Angel in the Aisle ~ a prayer story for New Moon in Taurus

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iracles,

Last week, after returning from one trip and preparing for another, I had the great fortune of finding myself at my local grocery store in that perfect time when the after-school crowd and the getting-out-of-work crowd come together in a shock wave of shining cars and shopping carts.

I had my list, and I was, like most there, harried and hurried.

But then I fell into line behind a man who had seen many years and yet still retained the bright and child-eyed wonder where true youth always lives.

He moved slowly; and, for some reason, I did not jet past as I might have, but instead fell into step behind him, rounding the corner from the coffee into the fish and seafood department.

There he stopped at the counter and smiled in perfect, genuine kindness and spoke, slowly, to the fishmonger, who looked so surprised that someone was taking time to actually see him and speak to him, as a person.

I listened, eavesdropping without shame, for I swore to wisdom long ago that whatever form it took, when I found it, I would follow.

And when the man had shared a recipe and asked after the fishmonger’s mother (she had been ill), then he (and I) continued on into the meat department.

Where one of my favorite butchers was unloading boxes and my unwitting companion and I could both see that the man was not his usual bright and cheerful self.

So the little old man asked why, and what is wrong, and the butcher told him how his hands were hurting something fierce, and I could see the fear in his eyes that maybe this pain was not temporary but something more permanent…and what would that mean for him, and his family, and his work?

The man offered condolences and stood there for a moment with the butcher just being quiet and together. And then he touched him on the arm and continued on his way, and I saw that he had left a little wake of healing behind him.

Onto the bakers we went (I was keeping a good distance back because angels tend to know when they are being followed) and at the baker’s bay, the little old man, with his polyester pants pulled up to his chest and his white cotton v-neck shirt tucked in with military precision, inquired how the baker had been, and the baker pulled out his phone in delight and started showing the man pictures of his grandchild and the cake he had made for her birthday.

Somehow I had a cart full of groceries, and when I turned to grab one more thing and then turned back, I was not surprised to find the little old man with the very bright eyes was nowhere to be found.

On most New Moons, I send out a blessing; but for this one I wanted to share a story instead, a story that might serve as a little reminder about how we can be a blessing to each other – every single one of us, every day.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Taurus the Bull

Divination and Dreams

W

riting about Taurus always reminds me of the children’s story Ferdinand the Bull. Ferdinand was a big and strong bull who wanted nothing more than to sit in the meadow and smell the flowers. Ferdinand knew what mattered most and once he made up his mind not much could get him to move – that is one of the essential teachings of this very old, very potent star sign. Welcome Taurus!
Taurus is the 2nd sign in the zodiacal wheel, is attuned to the element of Earth, and is a fixed sign. The Sun is in Taurus from April 19th – May 20th Taurus is the 2nd sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the transition from early Spring into deep Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and early Autumn to deep Autumn in the Southern. Represented by the Bull, Taurus demonstrates strength, stubbornness, patience, wealth, and pleasure. As one of the oldest and most universally recognized astrological signs, Taurus also speaks to the deep wisdom that comes from right relationship with the land.
 

Bull as Animal: By Sara Magnusson

Many male animals are referred to as Bulls, but the Bull we are talking about with Taurus is specifically cattle. Interestingly, almost all modern domesticated cattle are descended from one common herd of about 80 individuals that lived over 10,000 years ago. The ancestors of that original herd were beasts known as Aurochs. The following description of an Auroch shows how the many myths of Bull may have developed from ancient man’s attempts to tame this wily and massive creature: “Wild aurochs…were much bigger than modern cattle, and wouldn’t have had the domestic traits we see today, such as docility. So capturing these animals in the first place would not have been easy, and even if some people did manage [to] snare them alive, their continued management and breeding would still have presented considerable challenges…” [1]

Taurus

Historically, they are an animal to be conquered, but Bull is also viewed as a sacrificial animal – their physical power used to pull and push whatever is needed, meat and dairy for food, leather for protection, and even their manure makes the best fertilizer.

