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The Labors of Hercules - Labor II
The Story of the Labor

Minos, King of Crete, possessed a sacred bull, which he kept on the island of Crete. Eurystheus sent for Hercules and told him that it was necessary to capture the bull and bring it from the island to the mainland. No instructions were given as to how this was to be accomplished, and all that Hercules knew was that the bull was sacred, that it was born from the sea, and that its destiny was to be offered in sacrifice to Minos. Hercules, therefore, travelled to Crete and searched all over the island, pursuing the bull from place to place until at last he cornered it. Then, we are told, he rode the bull, like a horse, across the island and through the waters which separated Crete from the mainland, and so brought it into the city of the Cyclops. These Cyclops were peculiar beings of whom it was claimed that they possessed only one eye, set in the middle of the forehead. They were ruled over by three outstanding figures, whose names were Brontes, meaning thunder, Steropes, meaning lightning, and Arges, meaning whirling activity. When Hercules arrived with the bull at the gates of the city, he was met by the three Cyclops, who received the sacred bull from him and took charge of it. And thus ended the second labor.

The Theme of Illumination

Taurus is one of be most interesting of the zodiacal constellations, especially at this time. It is the Fixed Cross in the heavens, [44] the Cross of the Disciple, and the following extract is of interest in this connection:

"The sky is mystically spoken of as the Temple, and the eternal consciousness of God. Its altar is the sun, whose four arms or rays typify the four corners of the cardinal cross of the universe, which have become the four fixed signs of the zodiac, and as the four powerful sacred animal signs are both cosmical and spiritual, they represent the basic elements resembling our human principles. The sign Leo represents fire or spirit; Taurus, earth or body; Aquarius, air or mind; and Scorpio represents water likened to the soul. Leo, as the lion, is the strength of the lower nature, and is the serpent of force which, if directed upward, overcomes. Taurus, the bull, is always the symbol of creative force. Aquarius, the man, is the light-bearer, or light-bringer. Scorpio, the scorpion, is often transmuted with Aquila, the eagle ... which rises at the same time with Scorpio; they are closely linked in symbolism. Scorpio is 'the monster of darkness', who stings to death, and yet preserves and reproduces, symbolizing not only generation but regeneration. As the latter it is Aquila, the eagle, the bird of the sun which has conquered the dark side of Scorpio (that adversary that can drag man down lower than the beasts), but when transmuted is the eagle of light, which can exalt above the gods."
The Celestial Ship of the North. Vol. I. (E. V. Straiton).

The "eye of the bull" in Taurus, the magnificent fixed star, Aldebaran, is one of the reasons why this constellation is regarded as conferring illumination. In ancient days it was called the leading star of the heavens, and Taurus has always been connected with light and, therefore, with Christ, who proclaimed himself as the Light of the World. Light, illumination and sound, as an expression of the creative force: these are the three basic ideas connected with this constellation. The "interpreter of the divine voice", as Taurus was called in ancient Egypt, can be paraphrased into Christian terminology and called "the Word made flesh". It is an interesting sidelight on the power of the zodiacal influences to recall that the bull's-eye lantern can be traced back to the bull's eve in Taurus, and the pontifical bull, or the papal enunciations which were regarded [45] as interpreters of God's voice, is a term in common usage today.

It might well be asked here, in what way does Taurus, the bull, become the bringer of illumination? We are told that in this sign the moon is exalted and Venus is the ruler. The moon has always, from the standpoint of the esotericist, and among primitive agricultural peoples, been regarded as the form-building aspect. The moon is the symbol, therefore, of matter and is seen in many of our churches, closely connected with the Virgin Mary.

The consummation of the work that is undertaken in Taurus, and the result of the Taurian influence, is the glorification of matter and subsequent illumination through its medium. All that at present prevents the glory, which is the soul, and the radiance which emanates from the God within the form, from shining forth in its full power, is the matter or form aspect. When that has been consecrated, purified and spiritualized, then the glory and the light can indeed shine through and the moon aspect can, therefore, be exalted in Taurus. This is done through the influence of Venus, the symbol of earthly and of heavenly love, of both spiritual aspiration and of carnal desire, and is fittingly, therefore, the ruler of this sign. She is, above everything else, love, the creator of beauty and rhythm and unity. The bull and the cow together represent creation, and so Taurus and Venus are closely linked. The following is of interest:

"The bull or cow is the symbol of this sign, and in the celestial chart it will be observed that the little group of stars called Pleiades are represented just at the shoulder of the bull. Now, in Egyptian sculpture, or painting, the Pleiades are sometimes represented by the figure of a dove with wings outspread over the bull's saddle. The dove as we remember, is the bird sacred to Venus, and as the Pleiades are part of the constellation Taurus and, as we shall see, more Taurian in nature, if possible, than Taurus itself, the dove becomes a specially appropriate symbol for this little star-group." (The Zodiac: A Life Epitome, Walter H. Sampson, p. 24). [46]

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