The Seasons in the Stars- Hey Toro! The Star-Bull Taurus

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Taurus Symbol
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The Black Bull by George Bellows 1919

Common Associations

  • Dates: April 21-May 21 The cusp is April 19/20
  • Element: Fixed earth (mid spring)
  • Ruling planet: Venus
  • Body: neck, throat, tonsils
  • Birthstone: Emerald
  • Metal: copper
  • Flower: the Daisy; innocence, sanctity
  • Tree: the Apple Tree; youth, beauty, happiness, immortality. Avalon, resting place of King Arthur went was the ‘isle of apples’
  • Colours: pastel blue, green, pink
  • Famous for: strength, stamina, stubbornness, practicality, thoroughness, duty, honesty, sensuality, money sense, a pleasant speaking voice, artistic/singing ability, green fingers, good cooking, independence
  • Professions: Politics, Banking, (also think Bull markets) Agriculture, Construction, Arts, Musician, Entertainment, Beauty, Fashion, Restaurants
  • Tarot card: The Hierophant- Tradition, Received wisdom, Books

Astronomy

Wiki

Taurus (Latin for Bull) is a large and prominent constellation between Aries to the west and Gemini to the east. It ranks 17th in size of the 48 Greek constellations recorded by Ptolemy in his introduction to the Mathematics of the Heavens, the Almagest, written AD 150.

The stars of Taurus depict the face, horns and forepart of the bull’s body. His face is made up of a triangular cluster of stars called The Hyades. There are no legs. The bull is imagined half submerged. He is the mythical Bull from the Sea.  A second cluster of stars, The Pleiades, known as The Seven Sisters, swarm like bees above his back.

The best time to observe Taurus in the night sky is during the months of December and January. By March and April, you might see it in the west in the   twilight.

To find Taurus first the three stars of Orion’s belt. That’s usually easy on a clear winter’s night. Now look up to the right, looking north- east, See that bright orange-red star? That’s Aldebaran, ‘The Follower,’ a red giant, the biggest, brightest star in the constellation, the red eye of the Bull, glaring in the direction of Orion.

Should the Bull escape his heavenly pen, said an ancient Arabic legend, he would stampede the universe to pieces, and it would be the end of things for all time. Let’s hope nothing upsets him.

Wiki Commons: the horns, face and the giant red star, Aldebaran, the Eye of the Bull, glaring menacingly in the direction of Orion the Hunter  

Taurus has been recognized as a sky bull since at least the Early Bronze Age. Historians think the figure of a bull was first discerned in the stars by the Sumerians around 3000 BC and was recorded in cuneiform by the Babylonians.

Ancient History

In modern astrology Aries is the first sign of the western zodiac, ushering in the spring (vernal) equinox along with the first lambs.

However, 4000 years ago it was Taurus, not Aries that coincided with the vernal equinox, and for Babylonian astronomers Taurus was the first sign of the Zodiac, ‘the Bull in front,’- leading from the front.

The Bull was also the first sign for the early Hebrews, who called it Aleph, as in A, the first letter of the alphabet.

Taurus coincided with the start of the calving season.

The bull, like its ancestors, the wild aurochs, is a potent symbol of strength and fertility, but where Leo the lion, represents wild strength, Taurus the bull is domesticated, controlled strength, as harnessed in oxen or a bull with a ring through his nose. One of the several archetypes associated with Taurus is ‘The Farmer,’ and many a bull has worn a ring through its nose for the sake of the farmer’s safety. The dairy bulls, breeds such as the Charolais for instance, are especially to be handled with care where the famous black bulls used in bullfighting are by comparison, more easygoing.

The bull has exerted a magical influence on human imagination even before the dawn of agriculture. Aurochs, the fiercer, wild ancestors of the modern bull, were painted in the Lascaux caves in France, in paintings thought to date from 15000 BC.

The most famous section of the Lascaux caves in the Dordogne in France is the Hall of the Bulls, featuring four black bulls, or aurochs.  One of the bulls is 5.2 metres (17 ft) long, the largest animal discovered so far in cave art.

It is thought that the aurochs migrated at this time of year; a dangerous but potentially highly rewarding hunting opportunity. Not only did the aurochs provide the luxury of meat, but the horns and hide had many uses.

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Lascaux

Hunting gave way to farming of animals, guaranteeing supplies with less risk attached. The first ever cattle, goats, sheep, and pig- farming began in the so-called ‘Fertile Crescent;’ a region covering eastern Turkey, Iraq, and south-western Iran about 12000 years ago.

