The Treacherous Water Horse

The Treacherous Water Horse

(© Kip Mistral 2020. “The Bäckahäst“, artist unknown.)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…especially if it’s a loch or pool in Scotland…

Unless you are a reader of Celtic or Scandinavian mythology, you wouldn’t for a moment suspect that the log or overturned boat you find innocently floating in a lake might suck you into the depths and eat you if you approach it. You might catch a glimpse of its baleful, phosphorescent stare, but probably you won’t have time to notice it looks like a black horse.

A black horse with a beautiful, gossamer mane that floats in the breeze and a tail that trails the ground, that on another occasion might prance up to you inviting you to ride, but once you have mounted, you can’t get off, and it plunges with you aboard into the nearest deep water and, well, you know the rest…

Or, being a shape-shifting water spirit, it can look like a human, tricking you to believe it friendly, like that person you thought was nice, and as you grow closer with the speed of a shark it will turn back into that black horse, who will drag you off to the pond and, you know…

I think we’re all a little cranky these days and this Nordic Bäckahäst looks how I feel, personally. And those of you with black horses, especially the ones with long manes and tails who look annoyed, you might be best to stay far away from lochs or pools…


1 Comment

  1. Anna Ryan
    August 13, 2020 / 10:42 AM

    I love this story. I had a big black horse once named Salvatore, when I rode on his back he captured me like a frog gulping a moth under a yellow light. I never escaped his belly and now dead he took me with him to the grave. Ashes in my living room remind me of the emotional depth one can have with nature, this essay reminds me to transform my loss, my crankiness into the pool of consciousness where my horse still lives.

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