Taurus is the second sign in the Zodiac. It gets its name from the constellation of Taurus but it is probably better known as “The Bull”.
The constellation of Taurus is a large and very prominent group of stars in the northern hemisphere best viewed during the winter season. Although most of the stars in this constellation are bright, there is one that is particularly bright and it is a red star. This star is called Aldebaran and many people used to consider it to be evil.
This particular grouping of stars has long been associated with a bull, dating as far back as the Upper Paleolithic period. Some scientists believe the Taurus constellation was one of the first to be invented, although it can’t really be proven. In Greek mythology the bull was viewed as a beautiful white bull which was the form Zeus used to capture and to seduce a woman.
The story goes that once upon a time there was a woman that Zeus had fallen in love with, even though they’d never met. He loved her from afar, so to speak. Her name was Europa and she was a Phoenician princess. To get close to her Zeus transformed himself into a white bull and tried to blend in with the herd her father owned. Then one day when Europa was out wandering the hills gathering herbs and flowers, she supposedly spied this beautiful white bull and couldn’t resist touching him. As she began petting him she eventually worked up the courage to get on his back. As soon as she did, Zeus ran off with her.
He ran to the sea and swam with her on his back all the way to the isle of Crete. Once there he revealed who he really was and made her the queen of Crete. Zeus then later honored the form he’d taken to capture his beloved by re-creating it in the stars above….which became known as the constellation of Taurus.
A different version of the legend says that the bull had nothing to do with Zeus, but instead it is the bull that fathered the Minotaur. It was called the Cretan Bull and it was sent from Poseidon to King Minos of Crete. Sometime during its stay King Minos did something that angered Poseidon, or Poseidon angered the bull in some manner, thus causing the animals eyes to turn red. Accounts aren’t real clear as to what exactly happened, but this is how they explain the red star that makes up part of the constellation.
There is still yet another legend surrounding the bull that says it played a part in Heracles 12 labors. (Heracles roman name was Hercules). The story goes that Heracles once, in a fit of anger (brought on by Hera who was a goddess that didn’t like him much) decided to kill his family. Once the madness passed he realized what he’d done and so Heracles ran away. The legend isn’t clear as to why he ran and hid. It doesn’t say if he isolated himself out of grief for what had happened, or if it was because he didn’t trust himself to not hurt someone else. Regardless of why, Heracles did go into hiding for a time until eventually his brother managed to track him down and persuade him to go and speak with the Oracle at Delhi. So Heracles did and he was assigned 12 tasks, or labors as they were called, that he needed to accomplish in order to gain forgiveness for what he’d done.
The legend goes on to say that his 7th labor was to capture the Cretan Bull. King Minos was glad to give Hercules permission to take the bull away because it had been causing trouble all over the island. Once upon a time the bull had been calm, but now for some reason it was enraged. (Again, this ties in to the previous legend surrounding the bull and Poseidon). Hercules was able to capture the bull and then either lassoed it or strangled it with his hands. (The story seems to change depending on who’s telling it). Regardless of how he captured the Cretan Bull, Heracles took the bull off the island and later released it in Greece. The bull then found its way to a place in Greece called Marathon where it eventually became known as the Marathonian Bull. Once again, it became well known for its ferociousness (thus explaining its red eyes).
No matter which legend you choose to believe, it’s obvious the bull has played a large part in many of the ancient legends. However when you’re looking for the constellation, don’t expect to find the whole bull. All we can see in the sky is the first half of the bull because the other half is said to carrying Europa to the isle of Crete and is still under water. There are many different names for the bull depending on which dialect you intend to use. In Arabic it’s called “Al Thaur”, in Italy it’s called “Il Toro” and in ancient Sanskrit it’s called “Vrishabha”.
The “element” that Taurus is associated with is earth (fire, earth, air or water). Earth is represented by ones environment, ones material resources and ones possessions. Taurus is considered a very strong and solid sign.
When it comes to tattoo’s there are many variations to work with. One of the most common seems to be an actual rendering of a bull’s head, although there are different variations that include just the hoof or just the Taurus name in Sanskrit. Another idea is to do an actual rendering of the stars that make up the constellation. It will really depend on what you prefer and what ideas you and the artist come up with. It’s important to talk with the artist who’ll be doing your tattoo and discuss with him your ideas. Often tattoo artists can contribute ideas that will help to individualize your tattoo and make you happier with the end product than you otherwise might have been.