The Light that Holds Us – Northern Herd Update

Hello from my iteration of “quarantine” to yours – we here, however, are no strangers to connecting at a distance. From the digital to the intracellular (sometimes both at the same time!), this community is well versed in communicating and collaborating without ever having to meet face to face. That doesn’t just go for the humans – in fact, it seems the horses are even more skilled than we are at reaching across the divide that, to them, is merely an illusion invented by the two-leggeds. In videos, stories, meditations and dreams, the horses draw us together in a rich fabric of connection. Or rather, they illuminate the beautiful bonds between us all, which exist whether we acknowledge them or not.

This network, this almost-visible mesh of silver or light-based threads connecting all of us – this is an image many of us have been discussing over the last year at least (it’s an ancient and diverse concept, of course, but it’s been really present in this space lately). In conversations with Jini and Guliz, we’ve come again and again to this embodied sense of connection to literally everything; in emails and comment threads with the LTYH community, it emerges again in flashes or sustained feeling – each time with a little more strength and clarity. A meshed network, a fabric of light, a silver cord from my heart to yours and to every single other life form in infinite intricacy.

Which is to say – we were each and every one of us, undoubtedly, made for these times…

When the three boys, Monataro, Juno and Jax, left their family herd and made the long journey north to this place, we couldn’t figure out why (spoiler alert, we still haven’t – but turns out the why isn’t important). Why them? And why now? And what for? That grasping monkey mind (no offence, monkeys) wants linear routes and contained stories. Beginning, middle, end; tidy lesson to package it up.

But in the multi-dimensional field of a light network fabric, nothing moves in a straight line – it moves in ripples and waves, in every direction. These three horses – and the five that were here already, and the current iteration of cows, goats, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, wild ones, microbes, trees, parasites, humans, and whatever else you want to acknowledge – are here because they need to be, for now. That’s all I’m really certain of.

We had a beautiful slow start to winter, and once the decision was made to bring some of Jini’s herd up here, everything moved quickly and smoothly. So quickly, in fact, that the humans were left reeling even after facilitating all these big changes. It just felt right – that’s what we all agreed on, even if it made no sense to us. The boys integrated, settled, and melted into the landscape. It’s like they’d always been here. Certainly their big, fluid, drafty bodies seem to relish the frozen ground, the white glowing mountains, the crisp light. Adventure has come in the form of novelty – in new pastures, new climate, new herd members, new species to learn about. There’s not a lot of room for boredom when there’s so much newness to take in.

Every winter here, we get a cold snap. This one reached -38C, at which point my car stopped working. I took these photos at -20C – anything colder than that and both my hands and the camera display would freeze!

The boy cows and their raven companions

 

Juno and the Kispiox Mountain Range

 

Amalia leads the herd to water

The horses weather the cold better than any other animal, except maybe the cows. It’s not comfortable, but they have incredible bodily resources to work with. The boys never seemed alarmed; leaning into the cold was another new experience. Finally, their thick wooly coats and burly bodies could really be tested.

The three young semi-feral horses have added spice to this herd, the five originals of which seem to relish the movement and expression the boys inspire in their own bodies

Juno, this golden boy, is the biggest and youngest herd member, but the last shreds of his baby sweetness are falling away as he catches up with his herculean body. He is every other horses’ favourite friend – each will seek him out specifically. The geldings – even the 18 year old, Nechako, and shy guy Falcon – love to wrestle him. And Firefly, on the other end of the size spectrum, has picked Juno to be her very own sweetheart.

Jax has studied and mastered goat, pig, and cow culture, after his initial shock and horror at the existence of these strange beings. In his wizardy way, he hardly acknowledges me (except to let me know when it’s time for alfalfa) but will freeze different people with his piercing gaze and hold them in his regard until they release and connect. He seems to be working specifically with the mountains all around us, and is growing a magnificent mane.

And Montaro has relaxed deeper and deeper into himself, showing anyone who’s paying attention how to lead with the least amount of effort, rest completely whenever the chance arises, and support the collective whole.

In February, the Wet’suwet’en Nation underwent a military siege by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Elders, matriarchs, land defenders and peaceful supporters were forcibly removed from traditional territories for opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline. This 4 foot wide pipe (still under construction now, even in a pandemic)  is meant to carry fracked gas from the northeast to the coast for a failing market, and its construction lacks the consent of hereditary chiefs to batter through unceded indigenous territory, through the last intact ecosystems and the headwaters of the sacred Wedzin Kwah river, past the Unist’ot’en Healing Lodge built to reconnect the people to the land. We live on (unceded) Gitxsan Territory, and Wet’suwet’en Territory is just to the east.

