Symbol Meanings of the Horse
Symbol meanings of the Horse date back to prehistory, and the first civilized, written acknowledgement of the Horse comes in the third millennium BC where historians uncovered slate tablets in Elam (present day Iraq and Iran) which reference this noble, wild beast.
Due to its natural companionship with man in both work and art, the Horse easily wins a special seat in history, ranking high marks of honor, reverence and symbolism.
Serving man in war, mobility, productivity, agriculture, development of all kinds, the Horse is by far one of the largest contributor to the enhancement of civilization.
With such recognition and accomplishments, a vast and diverse trail of symbol meanings is sure to follow the Horse’s rich history with humankind.
A summary of prevalent symbol meanings for the horse:
The Horse symbol meanings of power are widespread through most cultures, and it is linked as an emblem of life-force. Many cultures assign the attributes of the four elements to the Horse: Earth, Fire, Air, and Water.
As a Celtic symbol,the Horse was associated with war. With war, comes attributes of victory, conquer, longevity as well as procurement of territory and other spoils that come with triumph in battle.
All of these heady aspects of valor were associated with the Horse in Celt animal symbolism. In fact, so much so, the Celts hailed the Horse as the beast belonging to the sun god, and assigned it a place with the goddess Epona (see Celtic Gods & Goddesses for more information on Epona).
The Greco-Romans also associated the Horse with the spoils of war and attributed it to symbolism such as power, victory, honor, domination and virility. In Greco-Roman myth the Horse is said to be created by Poseidon (Neptune) and is devoted to Hades (Pluto) and Ares (Mars). Romans also believed the Horse to be a symbol of the continuity of life, and would sacrifice a horse to the god Mars every October, keeping its tail through the winter as a sign of fertility and rebirth.
In Hindu Brihadaranyaka, the Horse is linked to Varuna and as such, is equated to the cosmos. Additionally, a white horse is believed to be the last incarnation of Vishnu.
Buddha is said to have left this physical plane riding a white horse. Also in Buddhism a winged horse is often depicted carrying the Book of Law.
As a Native American symbol, the Horse symbol meanings combine the grounded power of the earth with the whispers of wisdom found in the spirit winds. The Horse has long been honored has helper, messenger, and harbinger of spirit knowledge to the Native American. Considered wild and an emblem of freedom, the Native American sees many potentialities in the symbolic nature of this noble creature.
Another aspect of Native American symbol meanings of the horse comes with the understanding that the wild freedom of the Horse can be harnessed and used to the benefit of the tribe. This understanding comes only when man and beast enter a silent contract – acknowledging mutual respect and awareness of responsibility to each other. (follow this link for other Native American Symbols on this website).
What about a horse of a different color? The color of the Horse is also steeped with symbol meanings. Here are the most common color meaningsfor the Horse:
- Black Horse:
Mystery, death, night, secret, messenger of esoteric knowledge
- White Horse:
Light, sun, day, vitality, illumination, resurrection, messenger of birth
Just as in ancient culture, the symbol meanings for the Horse are just as strong in dreams. Carl Jung observed the Horse to represent the intuitive aspect of human nature, and also thought it was a symbol of the human body in certain dreams.
Seeing yourself riding a Horse in your dreams may indicate you will see a project or event to successful conclusion. Falling off a Horse in your dreams indicates you’re nervous about a project or event you have scheduled. Dreaming of a Horse with reins, pulling a wagon, tied with ropes, etc., indicates you are feeling restricted and desire more freedom in your life. A bucking Horse in your dreams indicates a need to break old habits.