The Emerald Hummingbird: On Taurus

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month we return to examining the signs of the zodiac with a look at Taurus. Before we get started, you may want to know that as of the time of writing I have a post on Chiron in Taurus and one on Uranus in Taurus to study alongside this one. 

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For Mum

The signs of the zodiac are tricky things to describe because they are archetypal processes and archetypes defy easy description. Archetypes are notions that are broad enough to be typical and essential but so over-arching that they can only be easily communicated in words by issuing a string of analogies that they incorporate. Astrology is a language of archetypes – planetary, zodiacal, etc, – and this is why the discussions of astrology involve long lists of analogies that point to the thing they represent without being able to completely define it. Below I have given you some examples to help initiate this process regarding Taurus. Taurus is therefore patient, calm, materialistic, plodding, jealous, etc. – individual notions that do not define Taurus, but taken together point to its essential meaning, an essential meaning that can be universally comprehended. This may seem like a very abstract and complicated beginning to an article about one of the simplest and uncomplicated of the zodiac signs, but as we dig deep into the archetype of Taurus we will come to see that its mysteries and its magic are very much concerned with understanding there is a fundamental and natural Form within things which perpetually in-forms its manifestation in the physical world, just as there is a basic spirit or essential meaning, a living thing, within each of the signs of the zodiac which in-forms its manifestations.

On the ground, though, Taurus is far less esoteric. In fact we might say that of all the zodiac signs Taurus is the most grounded of all, and in many ways also the most passive (Pisces is overall much more passive, but far less grounded with it). Think not of the raging bull charging at you, for while this is an appropriate analogy it is not a normal state of affairs for Taurus, being a reaction to an extreme situation involving threat and intrusion, but instead dwell upon the placid calf chewing the cud while it looks at you with kind eyes framed by curling eyelashes. Harmless, gentle, docile, calm. This is the Taurean factory setting. Life is not complicated – that is its response to polarisation with Scorpio, which sees deeper complications to everything. Nor is life worth getting all worked up over – that is its response to the extremes of its predecessor, Aries. Life is best lived in a simple and calm way, focusing on the here and now and getting down to the business of doing what needs to be done without complaint. It has to be slowly and carefully predigested – chewed over – before coming to any rash actions or conclusions about what it means. It’s natural bounties should be savored and cherished, from fine wines and sex to all the green things, because to Taurus these things make life a pleasure. Taurus listens not to the drum of Mars but to the soft melody of Venus, yet it is not an ethereal creature of harmony and love but one which knows how to walk and work with the physical mud, sweat and juice of the land and the material world. And as the saying goes, it is strong as an ox, containing within it the greatest potential physical power of all the signs.

WHITE MIRROR

Patient
Natural
Uncomplicated
Practical
Reliable
Steady
Firm
Toughened
Sensual
Well-grounded
Cherishing
Hardworking
Persevering
Kindhearted
Epicurean
Comfortable
Contented
Unruffled
Powerful
Gentle giant
Resourceful
Loyal

BLACK MIRROR

Inert
Unrefined
Simplistic
Unimaginative
Predictable
Slow
Obstinate
Calloused
Hedonistic
Unvarying
Covetous
Overburdened
Bone-weary
Exploited
Gluttonous
Envious
Stuck
Unresponsive
Overbearing
Lummox, clod
Hoarder
Possessive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LORE

The stars that lend their history to the zodiac sign of Taurus are among the most ancient and massive of constellations. They contain some of the most fabled and beautiful stars in the sky, the Pleiades, and stretch an enormous distance across the firmament, charging with lowered horns at Orion. These features make its stars easy to spot in a clear night sky because if you can identify the stars of Orion’s belt you can look for a nearby reddish-orange star (Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull, the ‘Watcher of the East’ in Persian sky lore) and the further away and brighter by far cluster of the Pleiades, which are visually stunning. The Celestial Bull (to distinguish it from the zodiacal sign Taurus)  is a huge creature that you have to swivel your head to scan the body of, even though it lacks any hind quarters. Its red eye called Aldebaran translates in Arabic (and also other languages) as ‘the Follower’, presumably because in the sky it follows (rises after) the jewels of the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters that lie in the heart of the Bull and which draw the eye like a nest of celestial diamonds.

Perhaps the most critical time in the human relationship with these stars took place about 4,000 to 6,000 years ago. For obvious reasons we do not have any deep records of this period with which to draw firm conclusions but we do have a vast body of circumstantial evidence that points to the stars becoming extremely important in human culture around this time. One thing which we can rely upon as factual is that beginning about 6,000 years ago these stars began to inhabit the sky at dawn just before the spring equinox, so that on this very important ritual day, just before the Sun rose, the giant form of the Celestial Bull was hovering over the eastern horizon. For about 2,000 years prior to this point, the same time and space had been occupied by the stars of Orion and Gemini (perhaps inspiring the proto-seeds of many myths connected with twins such as Isis and Osiris, Set and Osiris, Castor and Pollux, Ashwini Kumaras and others, as well as other myths connected with Scorpio), but it now began to be clear to observers all over the world that this was changing. At some stage it must have literally dawned on every ritual culture that habitually observed the equinoxes that the picture in the heavens was undergoing a dramatic change. Orion seemed to be falling over and the stars of Taurus were rising up over him. It is possible that at this time stories were created to explain this shift and this may have been when the mythology connected to Taurus and to bulls in general which we have handed down to us today was in its genesis. Given that this was also a very critical and important time in the development of our understanding of the patterns and movements of objects in the sky, the period from around 4,000 to 1,700 BC being considered one of the golden ages of ancient astronomy, it may be that this observation was one of or even possibly the most important catalyst in this golden age. Some authors writing in the much later Hellenistic period claim that astrology itself is invented by Hermes in this period, but as far as I am aware only vague references to time spans are given, and there are alternative reports on how astrology came about in other texts from the same era.

