Taurus the Bull

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Who smiles through life – except when crossed?
Who knows, or thinks he knows, the most??
Who loves good things – baked, boiled or roast???
Oh Taurus!

sign symbolism | rulerships | famous Taureans | Babylonian myth
Sign symbolism

Taurus the Bull

by Deborah Houlding

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The Bull is one of the oldest recorded star signs, with Sumerian references to the star-Bull ushering in the spring dating back to the early stone age, when this constellation marked the equinox (so that the Sun’s realignment with it brought the return of spring, as it does when it realigns with Aries today). This tells us a lot about the original symbolism of the celestial Bull.

During this ‘Taurean Age’ (4000-2000 BC), settlements throughout the Middle East flourished into progressive civilisations because they were the first to domesticate and harness the power of the ox. This led to many associated advancements, including the development of the wheel and lever, and the most powerful invention of agriculture: the plough. Domestication of the ox led to organised, efficient farming, and that, in turn, allowed communities to settle, mature and develop their infrastructure. The tireless oxen, capable of matching the strength and productivity of many men, provided the means by which supplies of food stock could become far greater than the supplies required for its production.

Domestication of the draught animal and the associated invention of the plough was a genuine cultural turning point in history – in the native settlements of North and South America neither occurred, a major factor in the failure of these civilisations to develop technology and effective defences. But throughout the Middle East, the Bull was celebrated in the stars, honoured for its resilience and strength, which brought such blessings of fertility upon the land. The bull became society’s most important religious symbol, worshipped as a powerful icon of productivity that leads to creativity.

From Old Testament passages we see how bulls were viewed as holy, to be treated with the greatest respect. The era of the biblical Golden Calf coincided with the rise of the bull cult of Minoan Crete and the Egyptian worship of the bull god Montu, with dedicated sacred bulls that were believed to incarnate the spirit of their gods and whose death was followed by a period of national mourning [see here]. Often, these were depicted with the crescent Moon for horns.

The Bull of Heaven remained the predominant iconography in Egypt until the 2nd millennium BC, when the Age of Aries began, and bull imagery then became replaced by an endless array of ram images. The pharaohs who ruled at this time bore names that spoke of the completion of the Bull god’s power. Mentuhotep (literally ‘Montu is satisfied’) was the Pharoah who reigned from 2060-2010 BC, and some scholars date the story of Moses overturning the Golden Calf to this same period, suggesting an allegorical awareness of a new age being ushered in which needed recognition by the demolition of the old. Throughout the ancient world, there are numerous depictions of the Sun god wrestling with and overthrowing the bull, which are generally perceived to be pictorial celebrations of the precessional shift from the Age of Taurus to Aries.

Top detail: Egyptian Cartonnage Section Depicting the Apis Bull, Third Intermediate Period, 1050-525 BC. Bottom detail: portion of the ceiling relief inside the Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Hathor; Denderah  Iranian gold relief from the reign of Artaxeres II, 404-359 BC, recently auctioned by Christies  Statue of Apis, the divine bull of the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis    Human-headed winged bull. Relief from the gate N°3 at the Palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad, dated to 713–706 BCE  Bull's head in sheet gold with lapis beard found in grave 789 of the Royal Cemetery at Ur. There is a great deal of detail in the bull’s eyes, snout, and the curls of its beard, which represents the power of the king as well as the god Shamash 

Today the sun passes through Taurus during the later, blossoming period of spring, not the period in which it first arrives but when new growth has matured enough to open up fully and proudly display its colour and flower. Its time is marked by pleasant, relaxing warmth, lush greenery and heartening tones; it is a season of fertility where nature concerns itself with easy conditions that perfectly facilitate the rearing of the young and tender.

Although always renowned for reserves of strength and power, Taurus symbolises this mellow energy, being easygoing and so slow to arouse towards any particular passion. Those born under this sign like to take things easy and have a gift for appreciating the finer things in life. They may not attract the instant dramatic attention commanded by livelier signs, but give them time and they will start to reveal a very alluring and attractive depth of character. The Taurean manner is essentially comforting, supportive and marked by a dry and earthy humour – neither subject to airy illusions nor undue emotional excitement, their subtle ‘get real’ approach is a refreshing anchorage point for those too easily infected by exaggerated dreams, fiery passions, or unrealistic promises.

