What Lies Underneath

There is a stillness underneath the  stillness that until today I’d not fully recognised. Life seems to operates on levels of things – in my experience anyway. I’ll reach a point of understanding with something and amazing things will happen. I’ll say to myself that it couldn’t get any better and that I’ve reached a peak level of wonder that will stay where it is. But no….. life has another plan. These levels seem to hit what feels like a highpoint, and then they go back to a beginning again. It isn’t the beginning you first started with, but it’s a new chapter all the same.

All week I’ve had a kind of agitated feeling inside me, one that wouldn’t go away. Every time I sat in nature whilst about my daily tasks, I found myself wanting – more. But what was the more I was wanting? I wanted to feel what was deeper in, below that first level of stillness which for me has a feeling of almost ‘trying’ about it. When I’m trying to be still, or reach a calm place, or stop my mental chatter, it simply doesn’t work. For someone who is super-blessed with a lot of time where I’m connected with nature, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was I was wanting. Also I questioned if I was just being a little greedy with my need for such things. But still my heart and soul would not shut up. All I knew was this – my whole being wanted to stop. I didn’t want the pressure of anything on my shoulders. I wanted to know that I could sit by the river all day and do – nothing. Walk out onto the moorland without a care and not feel a need to do a thing. How many of us ever get the chance to do this? I have snippets of it, much longer than most I’ll grant you that. However, to really reach the place I wanted to get to in myself, I knew that there had to be space around it too, time for it to bed in, time for things to settle. This is what I’d been missing. I’d have to wait.

IMG_1622This morning I woke early. The birds were gorgeously singing away. I got up and went outside to feed them, taking in the Sunday morning air. It was a glorious day, full sunshine even at that time and the stillness was present across the breeze. This would be a good day to go out. I hadn’t planned to, but suddenly I felt the nudge to go. I was feeling in a quiet place in myself, one which I can only describe as where it’s my soul dictating what’s to be done. I’ve learnt to listen to her.

Arriving onto Dartmoor’s high moorland, I headed towards a favourite spot. I had in mind to seek out a particular group of ponies, but before that I saw a large herd wandering across the land. I wanted to stop. As I got out of the car, a few of the ponies remained where they were, but the others, including the white stallion I hadn’t seen for a long time walked off into the distance. I watched a couple of young foals, colts, playing with each other and absorbed the scene. A particular pony, a yearling male, wanted to come in very close. So gently I let him and gave his head a stroke. He was really open to this so we spent quite a while with me scratching his neck and under his chin, then even his main body. He was very open to me being there. Now I know that a lot of foals here are pretty friendly, but not all are. Some are very shy, some have mothers that see you off, stallions see you off, some foals come right in and then be seen off. So I’m not surprised if such interactions suddenly stop. Besides, these are semi-wild ponies and for me a huge part of their charm is that they are – changeable. This means that by spending time with them I, personally have found myself much more able to be in the moment.

Today was different. It was like every agenda I had was gone, my thoughts had disappeared and there I was with this perky yearling who was by this time trying to scratch every itch on my car and wing mirrors. This was not ok! I’ve seen wing mirrors knocked off completely in their itching frenzy. So I approached him again saying that I wasn’t alright with him doing this and would be quite happy to give him some more scratches if that was what he wanted. So I scratched his neck, then gestured to go forwards. Scratched again, suggesting to follow me. I waited. He began to just that. I let him know that it was up to him if he followed, keeping on encouraging him it was safe to do so. Just talking like you or I would to each other. And he followed…. that alone made my heart leap. What happened next, silenced me.

IMG_1729Looking into this chap’s eyes, I could see that he was tired. He was fighting back the sleep standing there. As most of you will already know, ponies and horses can and do, easily sleep standing up. Only a small part of their lives do they sleep lying down and it’s very vulnerable for them to do so. I looked at this foal again, saying to him that he looked really tired and didn’t he want to lie down and have a sleep? I said that I too felt quite tired, and that I was going to have a rest. He looked at me and I sat down on the grass, relaxing myself completely. He stayed still. Then he began walking towards me, as if to walk towards the mare and foal a few feet away. He stopped, very, very close to me and flopped down onto the ground. Lying his whole body across the moorland scrub, that pony put down his head and went to sleep. I have absolutely no way to describe how utterly magical this was. I’ve never experienced this in such close body-space with any pony here. It was incredibly special to be there with him whilst he slept – an honour.

It’s taken years of spending time amongst these herds, years getting to know them little-by-little, never pushing for anything although I so much want connection with these precious beings. I’ve had many ponies flop down for a sleep close by, but this was so close that I could have just reached my hand a little and touched him. His feet were almost next to mine. It lasted a minute or two. At the same time as he went to sleep, in the distance I could see a group of ponies making their way back towards us, the majestic white stallion included. I knew that the time for this moment was limited and revelled in the beauty of it all. Pure, utter, magic.IMG_1630

In the morning I’d picked up a book “Think Harmony With Horses” by the wonderful Ray Hunt and read a little of the beginning. I hadn’t read his work for a long time but found myself drawn to the book again. For those opening pages he was talking about letting the horse/pony/donkey feel that it is their idea and their choice to do things with you. He talks in depth about it. How nothing should be forced, and trust should be developed with all friends, animals and humans alike. When I was with the ponies this morning, it was like my being was infused with those words, that way of harmony. I’ve had incredible, incredible times with these ponies, but today – today it felt like a whole new level. And the stillness I felt, was exactly that which I’d been seeking all week. In reality, I was just next to a car park off the main road over the moors. Stillness was reached in an unlikely place, and an absolutely unexpected experience. Life astounds me.

I furthered my walk just a few hundred metres along the moor, leaving the ponies over the hill. Finally, I sat myself down amongst the granite and the wild grasses and found more of the deeper stillness I’d been longing for. My whole being sunk into the earth. When I returned, there they all were by my car. I stopped to greet them, and one by one the ponies turned and walked out onto the open moorland. It felt absolutely perfect that they left in that very moment, gently merging with the land once more. My soul was left, full.