These farming practices spread westwards, and in time had a genetic effect on the human population, with the sudden appearance of a gene mutation that enabled humans to digest raw cow’s milk. It’s not known when this first occurred, but it probably happened first in Northern Europe and today 35 % of the global human population can digest the milk sugar, lactose. Click on this link to find out more on this subject.

The Cult of the Bull and related Worship

Bull Leaping in Knossos

The bull was considered a divine animal throughout antiquity and was a symbol of the moon, fertility, rebirth, and royal power, while today, the Lithuanian word ‘taurus’ means ‘noble.’

There is evidence of bull cults throughout the Mediterranean starting in Anatolia, dating from at least 70000 BC. From the worship of the Apis bull in Egypt, to bull-leaping in Knossos and the sacrificial portrayal in Roman Mithraism, the bull has been an integral part of many diverse and important religious traditions.

Greek legend associated Taurus with the legend of Zeus and Europa, in which the god Zeus, up to his sneaky tricks yet again, disguised himself as a beautiful, gentle white bull, coaxed the princess Europa into climbing on his back, then abducted her, swam away with her to Crete, and made her one of his mistresses. The many gifts Zeus gave Europa included a pet dog that later became the constellation Canis Major. Their children supposedly included Minos, King of Crete, the builder of the Labyrinth and the famous palace at Knossos where the bull games were held.

Bull worship, or rather, the concept of the bull as divine concept gradually migrated ever westwards and northwards. The Celtic druids held Tauric festivals at least 2000 years ago, and there is archaeological evidence of bull worship near Newcastle and York in the UK.

The Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Taurus (Vesak) and his birthday is celebrated at the Vesak Festival which occurs on the first Full Moon in Taurus.

Beware of the bull

Like the Bull himself, the classic Taurus subject, male or female, is generally peaceable, pleasant, even placid. But Taurus will not be disrespected, pushed or driven. Other people can get a shock when Taurus suddenly sees red …and they don’t give a lot of warning.  The mistake of the other person was in underestimating them, taking their good nature for granted once too often.

Bulls cannot physically see red. It is the movement of the toreador’s cape that provokes them, and not the colour. But when the human bull ‘sees’ red, they  either dig in hard, or may charge head on.

Taurus in a full-on rage is a ‘bull in a china shop’ – the Earth sign that will withstand or demolish the opposition of  other more famous ‘fighting’ signs, Aries, Leo, and even lethal Scorpio, its opposite number in the zodiac.

Taurus doesn’t like to fight but doesn’t lose in a fair fight. The bull ring is not a fair fight; that’s the tragedy of Taurus. But if a Taurus is being unreasonable, misbehaving, or being a ‘bully’ quietly stand your ground.  It should pass. Taurus is not at all vindictive as a rule.

But why upset the Bull? Look at him, quietly grazing. Taurus is not a saint, and can be difficult or grumpy sometimes, but he’s really not looking for trouble. Do as you would be done by, and everything should be buttercups and daisies in your everyday dealings with the Taurus subject, man or woman.

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Ophiuchus: The Thirteenth Sign of the Zodiac?

Dang. I meant to post this in November and forgot.

I’ll blame it on Brexit. Why not.

Is there a missing thirteenth sign in the astrological zodiac? Astronomers suggest there is. Sidereal (eastern) astrologers may agree, but Tropical (western) astrologers mostly do not.

So what’s this about?

According to Ptolemy’s system of Tropical (western) astrology there are 12 signs of the zodiac named after 12 constellations. Aries the Ram is the first constellation, and therefore the first sign of the zodiac, March 20 – April 19. Pisces is the twelfth constellation and the last sign of the zodiac, Feb 19 –March 20.

Modern astronomy records 88 constellations covering the southern and northern hemispheres of our sky. 13 of these constellations cross or touch the ecliptic – the trajectory of the Sun’s apparent path across the sky as seen from Earth.

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Public Domain: the Plane of the ecliptic

These include the constellations that inspired the names of our 12 zodiac signs plus a thirteenth – Ophiuchus (Oaf-ih-YOU-kus)

Astronomers and NASA have presented this thirteenth constellation, Ophiuchus, as the thirteenth sign of the zodiac, while also pointing out that the zodiac itself…meaning the section of sky directly overhead as viewed from Earth- has changed from when the ancient Babylonian astrologers first viewed it, and the generally accepted dates for the zodiac signs as supplied in horoscopes are now a month out of alignment.

This change in the skies has been the result of an effect called precession. The gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun causes the Earth to ‘wobble’ and as the Earth orbits around the sun; a different constellation appears behind it each month.

