Black Elk says:
Next they sang:
- They will appear
- May you behold them
- A horse nation will appear
- A geese nation will appear
- May you behold!
The four white horse riders were painted white with red lightning on their limbs
and plumes of white horse hair to look like geese.
- I heard the being saying ‘Come’
- and Behold! a white horse came out
- The Divinity riding him had a bow
- to him was given a crown
- and he came forth a conqueror
- that he might keep in conquering
It took some searching but I did finally find Black Elk’s geese. Saint Martin of Tours is a patron saint of Knights and considered a bridge across Europe as he was born in Hungary, served as an Imperial Roman Horse Guard in Italy like his father, and was stationed near Jerusalem. His saint’s day is November 11 and he is said to have split his cloak one winter day with a beggar that turns out to be Jesus. He is a patron saint of soldiers, innkeepers, beggars, vitners, France, weavers and tailors and geese. One of the myths that bridges Eurasia as it is found as far south as south as Turkey and as far north as Siberia is the story of a beautiful white bird with the head of a woman who guides souls from birth to death along the Milky Way, itself is said to be the bridge that allows souls to travel between heaven and earth. Saint Martin’s shrine in Tours, France is a stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago Compostela in Spain. Compostela means a field of stars and one of the names for the pilgrimage to Santiago is ‘La Voje Ladee’, or the Milky Way.
Pilgrims still walk the Way of Santiago and were traditionally guests of the Order of Santiago, a hereditary order of Iberian Knights transmitted through the female line who are Hospitallers for pilgrims on the Way of Santiago, defenders of the Spanish Crown, and promote the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The classes of the order included men and women. Men were canons who administered the sacraments, religious knights lived in monastic communities, and married knights who participated in the religious festivals. Women were canonesses who tended to pilgrims, and wives of the married knights. The order had properties in Italy, Portugal, France, Hungary and Palestine. Santiago or Saint James the Greater himself is one of Jesus’ brothers. He is said to have visited Spain after making his pilgrimage to the Seven Cities of Revelations. Each of these cities were renowned in ancient times for their temples to a particular aspect of the Goddess. The Seven Cities of Cibola and the hidden gold sought by the Spanish settlers in New Mexico was most likely the same metaphysical journey.
- Ephesos was celebrated for its temples dedicated to the Virgin Huntress Diana. The original meaning of the term ‘Virgin’ in Greek and Roman times was a totally autonomous woman who was answerable to no one but herself.
- Laodeika was celebrated for manufacturing an eye salve that restored one’s vision. Its temple was dedicated to Selene, who rules the Moon and the waters.
- Sardeis was celebrated as site of temples to the Mother Goddess Rhea who gave birth to the Titans. The Titans are primal beings in Greek mythology whose strength rattles the foundations of the heavens and gets the attention of the gods.
- Philadelphia was celebrated for its earthquakes and the Oracle of Delphi sat over a volcanic vent to receive her visions from the depths of the earth.
- Smyrna was celebrated as the birthplace of Adonis, born from the sacred marriage of Heaven and Earth. Adonis embodies many positive qualities including beauty, love, understanding, strength, and wisdom.
- Pergamos was celebrated for its temple to Aesculapius, the Greek healer who was so proficient at healing on earth that the Gods took him up into the heavens. There he carries the caduceus, the winged staff with two serpents that is still our sign of a healer, and there he renews the feminine Sun each winter solstice.
- Thyateira was celebrated for the manufacturing of scarlet dyes. Saffron and Henna are dedicated to the service of the sacred Goddess and are still used to dye skin, food, and clothing red.
This list of attributes can also correspond to the phases of childbirth:
- Ephesos as home of the pregnant Virgin Mother
- Laodeika’s full Moon is said to bring on labor, when the water breaks, birth is imminent and the cervix is sometimes seen as the eye of the womb
- Sardeis and the Titans as labor pains
- Philadelphia as the actual birth
- Smyrna as the baby itself
- Pergamos as nursing the baby
- Thyateira as passing the scarlet placenta
It is also said that Saint James washed up on the Iberian shore in a stone casket and emerged covered with sea shells after he ‘died’. In Revelations the initiates are dressed in ‘byssus’. Byssus is a fine white cloth made from the fibers that attach certain types of shellfish to a solid location in the ocean. It is much more likely that he was dressed in this kind of cloth than that he had molluscs growing on him. As for the casket, according to the National Geographic, when they excavated King Herod’s tomb on the side of a hill just outside Jerusalem they found a large and elaborate sarcophagus made in an extremely rare style out of a reddish limestone carved with rosettes. The Herodium includes a large ritual bath as well as a long narrow parade ground and two more large buildings. Most notably there is no evidence that there was ever a dead body in the sarcophagus.
Clearly the Herodium is a ceremonial site, and many different traditions around the world isolate and confine their shamans as part of their initiation. Sometimes they maybe buried in a pit, or wrapped in a fresh bull-hide, or possibly sealed in a red limestone sarcophagus. Proof of a successful initiation is freeing oneself from the confinement, and we know that Jesus rose from a tomb on the side of hill near Jerusalem. When the crucifixion is the suffering incurred by those limited to the material world of the five senses, and the resurrection is being born into an awareness of the spiritual, Saint James crossing the ocean in a stone vessel and arising from it covered with shellfish says that he was successfully initiated into the mysteries of spirit.
The White Horse carries the pilgrim along the Way of Santiago to a rebirth into an awareness of spirit, but not every pilgrim succeeds in their quest. The genetics of the White Horse reflect the danger of this path.
- Silver horses that are actually blacks carrying the dominant silver gene, (Z/Z) that results in a white mane and tail and a silvery white coat are rare
- Grey is a dominant gene (G/G or G/g) that progressively prevents pigment from spreading through the hair shaft as each hair grows. Greys may be any color at birth and their skin stays dark, but their coats lighten as they age. As the melanin pigments accumulate at the root of the hair, they become prone to melanomas, a type of deadly skin cancers .
- The dominant gene that produces true albino horses is also called lethal white as only W/w foals survive.
- W/W albino fetuses die in utero and are aborted
- Genetically true (OO) Overo paint horses also result in a lethal white syndrome of an incomplete colon and the foals die within a few days of birth.
- Both (Ww) white horses and (Oo) Overo horses will have pink skin with a white coat but dark eyes.
So three of the four genes that produce White Horses may also result in death. Perhaps this is why White Horses are rare in the wild herds. Saint James rides a White Horse however, and when most people think of Spanish horses White Horses with flowing manes and tails are the first to come to mind. King Arthur, the Once and Future King who is always reborn at our time of greatest need is our most famous Shining Knight on a White Horse. He rides the Compostela nightly reminding us of the eternal truths that that sustain all life even as it passes away .