Bestselgeren Hestenes klan ble utgitt av Cappelen Damm i 2010 og Live Bonnevie ble nominert til Kulturdepartementets Debutantpris samme år. I juryens begrunnelse heter det:

"Bonnevie skriver medrivende og underholdende om de store spørsmålene i livet. Dette er et dyktig oppbygd drama som holder leseren fanget fra første til siste side. De intense skildringene av mennesker, dyr og natur bidrar også til at dette har blitt en svært fengende romandebut."

Siden utgivelsen har romanen fått særlig stor oppmerksomhet i hestemiljøet og svært gode anmeldelser i nisjeredaksjoner både i Norge og i Sverige.

Den norske utgaven ble utsolgt fra forlaget våren 2016, men er tilgjengelig som e-bok og på biblioteket.

NB: Kommentarer, dialog og oppdateringer finner du på Facebook.



søndag 1. august 2010

Clan of the Horses/Hestenes klan

The earliest depictions of women riding astride can be seen in Mongolian, Greek and Celtic art. But through the centuries it has often been considered inappropriate for women to ride in this manner. Women were best seated aside, being led by a man...

Etymology (the study of the history of words) has always intrigued me. And I have always been fascinated by Greek and Norse mythology. About ten years ago I made an interesting discovery that had its origins in the combination of these two interests. The definition of a centaur is a “creature half human half horse”, but all the centaurs I had seen in art were masculine. Still the definition didn’t read “half man, half horse”. Where were all the female centaurs and what are they called? To my astonishment none of my dictionaries could provide an answer to that question.

Another thing I noticed was that the Amazons in Greek mythology supposedly cut off/burnt off their right breast to be able to use a bow more freely without physical "limitations". But there is no indication of such a practice in works of art, in which the Amazons are always depicted with two breasts, although the right one is frequently covered. That made me think. Why would it be so impossible to go into battle with two breasts? I can’t remember ever having read that men needed to be emasculated in order to ride a horse in battle, although it makes a lot more sense.

When reading about women and horses, I always had a feeling that something was missing or hidden. And after years of research I think I have found that missing piece, or rather, I think the piece has found me. It turns out that there is another side of the story when it comes to women and horses
- a story that is ripe to be told, as it turned out.

On this blog you can read about women and horses as they are described through written mythological and historical records, but more importantly you are invited to read excerpts of a completely different story: A story that women have preserved through the centuries solely by oral traditions and secret clans, referred to as Clan of the Horses/Hestenes klan.

søndag 16. mai 2010

Clan of the Horses/Hestenes klan - the Symbol

After the novel Clan of the Horses/Hestenes klan was published I have received many questions about the clan symbol; what it means and why it consists of a circle and a wavy line. As stated in the novel the circle represents the moon and the wavy line the serpent (snake). There are no written records about the symbol as such, so I can merely refer to what I have been told and what I have gathered from other sources.

The Moon
The moon is, apart from the sun, the most significant celestial body. It is also a well-known symbol for femininity. The moon is closely linked to women for many reasons, but most importantly for the parallelism between the astronomical month and the menstrual cycle. I believe this is why the moon is one of the two symbols used in a horse clan where all the members traditionally have been women.
There are many examples in art and mythology that closely link femininity to the moon. The enigmatic goddess Hekate Trioditis for one, was depicted with three faces, one for each moon phase, new moon, crescent and full moon (virgin, mother and old woman). In Christian iconography Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, is often depicted with a moon in the background, or even standing on a crescent. It is also said that the Amazons (ancient, female warriors) used double axes, where each blade was shaped like a crescent. The Incas had a moon cult along side the dominant sun cult. They referred to the moon as the wife of the sun. The moon was called Mamaquilla, “Mother Moon”, but they never made sacrifices to her, only to the sun, which also gives the symbol a very different energy. The metal that corresponds with the moon is silver. In China, the moon is yin.The moon rarely represents masculinity, although there are exceptions, like Máni (the brother of Sól in Norse Mythology).       