Regardless of whether or not astrology came into existence during this period, it was still an extremely important one for for the later zodiac sign of Taurus because it was during this period that many of the mythologies and magical practices connected to bulls attained a greater cultural significance across the world. The clear indication, of course, is that this was due to the sight seen at the spring equinox. Legends and magical practices connected with these stars surely existed before these times, but it seems clear that during this period ritual and magical practice across the world focused upon the symbolism and power of the Bull.

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In Egypt, worship of an Apis – a sacred bull – began in earnest during the First Dynasty (in a 2013 study based on radiocarbon dates, the beginning of the First Dynasty—the accession of Hor-Aha—was placed at 3,100 BC give or take a century, placing it in the Precessional Age of Taurus). Devotion to this being was centred at Memphis until the Hellenistic period began when it was moved to Alexandria by Ptolemy I. It became a prominent cultural phenomena during the Second Dynasty (from around 2,890 – 2,686 BC), which is one of the most obscure periods in ancient Egyptian history. Worship was possibly started by Nebra (under whom the first depiction of the cat goddess Bastet also appears) and was very probably connected to Hathor – Apis may have represented Hathor’s offspring. In any case Apis was a physical creature as well as a Divine one and several ceremonial burials of bulls indicate that there was a ritual sacrifice. The bulls, which were kept at the Hathor temples for the duration of life, were eventually embalmed and encased in giant ritual sarcophagi which were lavishly adorned inside and out with powerful spells. Details of the mummification process can be seen on the Apis Papyrus. This creature, indicating again a connection to the spring equinox, was termed “the renewal of life” of Ptah (who conceived the world by thinking it into existence and then uttered it into being with the magic of his Word), and was transfigured after death by the magical ceremonies and the sarcophagi into Osorapis, i.e. the eternal Apis, the Osiris-Apis. Different forms of worship of Apis continued for many thousands of years until about 400 CE, being continued by the Greeks and later the Romans. Their reinterpretation of these earlier traditions and ideas gave rise to or informed the cults of the deity called Serapis, a god of abundance and resurrection designed to unify the Greeks and Egyptians, whose most important temple was also at Alexandria. The Taurus cults were widespread but also very tenacious and had to be aggressively subdued by later practices that wished to replace them, as I shall explain shortly.

Bulls were a central theme in the Minoan civilization, with bull heads and bull horns used as symbols in the Knossos palace, which legend has as the birth place, labyrinthine dwelling and death site of the Minotaur (again, more on this shortly). I visited the ruins of this palace when I was a child and can still recall the way it placed a silence upon my soul. The magical spirit of the place was still lurking there in the late 1970s. In the Indus Valley the sacred bull is called Nandi and was connected with worship of Shiva, from whom he received the knowledge of Agamic and Tantric magic and wisdom. In Norse lands we have tales from Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda about Auðumbla:

Then said Gangleri: “Where dwelt Ymir, or wherein did he find sustenance?”
Hárr answered: “Straightway after the rime dripped, there sprang from it the cow called Auðumla; four streams of milk ran from her udders, and she nourished Ymir.”
Then asked Gangleri: “Wherewithal was the cow nourished?”
And Hárr made answer: “She licked the ice-blocks, which were salty; and the first day that she licked the blocks, there came forth from the blocks in the evening a man’s hair; the second day, a man’s head; the third day the whole man was there. He is named Búri.

(Brodeur’s translation)

This idea resonates strongly with the function of the Egyptian Apis and other deities with a bovine form as being connected with the creation of humanity, form and life itself. Four streams of sacred milk also resonate with hermetic ideas about the four pristine Elements. We see the same notion of life genesis in ancient Phoenicia (Lebanon, Israel and southern Syria today) where the bull-god, “Father of Men”, is called El (which means ‘bull’), and in Zoroastrianism (an Iranian religion which spread throughout the Middle East) there are tales of a heroic figure called Ahura Mazda, the Bull-Slayer, who slays a great bull after riding it to exhaustion and then stands witness as its blood falls in rivers to produce life on Earth. There is deeply primal and occulted stuff here. To the Sumerian people (modern day Iraq) these stars were similarly representative of a Heavenly Bull, Gugalanna, sent to trample and punish Gilgamesh, an epic king who is the subject of what is considered the first great work of literature (note here the rulership of zodiacal Taurus by Venus). Gilgamesh is the Babylonian Orion, the warrior set against the charge of the Bull. The Bull is sent by the goddess Ishtar after Gilgamesh spurns her advances – an arrogant and potentially dangerous thing to do to the goddess of love, sex, war and the magic of fertility, although Gilgamesh did so because of her treatment of her former lovers. Gugalanna, whose feet made the Earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu, but then becomes the first husband of Ereshkigal, ruler of the Underworld. In this he is a proto-Persephone, the Greek goddess of spring and vegetation who is wed to Hades and can only visit us seasonally to return life to the natural world.