The farmer who has many cattle is indeed seen as a wealthy individual. As Briana will discuss in more detail below, many cultures have revered Bull and, to some, they were the most esteemed offering one could make to the Gods. This reverence for all they provide associates them with the rewards of hard work, abundance, richness, and plenty.

 

Bull has excellent hearing, but his natural environment of open fields and pastures means he is not very good at localizing the source of a sound. This gives Bull a “wide open” auditory range and, even though he is exposed and vulnerable in open areas, he is very much aware of what is moving around him. He has large eyes on the side of his head, giving him an expansive field of view, and can pick up on the slightest of movements. Bull is red-green color blind and sees the world in shades of yellow, blue, brown, and gray. As an herbivore, Bull’s color blindness means that he relies on his highly developed senses of taste and smell to acquire food, even possessing a special olfactory organ that assists in discerning the nuances of his environment.

Bull prefers the safety of what is familiar and finds anything unknown to be inherently dangerous. They resist change and can take a long time to warm up to new people and situations. Bulls may seem to be just standing around a lot, but in reality they are taking it all in – noticing what is new and different versus what is commonplace. Bull also possesses an acute ability of recognition, in that they are able to not only differentiate other cattle, but also animals of other species, including humans. This ability even extends to recognition of photographs of other individual creatures of all types.

As a herd animal, Bull despises being isolated for long periods of time and will act out most aggressively if this goes on for too long. Their instinctual desire is to be with and protect their group and this overrides any “training,” exposing their true feral nature. What may appear as hostility to us humans is actually a passionate and fierce devotion to the ones they care about.

The wildness of Bull remains, no matter how tame he seems to be, and he is most well-known for his size and physical strength, representing the epitome of masculinity, virility, and passion.

Bull has a self-awareness of his substantial presence and makes use of extremely subtle body language to indicate his moods before taking physical action. The cues of Bull’s body language can be so slight that it can seem as if their aggression has come on suddenly, but from the Bull’s perspective he has given plenty of warning. It’s important to realize that those who don’t know a Taurus very well may have difficulty picking up on their fine-tuned signals. If Taurus is your sign, remember to give those around you clear warning when you feel offended, hurt, or threatened.

In our last post about Aries the Ram, I touched on the topic of gender and gender roles and this discussion also applies to Taurus the Bull. When we talk about cattle (biologically), the Cows are the females and the Bulls are the males, thus with Taurus we are definitely delving into some masculine energy. In the Aries post I talked about how the male Rams were different from the female Ewes, but with Taurus the Bull we see many similarities between the genders. Cows and Bulls are both of great stature and physical presence and both exhibit similar behavioral traits and body language. The main differences are that Bulls tend to be slightly larger (but both seem huge by our human perspective!); Bulls typically have large horns, where the Cows possess much smaller horns or none at all; and of course, they differ in their reproductive organs.

Bull is often seen as the essence of masculinity, but the females are by no means the weaklings of the species. A female Taurus can hold her ground and intimidate with the best of them and I encourage all the women reading this to find out where Taurus falls in their natal chart. Learn what that place in your chart means and how you can bring Bull’s energy to work in your favor. The delicate and purposeful way in which Bull senses the world betrays his appearance, as that kind of sensitivity is seen as more feminine. This sensitive-yet-powerful dynamic can cause quite a conundrum for many that fall under the influence of Taurus, male or female or anything in between.

For all their seemingly brute force and intimidating demeanor, Bull’s are extraordinarily sensitive to other creatures and external stimuli. The energy of Taurus allows us to pick up on subtleties that others around us may not, and we can use that ability to show them the richness, beauty and abundance that life has to offer.

[1] Burger,  Joachim, et al. “Modern Taurine Cattle Descended from Small Number of Near-Eastern Founders.” Molecular Biology and Evolution. 14 March 2012.

Bull As Taurus: By Briana Saussy

TaurusNot many Zodiac signs can claim lineage going back into the Upper Paleolithic but Taurus can.