The serpent (the snake)
The serpent is one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols in the world, and it has various interpretations. One important reason for the serpent’s strong position in many cultures is its ability to cast its skin and thus being symbolically "reborn".
In old, mythological records the serpent often represents a secretive, positive aspect because it was believed to have strong connections to the underworld. Serpents also play an important role in healing- and reincarnation rites in many parts of the world. In many cultures the serpent symbolizes the subconscious.
You will often find serpents represented as potent guardians of temples and other sacred places. The reasons might be that snakes frequently hold and defend their ground, rather than retreat.
A serpent that bites its own tale is a symbol for eternity and is used in many cultures, like in Norse mythology where the serpent known as Midgardsormen surrounds the whole world, the whole of Midgard. But when a serpent is crawling on the ground, like the one used in the clan symbol, it speaks of grounding and a strong connection with Mother Nature.
The serpent is also closely connected to knowledge and wisdom. It was a serpent that persuaded Eve to taste the fruit from of the tree of Knowledge and the result is well known: Adam and Eve gained knowledge, but lost Eden. It is an interesting metaphor. All knowledge comes at a price and insight can sometimes be painful. Yet, once you have it, it can also be a great gift that gives your life and relationships a deeper meaning.

torsdag 13. mai 2010

Clan of the Horses/Hestenes klan - the writing

I think I was around 15 the first time I realized that I would write a book some day - and it somehow felt like a book of substantial volume, even then.
Around 1994 I started out writing about a topic that I found very intriguing and close to heart. It was a project on horses and - in particular – people whom where good at handling them. At the time I had been riding for about fifteen years and I put down on paper everything I had ever learned about horses.

But in the midst of the creative writing process I came to realize that I was not the only one working on a novel with the title “The Horsewhisperer”. The disappointment of having lost both the title and some key elements of my project to another author was hard to accept, but at the time I felt that I lacked the experience and maturity needed to do a rewrite. The only possibility left was to wait - until time was ripe. For years I kept the script in a cool, dark place – like a bottle of wine in a wine cellar. Occasionally I would write down some scenes or some dialogue, but it could be month, even years between each time I wrote these fragments of my future novel.

Then something happened that changed everything, and it gave me a new direction and a very different energy in both my way of being with horses and my way of writing about it. After more than a decade of research on what some people refer to as “the Path of the Horse”. After having seen some of the great trainers of our time and after having tried to fill in some missing pieces in a larger puzzle, I suddenly felt I had a story I really needed to tell. A very different story from the one I tried to tell back in the mid nineties.

The novel Clan of the Horses, is not based on someone else’s experience, it is the result of a life lived and time spent with horses. It is first and foremost a novel about becoming who you are meant to be. It is my experience that horses can guide us on the journey of becoming whole, authentic - and true to our own soul. Horses therefore play an important part in the story, as they have played an important part in my life. Readers unfamiliar with horses tend to read the horse as a metaphor or a symbol for something else, and I guess in some way that is what horses really are.

Personally I think of the novel as an invitation, it is, for what it is worth, nothing more than the sum of all my experience – both in life and with horses. I have taken out 220 pages (100.000 words from the original script), but I have made no compromises when it comes to the core of the story. What I have ended up with is an authentic story that I recognize as the story I – at the age of 15 - felt I was going to write some day.

torsdag 11. mars 2010

Clan of the Horses/Hestenes klan – the energy

Some years ago I made a drawing in black and white of an open landscape bathed in moonlight. On the nightly sky I then drew the constellation Big Dipper (the plough/Karlsvogna) and someone pointed out to me that the constellation was facing the wrong direction, like a mirror image. My reply was, and still is: If seen from the other side, this is what the Big Dipper would look like.

What you see is very influenced by where you stand, by your point of view. There are always - at least - two sides to every story.

When women riding astride are depicted in art or described in historical and mythological records, we often find them where men traditionally have spent a lot of time and energy: In the battlefields, where a significant part of human history is written. Women included in these arenas are depicted as fighting shieldmaidens or as Valkyries, who bring the dead to Valhalla. And in some cases women’s presence have changed the course of history in eg battles or conflicts, like Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) and Lady Godiva did - in their own unique way.

