we have evolved as a species since the time of the ancient Greeks. It is my fervent wish that a modern Athena would teach Bellerophon how to be in a mutually respectful and loving relationship with Pegasus, so eliminating the need for a charmed bridle, or any sort of capture device. In relationship, Pegasus may have simply agreed to allow Bellerophon to ride on his back.
If a modern horsewoman had dreamed a dream of riding Pegasus, how would it be different?
I invite you to join me in dreaming that dream right now.