The fixed Earth sign, Taurus, is related to the Major Aracana card The Hierophant. Taurus energy is Powerful, yet patient, with a great deal of reliance on the physical senses. The Hierophant rules over the physical world; the earthly realm, and worldly concerns such as material possessions, marriage, religion, established institutions, and academic knowledge. Taurus’ nature is to not only accumulate things, but to preserve these things… whether that be material possessions, people, or knowledge and status.
Key Characteristics of Taurus Energy:
Practical, Materialistic, Determined, Stubborn, Affectionate, Possessive, Sensuous, Self-Indulgent, Loyal, Rigid, Unyielding, Patient, Preserving, Unimaginative.
Key Traits and Lessons of The Hierophant:
Education, belief systems, conformity, group identity, pursuing knowledge, seeking a deeper meaning, adapting to the system, fitting in, expressing loyalty, working as a team member or team leader, seeking religion or spiritual truths, making choices, conforming or non-conforming, the quest for meaning in life, organized institutions.
Mythology of Taurus:
The representation of Taurus as The Bull comes from the Greek Mythological tale of Zeus and Europa. Zeus, the King of The Gods, became obsessed with a Phoenician princess, Europa. Zeus knew that his godly masculine form would frighten the young maiden, so he transformed himself into a Bull. Europa saw the magnificent yet gentle bull, and became intrigued. She went to pet the bull, and eventually climbed onto his back. Immediately, Zeus turned back to his godly form and flew away to Olympus with Europa on his back. Taurus is the great bull who abducts us into pleasures of the body and the rapture of our passions. Beyond our physical experiences resides the essence of the Hierophant, helping us guide our passions toward self understanding and knowledge but continuing to remain grounded and gain a respect for our physical realm.
Minos and the Minotaurs
The tarot card The Hierophant is also related to the mythological story of Minos and The Minotaur. The union of Zeus and Europa resulted in the birth of the demigods Minos and Rhadamanthys – two of the three judges of the dead and ministers of Hades. Of the three judges who would decide whether a soul passed on to blissful Isles of the Blest, or descend to Tartarus, Minos was the third and final vote and would therefore break any tie in the vote between the other two judges. (Side note: there is a fourth judge called in when a soul is an Initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries) The Hierophant tarot card traditionally represents a priest-like judge, similar in status to the Pope. He may not be The Emperor
or king, but he does hold a place of power in the world, particularly over large institutions like churches, schools, and the institution of marriage. In the mythological stories, Minos also lived as the King of Crete, but sadly grew into a selfish and somewhat tyrannical king. After Minos had become King of Crete, Poseidon had sent him a beautiful white bull that he could sacrifice to the Gods in gratitude for his success. However, Minos was overcome with greed and decided to keep the bull for himself. The Gods were displeased with Minos and punished him by cursing his wife, Pasiphae, to fall in love with an ordinary herd bull. She became so obsessed with this bull, that she eventually devised a way to couple with it and bore as a son the Minotaur – a beast with the body of a man and the head of a bull. Minos created a labyrinth outside of his capitol city and hid the Minotaur within it and would send people into the labyrinth as judgment for some crime or failing (and sometimes simply for his own sick amusement) where they would be devoured by the Minotaur. In the most commonly told stories, Athens would send young maidens and youths to Crete as tribute to Minos and he would send them into the labyrinth to feed his monster.
Here we see potential corruption of the Taurus energy – for within our desires lie judgments of ourselves and others, and these judgments may indeed create a trap or labyrinth with monsters residing within. Also within this tale is the warning against greed and how selfish actions can have consequenses far beyond our intent to just own or possess something beautiful. (All of this could have been avoided if Minos had just sacrificed the White Bull with gratitude and trusted that he already had everything he needed.)
