Words have power. Names have extra power. The meaning of a name reflects on, and influences, the owner of that name.
In many cultures, children are given a temporary name at birth. Later, an adult name is chosen, usually in combination with a sacred ceremony. That adult name either reflects the qualities the young adult already shows, or sets the expectation of who the young adult will grow to become.
When it comes to the animals I share my life with, I do my best to listen for their true name. Some will offer it up. Some stay quiet and ask me to choose.
There are some names I avoid. Buck or Slowpoke or Tripod for a horse would be good examples. When you hear the name that fits with that soul, it just clicks into place. There is a knowing. Goose bumps. Tears. Joy. Peace. And sometimes amusement or even doubt. Really? You want to be called what???
A few years back, my senior breeding goat buck was born. I was sitting holding him on chilly spring day, asking him yet again what his name should be. He stared into my eyes and I heard “Dreamer”.
Dreamer? That’s an odd choice. You are a boy, destined to lead the buck herd, and you are choosing the name Dreamer?
So Oak Hill Dreamer he became. Today, the name suits him perfectly.
So fast forward a few years and the contractor I use to help with barn chores was searching for a horse of his own. One day, I saw pictures posted by Omega Horse Rescue of horses in a local kill buyer’s pen. (For those not familiar with this, kill buyers bid on horses at auctions, then resell them for slaughter in the Canadian and Mexican markets. I am making no judgements here about choosing that for a business. Just sharing facts.) Kill buyers will often allow rescues to purchase or arrange private sales for horses that have been scheduled for slaughter. So this picture showed up in my news feed on Facebook. And I knew. THIS was Cody’s new horse. There was something in the eyes. I messaged Cody right away – I found your horse!!!
Cody stepped up and purchased him from the kill pen. My horse Lucky had lost his roommate, and the timing was perfect, as Lucky needed a new roommate. Later I got a further message “I’m naming him Jeep” “My friend has a Wrangler, so it’s perfect”. Something about that name choice nagged at me. However, not my horse, not my decision. I let it go.
Recently, I’ve been having some pretty intense discussions with horses in my own herd and with humans and horses from other herds, all of us sharing together these lessons presented by our equine teachers. Jeep went to Kim Walnes 2 nights ago and poured out immense amounts of grief. Followed by this: “I’ve been used as a vehicle so much in my life. I don’t mind being ridden again once my back is stronger, but I never want to be treated or considered as a vehicle again. My name is celebrating a vehicle…even if it is a sturdy and handy vehicle, I wish to have a name that reflects my true self, which is as a teacher of Wisdom.”
I immediately shared this with Cody. We met at the barn and joined Jeep for a discussion of his name, and what he would like his new name to be. Cody and I both felt pretty stuck about what the new name was. I was having trouble hearing Jeep. I started muscle testing my way through a list of possible names. Cody started googling ideas. Family members chimed in with some very thoughtful, well-considered ideas. Jeep just kept eating his hay, and occasionally looking annoyed.
I finally gave up and stopped my testing and my thinking and just told Jeep I’m frustrated and not hearing it and please help me. And there it was my head. Softly yet clearly. A complete thought. As he was giving me his true name, he walked over and nuzzled me in the face. The name he chose is unusual. It’s powerful. It’s, well, weird. At least from my human perspective. I worried what Cody would think of it, and if he would accept it. I worried what others would think upon hearing it. He new chosen name is Teacher of Souls. I thought at him “That’s an unusual name. Humans may not understand.” The-horse-formerly-known-as-Jeep (THFKAJ) looked right at me and I got a very strong feeling of amusement. “That’s your human problem, not mine. Deal with it.” Being human and prone to overthinking and doubting my ability to hear the horses, I reached out to Kim AND to another human friend on this same path. “THFKAJ just told me his name is Teacher of Souls! Am I really hearing that right?” Yup, I was.
I braced myself for Cody’s reaction. “This is what I heard. I don’t understand it, I realize it’s a bit weird, he says it’s ok to use a shortened name for everyday. His name is Teacher of Souls, Teacher or T or Mr. T for short.” And Cody started smiling and laughing. Turns out Cody used to ride another horse, a fantastic special lesson horse, with the same name, Teacher. Cody was totally fine with the name. Liked it. Really liked Mr. T as a barn name. Smiles all around.
And T, meanwhile, had walked off to the corner and was deep in a horsey trance processing everything that just happened.
A name change like this is BIG. This is a huge energy shift. Adding in the proof that humans are finally listening to him and respecting him, well, that was a LOT to process. He stayed in that corner for quite a while before rejoining us.
He was much calmer when he returned to the hay. He sent Kim a message that he is coming out and showing us his heart, and that he loves us.
So, Happy Rebirthday Mr. T ! Welcome to your new life, again. May this newest journey be fun and healing!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.