With gratitude and love to these amazing beings, and to the colt who brought and shared with me the purest stillness I’ve ever known,

Fi x

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All images are my own and therefore respectfully © Fi Takács

Fine Art Giclée Prints of photographs are also for sale. All high quality prints and limited edition. Do contact me for further info –  Connect

 

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When Your Heart Is Herd

It’s taken me a long time to share this story because it is so personal. It was one of the moments of my life where I had to remember I wasn’t dreaming. Really, it was just a warm-up for what was to come. Because now…. now there are things that happen most weeks that blow me away. Yet something about this one day will remain one of the most formative and beautiful experiences of my life. Right from the very beginning of being on Dartmoor, even before I moved here, the ponies were at the centre of the experience. In truth, I feel it was they who called to me, as much as my heart longed for this life.

Several years ago during the late winter, nearly nine years ago now, I found myself looking after two dogs whilst their owner was away. I’d moved to Dartmoor nine months before that and was already absolutely in love with the place. Looking after two dogs was going to give me even more reasons for getting out and about, walking and exploring. At this point I had no camera (not even a phone with a camera), nor did I work around animals or understand communicating with them. Or so I thought. I was deeply into writing music and songs at the time and loved to sing away when I was out on walks. The moors were the perfect place for it as often I wouldn’t see a soul and could enjoy practising without inhibition – there’s something about singing outdoors that is very liberating.

For around a week I got really into taking a particular walk with the dogs. I didn’t plan to keep taking that walk, but every day we’d drive up to this area of the moors and I’d see the same bunch of ponies up on the hill. I was fascinated by their forms over in the distance and longed to be nearer to them. As I was with the dogs I thought it was probably best not to, so we stayed where we were and walked. They were quite a way away, so off we went about our exploring. Each day I felt that even though we were distant from each other, those ponies very much knew we were there. Each day my heart beat stronger for them and I so wanted to be close to them – I just loved seeing them on the horizon line.

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On the final day of my dog-sitting, we walked the same route. My eyes focussed on the ponies and they seemed a little closer to us that day. I looked up and as I did, I felt this over-whelming desire for them to be next to us. I wished with all my might that they would be ‘here’. I did a double-take as one of them seemed to be moving down across the land, and then I had to look again. I could hardly believe my eyes as the whole herd began running across the moor and towards us. I felt between delight, awe and apprehension as they suddenly charged full pelt down the hill. I couldn’t quite believe that they were going to actually come right over so I stood still with the dogs, keeping myself calm. They slowed their pace and all of them stopped right in front of us, looking very inquisitive indeed. The most over-whelming emotion I felt was love. It absolutely washed over me, from me to them and from them to us. And for some reason I decided I wanted to know how they might respond to singing!

I began to sing, gently, the song I was writing at the time. What happened was incredible. The ponies came in even closer and formed a circle around me, I can’t remember exactly the numbers of them, but I think it was eight or so. They nuzzled and sniffed and looked into my eyes which were very watery at that point. The stillness was unbelievable. All my fear had disappeared, the dogs were absolutely quiet and lying down, without danger nor threat. I felt like I was in some ancient scene, one where the union happening, was not only between myself and the ponies, but the dogs, the land, the whole place – I felt absolutely, connected. It was such a wonderful experience, one that I couldn’t quite take in. Even as it was happening I knew that it was something very special. I felt that I was in a film, one where I watched and thought – “oh my…… I wish.” Looking back from where I am now, I know that the ponies were teaching me, showing me what was to come.

We stayed together quite a while. Knowing my songs at that time, they were around ten minutes long, so the ponies would have had all of that time with us! I looked to the sky and noticed that the day was drawing in and that evening was not long away. It was also cold, so it seemed we must move on. Being in the middle of the circle, I wasn’t sure how to handle moving out from the ponies but gently said to the dogs that we were going to go back to the car. I moved really close to the ponies, letting them know I was going to need to be out of the circle and they were so gentle letting me past. I felt sad if I’m honest – I wanted just to spend hours and days with them out there. The loop of energy had been so beautiful that I didn’t want it to stop. We turned and began walking, remaining deep in the feeling of stillness.

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I suddenly realised that one by one, the ponies had come out of the circle and were walking behind us in a line. Even now this fills me with absolute joy to remember it. A woman, two dogs and a whole line of ponies walking behind her. I kept looking back, as if pinching myself to see if it were true. I couldn’t believe my own eyes! They followed us in that line, all the way back to my car. I can remember turning to them and thanking them – even at that point where I thought I didn’t know anything about communicating with animals. I was thanking them as my friends, my equals. I was already working with them without knowing it. I was so grateful for their time and their escort to the car. I know I’d felt a slight worry that the weather was coming in and if we’d be safe, so their presence was more welcome than I can ever say.

Looking back to that winter’s day, it’s as if the ponies themselves were telling me who I was, helping me to know what I’d be doing in future. They knew, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t have been truly ready at that point to work with them in this way. But the scenes, the events – they were caught in my mind and heart. They were stored away in a bank of experiences that were being stocked up for a while, before I got a camera, (at first a tiny point-and-shoot) and began photographing them. It’s very hard to explain the kind of emotions that can happen around horses, ponies and animals when things like this happen. For me, it can feel heart-stoppingly-beautiful and has always felt like that. I can see now that from my very first moments as a child I was endlessly chatting away to creatures and felt a true bond with them, even the tiniest beings. As adults or teenagers, often we’re taught to ‘grow out’ of things and to ‘grow up’, as if the magic has to disappear when we mature. But it doesn’t. Let me be absolutely clear here, working with and around animals is no bed of roses. For all the magic that happens there is equal tragedy, loss and sometimes horror. Because nature is all things, as are we.