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Shades of the theme of the mythic and magical creation of life also show up in Celtic tales of Blodeuwedd, a magical woman made of flowers. The hero Lleu Llaw Gyffes is magically cursed by his mother, Arianrhod, to never find a human wife. To counteract this curse, two fabled magicians named Math and Gwydion gather petals and flowers from oaks, meadowsweet and broom and concoct a powerful spell that conjures the most beautiful maiden anyone has ever seen, a woman made of flowers. The tale is also a magical cautionary tale as they later have to punish their creation after it behaves badly, needing to chase it down and place their own curse upon it.

Darker and much more visceral themes seem to emerge towards the end of the Taurean Age. These seem to be connected to the ascendancy of the stars of Aries to the position of heliacal rising stars of the spring equinox, and to a widespread cultural shift away from sacrificial bulls to sacrificial rams. Rams and heroes – archetypes of Aries rather than Taurus – may now have started to become more significant. I feel that it’s this latter period that brings much of the blood spilling elements of the tales connected to Taurus. The bull cults were very well entrenched and widespread, and I feel that tales like that of Theseus slaying the Minotaur, Jason questing for the Fleece and facing the Colchis bulls (immensities with bronze hooves and mouths which breathe fire and which he must yoke and use to plough a field) and other myths featuring the slaying or taming of bulls are at least partly sourced in these events. Mystery traditions started shifting towards monotheistic and angry or ‘flaming sword’ deities, away from the Earth Mysteries and towards both agriculture and more modern concepts of godhood. Purification rituals and blood baptisms involving bulls seem to have been a common element of the transition. The worship of Ahura Mazda in the late Aries Age, for example, involved an initiate standing under a platform and being drenched with the blood of a sacrificial bull which they needed to drink in. In the Roman Mithraic Mysteries there are reliefs (called in todays language ‘Tauroctony’) which depict Mithras killing a bull while surrounded by suns, moons and stars. In the Hebrew bible an Israelite who had come into contact with a dead body would need to undergo a ritual purification involving a red cow being sacrificed, its ashes being used in the ritual purification. Followers of Moses distinguished themselves from the bull cults of the ‘heathen’ Egyptians who were ‘looking back to the past’ by adopting the lamb as the sacrificial beast. In other words, as the Age winds down the Taurus cults are still very strong and robust but they are perceived not as ‘renewers of life’ but as husks clinging to a decaying era and new heroes of life are called upon to vanquish them and usurp their power. A great deal of our knowledge of the ancient world was probably lost in the process. In Europe only the isolated proto-Druidic tradition of the British Isles seems to have escaped this purge and just adapted, but it was (except for certain symbols) an oral tradition and was later similarly lost.

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This body of mythology, while in parts bloody, connects these stars with visceral and naturally sourced life power, potency, strength, sensuality and enduring influence – qualities which are primary virtues of the Taurus sign. We need to be very wary of attaching the significance of ‘sacrifice’ to these stars alone, since animals of other stars were also considered sacred offerings during their periods of influence. What is different in the sacrifices attached to the Age of the Bull is the transference of power, strength and vigour, often physical, procreative, virile or sexual.

Also, and most importantly, its vital to keep in mind that during the politically and socially tumultuous transition from the Taurus era to the Aries era much of the original lore of these stars was destroyed and has remained lost. It was not generally written down. The Bull Cults of Greece and the Mediterranean, the Babylonian priesthoods and the Hathor priesthood of Egypt, the Druids – all fonts of this wisdom were ultimately wiped out and their knowledge stemmed, subverted, conflated or vanished. The stars of the Celestial Bull became awash with bloodshed during the transition forwards and have carried a visceral quality to them ever since. Their Mystery schools went underground and their secrets were shunned and hidden away in labyrinths of the mind, like the bestial and enraged Minotaur slain by Theseus. This is the part that history vaguely recalls, the later age of Taurus, not the early age. We can only surmise the nature of the early teaching about these stars – fertility, sexuality, sexual potency and the magic of the renewal of life in spring, the magical power of the feminine and the secrets of the Seven Sisters and the mysteries of matter, nature and form are among the most likely focuses. It is also worth noting here that the Pleiades are referred to as ‘Seven Sisters’ (sometimes brothers or hens or some other representation of siblings) by diverse ancient cultures located as far away from one another as Australia, North America, China and Siberia, among others, cultures which are not supposed to have had any contact. The suggestion then is that this shows either a common link between early people (such as an ancestral race memory of a previous era of civilization, or a collective unconsciousness) or that they were more in contact with one another than is supposed – or both. Why else would they all designate these seven lights as ‘siblings’? Why not jewels, or seeds, or some other more reasonable coincidence? If it is down to some unknown connection, the stars of Taurus may have a much older lore that we have completely lost. The answer, like so many, is buried in the past, as well as in us.

 

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SUBSTANCE

To modern day zodiacal Taurus these tales have given many qualities, including a supremely tactile attachment to nature and the physical world, from food to touch. Taurus is always ready to experience more of the richness of life. It is a sign that saturates itself in qualities until it becomes sodden and heavy with them, and therefore takes forms that are difficult to mutate or remove. Patience is the requirement with whatever Taurus touches, and we might also say strength and endurance but we do not really mean just physical strength and endurance but mental and especially emotional as well, and we mean a quiet and peaceful strength not a violent and warlike one. Like seeds planted in soil things placed with Taurus take care, love and the natural passage of time to bear their fruit. Until then there is work to be done and Taurus is the most equipped to roll up the sleeves and start digging in the dirt.

