The past couple of weeks have been all about money, sex and power.

It started like this: in a private session with my new teacher, we worked on money consciousness. When he asked me to visualise the consciousness of money, what showed up for me was an obese 60-something businessman in a suit. And he wasn’t a jolly, benevolent fat man – he was greedy and selfish and malevolent. He was the shadow of money… and he was my primary experience of it.

My facilitator suggested we park the shadow of money to one side and call in money’s highest expression. I saw a gorgeous shimmering constellation of pink and gold light. This was money as love. I realised I didn’t know this form of money because I’d had no experience of it.

I wanted to change that, so we did some work to fill me up with money-love. We created some future versions of me that embodied this kind of wealth. Now they are my advisory board – available when I need them to give me advice about how to skillfully navigate the world of work and business. Very cool.

And then we came back to the fat man. I tuned into what he was feeling… and he was terrified of everything he couldn’t control: nature and the feminine and the human heart. As I offered him compassion, I found myself saying “I’m so sorry you tried to destroy Mother Earth. I’m so sorry you lost your soul.” He collapsed to his knees, weeping. I kept sending love to both of us, because it was clear he’d never known money-love either. He needed it even more than I did.

So that was delightful. Two days later, full of money-love, I trotted off to a business networking breakfast in my hometown. The guest speaker was a social entrepreneur who’s doing something unprecedented in Australia: putting together a large hedge fund for impact investment, focusing on sustainable purpose-driven business. He’s bright and funny and open-hearted and inspiring. He’s also big – both physically and energetically.

After he’d spoken, I went up to tell him how much I’d enjoyed his presentation. He was friendly and welcoming and offered me his business card, in case I ever needed to contact him. I thanked him. There was a split second while I almost reached for my business cards and then hesitated, smiled and walked away… without giving him my card in return.

I sensed something important had happened, but it was too fast for me to track in real time.

The next day, sitting with my business colleague, we started talking about what could get in the way of reaching out to potential new clients. I offered up the seemingly small scenario with the business cards and we decided to look into it more closely. When I went back to the moment the big guy handed me his card and I decided not to give him mine, something freaky happened.

From my vantage point down around his chest, I looked up at his masculine silhouette. Suddenly, he changed – in a flash, he became an outline of a different yet familiar figure. Then he changed again. In the space of a few seconds, I saw every large man I’ve ever known who’s stood over me in a position of authority. There was my high school principal, several ex-bosses, a couple of ex-clients and a couple of ex-lovers. There were others I recognised, but not from this lifetime. It was a lineup of my experience in confronting male power… and it didn’t feel good.

I saw a series of scenes where I’d tried to stand and fight back against oppressive male power. In every instance, my resistance had gotten me killed. Sometimes I wasn’t alone – there were hundreds of other women with me as we were raped and tortured and killed for attempting to use our power. At some point, I got scared… and I started using different weapons to fight back.

Because I also saw – stretched across this life – a thread of resistance. I saw how consistently I’d shrunk from open confrontation with male power, all the while teasing it and manipulating it and colluding with it. I did whatever I believed it would take to stay alive. And all the time, I was terrified.

The pattern was there across my school years and my working life and my intimate relationships. It was ugly and it was unmistakeable… and it was still in place. Because even though I’ve done a lot of work around power (masculine and feminine, mine and his) the shadow of the karmic pattern was there in the moment I decided to take his business card and not give him mine. Because I decided he was big and I wasn’t. Because even in the face of a gentle social entrepreneur, a part of me still believed he would kill me if I claimed my power.

It took a little while to send compassion to all those different aspects of me. Once I’d integrated them all, the world felt different. I felt different. Less afraid. More willing to be seen and heard and felt.

The next day, I emailed the big man with an idea that could make his next venture more successful. I sent the message without attachment to the outcome, offering him my perspective and asking nothing in return. It felt clean and clear and strong. He responded within 24 hours and wants to meet up in a couple of weeks. It might not turn into anything, but that doesn’t really matter. What’s most important is that I planted my feet and stood tall and said “I might be able to help you”, even though he’s big.

As so often happens, I thought I was done with all this money/sex/power stuff after my encounter with the big man. I even had this blog posted drafted and ready to publish, with the moral of the story all gift wrapped and neatly presented. And as is so often the case, I wasn’t quite done yet.

