Taurus is the second astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning from 30° to 60° of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°), and originates from the constellation of the same name.
It is an earth sign represented by the bull. Like their celestial spirit animal, Taureans enjoy relaxing in serene, bucolic environments, surrounded by soft sounds, soothing aromas, and succulent flavors. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the enchanting planet that governs love, beauty, and money. Taurus’s Venusian influence make this earth sign the most sensual of the zodiac: These cosmic oxen are enchanted by any physical manifestation of comfort and luxury. Pleasure is a necessity for epicurean Taureans and they feel most content when pampered.
The sign of Taurus is associated with several myths and bull worship from several ancient cultures.
Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to the Early Bronze Age at least, when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox.
Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
Its old astronomical symbol is Taurus symbol ♉︎, which resembles a bull’s head.
Taurus is the zodiacal constellation with the brightest stars, with 125 down to magnitude 6.
The constellation’s brightest star, Aldebaran (Arabic for “the follower”; also called Alpha Tauri), is the 14th brightest star in the sky, with a magnitude of 0.85. The constellation also contains the Crab Nebula (M1) and the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters.
The identification of the constellation of Taurus with a bull is very old, certainly dating to the Chalcolithic, and perhaps even to the Upper Paleolithic. Michael Rappenglück of the University of Munich believes that Taurus is represented in a cave painting at the Hall of the Bulls in the caves at Lascaux (dated to roughly 15,000 BC), which he believes is accompanied by a depiction of the Pleiades. The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.
It was the first sign of the zodiac established among the Mesopotamians, who called it “The Great Bull of Heaven,” as it was the constellation through which the Sun rose on the vernal equinox at that time, that is the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC.
In the Old Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Enkidu tears off the bull’s hind part and hurls the quarters into the sky where they become the stars we know as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation. In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard – since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.
In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion
of this constellation is depicted – this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea. A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.
Taurus became an important object of worship among the Druids. Their Tauric religious festival was held while the Sun passed through the constellation. Among the arctic people known as the Inuit, the constellation is called Sakiattiat and the Hyades is Nanurjuk, with the latter representing the spirit of the polar bear. Aldebaran represents the bear, with the remainder of the stars in the Hyades being dogs that are holding the beast at bay.
In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the full moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second full moon when the Sun is in Taurus.