Posts tagged: spiritual experience

Award-winning Author Sandy Nathan’s Poem Is Featured in Cowgirl Magazine!

Author Sandy Nathan riding the real Azteca at the Monterey Peruvian Paso Horse Show.

Click on the link below to see a pdf of the entire Cowgirl Magazine article. Some great photos of beautiful people and horses. (Plus a selection from my poem.)

COWGIRLmag_The Peruvian Horse

Here’s what Cowgirl Magazine printed of my poem:

AZTECA - This is the selection from the poem in Cowgirl Magazine.

Wow! When editor Deborah Donahue contacted me to ask permission to feature portions of my poem “Azteca” in Cowgirl Magazine I was really surprised. Why? I’d forgotten about it. I wrote Azteca in 1996. The poem swept the Peruvian Paso world when I wrote it. I heard it was translated into Spanish and sent to South America. I stuck it on one of my websites and went on to write other things. (See the end of this article for information about me and my writing.)

People are largely unaware of the spiritual synergy possible when humans meet horses. I’ve been aware of it for many years. My first spiritual experiences happened when I was a young teenager riding my horse through the redwood forests of California’s Coastal Range. Riding through those silent places with the redwoods reaching for the sun like living spears became magical, sometimes. All that existed was me, my horse, the redwoods and motes of light drifting down lazily from the sun. Boundaries shifted and broke down. All of it merged, the forest and my horse and I became one.

This unitive experience is only the beginning of the spiritual gifts horses can bring, which I found out as years passed. In the poem “Azteca,” I toss together what happened to me in those early trail rides and the explosive, transcendent experience that I found in the show arena.

“Azteca” is based on an experience I had in the Amateur Owner to Ride class at the National Championships in LA’s Griffith Park. Happened the first time I rode in national competition. It happened again the next year on a different horse, also in the National Championships. The stress of competing at that level tossed me into Nirvana. Such experiences are the best reason I can think of for showing horses. Shows can pop out transcendent experiences such as the one described in “Azteca.”

Azteca is a real horse. We bred him and owned him for many years. He was one of the hottest––most energetic and spirited––horses we’ve bred. Azteca is now in his mid-twenties, sound and healthy and doing occasional work on a ranch.

Here’s the whole poem. I hope you enjoy it.

AZTECA

Azteca, as noble as his name.
Flaxen locks tumble down his classic face,
splash hard on a shoulder sloped so fine.
Slick copper flanks slide
into flashing legs,
stop at tendons, carved taut and dry.

Azteca, as noble as his name,
steps out over rocky paths,
picking through obstacles,
white legs dashing
a four beat gait.

Azteca, as noble as his name,
carries me up rocky roads,
past people, cars and town.
Our far beyond it all, to lands
where panthers roam.

Azteca, swinging his Spanish gait,
tireless legs slashing,
carries me through the
brilliance of it.
Moves me past
mountains, lakes and eagles
and
into another realm.

Suddenly––we are higher than the eagles,
flying past the stars.
The heart of me is pierced by it,
the awful, roaring beauty
of sky and rocks and sun.
Of my horse and I alone in it,
a solitude of joy and pain.

My heart aches with what I see
above, below, around me:
nothing but exquisite space.
And streaming through that vapor,
God’s true face.

The bliss of being part of it rocks me,
sweeps me wide.
Tears burst forth so sweetly
as my soul shouts out its cry––

“Thank you, Lord, for making me,
for making this good horse.
Thank you for this moment,
your gift of grace to me.”

These words of thanks
raise me high again,
’til the mind’s distinction
‘tween world and horse and I
loses fascination,
lets go its deathly hold.

In a flash, all fades out–
no horse, no rider, no mountain,
neither sky nor sun.
Naught but God’s creation–
mountain, horse, and I are one.

Sandy Nathan
Copyright 3/17/96

Sandy Nathan and Tecolote

Author Sandy Nathan writes to amaze and delight, uplift and inspire, as well as thrill and occasionally terrify. She is known for creating unforgettable characters and putting them in do or die situations. She writes in genres ranging from science fiction, fantasy, and visionary fiction to juvenile nonfiction, spirituality and memoir.

Mrs. Nathan’s books have won twenty-four national awards, including multiple awards from oldest, largest, and most prestigious contests for independent publishers. Her books have earned rave reviews from critics and reviewers alike. Sandylives with her husband on their California ranch. They bred Peruvian Paso horses for almost twenty years. She has three grown children and two grandchildren.

Would you like to know more about Sandy Nathan’s writing?

Sandy’s Amazon Author Page. Click here of on image.

HERE ARE LINKS TO AND DESCRIPTIONS OF SANDY’S SIX BOOKS!
They range from wild sci-fi to adorable children’s nonfiction. You’ll find something you’ll like in the list below:

  • NUMENON,  a novel about the richest man in the world meeting a great Native American shaman
  • STEPPING OFF THE EDGE, a modern day spiritual companion
  • TECOLOTE, the adorable kids’ book about a baby horse.
  • EARTH’S END––the new, three book sci-fi/fantasy/visionary series that takes you to the end of the earth, and beyond.
    The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy––An angelic girl shows up on the sidewalks of New York City in 2197. Or is she a girl? Jeremy Edgarton, teenage genius and revolutionary decodes the transmissions. They say the world will blow up tomorrow morning.
    Lady Grace––The radiation has cleared. A few survivors make it back to Piermont Manor to start a new life. What they face is a battle more deadly than any they’ve fought. Evolution can work for evil as well as good.
    Sam & Emily––Can love live in an echoing cement bomb shelter three hundred feet below the earth’s surface? Find out in Sam and Emily as headman Sam Baahuhd falls in love with a beautiful assassin.