First depicted (most likely) on the cave wall in Lascaux, France, Taurus is one of the most universally recognized Zodiac signs and the Bull or Heavenly Bull, as it is sometimes called, is very ancient.

The constellation is especially noteworthy because it contains the cluster of seven stars known as the Pleides or “Seven Sisters” – a star cluster that is known throughout the world by that name, indicating that there is a common story from one ancient source that then migrated out into all of the different parts and peoples of the world. Taurus was also noteworthy because until about 1700 BC it marked the beginning of the Spring Equinox which later moved into Aries. Ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Akkadians, and Greeks all recognized the constellation of Taurus and for many of them this was the first constellation in their own astrological systems.

Both Taurus’ agedness and universal acknowledgement speak to one of its foremost qualities: a trait that today is most commonly referred to as stubbornness but is actually much deeper than that: the ability to stick and stay the course. Those who are born under this sign or who have Taurus prevalent in their charts are known for staying the course, moving one foot in front of the other, and keeping on until their work is finally done.

TaurusThe stories associated with the sign of Taurus vary widely. In the oldest tales the Bull is the Heavenly Bull, marked as such by star symbols on his back and haunches. Reading between the lines we see that the Bull, much like the Horse for the Vedic people, is an animal capable of providing everything – seed to begin a new herd of cattle, manure to fertilize crops and fields, meat, blood, skin, and horn all of which were needed to sustain early civilizations. The oldest story of the Bull, then, is one of sacrifice; the Bull sacrifices himself and the very world in which we live is created from his bones and flesh.

Here we see another element of the sign of Taurus – an amazingly fertile creativity. This is one of the signs most strongly associated with the arts; and with Taurus we can be speaking of the fine arts, of plastic or performing arts, or even of culinary arts. Taurus resonates naturally to beauty and excellence and all of the places that foster both, and this resonance is based on the fertile and creative element that is so present within the Bull.

In both Summer and Babylon Taurus was associated with the Goddesses Inanna and Ishtar, respectively. Inanna and her Babylonian counter part Ishtar were great Goddesses of culture, magic, love, sex, pleasure, fertility, and also war. Their veneration occurred prior to the much later split that separated female deities associated with love, marriage, and childbirth from those associated with strategy, intelligence, wisdom, and battle (like Aphrodite and Athena). For Inanna and Ishtar the Bull was both ally and totem, as well as defender. In the case of Inanna specifically, she sent the Heavenly Bull down to wage war on Gilgamesh when he did not return her advances. Gilgamesh’s ally, Enkidu, tore the Bull apart and hurled it into the sky, speaking to the above point about Taurus as sacrifice from which the world springs as providing a story for how the Bull landed among the stars.

Taurus’ association with these ancient Goddesses of love, sex, fertility, and war help shed light on why the sign itself is so strongly associated with sexual pleasure, fecundity, and pleasure in a more general sense. This connection between Taurus and the Goddesses also speaks to why the classics understood Taurus to be ruled by the planet Venus, the planet that had long been associated with both Ishtar and Inanna. Good food, good sex, and a life lived filled with simple pleasure and enjoyment are hallmarks of the Bull.

For the Greeks Taurus shows up in a variety of situations. It is the Bull that Zeus turns into when he abducts Europa, while the mortal woman Io is transformed into a Bull by Zeus when he fears that Hera will find his lover and kill her, the Cretan Bull (and father of the Minotaur) is the famous Taurus that a mortal woman fell in love with and that Hercules was tasked with capturing. In the cluster of Greek stories one of the aspects of Taurus that stands out is strength and endurance. In each case the Bull is chosen – either as the best animal to turn into to avoid capture or worse, or as the animal the hero must conquer in order to prove his worth – because of its unusual strength and ability to protect itself.

Certain natural features like horns, powerful hooves, and exceptional strength all speak to the Bull’s power and endurance. The Inuit version of Taurus is one of the few that sees the starry constellation not as a Bull but as a Bear, specifically a Polar Bear that a number of dogs (all represented by stars of course) are holding at bay – this story too speaks to the strength and endurance long associated with this star sign.

