20, the Sun began its month-long trek through Taurus (Latin for “bull”),
the zodiacal sign assigned to the hierophant trump of the tarot. The
sign Taurus belongs to the element earth and is ruled by the planet Venus (goddess of love), which is associated with the empress trump
of the tarot.
The tarot’s earthy suit of disks or pentacles illustrates scenes from
daily life related to work, finance, farming, fertility, apprenticeship,
education and family life. Astrologers believe that the Moon, associated
with the tarot’s high priestess trump, is especially dignified (“exalted”)
when transiting through Taurus, the sign of the bull.
the Lunar Bull and the Winter Solstice Child
Sun passes through Taurus, the new life begun under Aries begins to
flourish. More simply put, April showers bring May flowers. The bull
is an ancient multicultural symbol of fecundity, creative power and
the eternal cycle of life, death and resurrection. It is no accident
that fertility celebrations, such as May Day and maypole festivities
occur while the Sun is in Taurus. The horns of the Taurean bull are
emblematic of the horns of the lunar crescent; hence the close tie between
Taurus (the hierophant or high priest) and the Moon (the high priestess).
to mythologist Joseph Campbell:
the Egyptian dying and rising god, was called the “bull god,” and the
Sumerian bull god Dumuzzi was also said to have died and risen from
the dead. Mythologist Jon Grate calls such resurrected gods “Winter
Solstice children” because these gods symbolize “the rebirth
of the Sun from the womb of night” and are born at the Winter Solstice
when the Sun endures the shortest day and the longest night of the year.
The Major Arcana of the tarot draw upon this archetypal cycle of dying
and rising through the myth of Demeter and the mystery religion of Eleusis.
and the Hierophant
deriving from the Greek “hieros” meaning “sacred,” and “phainein” meaning
“to reveal,” is the title of the high priest of the Eleusinian cult,
which worshipped the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The
hierophant (male high priest) with his assistant, the high priestess,
led the ceremonies that annually commemorated the descent of Persephone
into the underworld of Hades and her resurrection to new life. Only
the hierophant was allowed to touch the “hiera” or sacred objects of
gift to mankind was the knowledge of tilling the earth and cultivating
grain. In the mystery religion of Eleusis, the vegetation cycle of the
death and burial of grain in the ground and its rebirth in the spring
became symbolic of the spiritual life of man. Christianity later adopted
the basic tenets of the mystery religion of Eleusis, including the symbolism
of the dying and rising god and the role of the male high priest as
the revealer of truth. The hierophant of Eleusis gave rise to the pope
in Rome. It is interesting that the current pope, John Paul II, has his
Sun, Moon, Venus, Mercury and Midheaven all in the sign of Taurus.
Hierophant, Empress and High Priestess Cards of the Tarot
Rider-Waite-Smith hierophant card, numbered five, depicts
a priestly figure seated between two pillars. He holds a scepter and
wears a triple crown. Beneath his feet lies a set of keys, symbolizing
his access to secret knowledge. On either side of the keys kneel two
acolytes, alternatively clad in dark and light vestments reminiscent
of the dark and light pillars on the high priestess card. The hierophant
symbolizes the organized and ritualized approach to spiritual truth.
the empress trump, numbered three, we see the great goddess (the primal
womb, the queen of heaven) seated on her throne and surrounded by earthly
abundance. On her head is a diadem of twelve stars, one for each sign
of the zodiac. Here is Demeter, the goddess of grain, and Venus, the
goddess of love and material delights. The astrological symbol for Venus
can be found on the card.
high priestess trump, numbered two, depicts Persephone seated between
the pillars of dark and light because she has access to both realms.
At her feet lies the lunar crescent Moon. Behind her hangs a veil decorated
with pomegranates, the fruit she ate in the underworld that binds her
to an eternal cycle of death and rebirth.
Meditations While the Sun Is in Taurus
when the Sun transits through Taurus is an excellent time to meditate
on the tarot’s hierophant, empress and high priestess cards, as well
as the suit of disks or pentacles of the minor arcana. Do you need spiritual
guidance from a wise counselor? Are you being as fruitful as you can
with the gifts nature has given you? Have you been paying enough attention
to your inner life or just focusing on the outer life? Where are you
in the cycle of planting your seeds, cultivating your garden and reaping
what you have sown? In what part of your life do you need to “die” in
order to be reborn?
for mediation, sit or lie in a comfortable place and allow your body
to be free of tension and distractions. Pay attention to your breathing.
Feel your breath go in and out as you inhale and exhale. If distracting
thoughts enter your mind, simply observe them and allow them to float
by as you gently return your attention to your breathing. When you have
established a steady, comfortable rhythm of breathing rhythmically in
and out, turn your focus to the tarot card you have selected for meditation.
the card and contemplate its images. Imagine yourself as a character
or element in the card. In your mind’s eye, enter the card and become
part of its scene. What are you thinking and feeling? What questions
are you asking of the other characters in the card? What do they expect
of you? What is the story that underlines the scene on the card? How
does that story relate to your own life? Take your time playing out
the story as if you were in a dream. When you have completed your meditation,
you may wish to record your observations in a tarot notebook for review