Noche – The Master of Sadness


Dear One, be comforted
The Great Mystery is a beginning
Rather than the appearance of an ending

We never stop growing…

Even now, in your sadness
You can open the doors to healing in your heart
Then we shall enter the Mystery, together…

~ Kim McElroy

Noche’s Lessons on Intuition

This work of art was inspired by a horse named Noche .  Author Linda Kohanov has shared many stories of Noche in her books “Tao of Equus” and “Riding Between the Worlds”.  Noche assisted Linda in her equine assisted therapy practice and one of his special gifts was in allowing people to heal their unresolved grief.   In the book and card set Linda and I co-created called “The Way of the Horse”, Noche represents “The Master of Sadness” – and stands for Sadness and Grief, The Power of Tears, and Release and Rejuvenation.

Noche passed away before I met Linda, so I never had the chance to meet him in person, but I feel as if I know him, for he taught me that intuition isn’t limited to direct experience, and that even a photograph can allow one to tap into spiritual awareness.

In Linda’s books, she refers to intuitive messages she has received from the equine collective mind that she calls “The Horse Ancestors”.  For many of us who have enjoyed her books, the concept of these ancestors was very powerful.  Over the years I’d had a few experiences in meditation where I felt I had connected with horse guides in different forms, but usually these experiences were during a deep meditative state.

Then one day I had an experience that made me realize that intuition can happen in the blink of an eye in any normal, day to day circumstance.  Before we had conceived of the “Way of the Horse” cards, Linda and I were at an event together where she was presenting a lecture and a slide presentation that included her horses.  Upon seeing Noche’s photograph I felt compelled to close my eyes and I asked if he had a message for me.  I had done this in the presence of horses, but I had never asked in this way from looking at a photograph.  Instantly, I had a vision of a shape of curved lines — like the familiar entwined ribbon pin people wear in support of a cause.

When I later mentioned it to Linda, she raised her eyebrows and said, “That is the image that the horse ancestors once gave me; it is the a symbol of two rivers flowing together, then meeting and mingling.  It represents the energy of Equus (horse) and Anthropos (human) entwining.  It seems to speak to the ancient connection we have with horses.”  She had written about the symbol in her book “The Tao of Equus” but I didn’t remember the reference.

Her confirmation that the symbol I had envisioned had such a profound meaning to her, gave me a thrill of excitement and a deep confirmation of my life’s path of learning and growth, and a renewed sense of wonder at the mystery of horse consciousness.  I had been learning to access my inner wisdom through tapping into my body awareness, and horses were the catalyst that had taken me deeper into my own personal insights.  Those experiences with horses then began to expand into receiving intuitive messages from the horses, but how was I to trust that what I was receiving had meaning?  When I began sharing my experiences with others like Linda who were equally curious, their confirmation that I had received information I had no way of knowing otherwise, allowed me to begin trusting that what I received was meaningful.

When I later created this painting for the Way of the Horse card deck.  I chose to portray the flowing shape in Noche’s portrait.  When Noche passed away,  Linda shared that she saw the light of the light of the setting sun reflecting in his eye, and that a single tear sparkled there as he crossed over into spirit.  Tears are an expression of the inexpressible.

From my own self development and healing with the “Way of the Horse” card deck, I often drew the “Master of Sadness” card, and thus Noche assisted my healing in ways I can’t begin to describe.

Horses seem to tap into our deepest psyche.  In their silent but dynamic presence, they have a timelessness about them that invites self inquiry.  We all have the potential to receive their wisdom, because it is also our own.

I hope you will think about and share your own intuitive experiences you have had with horses….

“When horses are treated kindly and with respect, they will show their sentience.” ~ Teresa Tsimmu Martino


  1. Kim- I loved your story of intuitive confirmation! For me, in the beginning, getting confirmation from like minded souls was SO helpful in learning to trust that the messages were, in fact, real! And what a beautiful symbol- of the rivers mingling- I missed that in Linda’s book as well.

    Your lovely poem reminds me of a similar message my departed greyhound brought to me about death in a dream. In the scene- he was brought out to me dead and placed in my lap- where he came to life, stated, “All is not what it seems,” then licked my face with a big loving grin, and then he was dead again. The dream was filled with the feelings of hope and peace.

    And what a clever way to impart that indeed- death is only a transition- that we can be together again, simply by opening our hearts and stepping into the love we share.

  2. Many years ago I attended a week long workshop with Linda and determined then and still now that it was a life-changer. I got to experience ‘the herd’ for a week and the arrival of the Horse Ancestors one evening. We also made a test run of the Way of the Horse cards and was blown away by your talents as an artist who captures more than a replication of reality.
    I was not a horse owner when I attended the workshop but I have been for 4 years now. He challenges me, he inspires me, he teaches me, he is my partner, he is my child…he’s far and above more complex than any other creature, human’s included.
    In my posts I frequently refer to Linda Kohanov’s books and in this case, a painting that has just been completed, required that I identify the Horse Ancestors so I linked to this blog.
    Blessings to you and others who live in the Way of the Horse.

  3. I am so inspired I am speechless. You’re art brought me to tears and made my heart smile. Horses are my heart and soul and I know they are yours. Even more than sheer beauty. Something so deep and mysterious that I feel it in my soul. You are truly blessed!
    I need you to paint my horses. One is in heaven and my other one is grieving and still hunting for him. We are both shattered.
    Thank you for giving your exquisite art to the world!

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