No sign is more practical or hard working than Taurus – this is the sign that is always ready to buckle down with the back breaking work or the pulling of the cart. Its filled with muscular power and quiet determination. It tires far less easily than other signs and nearly always finds ways to make its resources last as long as they need to. The Taurus in human beings is the pleasure we feel listening to beautiful music while sitting in slippers by a warm open fire with a glass of red wine eating our favourite chocolates, basking in the satisfaction of a hard weeks work well done. Today it is mostly about an appreciation of the simple but often expensive pleasures of physical life, but once it was much more connected to the pleasure we felt when working the land, the satisfaction gained and the pleasure experienced in contact with Mother Earth. It was about the wet grass between our toes and the mysteries of an abundant Mother of life that just kept on giving and giving…and we kept on taking, but at some terrible point we stopped giving back. However these deeper pleasures still exist within the Taurus sign in all of us as do the yearnings to feel that pleasure again and so Taurus is nowadays often instrumental in bringing us ‘back to nature’ in whatever form that takes. You walk a while with the plodding tread of this beautiful, docile creature and your heart fills with gentleness and peace. Whatever Taurus touches in our chart it brings with it a modern day impetus to re-connect with the land around us and recover this deeper source of tranquil, natural pleasure at being alive in the physical world. We were formed from Mother Nature, after all, and have an instinct to be close to Her. However, this is often led astray by the pull of materialism in our societies.

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Taurus is essentially practical, realistic, loving of ease but given to hard work, possesses great physical endurance or strength, is slow to act, and works persistently and patiently toward (usually material and physical) goals. Like the Bull which symbolises its astral character, the Taurus nature does not like to be led around the field and can manifest its fixed Earth energy in a very stubborn and intractable way, refusing to accept another way as better than theirs or not backing down when miffed. They do not like to be told what to do in great detail – they prefer to be left alone to get on with it without the unnecessary commentary – and like to take their time chewing over everything very carefully in order to fully digest it before they swallow it. Other signs (in particular Gemini, Leo, Aries, Aquarius and sometimes Scorpio) may find Taurus maddeningly slow unless other factors provide more restless qualities.

Taurus possesses great hidden reserves of strength, physical power and endurance. It is known for an ability to work hard and toil far longer than other signs. The ability to work persistently, quietly and patiently toward goals coupled with this strength is perhaps the signs greatest material asset. When Taurus is strong and healthy it is always there with a helping hand, a support that is more than just encouraging since it is geared to being actually useful. It has a weakness when it comes to emotional areas which we will discuss shortly, but elsewhere it is not only willing to help but eager to do something about the problem. They are the well known ‘rock’, the type of person you can rely on when the chips are down. This sign is devoted and loyal to others, like it’s opposite, Scorpio, because deep within it Venus, the signs ruler, whispers about the true foundation of all strength and power, love. When motivated by love, Taurus is loyal and will never abandon those who have shown it their own loyalty by their actions and deeds. Taurus is a builder by nature and so this sign carries the keys to building a better world in the future. It all depends on what motivates it in the first place.

Another great virtue of Taurus is the solidly Earthy nature of the attitude. It must be pushed harder and longer than is the norm – by far – before its equilibrium and temper snaps and it can take a lot of punishment before its bodies grow exhausted or its strength fails. This Earthy connection can also be a great help in all the Earth analogue exercises of initiation. Patience, practicality, an ability to work long and hard labour, common sense and practical acumen in dealing with physical things such as plants and money are also manifestations of this Earthy acumen. This is the sign that grows and makes things you can touch, from vegetation to savings, or build beautiful things you can experience physically, from buildings to jewelery. It likes to get its hands (hooves?) on experience and draws sustenance and vitality from steady but persistent physical activity. The signs resonance with the physical also makes it tactile and sensuous – this is a sexualised sign like its polar opposite Scorpio, but with Taurus the pleasure is more tactile than emotional. The spirit of this sign is not cold and stern but ruled by the loving nature of Venus – as well as needing to keep hands busy Taurus likes to take care of people and to protect them physically, to provide materially for those it loves and with whom it expects to form enduring and loyal bonds.

bird-of-paradise-3126284_1920Taurus is also a good listener because it possesses the patience to let people speak while they slowly consider advice that is sensible and actually useful. The sign is acquisitive in matters of love and can be accused of possessiveness yet is also constant, loyal, affectionate and very sensual. For Taurus love is not a passing emotion but a deep and lasting bond which must be honoured and worked at. Emotional bonds form more slowly and cautiously but are more enduring and resistant to adversity in life. What helps to sharpen the focus of the analysis here is to compare the ways in which Taurus differs from Scorpio, because it is these differences that matter. When we do this, the first contrast that leaps out is not about practicality but about the expression of feelings – with Scorpio the feelings are very intense, passionate and often dark or having a cynical humour, and they are expressed with controlled force. In stark contrast to this the Taurus emotional nature is simple, calm, tranquil, often having a soft and light hearted humour, and emotions are expressed with forced control.

