Words of Wonder
When I changed my website account type recently, it meant losing my ability to create a weblog from the site.Yet, it wasn’t so long ago that I started “Magic Moments” there and I rather liked its intent, looking at the magic in the world and in words that celebrate the world whether in fiction or fact. So, rather than lost the blog on my author’s site, I have renamed the dormant “Sarabande’s Journey” to take up the slack.
Here, in an “encore performance,” is the final post from my first version of “Magic Moments”
That Special Black Horse
Horses have captured our hearts and attention for centuries. Almost everyone has a favorite out of mythology, fiction or history. Perhaps you favor Arod, the grey horse riden by Legolas in Lord of the Rings. Or Black Beauty from Anna Sewell’s classic novel. Look into the night sky and you’ll see the constellation Pegasus, named after the white horse out of Greek mythology. If you have followed harness racing, you know the name Bret Hanover. Or, perhaps you’re a fan of Thoroughbred champions such as Man of War.
I fell in love with horses when I read Marguerite Henry’s Newbery winning historical novel Justin Morgan Had a Horse in grade school. Who wouldn’t want a reddish-brown colt with plenty of heart? Maybe I’d pick a name other than Bub, but a Morgan Horse – wow! Remembering my childhood dreams, I included two Morgan horses, Flint and Steel, on my protagonist David Ward’s Montana sheep ranch in Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey (2010).
Night in the Shape of a Horse
In spite of my childhood love of Morgans, I later came to favor the Friesian because it appeared in so many of my dreams, and introduced Sikimi to readers in my contemporary fantasy The Sun Singer as character David Ward’s magical incarnation of night masquerading as a horse. The great black horse is also David’s totem animal in Garden of Heaven. Sikimi is a large, classic (“baroque” body type) Friesian with the build and conformation of the breedis historic war horses. Unfortunately, the sport body type has become so popular, it’s harder to find the classic Friesian these days.
Othello, the Friesian who played Goliath in the 1985 film Ladyhawke was a role model for Sikimi. For Friesian horse lovers, Ladyhawke is a wonderful quest movie featuring (sadly) horrid music and (happily) a lot of footage of Captain Navarre (Rutger Hauer ) on his high-stepping horse.
When Sikimi gallops across the pages of Garden of Heaven, The Sun Singer and Sarabande, my mind’s eye is seeing Othello. Sikimi, whose name comes from the Blackfeet for “black horse”) is not Othello. He is in many ways my totem animal as well as David Ward’s totem animal. He’s dreams, power, freedom and travel between worlds—and, unlike most Friesians, Sikimi can fly.
A Few of My Favorite “Sikimi Snippets“
- From Sarabande – Sikimi nodded or seemed to nod, but within his breath she briefly glimpsed the soul of night, a soul as powerful as the broad-chested Friesian of its manifestation, and there were feral love and rage there that far exceeded the scope of her understanding. But within that scope, her heart told her that night in the shape of a horse would carry her to the cornfields of Illinois without trying to chart the destiny of the ride.
- From The Sun Singer – Before Caw could maneuver the scimitar through the fir branches, the ground shook as though a landslide swept down upon them from Deucalion Point. It was the horse, belching fire, screaming, standing on its hind legs above the frail trees and wrenching low clouds from the sky into a cold blur of dust and fog. Forelegs raking the air, mane flying out like a banner, Night enveloped Caw, and chaos’ teeth flung the scimitar against the rocks with a dull clang while chaos’ hooves crushed the tightly coiled up snake of a man like jackhammers pummeling a rag doll.
- From Garden of Heaven – Black as the colour of David’s true love’s hair, the great horse walked, angling through the snowy yards between West Wood Street, the intersection of West Main and South Pine, then broke into a trot at the corner of North Haworth and West William, crossed the railroad tracks, and when he reached West Eldorado, he leapt into the sky, high enough for David and Siobhan to touch the risen stars.
While I am very partial to my protagonists David Ward, Robert Adams and Sarabande as well as other primary characters such as Gem, Grandfather Elliott, Billy Looks Far, and Siobhan, perhaps you can guess that my favorite throughout these novels is Sikimi.