Tag Archives: Bible

The Four Evangelists in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

By: VICTORIA WILSON on JULY 25, 2017

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The WHEEL OF FORTUNE & THE WORLD feature four animals that symbolize of the four fixed signs of the zodiac and four Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (otherwise known as the “Four Evangelists” or the “Four Cherubim”).

Ezekiel chapter 1 verse 10 provides the following account:

“As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle.”

A man represents MATTHEW, whose gospel outlines Joseph’s ancestral origins from Abraham, underscoring Jesus’ human nature. It is a Christian belief that salvation cannot be achieved without the use of reason, which also explains why the man also represents the zodiacal sign of AQUARIUS (fixed water).

A lion represents MARK, also symbol of Jesus Christ the King. Because it was believed that lions sleep with their eyes open, it is also said to represent Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, as Jesus lay “awake” in the tomb in the days that followed his crucifixion. The lion also represents LEO (fixed fire) and the unwavering courage required on the path towards salvation.

A bull represents LUKE as well as the principle of earthly sacrifice. The Bible offers numerous accounts of bulls or oxen being sacrificed as an offering to God. Bulls also played an instrumental role in the development of agriculture, making them a symbol of service. The bull signifies the sacrifice that Christians should be prepared to make in the name of Jesus. It also represents TAURUS (fixed earth).

An eagle represents JOHN, whose gospel tells of Jesus’ Ascension to Heaven. Eagles also symbolize SCORPIO (fixed water) and the transformation that Jesus made from an earth-bound being to a heavenly being. The gospel of John introduces the concept of “Logos,” which places Jesus within the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, underscoring his divine nature. Gnosis (union with God) cannot be achieved without the death of the ego, which often takes the form of physical death.

Why do you think Pamela Colman Smith specifically chose the Wheel of Fortune and The World to feature the Four Evangelists? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

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