The Bull of Heaven II


I make no pretense of being an expert in Egyptology, but there are some fundamental elements of that culture which allow us to see Taurus in a different way, in part by the relationship of the Bull of Heaven to Osiris

The region of the heavens occupied by the constellation Taurus is home to several powerful fixed stars from Algol (above left) the Pleiades, the Hyades and Aldebaran, the red eye of the bull – Watcher of the East and one of the Royal Stars of Persia. Babylonian astrologers would also be very interested in the stars associated with the horns – unsurprisingly they tend to be of the nature of Mars.  However, as an entity we can see the essential nature of Taurus is Lunar and Venusian.

The cultural interpretation of a constellation surely says something about the culture itself. The ravaging bull in eternal conflict with Orion the Hunter is a very good case in point. It takes more than simple imagination to see Orion as a brutal hunter wielding a spiked club at Taurus and to see Taurus as a determined wild bull bent on Orion’s destruction. Orion is just as often portrayed as an archer, aiming at the Bull’s eye! This is a rather violent view. Of course nothing is wrong just because it’s violent, but in this case we have what I believe is a far more convincing and satisfying interpretation.

Stele dedicated to Apis-Louvre

Stele dedicated to Apis-Louvre

Looking once again at the image at the top of part I, the white calf rising with the Sun is Apis. He is the Ka of Osiris:

“In ancient Egyptian religion, with the ba and the akh, a principal aspect of the soul of a human being or of a god. The exact significance of the ka remains a matter of controversy, chiefly for lack of an Egyptian definition; the usual translation, “double,” is incorrect. Written by a hieroglyph of uplifted arms, it seemed originally to have designated the protecting divine spirit of a person. The ka survived the death of the body and could reside in a picture or statue of a person”  Britannica

The Egyptian hieroglyph for the Venus cycle from Morning to Evening Star in the shape of a perfect pentagram as viewed from Earth.

The Egyptian hieroglyph for the Venus cycle from Morning to Evening Star in the shape of a perfect pentagram as viewed from Earth.

When we change the name and perception from Orion to Osiris, the idea of the god Osiris, the consort of Isis, charging to deal a deathly blow to his own life force is as silly as it’s poignant. In Egypt as in so many ancient cultures, the motif of bull’s horns with solar disks are all but universal. We find them shown even in the depiction of pre-Islamic Arabian deities.

wweeeeIn the sky map to the left,Sirius, the brightest star in the sky from our viewpoint, follows Osiris closely and is associated with Isis. The rising of Sirius signaled the inundation of Egyptian farm land by the Nile.  The association doesn’t end there, though. The Egyptians considered the Milk Way to be the “real Nile” just as many Hindus consider the Milk Way as the “true Ganges.” as even so called inanimate objects have soul in the Egyptian view, the relationship of Earth to the Heavens was divine and inexorable. We could say that they mirrored each other. Other articles related to Sirius

Egyptian religion wasn’t particular dogmatic and did in fact differ from one time and region to another to some extent. However, the primacy of Isis as the Queen of Heaven and of life itself, her brother Osiris the Lord or King of the dead, thier son Horus, god the Sun, Sky and Kingship, was widely understood.

Gwen Parker: tells us that when an Apis bull died “the body was embalmed and entombed with the great ceremony that would be afforded royalty. A Memphis temple housing large alabaster slabs was the place in which the bulls were embalmed.

Osiris holding crook and flail

Osiris holding crook and flail

After preparation of the body and internal organs, the crouching bull was intricately bandaged, artificial eyes were inserted, its horns and face were either gilded or covered with a gold leaf mask, and it was covered with a shroud. The Apis mummy was carried to the Serapeum (a catacomb preceded by an avenue of sphinxes), amid the formalities due a deity, for burial in a massive stone sarcophagus weighing over 60 tons. A papyrus from the 26th Dynasty explains the technique used to embalm an Apis bull.”Hathor-and-IsisHathor (Red Disk & Horns) and Isis

Wearing the crown. with the Royal insignia of the flail and crook on his hands, Osiris looks more like a shepherd king than a hunter. His best known epithets are “eternally good” or “eternally incorruptible” and his relationship with the Bull of Heaven is both essential and  benign, and offers profound insight to the nature of the Bull.

Isis and Hathor share various feminine qualities, with Hathor being more of a Luna deity and Isis being the Queen and Guardian of the path of the planets.

It’s easy to mistake one for the other, particular if Isis is not shown with wings. At the end of the day, we still have the Moon exalted in Taurus and Venus Isis ruling both Libra and Taurus. The Ankh carried by Isis is a slightly modified glyph for Venus, with the circle of Spirit and Cross of Matter. The cross differs from the modern glyph only slightly. The cross is further up towards the centre of the whole symbol, suggesting a greater level of relationship with Spirit perhaps.

