Saturday, November 26, 2011

A huge load of Bull!

No, really... actual bull.The bull is involved in nearly every ancient religion:

Marduk is the "bull of Utu."
Inanna, she sends the Bull of Heaven to wreak havok on Gilgamesh's city.
Ereshkigal is wed to Gulugana, also refered to as the Bull of Heaven
In Hinduism, Shiva rides on a bull
Bull leaping was thought to be part of Minoan culture- Their bull imagery is plainly obvious without even having to mention the Minotaur!
The Hitites had two bulls, Seri and Hurru (day and night) who pulled the godof weather along on his chariot.
Hercules' 7th labor: Capture the Cretan Bull which was wreaking havoc on the island? 
Pliny recorded Druid ceremonies where two bulls were sacrificed
Oxen were sacrificed to Hecate and in the Orphic Hymn, she is referred to as "Tauropolos" or "herder of bulls." Might this by a euphemism in relation to deities associated with bulls? Does she control virility and fertility?

Dionysus was also associated with Bulls and invoked as one by his followers:
The god is invoked by his devotees as a raging bull and a panther, both creatures of ferocious strength and aggressiveness. In hymns Dionysos is addressed as 'the thunderer' and 'the roaring one.' The bull is one of the most frequently mentioned epiphanies of Dionysos; he was considered to be a bull-god, as were Zeus and Poseidon. The bull is a widespread and unequivocal symbol of male strength, potency and virility, particularly in the cultures of India, the near east, and the Mediterranean.

The holy wiki tells us a bit about Egypt's bull worship:

In Egypt, the bull was worshiped as Apis, the embodiment of Ptah and later of Osiris. A long series of ritually perfect bulls were identified by the god's priests, housed in the temple for their lifetime, then embalmed and encased in a giant sarcophagus. A long sequence of monolithic stone sarcophagi were housed in the Serapeum, and were rediscovered by Auguste Mariette at Saqqara in 1851. The bull was also worshiped as Mnewer, the embodiment of Atum-Ra, in Heliopolis. Ka in Egyptian is both a religious concept of life-force/power and the word for bull.
Here's a more in-depth link summarizing different bull cults in Egypt! And yet another!

The Tauropolia was a festival held in honor of Artemis! Here is a coin depicting Her riding a bull.

And the Titan of the moon, Selene was associated with the bull as well: "Selene knows not how to put mules to her yokestrap--she drives a team of bulls!" She's also described in the Orphic hymn as "bull-horned, and wandering through the gloom of night." 

And let's not forget The Golden Calf! Perhaps we know why that was picked as an image to represent the antithesis of the religions of the bible: Mithras slaying a bull is one of the main images of his cult. He also rides bulls as well. 

From 160 CE the Roman cult to Magna Mater included a bull sacrifice known as the taurobolium. Initiates supposedly took their place in a pit beneath a slatted wooden floor, to be drenched by the blood of a bull sacrifice above. This, if an accurate description, is an exception to the usual Roman rules of sacrifice. A lesser version of the rite, known as a criobolium, involved the sacrifice of a ram. The first recorded taurobolium took place at Puteoli in AD 134 in honour of Venus Caelestia.

Frazer talks a bit about this in The Golden Bough, but as has been noted, much of the description of the actual ceremonies comes from possibly hostile christian sources. 

It goes on and on! This surely deserves at the very least a part two, if not a more in depth exploration of the taurean aspect of each of these deities! If this is food for thought, tonight is merely an appetizer. 

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