Taurus naturally clashes with the other Fixed or Stable signs of Leo, Aquarius and Scorpio and harmonises itself with the other two Earth signs as well as with Cancer and Pisces. The squares and the opposition to its sibling Stable signs generate problems which are often motivated by mutual stubbornness. These are clashes of will that often stalemate, escalate or alienate but which can also combine into formidable resistance and power. Additionally with the Leo sign, Taurus is put off by the ego and sometimes a bit jealous of the success while Leo sees Taurus as pleasant but not particularly fun to be around (dull, not craving drama like Leo but instead insisting on a lack of drama). Compared to Aquarius, Taurus is very normal, sensible, predictable and heavily invested in the status quo rather than completely far out there, weird and incomprehensible. I’ve already said something about the relationship between Taurus and Scorpio, two signs which are very loyal but which have very different approaches to showing that loyalty, one of which is intensely emotional and complicated and the other very levelheaded and uncomplicated but naive of deeper issues. In both Cancer and Pisces, Taurus finds two passive allies that understand its need for peace, quiet and tranquility as well as signs which resonate with its caring nature. These two signs bring Taurus some much-needed Water that help it prevent itself from becoming stuck in its ways while Taurus gives both of these signs some critical stability, support and resources. The basis of the resonance with the signs of Virgo and Capricorn is of course the Earth Element which connects them together and so the harmony between these three signs encompasses all the virtues of the Earth Element, specifically being adept in dealing with the material and physical world.

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ANALOGIES

Universal natural connection to Taurus is found close to fertile nature, near meadows and sylvan forests in the countryside, next to old rocks living in the mud, in ploughed fields and overgrown bush. Taurus is rock, seed, meadow, soil, spore, manure, ox, green leaf and blossom generally. Its totemic animals include not only bovines but also all cattle and farm animals generally as well as beasts which work, hummingbirds, bees, pollinating insects, giant creatures, physically powerful animals like bears, apes and gorillas, the elusive sasquatch, the fae who tend to nature, the rock people, horned gods, ants, sloths and whales (which are shared with Pisces). It generally has a powerful influence over all vegetation and plant life but is especially connected to wild rose, bird of paradise, prehistoric plant life (the bigger the better), and all the plants of Venus. In the mineral kingdom it resonates not only with emeralds (again via Venus) but also with precious jewels as well as the countless grey, featureless pebbles and boulders that make up the land, from small to large, with the largest becoming mountains and the province of another Earth sign, Capricorn. In the chakras it relates to the Root centre (as connection to Earth, grounding, stability, possession and sensual pleasure) and the Throat centre (as feeling for form and space), while in the physical body it is the region of the neck, vocal cords, upper shoulders, tongue and lower jaw, with a reflex association with the sex organs. chocsTaurus is also analogous to the receptivity and sensory capacity of the skin, the ears and the nose, especially the connection with emotional satisfaction and pleasure that these physical senses can bring, so to perfumes, music, massage and so on, as well as to the musical power of the voice (many belting singers have a Taurus emphasis). Its colours are browns, terracotta, shades of green and other forest hues – nothing too bold or dramatic. Its astrological direction is south-east, its season in the northern hemisphere is spring, its musical tone is F# and its places outdoors include farms, meadows, agricultural fields, muddy ditches, stone and wood circles, verdant forests, pastures, big old barns built to last, stables, financial districts, canyon floors, places where lovers gather for trysts, overgrown buildings, rocky plateaus and crystal caves or places where jewels and other riches of the Earth (and their spirit guardians) are gathered. Inside, Taurus points towards the lower places of a building such as the cellar, underground parking spaces, the cavities under floorboards, and to places where relaxation and rest as well as patient work with the hands or body take place, jewelery boxes, piggy banks, safes, places where work clothes and tools are stored and places where mud gathers, trees loom or indoor plants prosper. Its alchemical process is congelation (the conversion of a thin flowing liquid into a congealed thick substance, often by slow heating), and in the Kabbalistic Tree, Taurus is analogous to the Hebrew letter Vav (‘Nail’) and the 5th Path from Kether to Binah, called the root consciousness (“the fifth path is called the root consciousness because it is the substance of the unity, joining itself to that understanding [i.e. Binah] which itself emanates from within the province of primordial wisdom”.). As explained below, Taurus is connected with the magic of the creation of forms which are suitable to manifest essential meaning, the Art of transmuting forms so that they invite different essential meaning or so that they more completely and clearly manifest their native essential meaning (i.e. alchemy), knowledge of how each form expresses essential meaning and of how form and essential meaning are related, magical mastery of form and of the Primal Elements, the magic of agriculture, farming and plant cultivation and all the initiatory and magical arcana of the High Priest tarot image. In mundane astrology it is connected with the Sun sign in the current charts for Portugal (1974), South Africa (1994), Georgia (1991), Bangladesh (1971), Eire (1949), Sierra Leone (1961), Togo (1960), Japan (1952), Palestine (1994), Israel (1948), Monaco (1949), Great Britain (1707), Ecuador (1830) and Paraguay (1811) (expect to witness chaotic and radical change for these nations with Uranus now entering Taurus for 7 years). A Taurus Sun also shone over the days of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986), the Hindenburg explosion (1937), German surrender at the end of WWII (1945), George Washington taking the Presidential oath (1789) and the sailing of the first fleet towards and subsequent colonization of Australia (1787).

Well known individuals with strong Taurus in their astrology include Karl Marx, Katherine Hepburn, Stewart Granger, Joanna Lumley and Carol Burnett (all with both Sun and Moon in Taurus), George Lucas, Steve Winwood, Randy Travis, Miriam Stoppard (all with Taurus Sun and Taurus rising), Dionne Warwick (Taurus Moon and Taurus rising), Adolf Hitler (Sun), Al Pacino (Sun), Barbra Streisand (Sun), Bertrand Russell (Sun), Immanuel Kant (Sun), Burt Bacharach (Sun), Cher (Sun), David Icke (Sun), Jack Nicholson (Sun), Michelle Pfeiffer (Sun), Orson Welles (Sun), Frida Kahlo (Moon), Bob Dylan (Moon), Bill Clinton (Moon), Carl G. Jung (Moon), Meryl Streep (Moon), Carrie Fisher (Moon), Diana Ross (Moon), Elton John (Moon) and Galileo (Moon), to name but a few.

