The Black Medicine Horse

Black Elk says:

The Grandfathers began to sing,

announcing the riders of the different quarters.

They sang of the black horse riders like this:

  • They will appear
  • May you behold them
  • A horse nation will appear
  • A thunder-being nation will appear
  • They will appear, Behold!

The four black horse riders were painted black

with blue lightning stripes on their limbs and white hail on their hips.

Revelations says:

  • I heard the being saying ‘Come’
  • and Behold! a black horse came out
  • The Divinity who was riding him had a balance in his hand
  • I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four Beings saying
  • A ration of wheat for a denaris
  • three rations of barley for a denaris
  • and do scant justice to the olive oil and the wine


I do not know of any established herds among the remnants of Spanish Colonial horses in North America that consistently produce Black Horses. That might be because a true Black Horse that will consistently produce black offspring is rare enough that at least one color coat testing laboratory has begun offering horse breeders genetic testing for black. Genetically black horses may be:

  • E/E, the double dominant that always produces  a Black Horse
  • E/e  appear black but will produce a red foal half the time
  • While a black foal may occasionally be produced by Bay, Grulla, Blue Roan, Flaxen Sorrel, or Claybank parents

Where I consistently found the black horse in New Mexico is with Santiago, or  St James, who joins the Pueblo dances on January 2nd riding his  black hobby-horse from dawn till dusk. He is usually accompanied by Saint Geronimo, patron saint of translators.  Saint Geronimo, along with co-patroness Saint Paula, founded the Heironymite religious order around 300 ad. Saint Paula became the Patron Saint of widows as, even though the order was based in Bethlehem, most of the nuns were wealthy and well-educated Roman widows.  The order still exists although the established church disputes the connection to its early founders. Partly because of the scandalous relationship between Geronimo and Paula, for of course, the most infamous Christian widow is Mary Magdalen, but also because the order assumes that their spiritual practices have a pragmatic material influence on the world.

It turns out that January 2nd is the anniversary of the day Santiago experienced an apparition of the Virgin Mary in Spain, even though she was alive and well in Ephesus at the time. She not only appeared herself, but gave him a six-foot tall pillar of jasper and a wooden statue of herself to form the altar of her church. Reputed to be the first church dedicated to Mary, it is called the Basilica del Pilar. The New Mexico town also named Pilar is one of the few places on the planet where natural staurolite crystals in the form of crosses may be found.  Now, Revelation’s cubical city is made of semi-precious stones and from the beginning they represent the ‘perfections that must be attained’  while spiritual alchemy is the process of transforming the dross of our material lives into the precious jewels of spiritual attainment. For a Heironymite, such natural stone crosses would be the physical manifestation of their prayers. As they were among the most numerous and influential orders in Spain between 1400 and 1700, they are the most obvious choice to first establish themselves in the New World. Since the Franciscan monks provoked the Pueblo Indian Revolt in the same time frame as the Heironymites lost their influence in Spain, it follows that they would also suppress the knowledge, practices, even the existence, of the Heironymites .

The Catholic Saint that is most often shown riding a Black Horse is Saint Martin, one of the primary Patron Saints of Knights., while in the Greek Orthodox Church that position is held by Todor, or Saint Theodore. Horse Easter is celebrated on Todor’s day  or the first Sunday in Lent with horse races, and singing and dancing of  of young women.  In knightly heraldry black or sable is the color of Saturn. Saturn’s metal is lead, that alchemical substance that must be transmuted into gold, and its precious stone is the transparently brilliant diamond that is made of the same substance as black coal. For Parzival and other knights seeking the Holy Grail, the Black Knight and his steed are anonymous guardians that must be overcome in order to even enter into the spiritual quest.

Black Elk’s ceremony also begins with Black Horses and the rest of the horses almost appear in the accepted alchemical order. Citrinatas or the yellow phase is the least spoken of and usually considered to be synonomous with the red, but for Black Elk the alchemical process includes the working of spiritual gold ends with the Rubedo or red phase. Saint Geronimo himself wears a red hat, while his symbols include the trumpet, the lion, and a skeleton. Revelations begins with a voice like a trumpet call, the Lion of the tribe of Juda opens the seven seals, and the skeleton is inevitable given that our protagonist starts his journey by falling down as though dead. So the phases of the alchemical process are:

(click for the white medicine horse or go back to the beginning)

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