Horses, specifically the Pooka, became a potent symbol for me of my healing journey from the beginning. Here is an survey about some of the ways the horse has come up during my adventures with breast cancering. Written April 2014.

Horse at Hai Shan Clinic
Tiny Horse in the window at Hai Shan Clinic, like a sign from the universe.

“When suddenly Johnny gets the feeling he’s being surrounded by
horses, horses, horses, horses
coming in in all directions
white shining silver studs with their nose in flames,
He saw horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses.”

Patti Smith

It seems that Spirit Horses have chosen me this year, and I feel surrounded by horse references. It is comforting because horses have such beauty and strength.  (Just imagine, What if I had been adopted by hedgehogs?) The references have come in the sky, from dreams, from Irish mythology, from my sister and other places. Once I noticed, I started collecting songs to make a horse play list, and it is often playing in my head.  So what follows is the herd of horse references/omens that have been permeating my life all rounded up in one place for you.

2014 The Year of the Horse (Spirit Ride by Luiz )
Spirit Ride by Luiz

2014 The Year of the Horse

Horses as a recurring theme for me started even before I knew that 2014 is in fact the Year of the Horse.  My Father, who had a deep and abiding love of horses, Joe and Martin were all born the Year of the Horse. (1930, 1966, 2002) I was born in 1970, the year of the Dog.  It is said that Horses, Dogs and Tigers are a harmonious triad- which is lucky since Sam (1998) is a tiger. Horse years are said to be quite intense. I found the following fortune for those whom were born the Year of the Dog during this Horse year: (You can look up your own year and fortune here.)

DOG  1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
“If events do not unfold in your favour, remember you do not have to struggle on all by yourself. The Horse ruling the year can bring those to lend you a helping hand, yet you need to be strong enough to reach out. Let it be known you would like some support. It gives others the pleasure of making a difference if they can do something to make your world a better place.”

So far it has been very true.  The support from my family and community has been amazing.


Hosi rescued from the Pennywise Thriftstore in December
Hosi rescued from the Pennywise Thriftstore in December

I am a huge fan of stories.  The stories we tell ourselves create the path on which we walk.  When I was nine my teacher, Mrs. Edick, gave us the assignment to write and illustrate a picture book.  Ever the consummate overachiever I determined that I must have a birch bark cover for it, and talked my Uncle Bill into helping me make one. I used a leather shoelace to hold it together.  The story was about two girls who were given a ride on the backs of two flying horses, one jet black, the other white. They girls were given an overview of their home from the air, and a glimpse of heaven, and then had to return to Earth.

Fast forward to 2013. Around the time of my diagnosis I had a dream in which my family was all getting ready to bicycle into town.  It was raining and after dark, so we were getting on rain gear and checking headlights.  For some reason Joe and I were going at slightly different times, and the boys each needed to decide which parent they wanted to ride with.  In my Dream, Martin poked his head out the door and declared,

“Oh I think I am just going to ride Hosi in.”

“Great Idea!” I said, “I’ll ride with Hosi too.”

As it turns out Hosi is a flying horse that lives in our yard.  When I woke up I felt a great sense of calm and happiness.  Getting a dream sending of a flying horse surely meant that everything is going to be alright, and I needn’t be afraid.  Hosi feels somehow connected to the flying horses of my childhood “book”. Hosi has become a bit of a talisman for our family.  My friends Miranda and Betsy have each gifted me with Hosi themed art, and back when Joe and I found the 8 Miraculous Mary candles, we also found a small Hosi Portrait on the same shelf.  The universe it seems was answering the call for reassurance.

wearing our Hosi shirts designed by Betsy
The Family Daire, wearing our Hosi shirts designed by Betsy


I have been a fan of the Pooka stories since young adolescence. The shapeshifting supernatural beings from Irish mythology, who can be benevolent or not, as is often the case with supernatural beings. They often take the form of a horse- and it is said that a ride on the Pooka’s back will change you.   When I went searching for metaphor to guide my journey this year with Cancer-ing the Hosi Dream made it clear that this is all just a ride on the Pooka’s back, a wild transformative ride.  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather go on a wild transformative ride than, slog through a sucky year, just get through it, or simply endure it as best I can.   When I needed a title for the blog to keep my far flung family up to date with all the going’s on Riding the Pooka was the obvious choice.

Early on I  spent a few days printing up Pooka cards to send out to express gratitude. (The first batch I sent out came back due to insufficient postage- perhaps a bit of the trickster nature of the Pooka manifesting?) The beautiful thing about living in such a great community is there are opportunities for gratitude everywhere you look.  They say that gratitude and appreciation is the mindset that most supports happiness and healing.  Being surrounded by beloved sure makes it easier to stay there.

low tech printing in progress in the Laundryroom
low tech printing in progress in the Laundry room
Red Pooka
Red Pooka
yet more Pooka prints
yet more Pooka prints
Return to Sender
Return to Sender- tricky Pooka

Sky Horses

I wrote about Orion, my horse in the sky, early on. But basically as a small person stargazing I was only able to pick out a few constellations. What I saw when I looked at the stars of the constellation Orion was a horse.  So, for my whole life when I look up into the winter sky and see the stars of Orion, I have a special feeling of mystery and connection.  I still see the horse.


This is a fantastic comic from Bizarro, That we cut out and put on the fridge. It seems to perfectly sum up the whole Pookaride perspective. Is Cancer a rocking horse, or a Rockin’ Horse!? you decide.


My Great Grandmother as a Young women in the late 1800's.
My Great Grandmother as a Young women in the late 1800’s.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Rosenau says:

    Again, as always, your writing inspires me. Thank you so much for sharing these postings.

  2. Amy says:

    We are all dogs and horses and tigers (oh my!) here too! Great combo. Miss you! Come to breitenbush

  3. paulinelomas says:

    what a lovely inspiring ride you are having through this magical c journey….Thankyou for finding my blog and connecting up…i shall look forward to reading more of your posts and witnessing your transformation. xxx

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