To come close to animals is to open ourselves equally to love and to loss. To love wild creatures is really to be in the rhythm of life, because you never know when or if you’ll see them again. But you’ll always meet souls when you’re out and about. Even in cities there is opportunity to meet nature. It’s a very different experience, but nature is with us ALL the way if we’re open to seeing, hearing and feeling that. The Earth is always beneath us, no matter where we are. I don’t feel we need any lengthy training to open our hearts to the magic of connection that is happening at any given moment, it’s more of a remembering of what we deep-down know already. My work involves helping others to come back to that – with themselves, with their animals, with the ponies here. Most of us are starving for connection and we may have been hungry all our lives but not always sure what for. For me, the landscape of Dartmoor and the incredible ponies, the amazing animals that are bound to this place are the most wonderful way to open that door to remembering. I hear of people having profound experiences here that move them so much they up sticks and decide to live here – I am one of them! One ride on a horse on the open moorland and that was it!

I cannot ever share enough the joy of how it is to open out to the connection that is possible with animals and our Earth. It is life-changing, life-affirming and absolutely – essential. These connections and happenings can seem like small things, little interactions or shifts, but in truth, they are much more than that. It is how we view them, how we notice them, how we feel about them – that is what gives them weight, value and worth. However ‘small’ the experience, it can still change us. Look at a child who spends hours watching a bee or a butterfly, that is magic. That is what leads us to remaining open to the riches around us. For the thousands of teachings that I’ve experienced and continue to have thrown my way, I’m eternally grateful. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

With gratitude to all the amazing animals here, in memory of this beautiful mare, who was lost tragically with her foal this winter…. May the circle remain strong.

Fi x

IMG_5908.JPGAll images are my own and therefore respectfully © Fi Takács

Fine Art Giclée Prints of photographs are also for sale. All high quality prints and limited edition. Do contact me for further info –  Connect

 

Calling In The Band

It’s amazing how life leads us in so many different directions. We start at one point and from there, it may seem clear in that moment as to where things are going. But in truth, we don’t always know where things may lead. It really is a great and hopefully long, winding road, full of diversions and pit-stops. I can see now that these threads with the animals and working with these wild ponies of Dartmoor began long ago. From my first visit here, over ten years ago, the ponies were right at the heart. From that first interaction with them properly, they were helping me to re-connect to my wildness, asking me to look deeper into myself. In short, they were teaching me from the beginning – waiting for me to fully open my senses rather than the other way around.

It was my great privilege last week to have my first more formal journey onto the moors, acting as a guide and sharer of knowledge with a lovely woman who really wanted to get closer to the ponies and how to learn to ‘communicate’ with them more. My job that day was merely to act as a conduit or facilitator for whatever happened, to help encourage trust and connection. The night before, I spent a while thinking about what I might like to say or share, the direction I might like to lead in and no strong answers came. How was I going to ‘teach’ if there was no plan? The strongest feeling was absolutely to go with it and that the ponies and the moors themselves would lead us. That all sounds very well, but it can be difficult to trust these things and let go of the need for a timetable. If there’s one thing the wild ones teach me again and again is that it’s best to throw any preconceived ideas out of the window. The whole point of connecting with nature, animals and our Earth is that there is a rhythm underlying everything, and that, we are not in control of.

Life is full of choices isn’t it? To go this way or that way? Which way do we decide to go? What pulls us in a direction? Where do we make that decision from in ourselves? When we are at a literal crossroads – which way? Head, heart, what? A few days before this journey, I had had a very strong desire to go onto the moors. After a heavy day of physical work, it went against my usual need to go slow, but the internal nagging wouldn’t stop. As a result and following this feeling that persisted, truly beautiful things unfolded with the ponies when they appeared. Trusting that gave me a renewed confidence in those inner hunches. I don’t always follow them, but I’m very glad when I do! I know that there is a consensus that the more we see the things that happen in our lives, the more they start happening. But I don’t personally feel it is that way…. My feeling is that things are happening to us all the time, nature and the animals are communicating with us all the time, life conspires for magical events and synchronicity frequently. When we see them, when our eyes are opening, or more open – suddenly it’s as if things are being divinely orchestrated all over the place. They appear to be happening more but perhaps they were happening all along. Please don’t get me wrong, life is also a deeply challenging experience. It’s not reserved for what we as humans may perceive as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ or ‘magical’. Nature herself is a balance of the beautiful and the brutal and everything else in between, to ignore that would be to blind ourselves to those depths. Off we drove up onto the moors, a junction appeared. Which way? To the right, we both agreed. That turned out to be a glorious choice.

IMG_4069Trusting instincts is interesting – the more you trust them, the stronger they become. Turning the corner, we were immediately greeted with the sight of several ponies. We decided to stop and get out, to see how they were all doing. Approaching them, we were firstly absolutely mesmerised by a mare who had the largest moustache I’ve ever seen. Her perfect antidote to the harsh and thorny gorse that they so love eating here. Then a stallion standing slightly in the distance, a sentinel looking across the land. He stood perfectly still but his powerful presence duly noted. We didn’t feel to go towards him so continued walking and then stopped, looking at a particular mare who was standing on her own. As I looked at her, I felt my heart twinge with sadness. As I tuned into her, I felt her sadness. Remarking on this we chatted about what we felt from her. The resounding feeling was isolation. Looking at her, she seemed so distant in herself. I felt that she was lonely and away from the herd, she didn’t know how to integrate. She was fine on her own, but that felt also like a defence mechanism – was she isolating herself, or was the herd ostracising her? That is a chicken and egg question. As we discussed this whole issue at some length, I realised how much we can often feel this as humans. I, myself could totally relate to this, and her loneliness as a result – I’ve experienced this many times. I just wanted to do something to help her. But what? I felt the most important thing to do was to send her huge love and also to work on bringing her a feeling of connection and integration with the herd. We did this together. Sending love is powerful – I’ve stood in the centre of a circle with people sending me only love and it reduced me to tears of joy, moving me deeply. Visualising her connected to many horses world-wide, not just on Dartmoor, I used that feeling of energy and presence to reassure her that she was not on her own. This was all done in my ‘minds-eye’, which, as many of you will know can be a great tool for healing and transformation. I saw her connected with other horses, connected and grounded fully to our Earth. I felt that connection running through me as I worked on it with her – as I saw her connected, I saw myself connected. This all happened very quickly but when we looked over at her again, something really subtle had changed in her posture, something felt more ‘open’, more hopeful. We noted this and feeling that she was doing better, decided to give her some space and walked up the granite covered hill.