Visionary Fiction ––What Is It & What Makes It Visionary?

The Visionary Fiction Alliance

I’m so excited! I’m part of a new writers’/readers’/fans’ group, the Visionary Fiction Alliance. I’m linked to the Alliance through the badge to the right. Large badge, you can’t miss it. Our web site is under development, but I needed to write about visionary fiction today.

One of things that excites me about the Alliance is that the members are so smart  and articulate,  as well as being interested in subjects dear to my heart. We’re going to be discussing our individual and collective views of visionary fiction very soon on our official blog.

But I got a question about one of my books today that moved me to write this brief personal examination of the genre.

To me, visionary fiction rests on a core of moral principle. St. Thomas Aquinas’ famous maxim, “Do good and avoid evil,” spells it out about as clearly as it gets. Visionary fiction contains a moral core and a belief in the ability of individuals and society to evolve in a positive fashion, overcoming evil and generally setting the world right.

Does this mean that visionary fiction is by nature a Polly-Anna-ish or The Secret-ish exercise in “Keep up a cheery front and everything will be groovy in the sweet bye and bye, if not sooner”?

Some visionary fiction fits that mold and has been very well received by readers (if not critics). This includes some of the best-known examples of the genre and I think it probably fits the experience and expectations of many readers.

But! What if you aren’t the typical reader? What if you want a message with a wallop? A message with teeth, that addresses the hard issues you face?

I’m like that. I hate anything easy, simpering, obvious, trite, and watered-down. My writing reflects my preferences. It contains violence, sexual situations, strong language, and doesn’t give away its ending until it ends. Happy endings are not guaranteed in my work. I’d give my novels an R rating if they were movies. (Though they’re way, way less violent than stuff I’ve seen on TV and in the movies. Like the TV series 24 and the smash hit book and movie, The Hunger Games.)

So what about this? Is my work visionary fiction? Should I make it sweeter or tone it down? Call it something else?

I’d like to share a story with you. I was at a meditation retreat a few years back. Some of us participants had corralled one of the monks in a hallway between meditation sessions and bombarded him with questions.

Someone asked, “Why do some people have very calm and undramatic spiritual paths, whereas other people have huge spiritual experiences and go up and down and all over the place?”

The monk answered with something like, “They’re different people and have different lives and spiritual needs. Some people live very quiet lives. They have spiritual realizations that are subtle and deep. Their spiritual experiences reflect this. They may be very profound, but they’re not showy. These people are absolutely on a spiritual path. They get what they need in quiet ways.”

On the other hand, “Some people’s spiritual experiences are huge––dramatic lights, visions, voices, feeling like the hand of God has reached down to re-orientate their lives. And more. These experiences fit the lives and personalities of the people having them. Their lives are often tumultuous. They may have had abusive or traumatic experiences to overcome.

“These are different types of spiritual experience which fit the people who have them. One isn’t better than the other.  If you have subtle experiences, you don’t have to long for a whopper. Whatever experience you have is fine. The important thing is that you live in such a way that you have the experiences.”

That was one of the most useful teachings I’ve ever gotten. I am a person who has very large spiritual experiences, usually in connection with trauma. I’ve always wanted to be one of those contained, tranquil, angelic babes that you see floating around in spiritual circles.

But it just isn’t me. Ain’t how my soul operates or my artistic vision, either. Years ago, I produced sculpture. Dynamic, emotion-filled pieces that won prizes in art shows. I longed to produce something gentle. I did, too! One piece. That was it.

When I began writing, my work was illuminated by spirit and filled with light. Also some of the nastiest bad guys and most hideous situations you’ll ever see. Jungians call that working on the dark side, and prize it. Some of my critics haven’t been so kind.

The thing is, we write what we’re given. I have lived through some situations so horrifying that I will never talk about them. Directly. My fiction is a way of working through their emotional detritus. It’s not always bright and shiny. It doesn’t seem to show humanity pointing in an upward direction.

But the moral core is there, and so is my abiding belief that at least some of us are on the good road. The road of spirit and light.

Some people need the grittier type of material I write. My work is for people who have been impacted by alcoholism, drug abuse, or mental illness. This could be their own illness, addiction, or disease or what they’ve had to face due to evil perpetrated upon them by others. My writing is not just for those lovely, blissful souls who have the smooth path, it’s also for those of us who know the other side.

It’s for those who know what can happen, and also know that the scars can be erased and the trauma overcome if you’re willing to work.

So that’s the source of my stories.

Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love is FREE as a Kindle AUGUST 5 & 6, 2012

If you read this in time, my Lady Grace will be free as an Amazon Kindle on August 5th & 6th, 2012. That’s this Saturday & Sunday. Lady Grace has been called “A Modern Sci-fi Masterpiece” by Amazon top 50 reviewer J. Chambers. (If you can’t relate to my stuff as visionary, call it sci-fi!)

Glad to get to know you,

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-two national awards for her writing. She’s won in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for more information on each book. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground (paperback & Kindle available)
Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love (paperback & Kindle available)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

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