But these are known historical facts and legends well preserved. The story I want to share is a story that has never been revealed before; a story gathered from the unwritten pages of the history books and the paintings on canvases that were never used: Stories of horsewomen from a secret tradition, known as Clan of the Horses/Hestenes klan.

These horsewomen approach horses in a very different way. They use a soft-spoken language from another time, another place and another energy. You rarely find these horsewomen in the centre of attention. They have traditionally met in the woods, in the fields and on the steppes, far away from battlefields, tournaments and competition arenas, although there are historical and present exceptions.

You can recognize them by the bracelet some of them wear around their left wrist, but above all you can recognize them by the way they handle their horses. They are usually not very sociable when they spend time in the stable, and they are often regarded as a bit “strange” and somewhat "untraditional". They never use much tack on their horses and they seem to prefer trail riding (but their horses are often trained at very hign levels). You are not likely to bump into them in the forest because they tend to choose the paths less travelled, or the narrow paths made by wild animals. They often keep to themselves and they are likely to come to the stable at odd times, when few people are there. If they run stables they usually prefer to ride after closing time, when it is quiet and they can spend time with the horses without interference or interruptions. To these women, riding is meditation. Not static, immobile and rigid, but as part of the horse’s movements, with energy flowing freely and unhindered between horse and rider. Some think of them as loners, but nothing could be further from the truth. They are, however, very strict about what kind of human energy they allow around their horses whilst riding, since they mainly use energy to communicate with their horses.

onsdag 3. mars 2010


NÓTT (Old Norse: Night) is the personified night in Norse mythology. She is the daughter of a jotne (“troll”) named Nörvi from Jötunheimr (Jotunheimen).
In the Prose Edda we find details about Nótt including records of her three marriages. Nótt's third marriage was with the god Dellingr and resulted in their son Dagr, the personified day. So, according to Norse mythology day is born out of night - night always precedes day.

Both in Poetic and Prose Edda (written in the 13th century), Nótt is associated with the horse Hrímfaxi ("rime mane" or "frost mane"). It was believed that the foam created when Hrímfaxi was chewing on the bit as he ran over the nightly sky, gave us morning dew in the summer and frost in the winter. The morning dew/frost was also the only food for Lif (which is the origin of my name, Live) and Liftharsir, the two sole survivors of Ragnarok (Doom of the Gods, end of the world).

Nótt’s son Dagr is associated with the horse Skinfaxi ("shining mane"). It was believed that Skinfaxi pulled Dagr’s chariot across the sky every day and that it was Skinfaxi’s shining mane that lit up the sky and the earth below. The myth of Skinfaxi and Hrimfaxi is believed to have its roots in Nordic Bronze Age religion, from which there is strong evidence of beliefs involving a horse pulling the sun across the sky (see: The Trundholm Sun Chariot). Both the sun and the precious metal gold are symbols closely connect to the horse in various cultures.

Source: Wikipedia, Lexikon der Symbole - Hans Biedermann
Painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo

mandag 1. mars 2010

The Trundholm sun chariot

THE TRUNDHOLM SUN CHARIOT (solvognen) is a late Nordic Bronze Age artefact found in Denmark. This artefact is a depiction of the sun being pulled by a mare, and is believed to have relation to later Norse mythology attested in 13th century sources (Edda). It is a possible Bronze Age predecessor to Skinfaxi, the horse that pulled Dagr, the personification of day, across the sky.

The sun chariot was drawn by a single horse, but there are indications that it might have been pulled back across the sky from west to east by a second horse.
Related are Arvak and Alsvid, the horses of the chariot of Sól. In Norse mythology, Sól is the personified goddess of the Sun. Every day Sól rode through the sky on her chariot, pulled by the two horses Arvak and Alsvid. The sun chariot has been interpreted as representing a Bronze Age predecessor to the goddess.