Reaching the top, looking up, something extraordinary occurred. Running towards us with great speed and direction was a group of ponies. The joy was absolutely palpable. They ran towards us and around us and straight down to the mare we’d been working with. It was a huge sense of them having heard her longing, and our call for help – “we’re here!”. They surrounded her, nudged her, trying to get her full attention. It was fascinating to watch as they really worked with her, affirming their presence through their actions. But still, it was plain to see that she was finding it difficult to allow them really close in. This continued for quite a while as we sat down and watched. The rest of the herd, came and stood with us, being very social and edging forward. What was amazing was that they didn’t give up, and eventually, three in particular, including the stallion stood with her, nudging gently, approaching gently, encouraging her to integrate. Looking out across the land, more and more ponies were becoming visible. The sentinel stallion had really been watching several herds across the moors.

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It’s hard to explain how magical something like this can feel, how amazing it truly is. When I’m in a loop with nature, the tiny world I’m experiencing in terms of physical space can feel massive, amplified. The energy of change, the power of possibility, the extent of what is experienced and watched can be quite over-whelming. These seemingly small events can act as teachings for something far greater. For me, to see this and to have another human present to witness it unfold was life-affirming. And as we left for the next steps, we were wowed yet again. Suddenly coming across the tiny colt I’ve affectionately named ‘Gemini’. This was totally unexpected. After weeks of wondering if he was surviving these tough winter conditions and never seeing him – there he was looking strong and in great health. A complete gift in itself.

I’m really blessed to have such magical experiences with these ponies and all aspects of nature, but many are when I’m on a solitary journey. It changes and becomes somehow validated when someone else is there, it’s potency can be multiplied when sharing. To experience the joy on my journey companion’s face was unforgettable. Her delight, her recognition of the amazing transformation that had happened, was precious and was the moment of a new beginning for me. Our animals are incredible teachers, and very willing teachers too. When we’re able to open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to what is possible and what is not always explainable, there is a vast array of wisdom that is knocking at our doors in every single moment. Blink and we miss it. But there are always, always more experiences and more teachings to be had. This is the direction that my vocation takes me in. Not just to witness these events for myself and with the camera, but to share them much more with the world and moving into being a guide for others to have their own experiences. That day, my direction changed and took a new fork in the road. Boy am I glad we took that right turn.

With gratitude and love, and for this blissful fellow Gemini, who wowed the day even more with his unexpected presence. And for this moustache….. the greatest gorse protector I’ve ever seen!

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Fi x

© Fi Takács 2018

Bluebell In The Gorse

What could be more delightful than bumping into a great friend of yours? I think of ‘Bluebell’ as no less than that, even though she is one of the ponies of Dartmoor. And what if your friend had a great, great surprise waiting on a particular day that you knew nothing about….

For the past year or so, Bluebell as I’ve affectionately named her has become one of the particular characters that I seek out here. She has the most exquisite eyes and she is a wonderful, eccentric soul. From the first meeting with her when I had just started going out with my camera seriously, she was just there. She stood and seemed to pose and stop for me to click away. She made things very, very easy. She made it ALL look easy. I’m so glad for that because Bluebell gave me a wonderful insight, early on as to what is possible with them when the connection is flowing. I can say from experience, that from working around many of these ponies now – all are not the same. Some you can get nearer to than others. Bluebell, for me, is an ambassador for the horse-human connection. And I say horse, because, to me, regardless of size, these are all horses in spirit. The ponies that I have the privilege of connecting with here are huge in their personalities and their energy, sometimes three times their physical stature or more. Bluebell is no exception – she tends to win the hearts of humans effortlessly. She allows people very close to her indeed. And I’ll say it once again – not all ponies are the same. Some you need to spend hours around, building trust and then they may just start to approach. Others may never let you close. And that is a great thing to remember because it means that I take nothing for-granted and do not assume that it’s my right to go right in and take what I want whether that’s a photo, a touch, or closeness. When I’m on the moors, when I’m around all animals – for the most part it is a dance of working out what is ok, what is not. When to move forward, when to step back. Intuition and trusting gut instincts is paramount. Sometimes those signals and feelings are subtle, sometimes they are deafening.

Yesterday I went out to the moors for the first time in three weeks with my camera. After a period of time without a car, I was champing at the proverbial bit to find those wild-ones. I went way up onto the moors and came across a herd that I’ve spent a lot of time with now, building relationships with them. But there are always new members to navigate each visit so it keeps me on my toes. I noticed yesterday how incredibly interactive the ponies were, they simply wanted to come in very close indeed. A young and highly spirited colt spent a long time edging forward, eventually to sniff my head and nibble my hat. IMG_0986.JPGIt was a gorgeous, gorgeous moment because the time had been spent to allow that to happen. And for it to happen I had to be OK with all the other herd members too. Being amongst them when this happens is hard to describe. I often find myself with tears in my eyes, recognising how special it is to be so close. Nothing is taken for-granted, because it can also change in a moment if they get distracted or spooked or if they just plain fancy a gallop with the rest of the herd. What is peaceful can change on the flip of a coin. This is a process. I haven’t arrived anywhere, it will always be ongoing and surprising. Perhaps that is part of what draws me in closer and closer – it feels real, it is ‘out of control’, but for us in our often over-controlled modern world, this feels a vital teaching. It’s extremely valuable to learn to be more in the ‘moment’.