The Druids and Celtic tribes also honored Taurus and several significant solar festivals were held at various points in the Sun’s journey through the star cluster. The Bull also shows up in several European myths, ballads, and fairytales. In folklore from the British Isles the Faerie Folk were believe to cultivate white Bulls and Cows that had red-tipped ears, and in the Ballad of Tam Lin one of the creatures that Tam Lin turns into before taking on his true form is that of the Bull.

This speaks to what I consider one of the deeper teachings of Taurus and that is the ability to hone in on what matters most, what is most essential, what is most deeply true and worthy of caring for, preserving, and protecting. Given this observation, it is not surprising that one of the most beloved figures, the Buddha himself, is thought to be a Taurus and his birthday is celebrated when the Sun is in Taurus – straightforward and simple is not the same as easy and Taurus understand that teaching more deeply than most.

Call on the Bull When:

  • You need to slow down and be patient.
  • You require a detail-oriented approach.
  • A difficult or daunting task is assigned to you.
  • You wish to cultivate strength and endurance.
  • You are seeking out more pleasure in your life.
  • You desire deeper, more satisfying, intimate and love-making experiences.
  • You need to be practical.
  • You are ready to refine and perfect a creative skill or project.
  • Fertility is desired.
  • You want to stand your ground.
  • Right relationship with money, finances, and cash flow is sought.
  • You are ready to see what is most essential.

Be Wary Of

  • Laziness – As Sara pointed out in her section, a Bull may seem to just be standing there and not doing very much but they are actually taking everything in. Sometimes, though, this is not the way that Taurus interacts in our own charts. One of the most sedentary signs, when Taurus is given the option of going out and doing stuff or hanging at home in their pajamas they tend to choose the second option. Comfort is good but Taurus has to steer clear of staying stuck in a comfort zone.
  • Self-Indulgence – Pursuit of pleasure is well and good but taking it too far can result in a nasty hangover. Taurus has to take care not to indulge too deeply in any one pleasure because they can easily become lost in it, making choices and taking actions that can hurt those around them in order to obtain a certain experience for themselves.
  • Tunnel Vision – Taurus’ desire for excellence is an excellent quality, but this fixed sign can sometimes become too fixed in their vision of what needs to happen and how it needs to work. This can create frustration, especially in cases where collaboration is called for. Taurus does well to remember that usually their way is not the only way to accomplish any given task.
  • Heaviness – Here we look at heaviness not in terms of weight gain – although sedentary Taurus can gain weight easier than most if there is no exercise, but rather in terms of mood. Sometimes Taurus flips and everything becomes not about pleasure but seriousness and intensity. This is when we have to remind Taurus to have fun, to take time out not to have an existential crisis but rather to smell the roses.
  • Strength – The strength and ability to endure is one of Taurus’ greatest assets but it can also be a liability. Sometimes Taurus can encourage us to feel that no one is as strong, capable, or practical as we are, so we just have to do everything ourselves. Partnership is key.

Questions to Ponder:

Taurus shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Taurus” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Taurus occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • What is real strength?
  • How much do I enjoy life?
  • What is my greatest pleasure?
  • Where do I want to have more pleasure and ease?
  • What art and/or creative endeavor am I committed to?
  • How is my relationship to money, cash flow, and wealth?
  • What am I willing to stand up for?
  • What is a constant for me?
  • What area of life feels especially fertile and full of possibility right now?

Active Imagination Journey:

Cultivate Calmness.
Ground, Center, and Anchor in the ways that feel good and right to you.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are standing in the middle of a green meadow in high spring. There are flowers all around and you can hear the buzzing of bees and see the fluttering of butterflies out of the corner of your eyes.

Affirm and acknowledge that you have come to this place at this time to learn a new teaching about your life, one that is gifted to you from the stars, you have come to encounter the Bull. Acknowledge that it does not matter where Taurus occurs in your chart or whether you were born under this Sun sign or not – we all have this constellation present in some portion of our natal chart.

