Unhappy horse?


As some of you have already learned, I'm really studying the imagery portrayed in the RWS using the oversized deck. So: The horse in the Sun card looks rather worried. Definitely not happy. Is anyone else picking up on this? And if so, any ideas how to interpret?

ana luisa

That's a FAB observation ! Thank you for bringing it up :) Indeed, the horse looks upset or even sad in some renditions. It could mean so many things... This is one of them. Although both can represent freedom and vigor, the horse knows that the child is not really prepared to take to the world. That you need some experience to go out and enjoy things so they can last. That animals, from the very young age fend for themselves. A foal walks minutes after it's born... But not a boy. Optimism alone and positive feelings are not enough. A sobering message.


What a great topic! in the equine world of horse body language the posture of the horses head can mean hes annoyed, or stressed. Wether this had any influence on Pamela Colman Smith at the time I have no idea. It looks to me like the prospect of the horse training this child is not appealing to the horse at all, or the fact the child is immature and doesnt know how to ride 'life' is annoying for the horse. I like ana luisa take on this :)


The reason I've been closely studying the images is because of Pamela Coleman Smith's admonition to look at the faces. She was a very good illustrator, so I don't think anything in the images is "by chance" I'm glad I'm not the only one who's noticed this. I like both of your' takes on this. It's never occurred to me to look at the Sun card as having a sobering message... But there you have it....


Me again... So I'm looking at the card, and looking at the card, and I think perhaps the meaning could be interpreted as "a day in the sun" as opposed to "things are going to be sunny from here on out" That horse just isn't going to take that boy very far... Maybe "seize the day" ?


The RWS Sun has always puzzled me. The child is so happy and so...oblivious! Neither the horse NOR the SUN look very happy. I have always felt very ambivalent about that card, especially about its mood.



Hmmm...Now that you mention it Barb the child is VERY oblivious and no, the Sun isn't exactly beaming, no... But to my mind, She (a FEMININE sun is what I'm seeing???) is at least warm and benevolent. NOW what's with the FEMININE SUN? I can't say I've ever paid any attention to that before? Isn't the sun supposed to be male/active? This card, which I've always viewed as pretty self-explanatory, is now throwing me a real curve ball! First the horse, and then the sun? Uhhhh...anyone have any more insights?


I disagree. Horses don't look happy. Horses don't smile and they're not cute. This horse has an important role (carrying the sun child, the newborn sun) and is aware of it.

The white horse has long been a symbol for paradise and a noble spirit (and does so until today, I'm reminded of Tolkien's Shadowfax, played by a white horse in the movie).

Here are some important depictions of white horses, underlining their association with light (even divine light), mythological creatures like unicorns, and paradise: Jan Breughel, Velazquez, George Stubbs, John Constable, Gauguin and Franz Marc.

Portraying horses' faces has a long tradition in art. Especially expressive: Gericault, Toulouse Lautrec.

Colman-Smith studied art and whether she knew these paintings (all of them very well-known) or not, she was certainly aware of the long and important tradition of horse paintings. No, I don't think Colman-Smith wanted a cute, smiling horse face. She depicted a dignified, strong horse. She was a good enough artist not to add, like cartoon artists, eye brows and a smile. That's nice for a children's movie (which I like very much), but it's absolutely not her style.


I don't think that horse is simply dignified etc - I do agree with others that it looks a bit cheesed off - but horses aren't wild about heat - maybe the heat of that big hot sun is bothering it.


Yes, I'm familiar with some of these artists. Especially Gauguin. He is currently my favorite artist. However, we are talking about the RWS here. The horse on the Sun card is grey like the wall behind. The only white horse in the deck is depicted on the Death card. And I certainly wouldn't want to see a smiling cartoon face on any horse in the deck. However, if you look at any of the horses on the Knight cards, the 6 of wands, or the Death card, you can't help but notice that each horse's individual expression adds significantly to the overall depiction, and therefore meaning of each card. My point in bringing up the horse depicted on the Sun card was to get some insight on what this particular horse's expression might mean in relationship to this card.