So while the zodiac signs have remained in a fixed position, and their dates have remained the same, varying only by a day or two here and there, the constellations have drifted.

Based on this, astronomers have suggested the new astrological zodiac should more correctly look like this, with these new dates:

•Capricorn: 20 Jan – 16 Feb
•Aquarius: 16 Feb – 11 March
•Pisces: 11 March – 18 April
•Aries: 18 April – 13 May
•Taurus: 13 May – 21 June
•Gemini: 21 June – 20 July
•Cancer: 20 July – 10 Aug
•Leo: 10 Aug – 16 Sept
•Virgo: 16 Sept – 30 Oct
•Libra: 30 Oct – 23 Nov
•Scorpio: 23 – 29 Nov
•Ophiuchus: 29 Nov – 17 Dec
•Sagittarius: 17 Dec – 20 Jan

So you thought you were a Taurus sun sign? Hang on says NASA. No, actually, you are an Aries subject. So you thought you were an Aries sun sign? No, you are Pisces. So you thought you were a Sagittarius? No, you are Ophiuchus, and so on.

Whoa.

But hang on a minute. As astronomers themselves are quick to point out, astronomy is not astrology.

Let’s first take a brief look at the astronomy.

Astronomy

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Wiki

Ophiuchus ([Oaf-ih-YOU-kus)  is one of the largest constellations but also the least well known,  straddling the celestial equator northwest of the centre of the Milky Way, near the constellations Aquila, Serpens, and Hercules, and opposite Orion.

The southern part lies between Scorpius to the west and Sagittarius to the east. July is the best time to see it in the northern hemisphere, mid-winter in the southern hemisphere.  Below Ophiuchus, down to the right, look out for a bright reddish star, Antares in Scorpio, for help in locating it.

Its name comes from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος Ophioukhos; “serpent-bearer,” and it is commonly represented as a man grasping a snake. It used to be called Serpentius, and it included the constellation of Serpens, representing the snake itself. Marking the head of Ophiuchus, Alpha Ophiuchi has an older, Arabic name: Rasalhague, the “Head of the Snake Charmer”.

Ophiuchus contains many notable features and objects, including Kepler’s Supernova, or Kepler’s Star, named for German astronomer Johannes Kepler and which was by far the brightest star in the sky for over 3 weeks during 1604.

Kepler wasn’t the first to note the supernova, due to cloudy conditions, but he made observations over the course of an entire year and wrote about the “new star in the foot of Ophiuchus”.

Kepler’s Supernova continued visible for 18 months, and its remnants are still studied today, still the most recent supernova to be observed with the naked eye.

Mythology

To the ancient Greeks, the constellation represented the god Apollo struggling with a huge snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi.

Later myths identified Ophiuchus with Laocoon, the tragic Trojan priest of Poseidon, who warned his fellow Trojans about the Greek’s wooden horse, and together with his sons, was killed by a pair of sea-serpents sent by Poseidon to shut him up, because clearly, Poseidon was on the side of the Greeks, or else under orders from Zeus, or else Laocoon had already annoyed him in some other way, and you know, nothing less than death by giant sea-snake would do.

Public Domain

Pluto (Hades) complained to Jupiter (Zeus) that Asclepius was interfering with death, which upset the natural order and meant the end of the circle of life, with no room for new life. Immortality was an evil therefore. Life itself would die, stagnated, and Jupiter (Zeus) duly put a stop to it by killing Asclepius with a lightning thunderbolt.  Apollo was furiously upset, understandably, and Jupiter tried to appease him by placing Asclepius in the heavens to honour his good works, and the rod of Asclepius remains the symbol of western medicine to this day.

The rod of Asclepius is not be confused with the Cadeuceus, a symbol of medicine, but also of trade. The cadeuceus is assciated with Mercury, and has not one but two snakes twined round the staff, and it has wings.

 In medieval Islamic astronomy the constellation was known as ‘Al-Ḥawwa’, “the snake-charmer.”

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Public Domain

Astrology

Ophiuchus is described in the Astronomica of Marcus Manilius, 10 AD:-

“Ophiuchus holds apart the serpent which with its mighty spirals and twisted body encircles his own…But, bending its supple neck, the serpent looks back and returns…The struggle will last forever, since they wage it on level terms with equal powers.”

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Image: Public Domain: The Snake-Wrangler in Urania’s Mirror, 1825. Above the tail of the serpent is a now ‘obsolete’ constellation, Taurus Poniatovii

If you are born in that window between 29th November and 17th December, astronomers and some astrologers may argue that your zodiac sun sign is technically Ophiuchus.