Source: Wikipedia

søndag 28. februar 2010

Medieval women and horses

Most medieval women rode astride. While an early chair-like side saddle with handles and a footrest was available by the 13th century and allowed women of the nobility to ride while wearing long gowns, they were not universally adopted during the Middle Ages. This was largely due to the insecure seat they offered, which necessitated a smooth-gaited horse being led by a man. The side saddle did not become practical for everyday riding until the 16th century. Then the pommel horn was developed, which secured the seat and made it stabil enough for women to control their horses and ride all four gates.

It was not unknown for women to ride war horses, and take their part in warfare. Joan of Arc is probably the most famous female warrior of the medieval period, but there were many others, including the Empress Matilda who, armoured and mounted, led an army against her cousin Stephen of Blois in the 12th Century. The fifteenth-century writer Christine de Pizan advised aristocratic ladies that they must "know the laws of arms and all things pertaining to warfare, ever prepared to command her men if there is need of it”.

It was not uncommon for a girl to learn her father's trade, and for a woman to share her husband's trade; many guilds also accepted the membership of widows, allowing them to continue their husband's business. Under this system, some women trained in horse-related trades as e.g. farriers and saddle-makers.

Despite the difficulties of travel, it was customary for both men and women, to travel long distances. Upper-class wives frequently accompanied their husbands on crusades or to tournaments. When not on foot, women would usually travel on horseback. Women of the nobility also rode horses for sport, accompanying men in activities like hunting.

Source: Wikipedia
Painting by unknown artist

lørdag 27. februar 2010


A SHIELDMAIDEN (Norse: Skjoldmøy) was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior. They are frequently mentioned in sagas in Norse folklore and mythology. Shieldmaidens also appear in stories of other Germanic nations: Goths, Cimbri and Marcomanni. The Valkyries might have been based on the shieldmaidens and they were also known to be J.R.R. Tolkien's inspiration for Éowyn. :)
There are few historical evidences of Viking Age women taking part in warfare, but it happened for sure on several occasions. Sometimes disguised and sometimes in the open - but not necessarily topless like Brynhildr here. For sure, then people would have noticed...

Source: Wikipedia
Depiction of Brynhildr by Robert Engels (1919)

fredag 26. februar 2010

Lady Godiva

LADY GODIVA was a historical figure and the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. (Godgifu or Godgyfu means "gift of God”. Godiva is the Latinised version.)

According to the legend, Lady Godiva took pity on the poor people who suffered under her husband's oppressive system and heavy taxes. Lady Godiva appealed again and again to her husband to lighten the burden on his subjects. Her husband obstinately refused to compile, but weary of her entreaties, he finally said he would agree to make changes if she would strip naked and ride through the streets of the town. This was unheard of and he hoped it would be the end of the discussion, but Lady Godiva took him at his word and, after issuing a proclamation that people should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town naked, only “dressed” in her long, red hair. As a result of this ride, Lady Godiva's husband kept his word and abolished the onerous taxes.

The oldest form of the legend has Godiva passing through Coventry market from one end to the other attended only by two knights, while the people were assembled and looking down in respect. This version is given in Flores Historiarum in the 12th century, quoted from an earlier writer. The later story, with its episode of "Peeping Tom," appeared first among 17th century chroniclers. There it was told that one single man, a tailor ever afterwards known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed Lady Godiva’s proclamation. This is probably the most famous example of voyeurism in history. It was told that Tom managed to get a glimpse of Lady Godiva as she passed by, and that he was struck blind.