The gift of the Taurean is resilience, fixidity and endurance. Yes, they may sometimes be a little too fixed in their opinions and too slow to embrace change or mental motivation, but their own insights have settled slowly, taking time to mature, and so they carry a strength of permanence that is resistant to superficial movement. What manifests as stubbornness to some can be seen from the flip side as reliable reassurance and rare constancy. When Taureans adopt a cause or commit to friendship, they honour their pledges and allegiances, remaining steadfast to their loyalties through thick and thin.

When dealing with Taureans, remember this – the bull always has the advantage, because it is so much harder to shift a sitting bull than it is for that bull to just sit. Also, you cannot push a bull; you can only lead it from the front. Approach Taureans from the wrong angle and they simply become the immovable object that blocks the irrepressible force. Although their temperament is not essentially aggressive, when locked in combat they possess the ultimate strength – the determination to do nothing at all, except refuse to move. That capacity for stillness is a rare talent, and should a Taurean decide to park itself and just sit (or remain in the position they hold), slow persuasive tactics are the only antidote. Brute force, intimidation, fear and threats roll off the back of a creature that knows you will tire of the game before it does.

Although we might think of a bull as an obvious symbol of male virility, ancient texts tell us to note that this sign rises backwards as it appears in the sky, said to be a reminder that its symbolism encapsulates the principles of femininity, not masculinity. In the philosophical sense, this means its instincts are soul-driven rather than generated by reason or ambition; more rounded, subtler, compassionate and complex than the linear, outwardly expressed and self-focused principles of masculinity. Hence, Taureans are inclined towards privacy; they don’t like to expose too much of themselves, and it can sometimes feel like they take an awkward approach to things (because they are not so ‘straightforward’ and easily understood). The feminine traits of Taurus are also reflected in the sign’s rulership by the only two wholly feminine planets: Venus (by sign) and the Moon (by exaltation). For all the underlying power and physical strength, Taureans are inherently placid creatures, and it is rare for them to become so angry that they display a violent temper.

However, when Taureans are pushed to the point where they get very angry, they become fearful beasts, because this is when they lose touch with their true strength and reveal some level of vulnerability. All of the horned creatures of the zodiac have strong defence mechanisms (and the inbuilt knowledge that they can, if they intend to, cause harm), but Taureans never respond in anger lightly, so the act itself is a sign of severe distress and emotional confusion. When a Taurean ‘loses it’, their instinct is to charge and rage; they display their distress through instantaneous physical destruction rather than clever or hurtful mental assaults; they use noises rather than verbal spears, and frightening bangs, rather than the cold execution of a pre-planned attack. The proverbial ‘bull in a china shop’ has no purpose in destruction, but by comparison to the innate power of a raging bull, all the surroundings seem fragile and easily broken. Ultimately the Taurean will be most distressed and frightened by the intensity of their passions, and may seek to close that susceptibility by hardening themselves emotionally. There are places that Taureans just do not want to go to, making them the least communicative of all the zodiac types when it comes to revealing their inner workings or relating openly and honestly about their emotional drives.

But relationships are important to Taureans, and so is love, although they may shy away from frivolously romantic, or so-called ‘sloppy’ expressions of love. The sign is ruled by Venus, a soothing and softening planet which strengthens the Taurean proclivity for earthy, sensual delights and physical desires. Anything that enchants and indulges the senses is a source of pleasure to a Taurean, so they are often marked by an interest in fine clothing, soft silks, rich velvets, jewels and works of art or beauty. Their leanings are towards the conventional and non-controversial, but through their heightened sensuality, they often reveal a true flair for mixing colours, smells, textures, tastes, sounds and sights to the delight of others, and themselves. In their quest for harmony they naturally shun the ‘ugly’, ‘cheap’ or ‘crude’, and others may mistake this as pure materialism, whereas it is really an expression of their sensuous natures, through which adornment and refined environments create an extension of the Venusian desire for inner grace.

As lovers, Taureans are known for being extremely physical and fond of sex, but high in drive and low in imagination. Always veering towards the conservative and traditional, they dislike novelties, experimentation or quirky fads. Trust and stability are essential qualities in any relationship, so the traits of this sign are not suited to open marriages or free and superficial relationships.

Nor do Taureans like the confusion of the emotional games played in relationships, which leads to the kind of stress that promotes their less admirable traits. Jealousy is reputed to be one of their worst faults, but Taureans are no more inclined to jealousy than any of the other signs. The problem is they handle it badly: having a poor talent for the delicate art of scheming, they display their jealousy in a direct and obvious manner, making it very clear that in their terms a commitment is a commitment, and carries a heavy responsibility.