As you are ready, close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Breathing out in gratitude, become even more acutely aware of your surroundings and as you do, see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that the earth begins to shake beneath your feet.
Boom!
Boom!!
Boom!!!
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel a large shadow cover you, blotting out the morning sun and as you open your eyes to discover what could be casting such a large shadow you encounter the largest Bull you have ever seen.

Take some time to note what this Bull looks like to you – for it is a messenger from Taurus and has much to share. What color is its hide? How long are its horns? Is it decorated in any specific manner? Take time to note all of these details.

As you are ready, see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that there is a long, braided bridle fastened to a collar around the Bull’s neck. The creature’s heavy and hot breath moves across your face and hands. Affirm and acknowledge with your inner knowing that the Bull wishes to lead you to a specific place today and desires that you take him by the bridle so that he might lead the way.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel grasping the bridle as the Bull begins to move very slowly through the meadow. As the Bull moves, become aware of the passage of time, the grass against your skin, the air that is heavy with birdsong. Allowing the Bull to lead you, let yourself simply enjoy being in this beautiful place.

Affirm and acknowledge that the Bull is leading you into a shaded glen where you will come face to face with one quality that matters deeply to you, that is a part of your life and experience ever and always.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel the large animal’s strength as it leads you to something that you deeply value. Take time to reflect on what you find here.

As a final act, turn to the Bull itself and ask it how you can best be constant and committed to your values.

Reflect on the answer you receive and offer up a gift of thanks for this most ancient of star signs.

Altar/Ritual

The Bull puts you in touch with your body and grounds you in your own skin. The Bull is all about his physical presence, but is also extremely subtle. For Bull, I suggest moving meditation, but in a slow and deliberate way.

Think about the movements of Qi Gong or Tai Chi; the slow transition between, and stillness of, Yoga poses. Walking a labyrinth is another type of moving meditation that puts you in touch with your physical presence on the path.

As you move slowly and breath deeply, you may fall into a sort of trance state. Use the rhythm of your breath in combination with your steady movement to attune yourself to your environment and your inner sensations. Bull is methodical and deliberate with his actions and very grounded in his own sensory experience. Be deliberate and full of purpose with your motions while using your breath to stay grounded in your sensory observations.

Afterward, be sure to drink plenty of water and take time to reflect on what you experienced in your body and mind during the exercise.

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Full Moon in Libra: Open Horizons

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

I am often asked about power. What is it? Who has it? How can we get it? Why do we give it away? Is it even something that can be given away? Why do people take it? What does right relationship with it look and feel like? And, most poignantly of all, what if I don’t have any?

Power gets a lot of air time. More than one excellent coach or teacher talks about standing in your power, claiming your power, and naming your powers. Superpowers have migrated from the comic book stands and pages of graphic novels into self-development circles, and I even teach a year-long course that looks at how stories and sacred arts put us into touch with our native powers. Power certainly gets around.

And yet, for all of that, it is still a very confusing topic that often feels raw and tender and alien, as if power is a special substance that belongs to someone else but not really to you or to me. There seems to be an epidemic feeling of powerlessness in our personal and collective lives.

For this month’s full moon in Libra, we look at the power of open horizons. For many of us, at some point in life – or even at most points in life – the horizon does not feel open and the way does not feel clear. We each carry a lineage, a lineage heavy with feelings, thoughts and experiences that tell us that the way is closed – that is, that we cannot do it, no matter how hard we try and no matter how good we are, and that it is not going to work out in the end. Or, that even if it does work out in the end, it isn’t really going to make a difference anyway.

 These are not abstract ideas. They are stories about real people and lived experiences handed down parent to child, grandparent to grandchild, aunt to niece and nephew, cousin to cousin, brother to sister. They are the stories, many of them sad, many of them hopeless, many of them fatalistic, that form the warp and weft of our lives. They are the material and habits of mind and thinking that suck the wind out of your sails and the power right out of your blood.