Isis offering-Key of Life Ankh to her son Horus

Isis offering-Key of Life Ankh to her son Horus

We now know that the Bull of Heaven held a very important position in both Sumerian and Egyptian culture, possessing mystical qualities. Taurus, the Moon and Venus are all feminine and I cannot help but wonder how this came to be seen as something to be clubbed or shot.  I might suggest this has something to do with the denial of the Divine Feminine. Even Paleolithic paintings of Orion, crafted by hunter gathers do not associate him with a hunter. He is a Shaman. See the Stars of Orion. 

The extraordinary astronomical knowledge and skill of these ancients is staggering. Mapping the Venus Pentagram alone shows uncommon skill and all these things should give us pause when interpreting Venus or the Bull of Heaven.

Salt of the Earth

Alchemical Symbol for Earth

Alchemical Symbol for Earth

This is the final part of an introductory series on the four Elements in Astrology

Earth is among the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy. It was associated with qualities of heaviness, matter and the terrestrial world. Earth is the tangible, the solid. The elements remain very much the same in several cultures. In some, the Quintessence is also present as the source of all things. This is the primary meaning of the pentagram.

The Earthy Tripicity consists of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn: Fixed, Mutable and Cardinal, respectively. Consider some of the qualities attributed to each sign: the Bull is latent potency – see the word Aleph inPan God the Hebrew alphabet. Virgo is the harvester, the anaylist, separating the wheat from the chafe. Capricorn is the Sea goat or Pan. The latter was at the top of his pantheon, dweller in wild places, half man half goat. He is the model for Satan, with cloven hoofs. Such was the malignant interpretation of monotheists with the intent of rendering the pagan gods extinct.

Earth is also physical sensuality  – in Water we have feelings,empathy and intuition. In Air we have intellect, discernment and the realm of ideas. In Fire we have Spirit, the forge and the will. In Earth we have nourishment, groundedness and perhaps most importantly the tangible — what can be known by the senses

Empedocles proposed four archai by which to comprehend the cosmos: fire, air, water, and earth.  The word archai is the root of the word Archetype. Plato uses the term Forms.

Plato conceived of  the elements as geometric forms: what we have previously discussed as Platonic Solids. The cube was assigned to the the element of Earth in Timaeus.

I wonder if it is too exotic to think of our association of Earth in the term ‘square deal.” We mean that it is what it appears to be and grounded in reality. We use the term ‘square’ to refer to a reliable, as well as a dull person.tree-roots

Probably it is; but when we use the term Salt of the Earth it has a universal meaning. Although the origin comes down to us via the New Testament, we use it to refer to someone who is completely reliable, unassuming, down to earth , humble and good hearted.

The meaning of Salt and Earth are closely related in Alchemy. In alchemy, Earth is primarily cold, and secondarily dry. Further, the chemical substance salt, was associated with earth and its alchemical symbol was a downward-pointing triangle, bisected by a horizontal line. It’s the same as the usual symbol for Earth.6-Ways-to-Be-Salt-of-the-Earth

Aristotle tells us that Earth is the heaviest of all elements. Reasoning from his theory of natural place he concluded that any earth–laden substances would drop rapidly  to the center of the cosmos.crystal-cave-1 Nat Geo

In Greek and Roman mythology, various chthonic gods and goddesses represented the Earth, seasons, crops and fertility. These belong to the element of Earth in her cycles. Among the better known are Hades and Persephone.

Chthonic pertains to spirits of the underworld. Many ancient cultures believed caves were the gateway to the underworld, which was not to be taken negatively in most cases. The idea of *going deep* to be raised up is a recurring theme.

The Triplicity itself is of course a cycle, from Cardinal to Fixed, to Mutable These expression of Earth are distinct from each other while sharing the same essence. Never make the mistake of taking these archetypes in the sense of Sun sign astrology.

Finally, a physician who was not also an astrologer was considered a charlatan prior to the 18th Century. Astrology, theory of the element and medicine all go hand in hand.

Buddha: Entangled by Roots

Buddha: Entangled by Roots

In Traditional Western medicine , each of the four humours is associated with an element. Black bile was the humor identified with earth, since both were cold and dry. An excess of black bile lead a more serious form of Melancholy. It is crucial to note, however, that determining the humour (s) was a skill. Diagnosis and decumbitures were astrological To be clear, someone might have their Sun in a certain sign, but they may not have the corresponding humour as dominant.