Key personality traits:

Humanitarian* Poetic* Hungry for knowledge* Intuitive* Psychic*Intense *Likes bright colours *High achievers *Prone to harbouring enemies without realizing *Lucky (so long as the enemies don’t succeed, obviously)

These are, not surprisingly, a mix of classic Scorpio and Sagittarius attributes in this profile.

So, is Ophiuchus the thirteenth zodiac sign? Does your zodiac sign stay the same?

It depends who you are talking to. What astronomy is not taking into account here is the very basis of western (Tropical) astrology which makes a key distinction between the positions at any given time of the constellations themselves, and the zodiac signs named after them.

The signs of the zodiac as we know them today are based on Ptolemy’s twelve-fold division of the ecliptic, designed so that each sign spans 30° of celestial longitude, or roughly the distance the Sun travels in a month. 12 was an easier, tidier number to work with than was 13.

Ptolemy aligned these divisions with the seasons so that the March equinox always falls on the boundary between Pisces and Aries, whereas Sidereal (Vedic) astrology is based on the constellations themselves, as was western astrology way back at the time of the Babylonians, whose data Ptolemy worked with.

Tropical western astrology, with its 12 associated zodiac signs is a static, modelled system based NOT on the constellations themselves, but on the wheel of the seasons which also accord the signs of the zodiac their personalities, but the idea of the ‘missing’ thirteenth sign is nothing new.

It was developed by Hipparchus in 130 BC,” says astrologer, Susan Miller, “but you don’t get your characteristics from the constellations. You get them from the planets, from the sun and moon. We measure everything by the degree to which the earth is rotated around the sun. So if you’re born at the beginning of the zodiac, which corresponds to the spring equinox and typically falls on March 20, you’re at the 0º point—or the point at which the sun is crossing directly over the earth’s Equator. If we didn’t have names like Virgo or Gemini we’d have to walk around saying, `Hi, I’m a 136º,’ and I’d say, `Oh, really? Well I’m a 352º and so on.”

In Summary

NASA’s debunking is logical in strictly astronomical terms, but in astrological terms would only matter if Tropical (western) astrology was still tied to the position of the constellations.

But it isn’t, and your zodiac sign, also known as your sun sign still stands, both as it is and where it is, based on the principle and according to the system on which it was first described.

Pendulum Divination, Time Guesstimation.

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Il Matrimonio had answered the phone to lovely Jane from the community physiotherapy team, coming to rehabilitate little old moi because I surely need it, pesky auto-immune joint pain sh*te. Jane had called to arrange a visit for today, Thursday, during the afternoon. This morning, I asked Il Matrimonio what time she was coming. He didn’t know. Some time during the afternoon.

‘You mean you didn’t agree any kind of time slot?’ said I.

Hiss-grunt (he was busy on his keyboard) ‘No.’

If it had mattered, I’d have made a call to clarify. As it was, this was an opportunity to test my pendulum with a little game. A clockwise swing indicates a yes answer to a question, and an anti-clockwise swing indicates no. The more vigorous the swing, the more emphatic the answer.

So I asked, would Jane arrive 12-1?   Negative

1-2 ?   Negative

2-3  ? Negative

3-4  ? Affirmative

Jane called at 3.29 to say she be with us in the next few minutes  and arrived at 3.34, escorted in by a beaming Il Matrimonio, charm personified (He was born under the Chinese sign of The Snake and one can tell, and I was born under the sign of The Rabbit and maybe one can tell, by the rabbiting.)

Find your Chinese sign and element  here:

http://fengshui.about.com/od/fengshuigoodluckcures/a/Your-Chinese-Zodiac-Sign-Feng-Shui-Element.htm

What would have been even better would be to have got it down to a 5 minute block, but my pendulum suggested she  would arrive at 3.20 making me 15 minutes out.

Practise makes perfect? I am far from expert at this. Pendulum divination (and you can use a ring on a string, no need to go and buy a pendulum though they are nice, sometimes very beautiful objects)  is at once very simple and treacherous.

assorted pundulums

An accurate result depends on the person doing the divination maintaining a calm, disinterested attitude of curiosity, without wishful thinking or anxiety attached.  You can sway the swing, very easily. Test it for yourself by asking a question while thinking how much you want the answer to be yes or no. You will almost certainly, unless you turn yourself to stone or steel,  see the swing you want to see. Or perhaps it’s more like turning yourself into a sponge; the oracular mind is a sensate but neutral and completely uninvolved sponge. If you care about the matter in hand, it is not easy.

Until next time 🙂