And that is just the inheritance many of us receive. It does not touch upon the counterproductive – or even just plain bad – philosophies, ideas and relationships that we fall into and buy into all on our own!

Our first impulse may be to try to throw off all of these things weighing us down, to move forward without looking back. But the very curious thing we find is that the special power and meaning of open horizons unfolds within a deep relationship with its opposite.  We tend to think the opposite of an open horizon has something to do with stifling limitations.  But this is only one kind of opposite, the one that contradicts. There is another, and that is the one that complements or completes.  Usually we stop with the contradictory and don’t go on to consider the other side.  But the true complementary opposite of the open horizon is not that terribly powerless feeling of being limited, but is, rather, feeling at home in the world.

Let’s call it ‘homefulness’ for now – a full feeling of actually, for real, being at home. What is that really like? Now under some conditions the dwelling places we call by name “home” lack this feeling; but the feeling of true homefulness, of being at home, I think you will agree, is far from a painfully limiting indolence, or a trap, but is much closer to a joyful flourishing.  Think of one of those big beautiful trees you see around on occasion.

To bless the open horizons of our life, therefore, is also to bless our being truly at home in the world in some way, shape or form.

Now the real secret is that deep in the heart of our heavy lineages, the ones that stand in the way, somewhere this true sense of home resides. What is implied by the thickets of misunderstandings and bad ideas and bad actions – the ones that alienate us and others? It is, in truth, the very possibility of home, of feeling completely, utterly, wholly at home.

If you want to start at the beginning, and hone in on what creates an open horizon in the first place – if you want to discover the actual open horizon in your life – look to the feeling of being at home. Where is your true sense of being at home, of belonging?  Where do you actually locate it? If you can find that for yourself, then not very far away from this you will soon discover the freedom and potential that comes with an open horizon, the journeys yet to be traveled and those great discoveries yet to be made by you.

There is, moreover, a small magical act than can clear the road and open the way. It is a power, one that I consider native ground for every single one of us and it is this: our choice.

You get to choose. You get to choose your approach, your attitude, your priorities. You get to make a different choice if the ones you have been making are not working.

You can choose to tell the same sad stories or to tell a different set of stories, ones that work as good medicine strengthening heart, soul, mind, and body all together. If you do not have any happy stories in your family then look harder. If you still cannot find them then guess what? You can choose to create them, to write them, you can choose to live them.

Also too, you get to choose the teachings and the teachers and the learning that inform and color your own life. What ideas give you strength to stand and act with wisdom and courage and love? What teachings or teachers do not?

You get to choose what experiences you learn from and what experiences you choose to give value to and you also get to choose what experiences do not have the depth or weight to bear down upon you any longer. In short, you get to choose what you want to keep and what you would like to finally set down.

It has been said that our choices make us who we are and I find that to be true. But more than that, our choices reveal to us who we want to be, and our choices influence those around us too. If you are looking for a spiritual practice you could stop now: the choices you make every day and the way you live them is the practice that we have all signed up for.

Now to be clear: making a different choice does not mean that everything will always work out well in the end, or that you can avoid and escape the tough stuff that you are about to run headlong into. It is a power and like any real power it must be nourished, refined, and cultivated.

But that is the magic of an open horizon. The magic begins with the thrilling kiss of the unknown, and can lead to great mystery and wild adventure, or it can lead you to your true home, or to a little church in the mountains where just the right prayer can be prayed. The road is open and you get to choose how you want to travel it; how you want to show up in the world today, tomorrow, and every day after.

Divination Question for Full Moon in Libra

The power of choice and the open horizon that it creates is an especially appropriate theme for the Libra full moon since one of the great teachings of Libra with her balances and blindfolds is that our choices matte and that also, we make them every single day. So under the light of Luna in Libra, consider a situation that has been sticky and tricky for you. Then, with the divination tool you love best, try asking this question:

What would happen if I made a different choice?

Lunar love to each and every one of you!