The Black and Pale Horses

The Black and Pale Horses

Here are the next verses under consideration:

“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” Rev 6:5-6

Many thought the second horse represented emotions because it was red, but if this third horse corresponds to the third part of the lower quaternary, then this horse corresponds to the emotional part of ourselves as well as the third chakra.

Allow me to add a little more background before I elaborate.

The third beast had a face like a man.

“Penny” comes from the Greek DENARIUS and “measure” comes from CHOINIX which is about two pints. A Denarius was the average wage for a man at that day and a CHOINIX was just enough to eat to survive the day.

The black horse represents famine to the extent that a man has to work a whole day for enough to feed himself with none left over for his family. He could eat the less desirable barley though and get three times the amount weight, enough to feed a small family.

In Biblical days when food was scarce it was measured out with balances.

The rider on the black horse does not hurt the oil or wine though. There is enough of that to go around, but it is not very life sustaining.

The orthodox explanation is that we will have a great famine before the Second Coming of Christ, and of course, that is possible, but we are not orthodox here are we?

What happens at the third seal? A beast who has a face as a man calls us to come and see. Why is this the beast for this seal?

Because this seal signifies the emotional world and nothing represents the current condition of humanity (face of a man) more than the world of feeling. It is when we learn to feel and relate with feeling that our real humanity begins to develop. As we develop emotionally we develop high ideals and expect that one day everything will fall into place and we will live in emotional bliss forever.

But then we have bad news. A black horse comes forth and the rider has a pair of balances in his hand amidst a voice saying: “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

Such scarcity is coming that the disciple will have to measure out the grains of wheat with a scale, but there will be an abundance of oil and wine if you do not “hurt” it.

What does it all mean in the life of one who walks the same path as Christ did before us?

At the first seal the disciple decides to become self-reliant and basically exclaims “I will be that which I decide to be.”

At the second seal he encounters turbulence, persecution and friction and must find the eye of the hurricane.

At the third seal he, at first, feels he has reached a dead end. He has tried to follow the path of Christ and what has it got him? Instead of happiness he has encountered an emotional famine. He has lost friends who used to give him emotional warmth and support. His spouse and family desert him. Activities that used to give him enjoyment seem a distant memory for he has little time for them or has lost interest.

On top of all this he suffers financially. He has had so much attention on following the path of spirit that he can barely feed himself (a measure of wheat for a penny). If he pulls attention from the path and focuses on mammon he can at least have enough to eat (three measures of barley).

For many years the disciple suffers the famine until he hears the solution: “See thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

Yes, even in famine oil and wine are available. The oil represents the call to do the works of Christ and the wine represents the spirit and soul energy which will fill him when he does such works.

For a long time the disciple has been downcast and rejected but in this rejection he must not hurt himself, his spiritual standing or his sacred honor. Now he can go forth in the midst of emotional famine to do great works which will stand the test of time because he has continued to follow the highest he knew.

As he does the works of a Christ he finds the memory of any famine fades away. The sorrow he felt in the emotional body is replaced by a fullness of joy in the spirit. During the famine he sometimes wished he could go back in time and keep his emotional attachments but now there is no turning back for his desires are only to go forward.

He becomes a true servant in the vineyard of the Master.

Let us go to the next seal:

“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Rev 6:7-8

The fourth beast was like a flying eagle and, represents the sign of Scorpio, the fourth sign of the fixed cross. This is the beast that guides us to the opening of the fourth seal.

This represents a significant place on the path for several reasons. One is that this is the last of the beasts that guide us to the opening of the seals. After this, the disciple does not depend on his lower nature for direction and the last three seals are opened without the assistance or presence of the beasts.

The fact that this beast is described as a flying eagle is significant. This beasts’ native home is the air and the air is the symbol of mind. This makes sense since the fourth part of the lower quaternary is the concrete, or lower part of the mind.

Now Scorpio is a water sign which tells us the emotional nature still has a strong hold on the disciple, but the fact that the beast flies in the air of mind tells us that this seal represents a transition from emotional dominance to mental.

Scorpio has also been associated with death and hell which is released in this seal. Unfortunately, this sign has received a bad rap because of its association with negative events. This is because many do not understand the core meaning behind the lesson of this sign.

In Scorpio the disciple must learn to accept that which he cannot change and move on with life. The main event that he cannot change is death. Other unchangeable events are divorce, separation, many diseases, accidents, taxes etc.

All of us, sooner or later, have these Scorpio type of events come into our lives, but it is not until the pilgrim has opened the fourth seal does he become master over them instead of the events mastering him.

And how does the one on the path of Christ master such unfortunate events? As the philosopher recommends, he learns to “accept that which he cannot change.”

If a loved one dies, the one who has not opened the fourth seal will weep and wail and not accept the event, but be negatively affected for months or years afterwards.

He who has opened the fourth seal will accept whatever comes, even death of one who is greatly loved. Such acceptance must be cultivated by the disciple if he is to become as his Master.

Christ was a great example of accepting direction from higher will, but just before the crucifixion even he hesitated and pleaded, “If it be possible please remove this cup.” But then when he realized there was no changing the upcoming events he submitted.

This is what we must do. When we see the path to the future is impossible to change we must accept and make the best of it.

When the seal was open John saw “a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

The pale horse represents sickness and terror, and was followed by death and hell. In other words, as the disciple progresses to his next major lesson the tools used to teach him are his own great fears. Major fears are sickness, death and hell. Many can understand fearing sickness and death, but how about hell?

For those who believe in God and have been subject to a religious view, hell can be the most terrifying of them all.


Because it is supposed to be endless torment and no single event occurring on the earth can beat that. To accept God as a being that will not send you to hell is a major step to be taken on the path.

This path of acceptance can only be achieved by learning to center in the mind, away from all the emotional turmoil that Scorpio events cause.

In the stillness of mind, then, the disciple contemplates, reasons and finally accepts that which he cannot change and moves ahead.

The scripture ends with: “And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

At any given time about a fourth of the people of the earth are facing the tests of Scorpio and are having difficulty accepting death through wars (kill with sword) with starvation (hunger), or with the rule of tyrants (the beasts of the earth.)

The lessons of the fourth seal are certainly no picnic, but the disciple does not learn his great lessons through the easy life, but in difficulty.

But the key to minimizing these difficulties coming into one’s life is to learn the key of acceptance. When the disciple accepts those things he cannot change then death and hell lose their sting and it seems that the number of calamities are greatly reduced so he can move on to higher lessons.

Start every day with a smile and get it over with. W. C. Fields

April 16, 2005

Copyright by J J Dewey 

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