Source: Wikipedia
Painting by John Collier 1897

torsdag 25. februar 2010

Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc)

JEANNE D’ARC (1412 –1431) was a national heroine of France and now a Catholic saint (canonized by the pope in 1920). She was a peasant girl born in eastern France who led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, claiming divine guidance. This young girl was indirectly responsible for the coronation of Charles VII…
The extent of her actual military leadership is a subject of historical debate, for sure. Some say she was a standard bearer whose primary effect was on morale. Others say that her fellow officers esteemed her as a skilled tactician and a successful strategist. In either case, historians agree that the army enjoyed remarkable success during Jeanne’s brief military career…
A reckless skirmish on 23 May 1430 led to her being captured. Jeanne had ordered a retreat and assumed the place of honour as the last to leave the field. She was unhorsed by an archer and forced to surrender.
It was customary for a captive's family to pay ransom to free a prisoner of war, but unfortunately, Jeanne’s family lacked the financial resources. Jeanne had to face a trial of heresy (challenging the established system of belief) which was a capital crime. The trial against her was politically motivated, and the trial record demonstrates her remarkable intellect.
Jeanne d’Arc was not a feminist. She was just a girl who felt she received a divine calling, and since her mission was to do a man's job, she dressed accordingly. She kept her hair cut short through her military campaigns, but agreed to wear women's clothes when she was captured, but ended up dressed as a man again during the trial. Some say she did it to protect herself from harassment in jail. Some say she did it because her dress was taken from her and she was left with nothing else to wear.

The technical reason for her execution was a biblical clothing law. Jeanne d’Arc was burned at the stake. She was 19 years old.

Source: Wikipedia

fredag 19. februar 2010

The Valkyries

THE VALKYRIES (Old Norse: "Chooser of the slain") were female warrior-like riders who, according to Norse mythology, would ride into the battlefields and collect the bodies of the warriors that the god Odin had decided would fall. The Valkyries brought their chosen ones to Valhalla (Hall of the Slain). It was considered an honourable death and Viking warriors were strong in their belief that the after life in Valhalla was worth dying for. Valhalla was located in Asgard and ruled over by Odin. In Valhalla the deceased warriors became einherjar (Norse: Lone fighters), and part of an army preparing for Ragnarok.

Source: Wikipedia
Painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1865)

torsdag 18. februar 2010


KENTAURIDE (Centaurides) er den norske betegnelsen på den kvinnelige kentauren. Kentauridene er lite omtalt i skriftlige nedtegnelser og dukker bare opp en sjelden gang i den gamle, greske litteraturen. Man finner også spor av dem i greske bilder og mosaikker, blant annet fra romertiden (0-400). (Kentaurider omtales også i filipinsk mytologi, da under navnet Anggitay.)

Den mest kjente av kentauridene er Hylonome. Hun var med i slaget mot Lapitherne, der hennes mann, kentauren Cyllarus, ble drept. Knust av sorg tok Hylonome sitt eget liv og fulgte sin mann i døden. Det er sagt at hun døde med Cyllarus i armene sine.

Muntlige overleveringer.
Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
Theoi Project.
Illustrasjon: Romersk mosaikk fra Elles C4th A.D., Bardo Museet, Tunis

onsdag 17. februar 2010

The Amazons

THE AMAZONS were women warriors trained in the art of war. The origin of the word Amazon is uncertain. It may be derived from an Iranian ethnonym *ha-mazan-, "warriors". It might be a Greek derivation from "manless, without husbands". In popular etymology the word is believed to come from the Greek a-mazos, "without breast".
Amazons were said to have lived in Pontus, a part of modern day Turkey near the shore of the Black Sea. There they formed an independent kingdom ruled by a queen named Hippolyta or Hippolyte ("loose, unbridled mare").
A common misunderstanding about the Amazons is that they allegedly had their right breast cut off in order to use a bow more freely and throw spears without physical limitations and obstructions. But there is no indication of such a practice in works of art, in which the Amazons are always represented with both breasts, although the right is frequently covered.
The Amazons had a matriarchal social structure where men were marginalized or banned. According to some versions of the myth, no men were permitted to reside with the Amazons; but once a year, in order to prevent their race from dying out, the Amazons would go out and met men outside their kingdom. Baby boys born within the Amazon culture were killed, abandoned in the wilderness to fend for themselves or sent back to their fathers. Baby girls were brought up within the Amazon community, were they learned agriculture, riding, hunting and the art of war.
Archaeological evidence seems to confirm the existence of women-warriors. The Amazons are believed to have founded several cities, amongst them Smyrna, Ephesus, Sinope, and Paphos.