This was the second police raid in as many years; last year, during one of our forays out to the police line, three of the horses were gored by the boar. Having learned to triple-check the gates and ask for backup before leaving the farm, my mother and I again spend many days away, doing what we could to support the land defender camps in the weeks before and on the days of the raid, and the solidarity actions that followed. Rail and port blockades across Turtle Island ground millions of dollars of commerce to a halt. The global outrage at the unmasking of Canada’s deeply racist systems was a flashpoint; centuries of injustice and oppression of indigenous people and the inseparable climate crisis culminating in weeks and weeks of demonstrations, arrests, negotiations, ceremony, and mass education. It was a blinding moment of connection.

Through it all, while I could not place exactly what was going on (as usual), I felt Montaro and the entire herd feeding their energies into this extraordinary network of living things, directly to the chiefs and matriarchs while they asserted their ancient laws, into these rich lands and territories that feed us all and echo with our footsteps. Every time I stood with the people who stood for the land, I had the distinct sensation of 16 horses standing among us, and from them I had a vague impression of those infinite light links to every living thing.

The world, for us, stood still. Modern, colonised existence seemed to teeter on an edge of its own making.

Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on the Spookw rail blockade, evoking ancient agreements between the two nations.

And then, like a deafening echo, the rest of the human world began to grind to a halt. The ripple effects of an unseen virus were, for a few weeks, far off and beyond our imagination. Now, as the course of our history shifts and twists, we wait and we watch with everyone else.

Here, where so much of life is not human, there is a deep peace that emanates from the pasture, no matter what madness or mayhem happens beyond its borders.

Fresh hay and the promise of spring

 

Firefly’s best angle

 

Montaro and the goat people

 

Another blessed day ends

 

Firefly and Juno on a whirlwind tour of the front yard

 

Jax in the foreground; Juno, Spero and Amalia behind

 

Spero and Firefly

While the human world falters, its systems fraying at the seams, this mix of magical beings carries on dutifully. They fill their physical bodies with food and light, transmute hay and blue sky into an almost imperceptible rhythm. It’s as though they hold the very centre of it all.

The Light that Holds Us – Northern Herd Update

26 thoughts on “The Light that Holds Us – Northern Herd Update

  • April 12, 2020 at 1:30 am
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    Oh wow! Kesia! your beautiful pics and energy from you and the herd are inspiring!
    Thankyou so much for sharing especially in the current climate out there.
    A taste of magic!
    I feel that my animals and surrounding forest ground and heal me.
    Much love and big hugs from Aus
    Erin🌳🐎

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    • April 12, 2020 at 3:15 am
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      ps. When you said You felt you were standing with 16 horses behind you! Wow! that really spoke volumes to me, how we are so connected!
      It has been an amazing journey so far with you guys on this site. I feel like I’ve known you for ages, closer than family even. It’s such a beautiful thing. You are such beautiful souls!
      Thankyou so much for all you share.
      With you in spirit in your stand against the pipeline too.
      much love
      Erin🌳🐎

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      • April 12, 2020 at 7:28 am
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        kesia thank you so much for taking the time to write this and share the update from the blockade and your land.
        Your writing is so inspiring. You have so many gifts. Thank you for sharing them with us.
        I think my two favourite photos are the one straight on if Juno and the one of Montaro running past the 3 goats! The sunset one is gorgeous too.
        Very much looking forward to more video in the future. Blessings to you 2 and 4 leggeds during this strange and transformative time. 🙏👋

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        • April 13, 2020 at 10:38 am
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          I love that one of Juno too, he glows! I’m talking to Jini about video… since everybody’s home my already terrible internet is much worse, so uploading is really hard/impossible. I’ll work something out… especially now with the snow melting, they are back to running around and playing and that’s oh-so-much fun to share.

          All the blessings right back. Love love love!

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          • April 21, 2020 at 9:36 pm
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            Hi Kesia! Loved this post, and those pics were just STUNNING. Just wondering what camera you used for them, as the quality was soooo high, and the sharpness was to die for.
            Thanks again!
            Eliya

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            • April 21, 2020 at 10:05 pm
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              Hey Eliya, great to hear from you!

              I use either a Nikon D5600 or a Sony RX10 and shoot in RAW or the highest quality short of that, then use Lightroom to bring out the sharpness and colour. Still learning lots and mostly by trial and error!

              Hope all is well for you,
              much love!
              Kesia

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      • April 13, 2020 at 10:44 am
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        Ponies of a feather flock together! On the cold hard ground or on the astral plane… We love having you with us on all these connected journeys! How are you doing in Oz? Last time I spoke to you, I remember things feeling pretty tough with money/body/land/herd decisions and challenges.,,

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  • April 12, 2020 at 5:40 am
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    I love you so much soul sister! <3

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    • April 13, 2020 at 10:40 am
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      Je t’aime aussi ma soeur du coeur! <3

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  • April 12, 2020 at 7:55 am
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    Deep flowing beautiful sentiment as always! Peaceful Easter Sunday to all souls! May this virus awaken hearts and minds to the healing of Mother Nature and may all of you appreciate all that life is! ✌🏼❤️🐴

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    • April 13, 2020 at 10:36 am
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      Thank you Michelle, what a beautiful prayer for this time.

