It seems as though the article “Eco-consciousness and the Rise of the Eco Warrior” fell on deaf ears. Hopefully by giving you a more powerful symbol to hang your hat on the message will be less likely to go in one ear and out the other. Such is my intent with the Fifth Horseman and this article. But first, let’s delve into the mysterious mythology of the original four horsemen.
1st Horseman of the Apocalypse: Conquest (White Horse)
“Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” –Revelation 6:1-2
Also known as “Pestilence,” the rider of this horse carries a bow and wears a victor’s crown. This horseman is a metaphor for the overreach of mankind. He is bound and determined to conquer the world with excess, and the aggrandizement of the human condition, which leads to greed and a gross imbalance between nature and the human soul. Wherever there is disease there is medicine.
But the 1st horseman has suppressed the medicine in favor of the disease by pushing ever-forward with his conquer-control-consume-destroy-repeat agenda. Like Vicente Blasco Ibáñez wrote in his novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, “The horseman on the white horse was clad in a showy and barbarous attire… While his horse continued galloping, he was bending his bow in order to spread pestilence abroad. At his back swung the brass quiver filled with poisoned arrows, containing the germs of all diseases.” And he will continue spreading diseases until the fifth horseman stops him.
2nd Horseman of the Apocalypse: War (Red Horse)
“When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” –Revelation 6:3-4
Fierce and bloodthirsty, the second horseman is a warmonger par excellence. Armed with a “great sword” and riding a fiery horse, he is a metaphor for war itself, symbolizing the stubborn non-compromising aspect of the human condition. He would rather cut your head off than bother tolerating you. He is incapable of realizing that two wrongs don’t make a right. He is the personification of the war machine that is systematically destroying the planet.
Blinded by pride and patriotism, he cannot see how war is two rights obliterating their rights, and love is two wrongs obliging their wrongs. His striving for perfection has led to war, since there is no such thing as perfection, either in himself or the human condition. And so he rages. And so he surrenders to his wrath. And he will continue waging war until the fifth horseman stops him.
3rd Horseman of the Apocalypse: Famine (Black Horse)
“When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
The third horseman is the bringer of dearth and deprivation, and the sower of scarcity and starvation. Armed with a pair of weighing scales, he symbolizes the oppression of the poor and the starving of the weak. He is hell-bent on keeping the rich richer and the poor poorer by blinding the world with a veil of scarcity that hides the wealthy abundance of the earth. Famine is all about smoke and mirrors, deceit and snake oil, hoax and bamboozlement.
His scales weigh a zero-sum game, worthless unless people believe in it. And they do! –ironically keeping themselves enslaved to the charlatans and swindlers who hold power. Famine smiles over it all, weighing the human soul against the Earth and coming up with death. And he will continue with his want & woe until the fifth horseman stops him.
4th Horseman of the Apocalypse: Death (Pale Horse)
“When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.” –Revelation 6:7-8
Behold, Death upon his pale high-horse mocking your life half-lived, a too-big god gambling with his godmanship. He is sharpening your halo with his scythe. He is hell-bent on bringing hell to your doorstep, and he’s damn good at it. Armed with a scythe, he symbolizes the end of mankind, the last phase of the apocalypse (until the fifth horseman arrives, that is).
He has Hades in his pocket and he’s not afraid to use him. He is the culmination of the previous three riders, gray and uncouth, sickly and soldierly, reaping greatly upon what the others have sown. He is circumspect, patiently waiting for you to give into the End of Times agenda. He doesn’t want you to know that the beginning is near. And he will continue to keep the secrets of the Earth from you until the fifth horseman stops him.
5th Horseman of the Apocalypse: Providence (Green Horse)
“I’ve begun to look at the world through apocalypse eyes. Our society, which seems so sturdily built out of concrete and custom, is just a temporary resting place, a hotel our civilization checked into a couple hundred years ago and must one day check out of.” –Neil Strauss
This is the horseman that cleans up after the original four horsemen (the four horsemen are a metaphor for anybody caught up (aware or not) in any kind of unsustainable, unhealthy, violent, stupid, immoral, mass-destructive social system). The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse is an archetype representing rebirth and renewal in the face of conquest, war, famine, and death. And, the fifth horseman isn’t even a man.
She is a woman, feminine and ruthless with her soft healing powers. Her name is Providence. She is Phoenix-like. Armed with the Aegis of Freedom and the Sword of Ploughshares, she rises up from the ashes of war & decay to spread self-actualized love, open-mindedness, and sustainability by digging up the decay and unsustainable residue of past and present civilizations and then using it all as compost to cultivate and grow a healthier future for the coexistence of nature and human beings.
In that capacity she has devoted herself to planting gardens of heroism in the humus of war, hate, close-mindedness and greed, and anything else left behind by the original four horsemen. And so she subsumes the original four horsemen and teaches them that the NEW definition of right & wrong must be derived from the natural dictation of healthy & unhealthy rather than the human opinion of good & evil. She is the Verdant Force.
She is the Goddess of Recompense. She is the soft hammer of evolution. She has come to blur the false boundaries that have been erected between nature and the human soul. She has come to shred the Veil of Ignominy in order to reveal the raw vulnerability of the human condition that pulses beneath. She is Gaia. She is Lady Justice. She is the return of the Sacred Feminine. She is all of us, men and women, realizing that we are nature first and human second, that we are soul first and ego second. She is weighing the worth of the human world with the Scales of Cosmos. With or without us, she will not fail to bring water to the wasteland.