Some also accuse Taureans of being covetous, needing to possess and own, and having a very simplistic mental outlook that translates everything into that which is solid, reliable and practical – and therefore real – and that which is not. It is true that they struggle with abstract concepts and this sign is not known for a talent in mental agility, lateral thinking or any particular skill in originality and inventiveness. Their interests revolve around established principles, so they are great lovers of history and heritage. In domestic life they adhere to traditional values, and in commerce they prefer to invest in proven collateral: property, antiques, that which has acquired its value over time and offers a slow and steady return.

As the first of the Earth signs, which is also fixed in nature, Taurus personalises the expressions ‘solid as a rock’ and ‘down to earth’. There is a true affinity with all matters related to the earth itself, and being in the world of nature, or surrounded by natural, organic products is a source of spiritual strength. Farming and agriculture belong to Taurus, relating back to the sign’s early origins, so productivity and creativity are very appropriate keywords and Taureans are never happier than when putting physical form to their concept of harmony and beauty. So you will find many involved in the creative arts, or demonstrating creativity in practical pursuits such as flower arranging, pottery, creative cookery, etc. For them, there is a real sense of relaxation in just ‘doing’ for the sake of doing, without the need to overtax oneself emotionally or mentally at the same time. Creative projects built on simple repetitive strokes, such as decorating, are perfect, and once motivated to begin a project, they shine through their powers of endurance and resilience.

And finally, it is often the case that Taureans make powerful singers – on a physical level their strength is associated with the upper part of the body, particularly around the neck (including the vocal chords) but also the shoulder area too. Of course, this is metaphysical as well as physical – Taureans excel at ‘shouldering’ life’s responsibilities; more than any other sign, this is one of hidden reserves of power and strength; of solidity in form and character.
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Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces
Taurus the Bull
Earthy, cool & dry, melancholic, nocturnal, feminine, bestial, fixed, bestial, southern

Taurus TAURUS Taurus


Dignified Planets

Venus: Venus - as sign and day-time triplicity ruler.
Moon:   - as exaltation and night-time triplicity ruler.

Debilitated Planets

Mars: Mars - by detriment.

Typical Features

Taurus gives ‘strong’ features rather than delicacy. It portrays a full and well-set stature, of medium-height, or inclining to fullness and shortness. The strength of the body is around the shoulders and neck, so the upper part of the body is often more bulky than the lower. Typical features include large (or rough) hands, broad forehead, a large or fleshy face – the eyebrows, lips or nose may be prominent or heavy. Hair and complexion incline towards darkness, fullness and roughness – William Lilly’s description says “gross hands; black rugged hair” (CA, p.94).

Traditional Rulerships

Direction:  South-east. All earth signs relate to the south; as the most easterly of the earth signs (in a natural zodiac that places Aries on the ascendant) Taurus signifies south tending towards the east.

Anatomy:  The arms, shoulders, hands, fingers, nervous system, blood and lungs.

Illnesses:  Geminian illnesses are those affecting the arms, shoulders, hands, blood, veins, nerve fibres, thymus gland, the trachea, bronchi, lungs, and shortness or excessiveness (‘windiness’) of breath. Affliction in Gemini might also signify psychological afflictions, disturbed imagination and mental illnesses.

Places:  As an air sign, Gemini relates to places off the ground, high up or near sources of air and free-flowing light (windows, ventilation ducts, etc.), or upper rooms. In the general environment, it signifies hills, mountains and high places, and it is traditionally associated with barns and storehouses for corn and grain. Its rulership by Mercury gives association with the walls of houses, libraries and places of study, play or sport; or near to cabinets, chests and baskets, and places where money is stored or kept, i.e., treasuries, purses.

Countries & cities:   Include Armenia, Belgium, and Italy. Regions and cities include London and the west and southwest of England, Louvain in France, Bruges in Belgium; Nuremburg, Hassfurt, Mainz and Bamberg in Germany; Cordova in Spain, Cesena in Italy.

Colours  Mixed or rainbow colours (hues that have mixtures of various colours together). Often associated with yellow, yellowish green or light blue.

Stones & Metals:  Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but the emerald is often linked to Taurus because of its green colour. Through its association with Venus, Taurus has an affinity with copper, marcasite, alabaster, lapis lazuli and chrysolite.

Animals:  As a domestical bestial sign, Taurus is said by Al-Biruni (371) to signify all kinds of animals that become attached to humans. As well as cows and calves he listed elephants and gazelles; in western societies, we would expect this to include all farmed, hoofed and herded animals.

