In the moments when the term Europe and symbolic “entry” into Europe represent a general burden with people rarely wonder how this continent got its name? The root is found in mythology, in one of the main myths related to the constellation of Taurus.
Among numerous Zeus’ love affairs the one with Europe – the daughter of the king Phoenicia has a special place. In order to seduce her, Zeus turned himself into a white tame bull who allowed Europe to sit on his back. The bull swam the Mediterranean all the way to Crete where Europe gave birth to three sons and conceived Cretan royal house. The cult of the bull got interwoven into the religion and life of ancient residents of this Mediterranean island which is evident in various stone remains of “bull’s horns” scattered around the island. The form of horns is directly related to the form of half-moon and the symbolic of fertility that Taurus presents.
In the era of ancient Egypt, in the days when the constellation of Taurus was rising in the evening on the Eastern horizon (in the Scorpion Moon), it was a time for collecting the stock and plowing. The star Aldebaran – the left eye of the Taurus which is in the middle of this constellation denotes the beginning of the Zodiac or the first day of the spring in the Age of Taurus (about 4000 – 2000 BC). Aldebaran whose meaning derives from the Arabian – the follower, companion, “follows” the big group of stars in the constellation of Taurus, Pleiades.
The myth about seven Pleiades and their seven sisters Hyades is one of those topics that are so deep in our collective subconscious that we even forgot about their meaning.
Their father Titan Atlas was punished by gods of Olympus for his rebel in a way that he had to stand on the West edge of the Earth – Gea and carry the sky on his back – Uranus in order to prevent their reconnection. Big mythological hunter Orion continued to persecute his seven daughters – Pleiades; to protect them Zeus first turned them into doves and afterwards into stars placed on the shoulders of Taurus. Other versions of the myth say that they committed a suicide out of sorrow for father’s destiny and the loss of their sisters Hyades. They are a group of stars with one of the oldest written data, Chinese mentioned them in their astronomical texts more than 4000 years ago and Homer wrote about them in The Iliad.
Hyades are a group of stars in the form of the letter V on Taurus’ head, their symbolic is related to the rain (the origin of meaning is in Greek – to rain). The rain that they denote are actually tears that were cried for their brother who misfortunately died in the hunt.
The whole symbolic of the mythology of Taurus is interwoven with stories on fertility, insemination, the rain that soaks the land and the uncontrolled sexuality (Zeus, Orion, Pasiphae – the wife of king Minos who went crazy with lust and from the relationship with Poseidon’s bull gave birth to Minotaur, the half man – half bull monster).
If you look at clear skies in the autumn of winter, you will see on the East the rising constellation of Orion and from his three middle stars in the Western direction one of the four Royal Stars rises – Aldebaran that “follows” tearful Hyades and their sad sisters Pleiades fleeing from the furious mythological hunter.
For those who love mysteries it’s an interesting fact that Egyptian pyramids, viewed in the floor plan, are ordered exactly in the form of Orion constellation and that the entrances to the royal chambers are in the direction of the brightest stars from this group.
Today the constellation of Taurus is between 17°52′ Taurus and 0°12′ Cancer, and some of its main stars are:
Electra – left shoulder of Taurus on 29°25′ of Taurus
Maja – left shoulder of Taurus on 29°41′ of Taurus
Pleione – left shoulder of Taurus on 00°23′ of Gemini
Aldebaran – left eye of Taurus on 09°47′ of Gemini
The photo of Taurus constellation taken from
THE AGE OF TAURUS
It lasted between 4300 and 2150 B.C. and it was filled with cultures that worshiped the bull as the sacred animal. It’s hidden in Semitic god El before Islam, various Egyptian cults among which the most famous is the cult of Apis – Osiris manifests in his appearance and in Sumerian epic on Gilgamesh.
In Minoan culture the bull was the central figure, and the palace in Knossos was full of drawings of the bull and horn symbols – half-moon.
The termination of this period is symbolically presented in the Bible with Moses’ suppression and destruction of the golden calf and the cult of god Mitra – the god of the Sun in the ancient Rome who ritually kills the bull.
The spirit of this era still nowadays persists on Iberian Peninsula through matadors and traditional fights with bulls, in India where the cow is still worshiped as the sacred animal and purified butter “ghi” is used as the sacred food, medicine and ritual victim. Maybe the most interesting is how it’s present in menus of the Western civilization where dairy products are the usual basis and the popular beefsteak is the symbol of the winner’s festive meal.