Dull Honest Plowmen to manure the Field– Marcus Manilius, Astronomica tr. Thomas Creech
Strong Taurus bears, by him the Grounds are till’d:
No gaudy things he breeds, no Prize for worth,
But Blesseth Earth, and brings her Labour forth”
- Element: Earth
- Modality: Fixed
- Ruler: Venus
- Date: April 20 – May 20
- Symbol: Bull
In 1940, a group of French teens discovered a brightly colored procession of bison, deer, and bears adorning the walls of the Lascaux cave complex in southwestern France. Painted approximately 15,000 years ago, these images depict the natural world the prehistoric painters lived in. Some experts believe, however, that one bison depicted in the caves could be of celestial, rather than earthly, origin.
Whether or not these ancient painters had already associated the cluster of stars now known as Taurus with its current bovine symbol, the Bull was one of the earliest constellations recognized in the ancient Mediterranean, an enduring embodiment of spring and, eventually, humankind’s harnessing of nature’s inherent fertility. Once covering much of what is now recognized as Aries, Taurus marked the vernal equinox from 4000 to 2000 B.C. The ancient Hebrews made it the first constellation in their zodiac, associating it with the letter “Aleph”, whereas the Babylonians called it Gud. Anna., the “Bull of Heaven”. After Gilgamesh rejected Ishtar’s romantic advances—the titular hero claimed she tired too quickly of her lovers, in classic Venusian fashion—the goddess sent down the Bull to destroy him. The poor celestial bovine lost the fight, with Gilgamesh’s hairy friend, Enkidu, tearing off its hind legs and flinging them into the heavens, where they became Ursa Minor and Ursa Major. For its service the gods immortalized the now truncated Bull among the stars, facing the hunter now identified as Orion as if in combat. For his sacrilege, the gods took Enkidu’s life.
In ancient Egypt, the constellation of the Bull was a representative of the goddess Isis, and its covering by the sun each spring was seen as the symbolic sacrifice needed to ensure the fertility of the land. The Greeks typically associated the constellation with the romantic exploits of Zeus, giving it a somewhat bawdier connection to the idea of fertility. The Bull may have been the head Olympian disguised as a seemingly docile bull to court Europa, or Io, a lover of Zeus transformed into a heifer to hide her from Hera’s jealous gaze. Many of the Bull’s significations, plus the overall feminine energy of the constellation, stem from the presence of two key star clusters: the Pleiades and Hyades, both named for the mythological daughters of Atlas. The rising of the Hyades, identified as rain nymphs, was associated with rain from ancient Greece to ancient China. The Pleiades were said to coincide with good weather that marked the beginning of the sailing season in the ancient Aegean. Similarly, Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation, was one of the four Royal Stars of ancient Persia, known as the Watcher of the East.
As the nocturnal domicile of Venus, Taurus represents the more earthly, sensual side of the planet, in contrast with Libra’s more idealistic significations. Fertility, ease, and pleasure are all associated with the Bull. Taurean natives tend to be creative, although not necessarily innovative, thanks to the earthy drive to maintain the status quo. As astrologer Sue Tompkins points out, the glyph for Taurus resembles the Fallopian tubes leading to the uterus. This link to the fertility of a dignified Venus at the height of spring can manifest in several ways, but the focus is typically material rather than intellectual productivity. Many Tauruses have green thumbs, some are musically gifted, many are drawn to crafts and all have an appreciation for the fruits of the earth—especially the edible kind. Feasting has long been one of the foremost Venusian pursuits.
The Taurean drive to create is practical and focuses on tangible results. Bulls tend to be realists, blessed with a solid dose of common sense, and may have an innate distaste for abstract values or concepts. They want something real, something that can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted. They tend to be in touch with their bodies and the pleasures the physical and natural world afford. While this appreciation for simple pleasures can be indulgent, it is a recognition of nature’s bounty. A Taurus knows what’s good, and they tend to stick with it, rather than vacillating or flitting back and forth between choices as an air sign like Gemini might. Rather than lazy, a Bull is consistent—and less likely to choose the risk of an adventure than the known comforts of staying at home. The energy required to get a Bull moving is considerable, and like their fellow earth signs, Taurus prefers to conserve rather than needlessly spend energy or effort. Once a Bull has embarked on a path, it rarely will stray from it.
As a fixed earth sign, Taurus is seen as one of the most stable signs of the zodiac, with an energy prime for continuation—or inaction—depending on its initial momentum. This same stability is part of why Taurus is considered the exaltation of the Moon. In contrast to the changeability of Cancer, its domicile, the Moon has staying power in Taurus, creating a consistent, sane approach to emotions that satisfies nostalgic longings while calming more fickle lunar impulses. On an emotional level Tauruses may seem downright boring to some, obstinate or uncompromising to others, but reveal depth over time. As a spring sign, Taurus’ focus is on accumulation, rather than the conservation espoused by the winter sign of Capricorn; however, it is still distinctly wary of anything that might threaten its material or physical—and to a lesser extent, emotional—stability.