Driving homeward I stopped at the place I saw Bluebell last. This is the place where I’d taken a longer walk and fallen into the mire briefly. This is a place where those ponies are pretty well protected as there is a lot of unstable ground in terms of walking there, it is super-boggy in places. I walked along and saw the herd on the hill and a solitary pony having a snooze near some gorse. As I looked up, a mare began trotting and then galloping towards me, making lots of whinnying along the way. She stopped right in front of me and was extremely curious as to whether I had brought anything along food-wise. Several more of the herd did exactly the same thing, catching the excitement of this first mare.IMG_1212 They ran over and nuzzled me, gave me a bit of a barge and hung out a while – it was so exhilarating! I could not see Bluebell anywhere and imagined that she was far up on the tor with the others I could see in the murky light. And then…. then I heard a rustling and I looked into the gorse thicket where one pony had been standing all along. And the most incredibly exciting feeling washed over me as I saw Bluebell. And then…. and then, joy of absolute joys….. I saw the tiniest foal. Incredibly tiny and very young, maybe a day or so.

The most delightful news that I wish to share with you is that Bluebell has had a foal! The most beautiful colt. And he is much like her – curious, friendly and rather eccentric. Spending time around one so young, being circled and held within the herd as they are and I was, has a magic that I will never, ever be able to put a value on. The experience of that has lit up my heart and soul in a way that I can’t describe. My delight for her, for the herd and for my own self being lucky to experience this is huge. That beautiful colt tried to approach me but I just didn’t want him to get too close. Something about that didn’t feel OK just yet for me. But I swear he recognised my voice because his response to me calling for his mother was one of familiarity and warmth. He held absolutely no fear. Of course, all the time she has been pregnant I’ve been around her periodically and chatted away to her about how beautiful she is, how many humans are touched by her ways. We often hear about talking to human babies in the womb. I had not realised that I was talking to Bluebell’s unborn whilst I was around her all this year. There was me thinking that she had been eating rather a lot of the moorland goodies and she was in foal.

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As I stood with the them all, tears filled my eyes. Tears of joy, tears of surprise, tears of recognition of the incredible honour of being there with them at such a vulnerable moment. I smiled and smiled inside. I congratulated my friend and her herd, telling them how grateful I was to be there with them and how excited I was for them to have new life in their world. I also worried for that tiny soul, will he make it through the winter, will he be OK? And then I watched as he played and teased his mother, springing around like a mountain goat. This is how it is to love. The fear of loss is immediate, but love we must – no matter what, these ponies teach me so much about love and loss and everything else in between. Everything is subject to change. And I thought to myself… with this family, with this protection and love around him, his wild, tenacious spirit and with those instincts. He just may make it. I do so very dearly hope so…..

 

With gratitude to Bluebell and her incredible herd. And for the new colt that has arrived, long may you remain little one. What a delight to share in the wonder of new life with the ponies of Dartmoor.

Fi x

 

All images are my own and therefore respectfully © Fi Takács

Fine Art Giclée Prints of photographs are also for sale. All beautiful, high quality prints and limited edition. Do contact me for further info –  Connect

 

King Of The Outsiders

My life has changed beyond recognition in the past five years or so. I did not imagine in those early days that this new direction would bring me – here. And where is that exactly? Because I seem to be on a journey that leads into vastly uncharted waters. People often say about getting outside of our comfort zones, well I can safely say that over the last few years, comfort has been a less frequent visitor. At times I’ve felt deeply uncomfortable. I’ve been delving into new worlds, new experiences and pushing my own boundaries – a lot. I’m sure you may wonder why? In moments, I’ve asked myself that very same question and even thought of putting all of this down and doing something else, but there has been a nagging urge to keep on climbing the metaphorical ‘mountain’.

This work with animals and nature teaches me tenacity. They teach me to feel my discomfort – even when I can’t do anything to make that better. They teach me to push my boundaries, to move beyond what I think is possible and to get on with what ‘is’. In hearing their point of view, in understanding their feelings, I have more perspective of us also. I’ve begun to see a much broader spectrum by listening to animals. Their wisdom is inherent. We are not the only ones who have something valid to say, nor the only ones with knowledge. It is just different ways of speaking and of understanding. The more time I’ve spent in wild nature and around wild creatures, the more I’ve been drawn to listening to them. It was not what I anticipated in the early days, but it’s very much what I’m being asked to do more of. It seems that so many of us are in desperate need of understanding our own wildness. I do believe that it’s this wildness that holds part of the key to us changing the way we are living on our planet.

Much of my time out on Dartmoor is now spent around the wild ponies. I’m slowly beginning to get to know the herds and there is one in particular that I’ve been photographing for the past couple of months. I went to seek them out again last week and as I clambered up the rocky incline to the tors ahead, I came across my familiar mares and foals greeting them along the way. As I got to the top, I saw two young male foals having quite a few games and teasing each other. At one point it got quite rough but that’s normal for them so I just stood back observing them. They were very gentle with me, but with each other it was different. I spent a good long time around them, noticing also that this herd had grown substantially in size. There now seemed to be three herds joined together and around sixty ponies in total. I could see a new band of them right up on the far hill and walked towards them with excitement. What happened along the way in terms of photography was pretty breathtaking. There are times that I’m out in nature and amongst the horses when they give so much. So many opportunities come, so much beauty is translated into the images that I bring home. I’ve developed my own way to approach them – I never, ever assume that I can or that it’s my right. That has been a key to transformation. Sometimes I meet animals who grab me so strongly with their presence that I can’t stop thinking about them. I met one such majesty recently on the moor. He had such an energy about him that it stopped me dead in my tracks and it wasn’t exactly comfortable either.