A week later I sat on the ground at a place called Ferny Glen in a circle of women on the winter solstice. Our facilitator Mel was about to lead us inside the electric fence to meet her group of horses. Before we went in, she asked us to tune into our ‘black horse’ – a part of our shadow that needed some attention right now. Because it’s been “up” lately, I tuned in to the fear of male power. I visualised the looming masculine silhouette and felt the fear in my gut.

We walked inside the fence. Mel instructed us to go and meet the horses, spending a few minutes getting to know them before selecting one that we would lead back to her, using only the power of our intention – no ropes or halters or bridles. I walked towards the group. I was heading for the miniature shaggy mare called Starlight who stood by the fence.

Suddenly my path was blocked by a huge black five year old male called Emmett. I stared up at him, trying to read the signs from his ear movements. He was much bigger than me. I felt intimidated by the sheer size of him, but I decided to go with the flow and reached out to touch the end of his nose. To my surprise, he dodged my hand and went straight for the sleeve of my cashmere tunic. He took it in his teeth.

I looked closely at what he was doing: he wasn’t chewing on my clothes, he was simply using using my sleeve for leverage to (gently) pull and push me around. He wasn’t being overtly aggressive – more just assertive – but he was definitely pushing me, seeing how far I would allow him to go. So I put one hand on his muzzle and the other on my sleeve and encouraged him to open his teeth. After another minute, I was able to retrieve my sleeve – and then he started trying to bite me.

I began to feel uneasy. I wondered whether Mel would have actually let us into the yard with a horse she knew was aggressive? Was he just a mean horse? I tried to rub the side of his neck while speaking to him in a low, soothing tone… but it didn’t help. I couldn’t appease him. He kept trying to bite my hands and started moving his body weight. Every time he took a step towards me, I took a step backwards. I began to feel light-headed.

Our little dance went on for a couple more minutes with Emmett gradually becoming more and more menacing. I knew there was something going on that I needed to see more clearly, so I was determined not to walk away until we were done (plus he wasn’t letting me past him). But my mind was so completely occupied trying to watch his ears and read his body language and figure it out that I stopped paying attention to what I was feeling.

And then I finally got it. I was terrified of him… and it had taken me at least five minutes to actually notice what was going on in my body. As I shifted my attention from Emmett back to my own experience, I remembered what terror feels like: tight chest, tight back, gut twisted into a knot, metallic taste in my mouth. But there was more – I also felt my muscles go weak and my head get spacey. I felt weirdly dissociated. With a gasp I realised that to escape Emmett’s threat, I’d left my body. It was worse than that – I’d left my body to escape my own fear.

And then I saw the way out. Instead of freezing and shrinking and fainting and dissociating, I needed to get more into my body. So I planted my feet and dropped my weight into my hips and stopped trying to stroke Emmett’s neck and lowered my hands. I looked him directly in the eye and said very quietly “I am awesome. I am awesome. I am awesome”. It’s the simple trick Frankie taught me and – when I remember it – it is incredibly effective in helping to shift my state.

As usual, I felt my energy field strengthen and brighten. But this time, I also saw it reflected in the mirror that was Emmett. Because he immediately stopped trying to bite me. He stopped moving towards me. We stood quietly for another 30 seconds, him feeling me feeling my own power. I could sense him softening. And then he just walked away.

When I spoke to Mel afterwards, she said Emmett’s behaviour had been very unusual – although he’s often cheeky and high-spirited, he’s never aggressive with people. And my friend Keri, who was watching from outside the fence, asked if I knew that Emmett had sported an impressive erection the whole time I was standing with him. I hadn’t noticed.

So that’s how a horse called Emmett showed me the entire pattern of my relationship to masculine power and my own power and my own fear, in 10 minutes. I got to see (again) how much fear assertive masculine power can trigger for me. I measured the level of fear that has to be present in my body before I notice it. I noticed the ways I respond to my own fear: freezing, shrinking, going weak, trying to hide and escape. I also saw how I project all of that: I become a victim, make up a story about the male energy and retreat. I give up all my power.

And the instant I stopped doing all that, he stopped pushing against me and my world changed. Emmett wasn’t being an asshole – he was just trying to get my attention and show me how I was abandoning myself… which is all my fear was trying to do. It’s all my fear has ever been trying to do – simply get my attention.

I’m beyond grateful for Emmett’s teaching. My realisation and response was a tinybrave move that I can feel rippling out through my career and life in every direction. It’s powerful… and so am I.