Archetype of the Horse

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Archetype of the Horse

What is an archetype?

Oxford Definition

Archetype - psychoanalysis

In Jungian theory a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors, and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious.

Greek Origin: Original Pattern

An archetype is something like an old watercourse along which the water of life flowed for a time, digging a deep channel for itself. The longer it flowed the deeper the channel, and the more likely it is that sooner or later the water will return. 

- Carl Jung

Carl Jung, arguably the 20th century's most influential psychologist, wrote prolifically on archetypes. Common archetypes would be the divine Mother and Father, the Hero, the Trickster and more personally, the Persona and Shadow.

Extending outwards from these, we have innumerable archetypes that form images, emotions & potentials in our minds that inform our behaviour. 

For example, if I were to say the word ‘tree’, what images, emotions & reactions does that word conjure up for you? According to Jung, your unconscious image of the tree would be shared with the rest of humanity via the collective unconscious.

Archetypes could be the basis for our instincts which are needed for survival. Whether we have ever encountered any sharp toothed animals before, our instincts hold the form of the lion archetype and this informs how we react physically and emotionally. 

The archetype of the horse is an ancient one and a very interesting one to explore.

The Symbol of the Horse

[The horses] powers are beyond comprehension; it is therefore a marvel, and it's no wonder that man has so often made it sacred, from prehistoric times to the present day. Perhaps only one animal surpasses it in subtlety in the symbolic bestiary of all peoples: the serpent.

— Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant

The horse is an extremely powerful archetype that runs deep within our minds. It holds people's attention and even visits them in their dreams and imagination.
Horses have been intrinsically connected with humans since the very dawn of our time as Homo Sapiens. We have relied on them for survival in one way or another and they evoke potent images, emotions and potentials. 

In historical, religious, cultural & mythological realms, horses have long held an energy of wild freedom and enigmatic beauty. As an archetype horses, especially white ones, symbolise transcendence, purity & freedom.

They also hold significance as a messenger from the divine. The white horse has appeared in Celtic, Norse, Christian, Buddhist & Vedic mythology, traditions and scriptures. They carry messages and promises of victory and prosperity but also paradoxically destruction and impulsiveness. 

How does the horse archetype affect us on a daily, practical basis?

Any image that holds your attention, elicits emotion or visits you in your dreams may be a significant archetype for your life.

A vision or phenomenon that grips you is calling forth something from the realm of your unconscious or shadow. Unseen and un-manifested potential lay within these realms of your psyche and encountering a captivating force, such as the horse, will stir these energies up within you. 

You may decide to use this archetype to motivate you toward a goal or perhaps it requires you to remove a block on your journey - to slay a dragon on your path. 

The archetype of the horse could be calling you to traverse through primal emotions & connect you to your intuition as Jung thought it to be. It could help you to process deep emotions and integrate aspects such as healthy aggression in order to give you momentum in your manifest life. 

It could also be calling you to sit with your intuition and become quiet and still - only you can really know, or else you can work with a Jungian analyst to figure it out.

How do we work with this archetype?

Without even having the live animal in front of you, you can work with this archetype to integrate your shadow and become inspired to follow the call, take the risk, run with it, or whatever else this image is trying to tell you. 

It is important to cultivate stillness so that you can allow these energies to work through your psyche. 

Staying curious and observing the thoughts, visions and emotions that the image of the horse presents in you is the key to unlock whatever it is inside your subconscious that wants to be released. 

Whatever method you choose to use, it is important to get into a state of mind that encourages right brain, intuitive thought processing. Read through this article I wrote on how to unlock your subconscious

In this type of work, you may not come to an answer immediately but you will definitely KNOW when you do. It is a deep inner knowing when you've stumbled on something vital - your emotions will guide you. 

Methods of translating your equine messenger


If you have had a dream about a horse - write it out as soon as you can. What was the energy of the horse - positive or negative? Explore the storyline of your dream and see if there are any messages hidden within it. 


Find an inspiring horse to look at - whether it be on paper or in real life - and become still, allow your mind to empty and let this image do its work in you. When any emotions or memories come up - explore them. 


Write out what the image that is presenting itself to you means, in your own words. Don't worry about spelling or grammar, just write whatever comes to mind.

Ask Questions

What do horses mean to me?
What is this horse trying to tell me?
What are the exact aspects and details of this horse?
What emotions are conjured up when I think of this horse?


Paint, draw or doodle your way through this image that is presenting itself to you. By focussing on the image in your mind and allowing its energy to translate through your pen or brush, you may come to an idea or thought that nails it. You've got your answer or suggestion.

A Note For The Horse Gods

To be a horse girl is an absolute honour and as a guardian of my own equine, I am always in awe of the deep messages that my horse, Molly inspires in me within my own psyche. I don't often dream of horses but the archetype of the horse has most definitely captivated me since childhood. 

The archetype of the horse has lead me through a journey into the depths of my soul, through the darkness of my shadow and into the light of my purpose. 

I am eternally grateful to the horse gods for existing and inspiring growth & transformation in me and countless others throughout history. 

May we all continue the evolution

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