Traditional Definitions:

Bestial / quadrupedal:  Taurus is defined as quadrupedal (four-footed), or ‘bestial’ (as opposed to ‘humane’), because the zodiac signs represented by animals are reputed to be less inclined towards social graces, with a more instinctive / animalistic reaction to their moods and emotions, and sometimes indicating courseness or a poor appreciation of polite manners (they can also be a little inarticulate). In locations, bestial signs suggest places associated with animals, or natural habitats where animals roam.

Whilst some bestial signs, such as Leo, are classified as feral (‘wild’) meaning they cannot be tamed and are capable of ferocity, Taurus is classified as a ‘domestical’ sign, meaning that it is generally placid in nature and willing to conform to the norm.

Famous Taureans
Taurus - FAMOUS TAUREANS - Taurus

Leonardo de Vinci14 Apr 1452 (JC); Vinci, Italy; 9:40 pm LMT (RR:AA)chart & bio ⇨
William Lilly 1 May 1602 (JC); Diseworth, England; 2:00 am LMT (RR:A)chart & bio ⇨
Karl Marx 5 May 1818; Trier, Germany; 2:00 am LMT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Adolf Hitler 20 Apr 1889; Branau, Austria; 6:30 pm LMT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Orson Wells 6 May 1915; Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA; 7:00 am CST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Queen Elizabeth II21 Apr 1926; London, UK; 2:40 pm BST (RR:AA)chart & bio ⇨
Daphne Du Maurier 13 May 1907; London, England; 4:00 pm GMT (RR:A)chart ⇨
Eva Perón 7 May 1919; Buenos Aires, Argentina; 5:00 am CMT (RR:B)chart & bio ⇨
Liberace16 May 1919; West Allis, Wisconsin; 11:15 pm CWT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Queen Elizabeth II21 Apr 1926; London, UK; 2:40 pm BST (RR:AA)chart & bio ⇨
Barbra Streisand 24 Apr 1942; Brooklyn, New York; 5:08 am EWT (RR:AAchart ⇨
Cher 20 May 1946; El Centro, California; 7:25 am PST (RR:AA) chart ⇨
Tony Blair 6 May 1953; Edinburgh, Scotland; 6:10 pm BST (RR:AA)chart & bio ⇨
George Clooney 6 May 1961; Lexington, Kentucky; 02:58 am EST (RR:AA) chart ⇨
Tucker Carlson 16 May 1969; San Franciso, CaliforniA; 10:07 am PDT (RR:AA) chart ⇨
Rishi Sunak 12 May 1980; Southampton, England; time unknown (RR:X)chart ⇨
David Beckham 2 May 1975; London, England; 6:17 am BST (RR:B)chart ⇨
Humza Yousaf 7 Apr 1985; Rutherglen, Scotland; 11:20 pm BST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Adele 5 May 1988; Tottenham, England; 08:19 am BST (RR:B)chart ⇨


Plate from Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius, 1690

Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces

Deb HouldingDeborah Houlding, creator of Skyscript, is based in the UK and has worked as an astrologer since the late 1980s. Founder of The Traditional Astrologer (1993 to 2000) and STA School of Traditional Astrology, she is the author of the STA Practitioners-Level Horary Course, The Houses: Temples of the Sky, and (with Oner Doser) Soru Astrolojisi: Horary Astrology (2015). She is also the editor of a modern retype, annotated edition of William Lilly's Christian Astrology and Griffin's Astrological Judgement Touching Theft.

@ Skyscript. All Rights Reserved
Text & artwork (unless otherwise noted) Deborah Houlding / top artwork (detail of Taurus) artist unknown; from Atlas Celeste De Strabov. Ancient bull images - 1) Top detail: Egyptian depiction of Apis, Third Intermediate Period, 1050-525 BC. Bottom detail: portion of the ceiling relief inside the Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Hathor, Denderah. 2) Iranian gold relief from the reign of Artaxeres II, 404-359 BC, recently auctioned by Christies. 3) Statue of Apis, the divine bull of the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis, source Wikipedia. 4) Golden calf statue created by Hollywood to depict worship of the Golden Calf in the movie 'The Ten Commendments', recently auctioned by Christies. 5) Human-headed winged bull. Relief from the gate N°3 at the Palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad, dated to 713–706 BCE, source: Wikipedia. 6) Bull's head in sheet gold with lapis beard found in grave 789 of the Royal Cemetery at Ur - dated to c. 2450 BCE. There is a great deal of detail in the bull’s eyes, snout, and the curls of its beard, which represents the power of the king as well as the god Shamash; source Penn museum