Welcome to another edition of The Shape of The Cape with your host Julescape. We’re travelling along the south Cape coast of Africa, in the lush coastal region called the Garden Route. It’s the prime tourist hotspot in the southern region of Africa, and a much recommended place for any inspired travelers who would love to see the best of what the African sub-continent has to offer.

Misty cliffs on the south Cape coast with the fire horse
Misty cliffs on the south Cape coast with the fire horse

While roaming around today, I came across a herd of free-range horses. About eight or nine of them appear to be wandering about freely along this deserted coastline and it makes for an unusual scene. It’s not often that you see such a beautiful herd of creatures wandering around without being monitored or contained in any way. They look like they are in great shape, and must be worth a lot to someone, but here they are roaming freely, without a care or concern, free spirits, not scared or wild as such.

There is a small village nearby, a suburb of local indigenous folk, a slightly lower income bracket, that may be home to these horses or their owner, if they even have an owner. Amazingly it’s not just the classic wildlife of lions and elephants that we see here on the plains of the south Cape coast of Africa, but now it’s horses too. There is so much space for them to roam and graze, for many kilometers, but they seem quite content in this particular area.

What a symbolic theme of freedom and purity they present to me here today. The mist has pulled in like a thick grey blanket covering everything and limiting visibility to a few meters, so they ambiance is one of mystique – a mystical misty setting to be sure. And these horses seemed to appear out of the mist. In the background you can see the burnt charred tree stumps from a massive fire three years ago. They are spikes that tower up into the sky like cathedral spires, pointing the attention upward to the heavens, as a reminder to focus on the transcendent.

Well the setting certainly is one of "otherworldliness", where one can see the “supramundane” within the mundane, the sacred in the profane, the transcendent in the immanent. To me these horses are a symbol of wild and untamed freedom, freedom of the spirit, freedom to roam anywhere for great distances, like a wandering nomad, trekking ever onward, with no fixed destination and even less of a home or fixed abode. It leads me to realize that ultimately we are all wondering souls, journeying in the mists of time, forgetting our roots or our origins, which are lost in the mist of history and memory, while wandering forth, ever curious about what new and interesting sense objects may lie ahead for us to taste and experience.

Friendly and tame horses
Friendly and tame horses

Led like this by the senses, the wandering soul follows his nose, or perhaps her instinct, looking for greener pastures, and may in fact wonder for uncounted ages, perhaps even lifetimes like this, but a time comes when one must question such meandering. In time the soul realizes that there must be something more to life, particularly when life fills with distress, old age or disease, and we feel that it’s not as ideal as we thought in our youth, when the senses were strong and the ability to enjoy like a young horse was so evident.

It comes naturally to us, or so it should, to be more philosophical in our mature years, as we see our history in perspective and we get a bigger picture of time and space based on more experience on the journey in this lifetime. Like horses, we are social and communal creatures, and like them we are free-spirited, though our spirit can be broken and we can be tamed by firmer hands sometimes, like that of government or culture. But inherently we are free spirits. Only the conditioning of our time and place in history molds us into a person who follows the trends of our upbringing.

Certainly we should aim to look beyond the mist that enshrouds us, and wonder what lies beyond the veil. There is an entire ocean out there, as well as a mighty world invisible due to the mist that obscures it – a mist of forgetfulness that covers us in illusion. And we are powerful beings, like mighty horses with the capacity to cross great distances in time and space, able to roam freely. However, we remain corralled by our conditioning or attachment to place or people, even though we can go anywhere we desire. And it is desire that leads the soul onward over many lifetimes according to the ancient texts of the East.

So whether you are a digital nomad, or eternal traveler or just a Sunday driver, or happy camper, you can find the inspiration to dive into the mystery of what lies beyond, according to your level of insight or interest. Just as a whole planet is there for the exploring, similarly a whole reality lies beyond the one in which we find ourselves here and now. For example the dream realm, which is within the mind, is one such illusory place too. And beyond that there may be the transcendent, beyond the time and space of this body. So much could still be hidden behind the thick mists, yet to be discovered, or remembered. And one day our airplane will come to take us there, as out ticket comes up for our flight from this place to the next. I pray you have prepared well for the trip, as it is just a matter of time and we will all be on that vessel, sailing into the mist of the unknown and beyond to the other side.

Anyway, such is the nature of these curious coastal corridors on a misty summer’s day that they can invoke a mood of introspection and inquiry into something deeper, more meaningful – life, the universe and everything. So when you get the opportunity, do make a visit to the mystical misty realms of introspection here on the south Cape coast of Africa, or indeed wherever you are, and ask yourself the real questions like who am I, what is the meaning of life, what happens when we die? All of these questions need to be addressed at some time on the travels, and there is no time like the present.