The myth of the Taurus constellation is one of the oldest in human history, dating back to cave paintings in Lascaux roughly 15,000 BC. Although, the myths commonly associated with the zodiac placement come from ancient Greece.
By familiarizing ourselves with the symbols within the myth, we can see how the qualities of the sign are expressed in the collective subconscious. Taurus is a recurring symbol in Greek mythology so we will break down each story to obtain the fullest understanding of the constellation’s origin.
Europa, Consort of Zeus
In the first myth, Zeus falls in love with Phoenician princess named Europa. In order to win her love, and hide himself from humans, he turns himself into a snow-white bull. Naturally, he stands out from every other bull and Europa is drawn to him. Eventually, she sits on the bull and before she realizes it, the bull is carrying her away. To escape the jurisdiction of her father, King Agenor, Zeus swims across the Mediterranean Sea to Crete.
Once they are on the island, Zeus transforms back into his godly form. He showers Europa in gifts and she gives him three, half human half god sons. One of which, is the legendary king Minos. As a reward for being a successful wingman, Zeus immortalizes the bull in the sky as the Taurus constellation.
So what’s it mean?
The first myth exemplifies several positive qualities of Taurus. Being ruled Venus, Taurus is adorned with physical beauty. It is at the center of the romantic tale. It also shows great perseverance by swimming across the sea. We also see the tie to material abundance when Zeus bestows Europa with presents. When acting from its highest expression, Taurus are capable of great displays of strength and affection.
The story also symbolizes the receptive feminine energy connected to the sign. The bull presents itself magnificently and Europa is drawn to the bull. The bull doesn’t pursue or pressure Europa into giving him affection. Traditionally, feminine energy attracts while masculine energy acts.
This story is also strongly related to fertility. In an overwhelming majority of ancient cultures, cattle are associated with fertility. Here is no different. Zeus is the father of the gods (fertility). He turns into a bull as a manifestation of this quality, and uses it to win over the princess (fertility again). Respectively, she bears him three sons (here it is again). This is aptly placed as Taurus takes place from April 20th to May 20th, the beginning stages of spring when most cultures have their form of the May Day Fertility Festival.
Io, Zeus’s Lover
In the second myth, Zeus is having an affair with Io, one of Hera’s (his wife) priestesses. Hera was outraged when she found out about his infidelity. In order to protect Io, he turned her into a white bull, the same symbolism from before. Hera was unable to find Io but was suspicious nonetheless and had Argus Panoptes watch the bull day and night.
Knowing his love would be unable to transform back, Zeus sends Hermes to kill Argus. Hera, now very confident something is wrong, sends a gadfly to relentlessly torment the bull. Eventually this causes the bull to run into the sea and supposedly die.
The take away…
The second myth has a mix of Taurus positive and negative expressions. We have the same love and fertility symbolism from the first story but, we also have a lot more the possessiveness and aggression of Taureans. Hera is outraged by Zeus’s infidelity, and rightly so. However, her behavior in handling the situation is obsessive.
She has the bull watched day and night just waiting for a moment when Zeus slips up. She is unable to confront her emotions nor is she able to release herself of their burden. To handle the situation, Zeus orders to Hermes kill Argus, demonstrating the aggressive behavior Taureans are capable of.
Lastly, while not an inherently “negative” quality of Taurus, we can see the stubborn, fixed nature of the sign in Io’s behavior. She is bothered by the fly and instead of doing something about it she runs into the ocean and dies. Granted one could argue she would die by Hera’s hand if she turned back into a human but, regardless, she stays in a situation that is bad for her because the devil I know is better than the devil I don’t.
Seventh Labor of Heracles: The Cretan Bull
In the last myth, Heracles is sent by Minos to slay the Cretan Bull, the father of the Minotaur. The bull had been rampaging the countryside, destroying crops and villages. Minos offered Heracles help, but as most mythological heroes do, he declined. Heracles sneaks up behind the bull and wrestles the bull to the ground.
The bull is kept alive so it may be sacrificed to the goddess Hera. However, she hates Heracles and does not want him to gain any honor or glory for doing so. The bull is then released and wanders into Marathon, a city with a large countryside.
The third myth of Taurus shows primarily the negative side of the sign and very little of it we haven’t already discussed. The bull is mindlessly destroying crops and villages. One could suppose because he is angry. The bull’s behavior ultimately becomes the same reason he is confronted by Heracles, bringing his own demise.
We do see one new quality though, in that Heracles declines help from Minos. Taureans can be exceptionally headstrong and have a desire to accomplish things on their own. Heracles was in fact able to conquer bull, showing the capacity Taureans have for overcoming challenges. In some ways, this bit of the story shows both a positive and negative quality of the sign.
All in all…
These three myths show us the wide array of qualities displayed by Taurus. The capacity for love and beauty is equally matched by envy and wrath. Wherever Taurus appears in your chart, whether it be a planet or a house ruler, you will manifest these qualities.
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To all my fellows, may your seeking be fruitful and your findings bountiful!