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DARKNESS

Petrification. Stagnation. The gaze of Medusa. Taurus may be loving, strong and hard working but it is also, however, the most averse to change, the most stubborn, the most possessive and the most obdurate of all the zodiac signs. Despite its hardworking nature it can also become extremely lethargic and can be ‘bull-headed’ as the modern saying goes, charging into things recklessly when enraged. It can get very attached to the ‘sacred cows’ of the way things have seemingly always been and it can also become trapped in the need for success in the material world, the desire to own things so that life becomes more pleasurable and comfortable. Its need for security can kill any chance it has of the one thing that it seeks – inner peace and tranquility stemming from a simple acceptance of life as it is. Ultra-conservatism can suffocate and choke the ability to adapt, leaving a mummified husk of a life that gets left behind as the rest of the world moves on to embrace the latest innovations.

A binding sign is basically an indication that life can become too attached to something; in Taurus it is typical that this attachment is to the physical things that life can offer, money, good food and wine, a beautiful, well stocked home, a stable love life, etc, and the dependence on these things for solving problems can become a problem in itself. The acquisition of material objects is one of the greatest illusions this sign can fall under, as it can perceive the purpose of life to be the capacity to acquire as much material comfort as possible, both for themselves and others, so that life is more pleasant, easy, and above all the future made secure. Taurus can become emotionally attached to physical objects in a manner similar to Cancer, refusing to part with them for anything, and it is more acquisitive than Cancer as well. In this way it loses sight of one of the signs greatest strengths – the true source of lasting inner peace and security, the peace of just being without needing anything to enjoy it.

Aside from a binding of the heart to all things material the Taurus in us can be possessive in other ways too, especially in relationships. In fact it can make us as possessive and stubborn as we are loyal in the pursuit of love. Taurus can be very controlling and overbearing, especially when its feelings are hurt or it is worried, and as mentioned before it can easily get stuck in unhappy relationships, just because change is not secure. Jealousy and envy can also corrupt a good relationship when Taurus is strongly involved, as well as crises of loyalties and material and physical values – the question of whether something will last, the permanence of things and their true worth. Taurus can bore itself and its partners by perpetually maintaining a status quo where nothing changes or choke the sweetness with greed and possessiveness which offer no satisfaction and no peace. It is a tragedy when hard work and persistent loyalty in a relationship results in building too much predictability and stability into life or becoming too possessive, suffocating both partners and devouring inner peace, but this is so often the fate of a Taurus that will not change with the times.

chillinfieldTaurus may be robust and well built but everything has limits. Often it will tragically push itself way over the limits of its endurance and have to be stopped (by exhaustion, failing health, or someone more pig-headed). Yet when the temper snaps or that body and equilibrium breaks, it breaks bad – anyone in the path of the raging bull gets snorted at, charged, impaled, butted into the air, flattened, trampled, and left in the mud. You know it, in other words. There is no subtlety. There may be apology later, but don’t count on it – you pushed it way too far. Resistance to you doing it again will be firm and intractable. In extreme situations, Taurus gets extremely physical. Basic body language will often give this away to the observant before they go too far – faces will redden, nostrils will flare, looks will harden.

Great darkness in the sign can be avoided entirely by learning to take risks, especially emotional ones, not becoming stuck in any cozy comfort zone and also not falling into a work ethic in life where we spend all our soul energy on working hard just to make our way through. An often immovable obstacle in the way of progress, the signs nature faces an interesting challenge in the coming times because its respect for tried and true methods, the ways of doing things in the past, must be balanced with a total openness to all things new if it is to sensibly handle the severe effects of various paradigm shocks which will radically alter the world in the coming century. Now is a time for Taurus to recognize that new ways of doing things may be more productive and not to be afraid of the sweeping changes new things will bring, remembering in any wintertime that the seasons must always return to spring, but more importantly that there are times in life when the path that excites because it is new is the only way forward to security, that life is in motion and so are we. In a chaotic and rapidly changing world such as many of us live in today, and will continue to face, the fact that others can rely on a down to earth nature when heaven and earth are turning upside down is a great help to many, but Taurus can go down a dark path if it does not see that its character and attitudes must never remain static but need to shift slowly in the direction of the gradual arc of sunlight. This will be especially true now that Uranus is spending time in Taurus.

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MYSTERIES & MAGIC

Ptah breathes life into the multi-verse with a single, simple Word. Mud begins to spin on the potters wheel, hands firmly grasp it (Taurus). Virgo plots, plans, measures, refines, purifies and perfects the form into discrete and measured shapes, Capricorn sees their potential and means of continuance through time, but Taurus provides the raw resources and the labour. At the causal level, Taurus is the hands, clay and the potters wheel itself, the basic instrument from which all Forms will be conjured. The most ancient human magic of the Earth signs is undoubtedly planting and tilling the soil (Taurus), cultivation and harvesting (Virgo), and conservation and maintenance of the whole cycle for future generations (Capricorn). After this the earliest magic of Taurus is probably then realizing the different properties of plants and cultivating them for these purposes, as well as gradually learning how to work with stones, metals and minerals.

