The Bull -- The Powers of Creation
Union of the Male and Female,
Vitality, the Powers of Creation,
Uncontrolled Violence, the
Male Combative Spirit, the Elemental
Forces within the Blood, the Dharma,
Cosmic Order, the Incarnation of
The Powers of the Underworld,
Of the Sky Gods, Fire and Water,
The Dominant Father,
The Royal Beast
The Bull, like the Cow, is a symbol of the most ancient order of man. A symbol arising out of the early cultures of herders as early as six thousand years ago, the Bull had associations with the Gods of the Sky or Heaven as the power which fertilizes the Earth with rain that she may bear her crops each autumn. Yet the Bull also carried the image of its opposite gender within, for the horns symbolize the crescent Moon and therefore the Feminine. We see this ambiguity appearing in the contrasting symbolism of Fire and Water, the Powers of both Underworld and the Sky, and the Union of Male and Female.
The Bull symbolized both royality and Divinity in many of our earliest cultures. In ancient Crete, the Bull acted the central drama of religious ritual as Cretan athletes dared death by vaulting over the horns of charging bulls. This early pagan culture epitomized in many respects the finest example of Earth centered spirituality on the planet, celebrating life and nature in culture, art, and religious expression. Here, worship of the Great Goddess was a central tenet everyday life, art and spirituality—and here we see the juxtaposition of the Bull as a symbol of uncontrollable masculine power in service to the Power of the Feminine in Nature, as personified in the Goddess Artemis.
It was in ancient Crete where the god Dionysus was said to have been born in a cave, nursed by bees, from a union between the Sky God Zeus and a human woman, Semele. Dionysus was the god of women, sexual ecstasy, the irrational feminine in the male, and the taking of sacred drugs. In Crete, the poppy was the sacred halucinatory plant. In Greece, it was wine. In the myth of Dionysus, the child god was pursued by Hera, wife of Zeus, in jealous rage at the promiscuity of her divine husband, and the child had to be hidden and raised as a girl. The confusion over his gender drove the young god mad, and from that point on, wherever the god went, his "bees" or Maenads--women who danced themselves into trance and engaged in sacred journeys into the wilderness--would fall upon his enemies and tear them to pieces with their hands and teeth.
Dionysus is the power of the Unconscious and the Irrational in Mankind.
Nevertheless, the presence of Dionysius among the archetypes of man creates a saving grace for Mankind, for it is his irrational side which saves Mankind from his arrogance and cold-blooded rationalism. Mankind cannot survive as pure rational masculine being, for man has his animal nature. It is Mankind's irrational nature which "saves him" from self-destructive cruelty.
Dionysus was also known as “the Bull God.” In ancient rituals, the sacrifice of the "bull" and later, the "goat", and even a "grape vine" represented the death of the god, who later was reborn, in the widespread "dying god" motif of mythology. Even in Christianity, Jesus Christ was depicted as "Dionysus", the dying god in many artworks of the Middle Ages.
The Bull is also the symbol of the astrological sign of Taurus, which is ruled by Venus. Like in ancient Minoa, the power of the Bull manifests under the august personage of the Goddess.
The Divine Bull is a god of thunderstorms, lightning and rain, fertilizing the earth with rain and, through his sacrifice, his blood. His raw power brings growth, the peacefulness of summer days, kindness of community, security, and abundance.
The Sacred Bull is the symbol of the King who serves his people. In many ancient cultures, a king was selected to serve his people through combat, but when he got too old, he was challenged by a younger warrior and killed. He became the "dying god" himself--sacrificed to the goddess in service to life, like the seed must die for the plant to grow. Through his sacrifice, his blood nourished his kingdom's soil, creating life in the form of new crops.
Taurus is a feminine, earth sign, and reflects the gifts of the earth goddess; gifts like abundance, security, growth, protectiveness, creativity, peacefulness, kindness. However, like all archetypes, Taurus may manifest in negative ways, like materialism, smothering love, emotional instability, restlessness, passivity, moodiness, obsessiveness, worry, and treacherousness.
Where the power of the bull is not allowed expression in our personalities and lives—which is to say, where the power of darkness, might, ferocity, wildness, and irrationality is not admitted into the psyche as an aspect of our natural expression—the power of the bull turns negative and becomes exploitative materialism rather than the natural spirituality of oneness with nature, smothering love rather than empowering love, emotional instability and rage rather than spontaneity, repression rather than full acceptance of one’s own full nature, obsessiveness rather than detachment, moodiness rather than emotional fluidity, and passivity rather than natural masculine aggressiveness.