Taurus & The Hierophant’s Lessons and Reflections
Taurus is the Fixed Earth sign, which explains why many Taurus individuals are seen as stubborn and determined. The Hierophant acts as the preserver of Human experience, the collector of ideas and philosophies. The Heirophant recognizes the importance of certain social institutions such as education, marriage and religion, while urging us to either find our own place in these institutions or challenge them. Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus, which attributes to Taurus’ innate sensuality. Just as a Taurus has the tendency to over-indulge in physical pleasures such as food, sex, or gaining material possessions – the Social Institutions in the world have a tendency to over-indulge themselves in power trips and as controllers of the people. The Heirophant represents the power to direct these passions. In a card reading when one sees the Hierophant, they must ask themselves, who has the power here? What am I doing with my passionate energy and power? Am I self indulging, or am I seeking knowledge and understanding? Am I being controlled by worldly institutions, or have I found my place within them?
As the Sun transits through the sign of Taurus, we all have this energy somewhat activated within us and around us. Are we being like Europa – following our deepest desires and sensuality? Are we being like Zeus, putting on disguises to get what we want? If we DO get what we want, what is our tendency to behave like Minos? Will we be careful to not create monsters and labyrinths of our own greed? However, within Taurus resides the potential for great wisdom and balance. While the story of Minos and the Minotaur may leave you feeling apprehensive about the role of Taurus or the appearance of The Hierophant, I will leave you with this further information as a counter-point.
The thirteenth brightest star in the sky, which has been a guide to travelers for ages, is the distant red dwarf star called Aldebaran. Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation Taurus, it is called ‘The Eye Of The Bull” and it is known as the Star of Illumination, or “God’s Eye”. Aldebaran is said to be the Portal to the Mysteries of The Mind, and all knowledge and Truth can be found through this portal.
I once had a dream that I was sitting under a tree observing a herd of cattle on a field below. I realized it would be nice to read a book while I sat here under this tree, but I didn’t have any books with me. I followed a path that seemed like it might lead to a town where I could find books. When I arrived, there were dozens of famous philosophers, teachers, and sages just milling about talking to eachother. Socrates, Ovid, and Homer were engaged in conversation with Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. I noticed that this was a unique and beautiful place to be, but I still desired to sit under the tree and read a book. I approached the group of philosophers and awkwardly asked them if they had a book I could read. They LAUGHED at me, and one of them said, “What need for books is there in this place, where all knowledge exists without the need for paper bindings? You’re in the bull’s eye. ” I became greatly distressed at the thought of a place with no books. (I was 17 years old and had just finished reading “Farenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury) I wandered away from the group of wise teachers, wondering how they could be so happy in a world without books. How would the knowledge be preserved and passed on? What did they mean by Bull’s Eye, was this some target I had been shooting for? Or a target created by others in some attempt to create a Utopic world?
I woke up and the dream was clear in my mind. Actually, waking up from that dream was terrifying, I thought for several moments that I had died and after a brief glimpse at heaven I had become afraid and now I was somehow trapped in my physical body again. My physical body was dead and I couldn’t move. This is the first time I remember experiencing Sleep Paralysis, and had no idea that’s what it was at the time. I remember trying to convince myself that it would be safe to “let go” and trying to convince myself to let go of whatever fears now held me bound to this useless dead lump of flesh. Eventually though I realized I was indeed breathing, and was able to move my toes, and then my legs and other body parts. (Oh! The simultaneous relief and regret as I realized I was indeed, still alive! ) I thought about all of this for many days and did not fully understand it for some time. Mostly I chalked it up to having just read about a Dystopian fictional world in which books were burned, but I felt this place in my dream had somehow preserved the knowledge. It was like Heaven for all the great thinkers and teachers. What need would you have for books if you just had all the Teachers gathered in one place? Years later when I was studying astrology, I came across the term “The Bull’s Eye” in reference to Aldebaran and the constellation Taurus, and the Star of Illumination and I instantly remembered that dream from when I was 17. I don’t know how or why I had access to that place in a dream as a teenager without even hearing about it before, but I’m sure that’s where my Astral Travels took me. This is the place I think of when I think of Taurus. This is the place that the Hierophant holds the keys to, and he knows how to access that Portal.
As The Sun God Apollo travels though each sign, he brings Light and the potential for Healing to whatever that sign has to teach us. I am open to the Light that is shining through the Eye of The Bull and The Hierophant. I am open to Minos’ judgments, and bring awareness to my own labyrinth and whatever bull-headed monsters may reside within it.