Taurus is what I call a binding sign, like Scorpio. As a Magnetic expression of Venus what is being bonded is the essential nature of Venus, which is the significance of resonance, the ways in which things are sympathetic or repulsive to one another. With Taurus the binding action is Earthy and grounded, meaning that a physical objects essential meaning is expressed through its appearance, its form arising through a process that is guided by resonance. The binding, Earthy essence gives Taurus an acquisitive taste and a nose for a bargain, an appreciation for beautifully made things and money, but also this deeper more esoteric understanding of physical experience, that matter is based on Venusian principles of resonance, of desire and attraction. The feeling of cherishing something bonds its physical form to our emotional form, which gives us the feeling that it is ‘ours’. Yet it is not really ours to own, merely to appreciate and preserve for a time, there must come a time when we must let all cherished objects go, no matter how much we want to keep them for good. Some of these possessive attitudes of Taurus can go very deep, the most primal being our sense of ownership of our organs, muscles, blood and all the bits of the physical body as well as ultimately the body itself. All of these things are on loan only.

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Image by R. Clark

As mentioned earlier I have also come to understand the connection between Taurus and the ancient practice of alchemy, for Taurus is the path on the Gra Tree which acts as a vessel for the Unity of Kether to manifest in infinite Form. It is the path that gives an initial influx of essential meaning to Binah, ‘pinning’ (or ‘nailing’) form and giving birth to an infinite number of Greater Selves. In this sense Taurus is the ‘Earth Mother’, the first or most primal of the Earth signs (which on the Gra Tree are all concerned with the emergence of the One Self into Form). This too may have had a bearing on the magical thinking of the early Taurus Age. Look at all those clay and earthen figurines and pots of the earliest Earth Mother deities, and the connection to Taurus becomes even more tangible – she is often voluptuous with curves and rounded with the luxurious signs of a pleasurable lifestyle, pregnant, her hair flowing wildly outward and her posture fertile and receptive.

In ‘The 26 Keys’ (p363, p424) and in this journal I tag Taurus as a “Binding, Externalizing, Form building, Stable Earth sign of the Causal plane”. I have already spoken about Binding signs and what they signify. Earth signs are signs focused on practicality (as opposed to intellect, emotion and will) and Fixed or Stable signs are concentrations and consolidations of energy. The combination of the Earth Element with the Stable mode produces the most inflexible of the 12 possible combinations, and so in many ways Taurus represents what most people typically think of when they think of the Earth Element – a solid, unmoving, inanimate block. This is a good place to start a meditation on Taurus, but I suggest you add a lush carpet of wildflowers, some moss and a clinging vine to the picture, along with the attendant symphonies of nature, the aromas, sounds and sensations of feeling and touch. It is an externalizing sign (a sign which focuses on external effects and objects and on the projection of the self towards those effects and objects) and the principle Form building sign, meaning the most primal and causal. At an esoteric level it is the sign which gives rise to Form itself, and thus the principle builder of Creation. Its operations and essential meaning organize raw, undifferentiated essential meaning into Forms of pure awareness, thus giving birth to the realm of the Greater Selves.

Taurus represents physical sensation and our ability to manipulate the physical world through the body, thus differentiating the body from other objects, teaching us about possession and ownership. The truth that giving and receiving are one is shrouded by the appearance of separateness between physical things; we have lost sight of the truth. The truth is so simple, a child could comprehend it: the only thing ever given and received, is love. When love is given, it is first received in the heart of the giver; and when it is received the gratitude of the receiver, gives. In this exchange, both giver and receiver are enriched together with all things. Karmically, what we do with what we are given comes down to a choice – we give thanks for it and use it to create more pleasure and wellbeing in others, thus multiplying the abundance of joy it brings, or we selfishly and fearfully hold onto it, fearing that we will be subject to scarcity, and thus block the flow of abundance.

Taurus gives a strong connection to the sense of touch and smell, enhancing magical exercises with these, and is very sensual and responsive to physical stimulation generally. Also, there is a connection to the Earth and a love of nature, particularly plants, and so Taurus lends what may be called “green fingers”. As Taurus rules the throat and larynx, it may also lend us a beautiful and luxurious or rich and deep sounding singing voice. People tend to calm down a bit just at the sound of a steady Taurus voice. Taurus also binds the sense of touch to the physical body, and is therefore attuned to all sensual pleasures and sexual arousal. Its magic is therefore carnal and has an association with sex magic, incenses, oils and other sensual tools for affecting the awareness through the physical senses. When we hear music and feel it in and with our body, when we dance, when we are kissed, when we sing, when something ‘smells’ wrong or right, when we hug, when we open the hot oven door, Taurus is with us enjoying the moment and making it possible. It is therefore intimately connected with our instincts and the ‘animal side’ in human behaviour which recognises signals in the environment at an inborn, primal and instinctive level of awareness.

