In the Chinese Calendar, now in its 79th sexagenarian cycle, a year can be named in three different ways, one of which is after an animal in the Chinese zodiac. So 2014 in the Gregorian calendar — year 4711 in the Chinese — is the year of the Wood (yang) Horse. Though the Chinese system isn’t fixed (as is its western analog), tradition holds that the animal ruling the year of your birth shapes your inherent traits: your “MythBody.”
We’ve resurrected that neologism — first coined by Huang for the Esalen workshops he co-led with Joseph Campbell — for our annual exploration of “The Way of the Animal Powers”: that vital interrelationship between your physical being and your story of yourself.
This year we’ll metaphorically mount our inner ponies to examine equine imagery, myths, legends, and lore in China — where, since the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BCE), they’ve represented wildness, natural power, strength, and freedom — and in western culture, where they are ubiquitous, from painted herds in Paleolithic caves to horsepower in Mustangs, from Pegasus (similar to Tianma in Chinese folklore) and centaurs to Mr. Ed. Since humankind's earliest days, we’ve been inextricably intertwined with a panoply of diverse equids: think The Golden Ass and Black Beauty, Equus and Zane Gray novels, and, certainly, that Trojan “gift” in the Iliad.
Accordingly, we’ll compare and contrast, mix twice-told tales with Tai Ji turns, weave calligraphic insights with conundrum (“Viewing Flowers from a Galloping Horse”), share poetry and praxis—all in celebration of our age-old companion and sinewy servant: the Horse.