As I stood there, semi in shock, I realised that I was in the presence of someone formidable. I felt some anger coming from him and also a serious message to step back, I felt fear – mine or his or both? I rarely get that feeling so I followed it immediately. IMG_7955I backed up and looked over to where he stood. I’d been completely thrown as I’d not seen him as I photographed the rest of the herd. But as soon as I did, I couldn’t take my attention away from him. I believe I was in the presence of an Appaloosa cross Stallion, and boy what a stallion. I felt his discomfort immediately. After being so involved with the herds and feeling so comfortable, his discomfort was palpable. I also felt his sadness. It just wouldn’t leave me. I looked at him in his majestic beauty, his physical size much larger than the others and I felt his feeling of not belonging. He was uncomfortable, he felt left out and I could see why. No matter how hard he tried to blend in, his size and markings made him entirely different to the others he was around. How many of us have felt profoundly out of place at times? I do wonder. I also love to think about the power in the messages that all animals bring us, because there is never any accident when they cross our paths. I really could understand his feeling out of place, his feeling of not belonging, his feeling of being different – I imagine that so many of us can. This is the message I have received from him:

I call to your heart and I ask you this – how does it feel to you when you do not belong? I do not belong here amongst these others, set alone against the landscape. Where are the others of my kind? I am lonely here, just me. I wish I had my familiars around me, my family, my kin. I long to be with them again, but for now I am separate. I stand here, mighty in my stature, feeling uncomfortable so I hide. But I was not born to hide, it is not my natural way of being. Even blending here against the ancient stones I cannot help but be conspicuous. I am uncomfortable with my work here – I have never been considered as to whether I wish to do this. I am more than just a seed. I am more than just a breed. I am wild and that is what I most wish to be. I wish to be free of the tasks that men set me, the jobs they feel I am here to do. I just wish to be. There is nothing else for me that is more important than to fulfil my duty and responsibility to the land and to the Earth. We are here as guardians, as protectors. Yet so many remain blind to that. They do not see us. They do not see our mighty task, they do not see their own. I feel forgotten here. I have not lost my connection to the Earth, the land, the sky, the stars, yet somehow I do feel lost. I do not wish to frighten others, but part of me is angry that I have been forgotten. I wish it could be different. One day I will return to my essence, my wildness but for now I am in chains. You may see me here and think that I have a life of freedom but while we are beholden – we can never be totally free. We are not so different you and I. You too suffer the feeling of restriction, of not being able to honour your own wildness. You look like you are free but also you are caught in chains. The chains may not be visible but they are there just the same. We all long to belong, to feel connected, to feel peace. But yet so often we are separated, isolated, lonely. I remind you of that feeling, I remind you of your own feelings that you cannot hide, that you feel alone or separate, your fear that you do not always belong. How many of you feel this way? As you work with those feelings within yourself and with other humans, you will help bring each other back to wholeness. Do not ignore these feelings – delve into them and know that as you work with this, you are also working with us. There will come a time when you will know harmony again, but first you must feel uncomfortable, you must acknowledge the disharmony and the discomfort. It is not too late. We call to you to begin the journey.”

IMG_8036As I look through his message I can feel so much within it. I can understand his feeling of isolation, of not belonging, of trying to hide but not being able to. As humans I feel that we so often just want to ‘be ourselves’ but frequently that is a complicated task. We worry what others think of us, we are troubled by our desire to fit in. We wish to be free yet on many levels we are restricted. How different are we from our animals at times? How different are their desires from ours? We all long to be happy and accepted and to just be. How that is for each person is different, but the desire for it draws us all together – it connects us. I wish I could bring that beautiful stallion a band of appaloosas so that he could be at peace (or return him to them). I wish for him that he could feel less conspicuous. I wish for him that he was not so beholden to the ways of man. But let me ask this question – are we not just as beholden in some ways? We may think we are free, but so often we are not. I really do feel that as we begin to honour our own wild nature, our own desires to be free and each others desires too we will be much more able to honour the desires of our animals. Just as much as we may long to be heard and respected, so do they. The wisdom they hold is immense, if we can only tap into it. I believe that they have many answers for us as to how to return us all to a much greater state of harmony. I do believe its possible, but as this stallion reminds me – there is discomfort to feel first. Sometimes we have to feel the opposite to bring us right back to where we need to be. Speaking only from my own experience and feeling of discomfort as I began this journey, I will say this – it really is worth the work.

Here’s to this moorland King – to me he is a King for he has his mighty presence. Whether he ‘belongs’ here or not, he belongs to the Earth and that is more than enough for any of us. Go well beauty, wherever you may be.

With gratitude and love,

Fi x

All images are my own and therefore respectfully © Fi Takács

Fine Art Giclée Prints of photographs are also for sale. All beautiful, high quality prints and limited edition. Do contact me for further info –  Connect

 

 

Wild Horses Do Stop Me

The animals often visit me when I’m asleep. Sometimes I feel that it’s because in our waking reality messages can be difficult to get across – when we sleep we are so much more open to receiving information. Dreams are heart and soul time. Last night was no exception.

Whilst deeply sleeping, one after one, the wild horses came. They appeared in a long line, far into the distance. Each one greeted me separately, each one so very different. Many of them were pale-coloured, almost ethereal. But one thing held them all together, one thing, they all shared – their wisdom, their peace. It was overwhelming. I reached to touch them, I could hear them breathing through their noses, I could smell that sweet smell that horses have. They were so gentle, so knowing and so powerful. They didn’t need to assert their power to prove it, they just knew what they are capable of. As each one came, I felt filled with peace. I felt filled with their energy, their knowing, their stillness, their strength and power. I was overwhelmed with love. IMG_6045 - Copy.JPGAs I looked at each one, noticing their uniqueness, I couldn’t understand how we’ve got to where we are now, I couldn’t understand how we pick them out and decide which shall live and which shall die. Every wild horse that stepped forward was as individual as you or I. Every wild horse deserved to live. I know that during that dream when I woke a couple of times realising it was a dream, a smile ran through my whole being. I felt like the horses themselves were visiting me over night, reminding me to keep going with what I’m doing. I woke feeling more inspired than ever to be part of their cause, to help be one of their voices. And there are many of us acting as their voices right now and we speak in many different ways. We share the cause across the globe, we unite. Our voices need to get louder. We need more of us.