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Therefore initiation via Taurus is often about immersive, saturated experience in the tangible world and surrender to these primal instincts, as well as about initiation into the mysteries of Nature. The good news is that this means really indulging the physical and sensual experience – it means massages, fine foods and wines, soft beds, loving sex, bare toes in wet grass and skinny dipping under a velvet canopy of stars. It means utter and total immersion in the world of the physical senses, so it means listening or dancing all night long to music and completely losing the mind chatter in bodily and tactile experience. Of course, the warning against excess here is obviously about not completely wallowing in sensual experiences but using them as a tool to access a simpler and peaceful state of existing in the body. This inner peace is the true state of security and ‘practicality’ (i.e. practice) in the heart of the Taurean Ox – it is inwardly sourced in the awareness that simply enjoys the uncomplicated pleasures of being physically alive, the sound of the wind and the song of the birds in the trees and its caress as it brushes your hair, ear and cheek, the smell of the rain on wet grass and fresh rose buds opening in the spring, the glint of morning dew on a hedgerow, drinking in the light on the mountainside, the warm and cosy comfort of being slightly drunk. I have stressed the word inwardly here because it is vitally important – as I have said the Taurus nature has the habit of attaching the significance of security to external factors, meaning it gets possessive of the territory, the wine, the roses and above all the money that makes it all possible. It becomes unhealthily attached to things through the pleasure and security they bring, but in the process it loses sight of the fact that these things can offer no lasting security and that only the inner sense of security – the sense of peace and calm – can sustain this. It misses the real source of all these riches – the body itself and beyond that, the natural world which formed the body from mud, clay, water, juice and sap in a long, laborious process.

faebridgeHowever it is important for the external ‘props’ of Taurus to be present in order for the contact with sensual experience to occur – we need stuff after all! – and so the task is not to overcome any materialism or acquisitiveness but to interact with it as one would a door, a portal which leads to uncomplicated satisfactions. Also, it is prudent and pragmatic to recognise that some external forms of sensual and physical security and pleasure are more dependable than others – money comes and goes, but the individual who can go out into a forest or a meadow for a few hours and come back rejuvenated and invigorated has chosen a better resource. The sound of birds talking and the whisper of leaves or the sight of an animal, the solace of ancient stones, the feel of plunging your hands into dirt, singing in the shower, relaxing to music, cuddling – these things cost nothing but have greater value than anything you can buy.

Furthermore, winning or being right is not always (or ever) worth more than peace. Sometimes, the consequences of backing down are so trivial that the wisest course is the peaceful one that means walking away, but the stubborn bullishness of Taurus can make that difficult, or rather it can make it seem difficult until you do it, at which point it becomes clear that it is the easier option that additionally does not squander your precious energy. Effectively, you win certain battles by walking away from them – Taurus is the wisdom of knowing when it is ripe to do this.

The ancient maxim of ‘as ye sow, so shall ye reap’ applies powerfully here. This is not however a threat, except to the lazy. It is about the wisdom of understanding that there are natural laws which ensure that effort produces results, that for everything that manages to push its little green shoot out of the dirt and into reality there is a cause, and that cause connects to the witness. It doesn’t mean that everything that happens to us is our fault, although in some cases we do reap this way. It means instead we have a part to play in it that may not be a fault at all, but a choice, a seed we have planted for our growth, and that what we sow now can yield a fresh harvest later, provided we labour at it.

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My mother, who was chronically deaf most of her later life, once went to a spiritual retreat but she felt isolated and shut out when she could not hear any of what was being shared, so she went out for a walk in nature while they talked. She immediately came to a large oak tree that drew her Taurus Sun like a moth to a flame. Going straight to it, she sat down to meditate with it. Now, my mum was a very even keeled person, she did not get easily excited or amazed, but whenever she told me about what happened next (which she did a number of times) she was filled with awe and astonishment. She said a winged being of light came out of the tree and spoke to her, blessing her with great conviction and assurance, “You are pure!”. It has always struck me as typical for Taurus that while everyone else was talking about them she was quietly actually having a spiritual experience.

Another tale connected to my mother is also relevant here. About 10 years ago I was in northern California, far away from my mother in the UK. I was staying in a cabin in the midst of redwoods without any mobile phone access (for text messaging – she could not hear), and my mother did not use computers, but I had heard while going into town and taking my phone with me that she was not well, and I was feeling a lot of concern because of the vast distance. I remembered my mothers story about the tree spirit, and so I went outside to talk to the redwoods. As I stood alone on the porch in the early evening, I sent my awareness out to sense my mother, who I knew would be asleep. I thought of the last time I had hugged her before leaving, and asked her if she was ok and if she was in need of anything. Precisely at this moment, my reverie was interrupted by a whoosh of air and an intense whirring noise, and as I opened my eyes I gazed upon an emerald coloured hummingbird that was hovering in front of my face. Immediately, I knew she was ok – I was literally filled with a sense of knowing calm. It was just as if she had been there and hugged me back. After bringing this message the hummingbird moved to a nearby fruit tree, fed, and then was gone into the woods with an echoing whir.

As these examples suggest, Taurus will often initiate through the Earth mysteries. The physical life that exists upon the surface of this world – ALL of it, from the microscopic to the gigantic, the inorganic and organic, animate and inanimate – is all connected in Form. We are all part of nature with everything else, and so at this level we share a Form by virtue of being on and of the same planet. This Form is in our awareness as well as in our physical form. Outside of this planets nurturing atmosphere, we still share higher levels of Form with the solar system (which is shown in our birth charts) and further out, with everything else in the physical universe. Matter is an expression of awareness (and so awareness is present in all material things, including trees and rocks) and it is the structure and shape of awareness that binds matter into various forms. The Form of inner awareness externalizes itself as physical form.

The Taurus way, its quest as a collective member of the zodiac, is to preserve and nurture something sacred – the human value system and our innate shared wealth, the natural world. It is the task of Taurus in human nature to assess the true value of the physical, astral and mental resources of our collective humanity and ensure their continuation. If the world is to avoid the total catastrophe it is currently heading towards we will need this impulse to save species, preserve ecosystems, resist corruption and teach us how to truly honour that which binds us all together – the sacred Mother Earth.

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