Spirit Horse (1/3)

Culture of the Wild

It’s has been close to two weeks since we came back from the valley and every night, I secretly go back to Spirit Horse.  And each day I am being asked with bewildered eyes “so tell me!”

So here we go.



I began by fainting.

Photo Jerry Hyde

I left for this valley in Wales, because I love my man and because he’s deeply connected to it.  He warned me that it wasn’t easy, it often was cold, there was mud, micro-mosquitos (midges) and a lot of rain.  But when you meet someone and that you are in love, you want to know everything about him, share everything.  No?!

So, I arrived to the valley after a whole day of traveling with Tâm and Léo.  Janan, Jerry’s ex-wife came to pick us up at the airport and take us to the compound by wagon.  We are going to spend some time together…

It’s the third or fourth time that she goes there, only for a few days:  “This place is like no other place that you might know elsewhere.  And it’s traumatic.  It’s traumatic to adapt when you arrive… it is even more so when you leave.”

It’s actually very difficult to share an experience with words.  Because exactly, most of the things that happened to me at Spirit Horse happened within my body… Spirit Horse is not a concept, but an experience.

I start over:  fainting.



Photo Jerry Hyde

We arrived at night, it was cold, it was raining, we saw nothing.  Logical because the place has no electricity.  Jerry managed to find us on the road to show us the way.  It was a miracle, not only because there is no electricity but no network either.  Logical.

They had set some food aside for us in the kitchen.  A sort of a teepee, with wet people inside playing music “mom you should have told us that we were going there…”  “Tâm, I don’t know myself where we are.”

So we leave with a flashlight to go to bed.  Jerry’s tent collapsed the day before (too much wind killed the tent).  So we were able to sleep in a cute cabin, at the end of the village. The cabin was built by hand, with a sauna downstairs, a Tibetan pagoda upstairs and between the 2 floors a space for 6 mattresses… perfect!


Photo Jerry Hyde


I wake up early, habit by the fear of falling ill again (I had a mini burnout right before the holidays at the end of July).  It’s raining, but you can feel the sun behind the clouds.  And then, I find this water sensation strangely pleasant.  The morning goes.  We leave for a walk.  Still under the rain.

When arriving in the kitchen for lunch, I sit next to a pirate looking lady.  A worn-out hat, a ruffled collar shirt worn-out as well, long grey hair in dreadlocks, barefoot.  Full of mud.  Kids walk in and out all wet.  Barefoot.  Full of mud.  People in the kitchen.  Barefoot (with crocks shoes option).  Full of mud.

I feel a hyper violent thing growing in me.  I can’t manage to open my eyes.  Or eat.

“Jerry, I am exhausted”

I gather my remaining strength and believe me it wasn’t much.  I arrive at the cabin and crash for 3 hours.



Photo Jerry Hyde


When waking up, I confess to Jerry “I am frightened.”  A friend used to say “you can’t judge a feeling”, I held onto it there to not be ashamed, but I wasn’t too proud either.  And Jerry, he’s awesome, he reassured me.  He told me that was normal, that people, their relation to things, that everything would be challenged and it makes it scary, very scary.  That I should know that I was safe, because even if you have the feeling of being in the middle of a pirate movie (it sucks, that is just horrible), no one was going to slaughter you, to the contrary, this village is peaceful, there is no robbery, no fights, no sketchy stories.

And Janan to continue “maybe you might feel that people are closed off but they aren’t ”  “ no, no, I can see they are not, however myself, I am the one who is closed off.”

In fact, I experienced the fear of the other, the Other.  And I swear it’s awful how scared you are.  And it’s awful to “be” so awful, and if I didn’t realize it, maybe I would have ended up manifesting it “toward all of them.”  Thankfully I have values, and some reasoning capability. That and caring from the others of course, which saved me.



Photo Jerry Hyde

And then, this mud thing, it’s crazy how it frightened me.  I understood that all my point of references were going to explode.  As a reminder, I was working for Lancôme and was walking the red carpet at Cannes, it’s not my entire life but it’s a good landmark to tell you the abyss to find myself in mud.  What is scary, it’s not aggression from others, it’s the aggression you hold inside yourself, and it springs just when you don’t know anymore.  What a trip!

Well ….thanks for that.


Photo Jerry Hyde

I will tell you the rest, in video, but to keep it short, (yeah it’s going to be a long one actually), this week spent at Spirit Horse has challenged everything with me:  relationship with others, hygiene, the culture, the body, nature of course, family, education (many families there are doing home schooling), wealth, trust, risk, gender, individuality, community, rules, the forbidden, mushrooms, body hair, the essence of things… and beauty of course.



