Field Guide

Horse

Douglas Keister* relates: The Horse is one of the most powerful and varied animal symbols. Virtually all cultures bestow magical powers on the horse, and because horses can exist as both wild and domesticated animals, their symbolic meanings can be opposites of each other: white horses represent good; black horses represent evil. In the ancient world, horses brought death as well as life, and light as well as darkness. In the Bible, horses are usually equated with lust, as in Jeremiah 5:8 - "They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbor's wife."

Elsewhere we read: This symbol may simply denote the deceased's love of horses however, to some that may mean a reference to Saints Martin, Maurice, and Victor, all signifying horseback riding (Anon).

A slight variation: Horse - Courage or generosity. An attribute of St. George, St. Martin, St. Maurice and St. Victor, all of whom are represented in Christian art on horseback. It was in honor of the crusaders.

*Taken from Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written and photographed by Douglas Keister, published by Gibbs Smith, Salt Lake City, 2004. Webmaster's note: If you dig cemeteries, you'll love this book! Available at Amazon.