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Cohen, Leonard - Ballad of the Absent Mare

Identifier

013843

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

from the I Ching

This hexagram is made up of broken lines only. The broken line represents the dark, yielding, receptive primal power of yin. The attribute of the hexagram is devotion; its image is the earth. It is the perfect complement of THE CREATIVE-the complement, not the opposite,1 for the Receptive does not combat the Creative but completes it. It represents nature in contrast to spirit, earth in contrast to heaven, space as against time, the female-maternal as against the male-paternal. However, as applied to human affairs, the principle of this complementary relationship is found not only in the relation between man and woman, but also in that between prince and minister and between father and son. Indeed, even in the individual this duality appears in the coexistence of the spiritual world and the world of the senses.
But strictly speaking there is no real dualism here, because there is a clearly defined hierarchic relationship between the two principles. In itself of course the Receptive is just as important as the Creative, but the attribute of devotion defines the place occupied by this primal power in relation to the Creative. For the Receptive must be activated and led by the Creative; then it is productive of good. Only when it abandons this position and tries to stand as an equal side by side with the Creative, does it become evil. The result then is opposition to and struggle against the Creative, which is productive of evil to both.

THE JUDGEMENT

The receptive brings about sublime success,
Furthering through the perseverance of a mare.
If the superior man undertakes something and tries to lead,
He goes astray;
But if he follows, he finds guidance.
It is favorable to find friends in the west and south,
To forego friends in the east and north.
Quiet perseverance brings good fortune.


The horse belongs to earth just as the dragon belongs to heaven. Its tireless roaming over the plains is taken as a symbol of the vast expanse of the earth. This is the symbol chosen because the mare combines the strength and swiftness of the horse with the gentleness and devotion of the cow.

A description of the experience

Leonard Cohen - Ballad of the Absent Mare

"Ballad Of The Absent Mare"
 

Say a prayer for the cowboy
His mare's run away
And he'll walk til he finds her
His darling, his stray
but the river's in flood
and the roads are awash
and the bridges break up
in the panic of loss.
And there's nothing to follow
There's nowhere to go
She's gone like the summer
gone like the snow
And the crickets are breaking
his heart with their song
as the day caves in
and the night is all wrong

Did he dream, was it she
who went galloping past
and bent down the fern
broke open the grass
and printed the mud with
the iron and the gold
that he nailed to her feet
when he was the lord

And although she goes grazing
a minute away
he tracks her all night
he tracks her all day
Oh blind to her presence
except to compare
his injury here
with her punishment there

Then at home on a branch
in the highest tree
a songbird sings out
so suddenly
Ah the sun is warm
and the soft winds ride
on the willow trees
by the river side

Oh the world is sweet
the world is wide
and she's there where
the light and the darkness divide
and the steam's coming off her
she's huge and she's shy
and she steps on the moon
when she paws at the sky

And she comes to his hand
but she's not really tame
She longs to be lost
he longs for the same
and she'll bolt and she'll plunge
through the first open pass
to roll and to feed
in the sweet mountain grass

Or she'll make a break
for the high plateau
where there's nothing above
and there's nothing below
and it's time for the burden
it's time for the whip
Will she walk through the flame
Can he shoot from the hip

So he binds himself
to the galloping mare
and she binds herself
to the rider there
and there is no space
but there's left and right
and there is no time
but there's day and night

And he leans on her neck
and he whispers low
"Whither thou goest
I will go"
And they turn as one
and they head for the plain
No need for the whip
Ah, no need for the rein

Now the clasp of this union
who fastens it tight?
Who snaps it asunder
the very next night
Some say the rider
Some say the mare
Or that love's like the smoke
beyond all repair

But my darling says
"Leonard, just let it go by
That old silhouette
on the great western sky"
So I pick out a tune
and they move right along
and they're gone like the smoke
and they're gone like this song

The source of the experience

Cohen, Leonard

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Suppressions

Sex magick
Sexual stimulation

Commonsteps

References