Photo Jerry Hyde


Hygiene for example:  the mud frightened me, however mud, is just water and soil!  And there was no running water, so everyone washed in the river, without soap.  For all that, I never smelled foul odors. I saw very well the difference… when I came back to Paris.  People live in nature all day, so they don’t wash themselves, but aren’t dirty either.  I have already heard all kind of things about our very polished relationship to hygiene, but this is the first time that I had to face it.  Truly.




Photo Jerry Hyde

The outdoors:  this is what I preferred.  To live in nature, not waiting for it to be beautiful, or for it to serve me, well at least the way I would like it to, oh la la, it was good. The valley is paced by the water, the many cascades and streams which flow by there.  The water frankly is cold, but after 2-3 days, my body was like called by the water, I was cold, I shivered, and I loved it.  I had already heard about “being one with nature”, but there, again I lived it and I miss it.  I miss it bad!


Photo Jerry Hyde

The body:  “Hello, daddy, yes we are leaving to a hippy compound” “Ah ok, so you are going to be all naked?!”  Yes… well yes and no.  I mean, it’s up to you.  Babies there live naked, in the arms of each other.  People have a free body.  Nudity therefore isn’t a problem, a danger, a lack of decency.  For women as for men.  Whether in the river or in the village.  It surprised me at first to see topless women having a coffee.  Nah, this isn’t true, actually, I was super shocked.  And I realized how I myself had completely integrated the sexualization of the female body.  So the body is freed, but not objectified.  Such beauty!



Photo Jerry Hyde

The culture:  the compound is nut only a hippy camp, and community, it looks to develop values, and these values are those of the “wild nature” (wild in French doesn’t mean the same thing), that is to say to connect you with something inherent in each of us, something wild.  Your inner peaceful warrior.  So therefore it’s a community of individuals who not only believe in human nature (not only like a social fabric) but who are also looking to develop it.  Shivam O’Brien and Erika Indra the founders of Spirit Horse 25 years ago have followed shamanism teachings, and its culture is a creation borrowing from “native” Indians, native Americans, Tibetans, Pagans… there are retreats (which I can’t wait to do), rituals, festivals which allow everyone to (re)new with this part of them.  In particular for boys and girls, they can leave for these camps (separated) for 4 days in the mountains to learn how to live together and individually.  What happens there is kept secret, and when they come back (I attended the return of some girls), the entire camp comes to welcome them.  They set a table full of fruits and cakes, they play percussions, the girls come down from the mountain covered in flowers, proud and singing at the top of their voice.  I still have goose bumps.  There is also an experience “sacred man – sacred woman,” an open stage, an evening of mad dance, singing courses.  All these experiences are nothing like a technical apprenticeship, singing in tune yes but mostly, like Anthony the singing teacher used to say “make your soul fly from yourself to someone else.”


I think I could write for hours more (maybe a 2nd post?! with your potential questions as well, because I realize that I haven’t explained the founding principles of the campground, the people who live there etc…).  Spirit Horse is the name of a Native American tale, it’s a spirit capable of making you pass from one to another.  And yes, I truly had this incredible experience with the impression of being in a tunnel, moving at high speed and to realize that this tunnel, well, it was part of a much bigger mountain, where without a doubt tons of water flowed, and that this world was sheltered by a big, immense sky.  I felt sacred, and at the same time, very small, at the foot of this immense Valley.

Where do I belong (?).  Here and now.

And over there, you can see, touch, sing and listen to the beauty, but above all it is a feeling.  You can feel the beauty.  Infinite beauty.

Infinite because all of that is no longer hindered by your fears or projections, It’s your…Character!

It’s crazy this thing.  It’s so crazy!



Photo Jerry Hyde


In returning to Paris, the forecasted trauma became reality.  I walked in the streets, took the subway and wow, I truly see what is dirty now.  In experimenting a society of being, I understand why we talk about the society of appearance.  And it bugged me, because it’s going to take me a while to integrate what I lived there into my full life.  I am not one to “slave away” 11 months in order to have the right to escape on the 12th.  And at the same time, what a gift having to reinvent yourself constantly.


In a way, Spirit Horse is in Wales, but it seems to me that I never went so far.  Inside me.  My eternal gratitude.  Mia the pirate lady, Hellen, Sue Angel, Paloma, Anthony, Shivam, Ian, Philipp… see you next year.


Photo Jerry Hyde

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