I’ve been thinking about the plight of wild horses so much recently – not just here in the UK but all across the world. I learnt through a new friend that there are wild horses in Brazil that are now endangered – their population dwindling from 4000 to 200. The mustangs – an American icon, seem set to have their population cut drastically yet again. The wild ponies here have their numbers reduced every year. For all the love we feel of wildness and spending our weekends or holidays in nature, there is often little we know about the reality of that and how we are managing those spaces and the creatures that live on and around them. Perhaps we don’t realise their struggles, their fragility, their worth. I absolutely love the foals here on Dartmoor – they have a unique energy. There is something so ancient about them and other worldly, people fall madly for them. Yet many just won’t make it – numbers of them are culled each year. I’ve begun to feel that photographing wild horses is like photographing ghosts. I see them and then they disappear. They’re recorded as having been here but not for long. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.

I know that there are plenty of people that may think me over-sentimental about such things and that there are practicalities to be taken in hand, things need to be controlled. But knowing the sensitivity of these amazing beauties, working around them, getting closer to them each time I meet them – it feels awful to know what they go through. I just don’t want to lose them. It’s an unbearable thought that they could disappear because we may not understand enough of their value. And I’m not alone in this feeling. Once a horse has touched your heart, there is no coming back from that. It’s hard to explain, but they just kind of get under your skin.

When a wild horse stops right in front of you and looks you straight in the eyes, well….. that is something else – it is pure connection. I had a wild, pregnant mare follow me with my camera, keen to come closer and as our eyes locked, I was unable to do anything other than erupt in tears. I realised that we are in serious danger of losing our wild animals – it hit me hard. I can remember the healing that was present as she stayed with me, it was a total surrender to the moment. IMG_8967.JPGI’ve never known that much peace before – she looked directly at me and did not move her gaze. I felt that she saw straight into my soul. And with everything that we humans do to animals, with everything that we take from them, all I felt from her was pure love. Perhaps it was that, that got to me the most – to feel that love, in-spite of everything. That is unconditional. Whether it’s never happened to you before, or whether you’ve experienced it many times is no matter, it’s incredibly powerful. It’s also transformational. And I fully think that they mean to do that. I feel that they call out to us and our wildness. They call us to remember our wild selves, our uniqueness, our connection to our entire environment. They call us to remember the urgency of their cause, of the cause of wild creatures across the Earth. Most of all, they call us back to love. And love is the most powerful force that exists, it can override absolutely everything. It’s not rational, we never know when it may happen, but when it does, it’s all-encompassing.

The love we speak about amongst humans is often connected to romance, or families, or friendships between each other. But there is a whole other love that can (and does) happen with animals can be a catalyst for change. They will, and do, offer us their hearts completely – with such honesty. Many of us have animal friends at home, but there are wild animals to experience love and connection with too, animals that just may let us a little closer at times, ones that can completely steal our hearts and stir our souls. I know that if we all woke up one morning, filled with the same love and respect for animals simultaneously, the whole world would shift beyond measure. Certain behaviours would become unimaginable. I think the grief it would unlock could be huge. But that would be worth it for us to feel connected again, to re-connect with animals, nature, ourselves and therefore – each other.

I spend a lot of time on Dartmoor photographing the wild ponies and being in the wild landscape. The more I’m around them, the more I feel their magic. I’ve been around tiny groups of ponies, spending a few hours with them and found myself transformed by the experience. When I share time with them, observe them, become part of their group for a while, it is like being part of a whole different reality. I lose time with them, but come away totally enriched. I don’t seek them out to have that experience, it seems to unfold. It is such a simple thing that happens, yet the value is immense. So when the wild herd came to me in that dream last night, I knew, yet again that it was no accident. Dreams like that stir things up, inspire me to write, inspire me to carry on. I recognised in the dream that these moments, and these horses that were coming, were part of the collective herd of wild horses across the globe. That same energy is present each time I’m with them and return with the images that they gift to me. I simply do not feel that I take anything from them. It is up to them if they wish to share their essence with me, their lives with me, their time. Enough of the taking. It’s surprised me with the photography that the moments people seem to most respond to are the moments where there is a deep peace present. Call of the WaitingPerhaps I imagined that it would be the galloping groups or the stallions fighting that would gain the most attention, but it doesn’t seem so. Although those are absolutely stunning moments to witness and record, and people are wowed, it’s the stillness that reaches out. That stillness, that peace – it touches us on a deep level. I believe it brings us straight back to ourselves and our knowing of what is possible, even what is really needed for us – now. We are in desperate need of remembering that peace and harmony are our birthright. The more time I spend with wild horses and wild nature, the more I know that they hold the key to something very, very special. I hope that we will have the chance to learn what that is before it’s too late.

In celebration of all wild-hearts across the globe wherever you may be.

With gratitude and love,

Fi x

Receiving Is Believing

I fell into photography by accident. I didn’t really ever mean for it to get serious. At first it was a tool one winter to keep me enjoying the moorland when it was too cold for me to do my landscape drawings outside. I’d spent many months on the moors, working for hours on oil pastel landscape pieces, refusing to create them inside. I loved the atmosphere that came through when they were generated in the place itself, but when it got to the winter I hit a stumbling block. My hands just wouldn’t work for long enough in that cold! So I bought my first little point and shoot digital camera. Very basic, but really great for keeping up my momentum to be out in the elements in all weathers.