Given this sign’s marked distaste for change or upheaval, Mars experiences its fall in Taurus. As a fixed sign, much of Taurus’ strength comes from resisting movement, acting as an immovable object to the irresistible force of Mars. The inharmonious nature of the martial planet is distinctly at odds in the bull’s pleasant Venusian pastures, and the staying power this planet gains in this sign can become outright destructive. The Bull would prefer to be left alone, and their strength comes from stillness. Rather than directly confronting the other combatant, they prefer to simply wait them out.
A truly upset Taurus, however, is a terrifying thing. Normally tranquil, the Bull, unlike Scorpio, is often unfamiliar with the uglier parts of the emotional spectrum and would prefer to avoid exploring them if possible. But, once the rampage has begun, the Bull has trouble stopping itself, giving it the potential to trample everything in its path. In contrast to the calculated precision of Mars in Scorpio or the limited staying power of Mars in Aries, Mars in Taurus does not know when to stop, making the capacity for collateral damage high.
Part of this discomfort with conflict comes from a reluctance to disturb the peace. Often the least emotionally communicative of the signs, the Bull may prefer to overlook problems rather than address them when they are still manageable—at least until that one last pinprick drives the Bull to charge. Taurus natives, however, are typically easy-going and unlikely to rock the boat. Their goal in any relationship is to build something stable and lasting, and they will shy away from more tempestuous or fickle individuals. As lovers, they are renowned for their stamina and capacity to provide comfort but may be somewhat conservative in their preferences. A Taurean loved one is often a sort of living bulwark, a source of support, or an obstacle to progress. Enduring and steadfast, the Taurus type is much like an oak tree—great at re-enforcing and providing stability, but not so great at bending.
Where Scorpios possess immense reserves of emotional strength, Taurus is characterized by an immense physical strength that can manifest in the capacity to bear burdens. Hardy as an ox, Taurean types can be immensely hard-working, assuming they manage to get started in the first place. Getting a Taurus going is a difficult task and getting them to do something they don’t want to is nigh impossible—remember that the harder you push a Bull, the harder they will push back. They will, however, follow willingly, given the right incentive. Taurean types take time to acclimate to new opinions and perspectives, so it is better to give them time to make up their minds than to force a result. The Bull hates to be rushed. Their purpose is to maintain, not initiate. But once they get going, the Bull can become an unstoppable juggernaut, an enduring force.
Stereotypically materialistic, the Bull’s impulse is to accumulate things—and people—that bring pleasure and harmony to their lives. They can be possessive and are reluctant to give up anything or anyone with whom they have an emotional connection. In relationships, they are not necessarily more jealous than other signs, but generally have trouble handling the emotion, which disrupts their otherwise calm, composed demeanor. The Bull may hold onto a relationship, or at least the idea of it, long after a fickler sign like Aries will have up and left. They take root in situations they value and strive to build something concrete that they can appreciate in the long term. For the Bull, one bird in the hand is worth ten in the bush.
Taurus on a house cusp can represent an area of your life where the impulse is to build or acquire. This is likely a particularly stable part of your life, characterized by a realistic and consistent approach—even if that means consistently failing to learn from mistakes because of a desire to maintain stability. Taurus is associated with the throat and neck, emphasizing the sign’s famous appetite and a musical, especially vocal talent, given the right support from Venus. Barnyard animals, especially those that are traditionally raised for their meat, are associated with the sign. Thanks to an appreciation for harmony, though perhaps not with the stylish bend of a Libran type, many Tauruses are drawn to beauty and are often themselves easy on the eyes. In clothing, they favor pastel or earth tones and floral patterns. Their love of comfort means they generally opt for fabric that is pleasing to the touch.
If Aries represents the first shoots poking above the soil as the weather warms in spring, Taurus is the continuation of that growth, the power of roots growing downward to give the plant the energy it needs to bear fruit. The Bull is the sign of maintained energy, staid, supportive and enduring. Propelled to action by the carrot of material stability, the Bull plows the field of life, ensuring that the soil remains fertile enough to produce the fruits of nature that the Bull so enjoys. And once the work is done, the Bull lays down its burden to rest, at peace in the tranquil Venusian pastures of comfort.
- The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook, Sue Tompkins
- Christian astrology, William Lily
- Manilius on the 12 signs, Jim Eshelman
- Taurus the Bull, skyscript.co.uk
- Star lore of the Constellations, Taurus: the Bull, Deborah Houlding
- Taurus (The Bull) constellation in chandra.harvard.edu
- Taurus Constellation, Wikipedia
Images on this page
- taurus-iskandar: Wellcome Collection | CC BY 4.0 International
- month-April-village-spring: Engraving by A. Collaert after H. Bol, 1585. | Public Domain Mark 1.0
- taurus-mikalojus-1907: Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis | public domain
- taurus-sidney-hall: Original from Library of Congress. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel. | public domain