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  • April 12, 2020 at 12:56 pm
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    Oh Kesia, stunning photos!! The light, the freeze, the mountains, a setting so bracing; and your ability to capture the four-legged beauties is exquisite, to say the least! The portraits of them are very special; their personalities and souls are revealed, I feel.
    Some time back I travelled over to you on a thread of silver light. I tuned in with Jax.. it was intense and extremeIy magical.
    I kept meaning to write it down but too much kept happening…
    Yet a real sense of freedom, to fly, swiftly, silently, in an instant, over to your part of the world.
    Sending Big love xxxxxxxxxx

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    • April 13, 2020 at 10:35 am
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      Oh this makes me happy 🙂 Come on over any time!

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  • April 13, 2020 at 12:13 am
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    Beautiful photos and commentary. Yes, the horses are a link between the land and its people, all people who seek to hear its voice and live in sync with its rhythms. Sending love, strength, and support. It is time to change on a global scale how we treat each other, animals, and the land.

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    • April 13, 2020 at 10:34 am
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      Thanks Liberty. Sending all that collective love, strength and support back out through those links… You’re right, this is a moment to align ourselves even more with natural systems and the inherent balance therein. Much love to you <3

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  • April 13, 2020 at 10:16 pm
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    I do so LOVE that you’ve gathered all these magnificent pictures together in one place! The colors, the energy, the light, the personalities shining through…pure gorgeousness xox

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  • April 15, 2020 at 6:19 pm
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    Kesia and Jini,
    Montaro looks so relaxed and just bursting with his special kind of energy, Juno is growing into himself and Wow, how very bright he is; and Jax is just …. well magical. I’ve missed hearing about The Lads and am glad to hear from you about your adventures. I’m living in NY and have two children in the red zone down in NY city-my son goes to manhattan every day to feed the homeless children there. My daughter is held captive in a tiny apartment with four other people.
    When feeling sad about all the sickness and death occurring around me I sometimes feel comfort and power from The Singing Herd. I know what it is like to have them by my side….incredible! Time and space warp. We, too, fight pipelines and tire burning plants, etc….it is always something going on behind our backs and then it feels like we have to catch up; it can feel like such an uphill battle against these few greedy people. Sometimes it seems as if evil wins but I’ve found wrestling against this makes me a different person, a better one no matter the outcome. Nature, and by extension, the G-d of my understanding, knows. As I sit in isolation, I’m more aware of life in all forms around me; it feels like the animals, birds, trees, rocks, soil, water, the very air… are more vibrant than ever. What a blessing! I can connect and am caught up in the brightness and endless power that being aware brings. Thank you, you inspire me to keep keeping on, Claudia

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    • April 17, 2020 at 12:49 pm
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      Claudia,

      It’s extraordinary to know the herd can reach into the very heart of the chaos, stress and grief. Time and space warp for sure! I’m really aware of how removed I am from it all. I have a couple friends from Canada who were living in NYC and managed to get home before the travel restrictions got too complicated. But most people do not have the option to retreat from their own homes.

      I know this feeling intimately, the endless whack-a-mole of pushing back against these monstrously large systems. I think you’re right, too – the process of engaging in the fight, or even dance, is in itself a healing journey. The vibrance you describe – it’s always there around us. Nothing is not natural, by some definitions. And life persists, even thrives… all we have to do is find our way back to it.

      The complexity of it all sometimes knocks me right out, feeling exhausted and catatonic even from this barely-touched region. And then LIFE surges through again, entirely undeniable. The sheer power of the horses galloping for no reason other than because they want to.

      I am sending you a whole lot of love, from the land under my feet and the beings that infuse it with life.

      xo
      Kesia et al

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      • April 17, 2020 at 9:53 pm
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        But I also think this is one of the TOP gifts of this experience… for us to be given this opportunity to LOOK at the life we’re living (in all its aspects) and ask ourselves, “Is this REALLY where/how/what I want to be?”

        Conditions on our planet are not going to change quickly enough for this to be our last go-round. I consider Covid-19 a dress-rehearsal. THAT is the gift. When the next one comes and it is likely more severe, if we start visioning/planning now, we can make sure we’re living the life we want, rather than trapped in a life that doesn’t serve us, or meet our deepest needs, when the next one comes… and the next one… rinse/repeat.

        I remember doing a teleseminar a decade ago with Dr. Gabor Mate (bestselling author of ‘When The Body Says No’) and I said, but I can’t just move, I can’t– He said, “If someone put a gun to your head and said MOVE, you’d move.’ That’s been my gold standard ever since.

