This week, Beyoncé released her seventh studio album, Renaissance. Soon—if the hidden messages in the album’s various promotional images are correct—the end days foretold in Revelation will come.
Or, at least, that’s what some folks believe. Social media has told us for years that Beyoncé is a member of the Illuminati. Now, the internet is adding an addendum: These days, Beyoncé is not necessarily trying to run the world—she’s just trying to tell us it’s ending.
It started with the horse imagery. The cover of Renaissance is a striking shot of a mostly nude, be-heeled Beyoncé on top of a silver horse. The cover of this month’s British Vogue is a striking shot of Beyoncé riding a red one. Newsweek explains the rest: “In July 2020, Beyoncé sat atop a white horse in the Black Is King movie and in August 2022 she posed with a black horse for Harper’s Bazaar.” It’s a simple enough equation: Beyoncé. Horses. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse—one riding a white horse, one a red one, one a black one, and one a pale one. Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. When they show up, it means our earthly world is over.
At least one TikToker explained that Beyoncé was tipping her hand re: the impending literal actualization of the Bible’s Book of Revelation (a third of the world dying immediately and all that) because “they [vaguely defined “they,” presumably Illuminati-adjacent] have to tell you what’s next on the agenda.” If you want to dig deeper, you can lose yourself in a 42-minute YouTube video promising that “Beyoncé OPENS DEMONIC PORTALS in JULY.” (There’s only a few days left in the month; she better hurry up.)
The writer Titi Shodiya, who’s analyzed Beyoncé’s career on the podcast Dissect, says the Beyoncé Apocalypse era is a natural continuation of the Beyoncé Illuminati era. “She’s so good at what she does, she has so much influence and power, everything she does is so exquisite,” Shodiya says. “Most people don’t understand how a person can get it right every time. In order to compensate for our own insecurities, we have to project. We say ‘It’s impossible. There has to be some kind of magic associated with it, or the Illuminati.’ But really, it’s because she works really hard, she’s really serious about her craft, she takes her time, and she surrounds herself with people that she trusts that are also very talented.”
Beyoncé is too good. She’s not fallible. She’s not really one of us. Sprinkle in the horses and the well-worn history of theorizing around the superstar, and it’s actually not that much of a leap to “Beyoncé is proselytizing the end of days.” Just to be clear with something this important, I ask the on-hand Beyoncé expert bluntly: So is Beyoncé telling us that the apocalypse is coming? “Nah, I don’t think so,” Shodiya laughs. But “I’m open to other interpretations.”