The first time I took my little camera up on the moors, I came across a group of three wild ponies walked up to where they were, standing right in front of them. I fully jan-feb2012 036expected them to move but they didn’t, they stood neatly in a row and let me take my time as I played around with the camera. It was an amazing experience, one that I look back on as formative – not just for photography in future, but also as the beginnings of my passion connecting much more deeply with animals. That passion has lead me to becoming an Animal Communicator. The more work I do connecting with animals, the more that fuels my passion for photography and vice versa. It’s something I never could have predicted happening but it’s the source of massive joy. It’s that joy that I dearly wish I could share with others. I work often with domesticated animals which is wonderful, but there is something magical about spending time in wild nature and learning how to get closer to wild animals too. The lessons for me are incredible and teach me a huge amount about patience and releasing all expectations of what may happen. I often go out with the bit between my teeth, itching to be on the land and with my camera, but I never, ever know what’s going to happen. I’ve rarely returned without something wonderful occurring, whether or not the photographs have turned out. I’m learning so much about not worrying if things don’t happen. In a culture where we are often so focussed on getting ‘results’ that are tangible and physical, I’m all for easing that pressure and enjoying experiences – whatever they bring. Sometimes all I have is a story. I can’t record everything, I don’t always have the camera ready and even if I do, some things are sacred and never can be ‘captured’.

It’s a funny expression to ‘capture’ or to ‘take’ photographs. I don’t’ really feel like I take anything at all. One of the great things that I continue to learn as an Animal Communicator is that moving towards an animal with an agenda, or too many questions, or just with too much intention, can be really counter-productive. Animals definitely know what we’re up to and if I walk towards a band of horses with an attitude to take something from them or get what I want, I’m sure they’d just play me for a while. They may even get really cross and shoo me off aggressively, disliking my energy coming towards them. Or they may run off before I get anywhere near them! I’ve definitely had it happen and it’s made me think a lot about my intentions when I’m hoping that I’ll come home with some lovely photographs. The thoughts I’ve come to have been to switch my approach so I never feel that I’m taking, rather that I’m receiving. That’s been the turnaround for me in all my work and it’s such a link between them all.

IMG_6402 - CopyMy relationship with domestic and wild animals has altered significantly – there’s been a lot of magic unfolding, more than I’ve actively noticed before anyway. I relish spending time out in nature and with all the creatures that turn up along the way. There have been many occasions where I’ve gone out hoping for something to happen and only when I give up on the idea of that and start my drive home, something really wonderful happens! Suddenly a herd of horses appear or I catch sight of some incredible flowers, or the grasses against the horizon line look particularly beautiful. I feel that when we are more deeply connecting and connected with nature, the world can look very different. As we work more and more with that connection, something develops – nature and animals love us to notice them – they love to be appreciated and greeted, to be respected and cherished. For me, that’s when photography comes alive, because it is about coming from the heart. It becomes filled with spontaneity and that is the essence of the natural world. It’s not a way of escaping from the world as some may think – but a way of more deeply engaging with all that is around us. Sometimes that’s beautiful, sometimes it’s brutal. Nature is, of course – all things. One of my dearest wishes would be to share how it feels to connect more with nature and our animals and how transformational that can be.

I’ve had a deep love of nature since I was very young but it’s been in the last few years that it has taken on another level. There is no doubt in my mind that the way I’ve learnt (and continue to learn) to listen to animals has changed me on every level. It’s this way of listening and slowing myself down when I’m engaging with the natural world that allows things to happen. All the meditation I did over the years didn’t quite get me to this place in myself. When I’m out in nature I feel absolutely free, I’m not trying to still my mind or quieten my senses, it tends to happen all on its own. This is what nature and the animals teach me. How to be still and how to be utterly in the moment. When a wild foal approaches me, there is nothing I can do other than to be completely in that interaction. When I see a flower that I can’t pass without photographing, that brings me into another kind of present moment. I’m totally engaged with that plant, with observing it’s beauty in new ways, seeing details and personality that I may not have noticed if I hadn’t stopped for a while. It’s amazing what can happen when we’re looking at the world with fresh eyes and senses.

Today I was on the moor with my camera. I came across a set of wild ponies I met a few weeks ago. There seemed to be two new foals amongst them which was beautiful to witness and one couldn’t have been more than a few days old. IMG_6392.JPGKeeping my energies very gentle, I approached the herd slowly, greeting them and acknowledging their new arrivals. Quite exquisite! They were so generous with me and let me in closer and closer, at first letting me in at a distance with the babies. Then within a short while, one of the young foals edged closer and closer, started sniffing my hand, then my shoulder and eventually he touched his head on my forehead, resting it there for a while. He even nuzzled in as if grooming. My heart filled with delight – a fullness that is hard to describe. These are wild ponies – it’s their rules, not mine so it’s always humbling if they let me near. It was a moment I wished someone else could have photographed, because I’d love to have shared that image or seen it for myself! I was so caught up in what was happening I have no idea how long I was there with him or that herd. Somehow time seemed to stand still. It could have been ancient or modern times, it’s that same connection that as inhabitants of planet Earth we have shared for aeons.

Maybe many of us seem far away from that now, but deep down I think we do feel that connection still, even if it’s buried away. Watching how many people get their phones out to snap away at the ponies or the Dartmoor landscape, it’s plain to see that our connection is not lost but merely dormant. Most of us delight in seeing wild horses run across the land, or lambs on the hills, our hearts flutter when we see puppies or kittens, we can’t help but admire the birds if we’re out walking. Most of us will feel upset if we see landscapes destroyed or creatures injured. When we deepen our bonds with all kinds of animals it is much more difficult to accept the horrors that they often endure because they are at our mercy. My dearest wish is that we choose to awaken our senses again and remember the beauty of connecting with many, many more species. It could be the key to drastic changes on our planet, changes that we so desperately need to make. Not just for ourselves, but for the welfare of our animals, the preservation of the natural world and the future of generations to come. I will say this time and time again through these blog pieces because every moment I spend in nature and with animals convinces me of how vital it is. And quite simply, because I hope in some way to share the joy and help to be part of the legacy for our amazing planet.

With gratitude and love,

Fi x