        So yes, I’m living in the now and doing what I can and helping/being of service, but my BIG energy/focus is going into creating a step-by-step, chunked-down plan for how to get from where I currently am, to where/how I want to be when the next one hits. In a way it’s kind of ironic – because my life has changed very little if you look at metrics like my daily activities and movements. But energetically I feel the importance/gift of this experience and as I deep-dive into that, I realize that I must move faster, break it down into step-by-step actions points and implement.

        It took me until 2 weeks ago to get clear on the vision (the horses started working intensely with me on the vision/plan when quarantine first began) – which then took 10 more days to become clear to my husband. We implemented the first step yesterday. 🙂

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        • April 21, 2020 at 9:57 pm
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          You’re right – if this feels sudden, wait til the next thing hits. A friend of mine mentioned the other day, “isn’t it interesting that we’re all stuck with what we’ve chosen right now?” I was struck by how obvious this is…and how illuminating. I’ve been swimming in gratitude for the life we have built by hook and by crook, no matter how grubby and tiring it can be. I can’t believe we got here with enough time to get ourselves this comfortable and capable. I’m pinching myself. I’m happy to be stuck in this life, I’m even possibly happier than before, when it wasn’t always clear what I was doing!

          The cognitive dissonance of this in the middle of a global crisis is pretty mind-altering but…. my mind is used to being altered…

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          • April 21, 2020 at 11:28 pm
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            I can only heartily congratulate you, Kesia. Very well done.

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          • April 22, 2020 at 12:54 am
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            Oh yes, I’ve thought of you often since this began! And just wait until the food chain is interrupted, THEN how are we going to feel about the way we’ve chosen to live? But you’ll still be a-okay. Go you! It’s awesome. You are literally BEing the change the world needs *right now*. I look forward to my own unfolding!! xox

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            • April 22, 2020 at 11:49 am
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              Thank you Rachel…

              And Jini, yes but – where’s the satisfaction if hardly anyone else is able to? Hence ongoing tinkering and learning in community building, local/sovereign food systems, regenerative farms, meaningful trade networks, etc etc. And low-impact, low-cost horse-keeping, now I’m thinking of it, ’cause you bet we’ll see a lot more horses abandoned as people run out of hay money. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to just disappear into my little world but… it just doesn’t seem to work that way! I look forward to your unfolding too, and that of everyone else….

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              • April 24, 2020 at 1:17 am
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                Well yeah, but that’s what I mean – you are being the change we need. And rolling out the chicken project, writing/sharing your vision, path, etc.

                And yes, I was thinking the other day about how many horses are going to be in trouble as people cannot afford to buy hay… gah.

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  • April 28, 2020 at 9:38 pm
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    Oh, Kesia, thank you so much for this post… I feel a deep connection to those horses, Jax mostly… but that close up shot of Montaro… should be “picture of the year”! You can just see the wisdom in his face, his eyes… that is just an amazing pic! enlarge and frame! then sell it to make money to help those people fight the pipeline… or to pay for feed… whatever, it would sell! I also love the one of Jax, in black and white. Man, he looks so fierce and majestic. His mane and tail flying wildly….I would love to purchase that one!! And the one of Juno, with his chest bursting with muscle…. that is a fabulous shot too. You really are a great artist when it comes to photography (and music). 🙂 Thank you so for what you doing for the horses, and for enlightening people about the problems with that unneeded pipeline. We have the knowledge to make engines that run on water!!! WHY must we destroy our planet for oil and gas? The greed makes me crazy and cry. Anyway, I will post their plight on my fb, to help spread the word. Down here in the states we don’t even hear about it anymore. And now they are arresting people… that’s just not acceptable. anyway, take care, and thanks again for all you do. You and Jini are both wonderful people. I’d love to travel up there some time and see them running wild. and have a chat with Jax. He’s so intelligent and interesting, to me… lol 🙂 tc

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    • April 30, 2020 at 10:04 am
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      Deb,

      You’re too kind! And thank you for taking our local issue to heart. I do believe it is the indigenous land reclamation movement that will carry us into a new era of better balance with our beautiful world, but it’s a brutal and exhausting labour that’s been ongoing on the land and in the courts since colonization. All awareness and support helps.

      I love your connection with Jax – he is truly a interesting being and somehow stands out from the pack in a way. Right now, the little mare Firefly and he are always together, their bright eyes boring into me and watching my movements. I suppose I’ll find out soon what they’re up to!

      I have indeed been slowly working at getting prints made. I’ve tested a company in the US and one here, but with everything up in the air right now, I’m finding the shipping immensely slow. If you actually do want physical prints of these, email me at kesia.nagata@gmail.com and we can work it out – for your help in shaping the best buying and shipping process, I can give you a great big discount on your chosen image(s). 🙂

      Reply

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