Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

"Praise ye Him, O sun and moon: praise Him, all ye stars and light''


The constellation of Taurus is symbolized by a great bull, yet another symbol of Christ. In Moses' blessings to the sons of Jacob, he speaks of Christ by saying to Joseph -- son of Jacob, grandson of Isaac, great-grandson of Abraham --  in Deuteronomy 33:13-17: 

Of the blessing of the Lord be his land, of the fruits of heaven, and of the dew, and of the deep that lieth beneath. Of the fruits brought forth by the sun and by the moon. Of the tops of the ancient mountains, of the fruits of the everlasting hills: And of the fruits of the earth, and of the fulness thereof. The blessing of him that appeared in the bush, come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the Nazarite among his brethren. His beauty as of the firstling of a bullock, his horns as the horns of a rhinoceros: with them shall he push the nations even to the ends of the earth These are the multitudes of Ephraim and these the thousands of Manasses.

And, of course, the ox (a gelded bull) was made a sacrifice of by the ancient Israelites: Numbers 8:8: "and thou shalt take another ox of the herd for a sin offering..."

But compare this sacrifical symbol of Our Lord with that of Aries, the sacrificial Lamb. We move now from the gentle and meek Agnus Dei to the powerful, frightening bull. This isn't a heifer, a cow, a gelded steer, or a gelded ox; this is a bull, full of masculine energy and terrible power, watching the world with a bright, glowing red eye made of the red giant star, Aldebaran. Toward His people, He is merciful; to the unrepentant, He is to be feared.

The face of the bull is made of the Hyades, a V-shaped star cluster long associated with water, and on its shoulder is the open star cluster made of bright blue, luminous stars known as Pleiades, "the Seven Sisters" -- mythology's half-sisters of the Hyades (I have to include a very large picture of the Pleiades; it's too beautiful for me to resist). The Pleiades are also associated with rain in legend the world over and are written of in Jewish writings as the source of the waters that flooded the earth in Noe's time, a perfect symbol of God's Justice. [Find the Pleiades by locating Orion. Follow the upward angle of Orion's belt -- toward the right --  which points at Aldebaran, the Bull's Eye. Keep going along that same angle and you'll see the Seven Sisters.]

The Pleiades are mentioned three times in Scripture, in Amos 5:8; Job 9:9; and Job 38:31, but it's those last verses that make the presence of the Pleiades in Taurus especially relevant here, a reminder of something we all need to remember when considering God's Justice, a Justice we sometimes fail to understand, a Justice that can cause some people to even despair and question His very existence. In that part of the Bible, God shows Himself before Job and his friends, friends who've been condemning Job when trying to determine the causes of Job's incessant afflictions. During all that time, despite all of his sufferings, Job never blamed the Lord, never gave up on Him, never came not to trust that He is sovereign and that, no matter what happens on earth, it is due to either His positive or passive Will, perfect in their Justice. When God showed Himself, He reminded those present of His omnipotence and perfect Justice, saying, in Job 38:2-3, 28-35:

Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou Me. Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell Me if thou hast understanding...

...Who is the father of rain? or Who begot the drops of dew? Out of Whose womb came the ice; and the frost from heaven who hath gendered it? The waters are hardened like a stone, and the surface of the deep is congealed.

Shalt thou be able to join together the shining stars the Pleiades, or canst thou stop the turning about of Arcturus? Canst thou bring forth the day star in its time, and make the evening star to rise upon the children of the earth? Dost thou know the order of heaven, and canst thou set down the reason thereof on the earth? Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that an abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send lightnings, and will they go, and will they return and say to thee: Here we are?

When seeing God's judgments, when seeing what He positively or passively wills but we don't understand, it is good that we remember the Pleiades and recall God's words to Job and his friends. This goes, too, for when we see His judgment against His Church and the trials His Church endures -- and will endure to an even worse degree at the end of time. In the Apocalypse of St. John, we see the symbolism of seven stars when Christ appeared to St. John while he was "in the spirit" on the island of Patmos. Jesus told him, in Apocalypse 1:12-20: 

And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks: And in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. And His head and His hairs were white, as white wool, and as snow, and His eyes were as a flame of fire, And His feet like unto fine brass, as in a burning furnace. And His voice as the sound of many waters.

And He had in His right hand seven stars. And from His mouth came out a sharp two edged sword: and His face was as the sun shineth in his power. And when I had seen him, I fell at his feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying: Fear not. I am the First and the Last, And alive, and was dead, and behold I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and of hell. Write therefore the things which thou hast seen, and which are, and which must be done hereafter. The mystery of the seven stars, which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. And the seven candlesticks are the seven churches.

Christ goes on to both praise and warn those seven ancient churches, praising them for the good they do, and warning them when they fall short of the mark. It's Catholic teaching that in the last days, the Church will be put to trial and made to follow Christ in His Passion, enduring great evil. There will be no "rapture" to spare us, contrary to what certain Protestants think. But take heart! In the third chapter of that last Book of the Bible, in verses 20-22, He tells us,  

Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear My voice, and open to Me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with Me in My throne: as I also have overcome, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.

[As a total aside, irrelevant to our story, Taurus is also the home of the beautiful Crab Nebula, the remnants of a supernova that took place in A.D. 1054. Looking like a giant shimmering opal, its beauty is such that I can't resist offering you a picture of it.]

Decan One: Orion

One of the most easily recognizable constellations, Orion symbolizes the Mighty Hunter -- a Hunter, interestingly, who could walk on water, according to Greco-Roman mythology, because he was the son of Poseiden, god of the sea. He was killed by a scorpion (represented by Scorpius), just as Christ was put to death by the evil Pharisees of the day. After his death, though, Orion was raised to the Heavens by Zeus, just as Christ resurrected, and ascended into Heaven. And now he comes for Justice.

As an aside, the three stars making up the belt of mighty Orion are also seen as symbols of the Three Magi, whose worship of the Baby Jesus we remember on Twelfnight and the Epiphany. Orion is very obvious in the skies on those days.

Hanging off of Orion's belt is a sword or dagger made of three more "stars," much closer together than the stars that make up his belt. The middle "star" is actually a nebula -- the Orion Nebula -- which is part of a nebula complex that also houses the famous Horsehead Nebula, which is located just underneath the easternmost star of Orion's belt.

Before moving on to the next decan, make note of two famous stars in this awesome constellation: The seventh brightest star of the Northern skies, Betelgeuse -- the red supergiant on Orion's shoulder (to the left side) -- and the fifth brighest star, the bluish-white Rigel at Orion's foot (to the right side).

Very aptly, considering the symbolism, you will never see Orion and Scorpius in the sky at the same time.

Decan Two: Eridanus

Eridanus, in Greco-Roman thinking, is one of the rivers of Hades, the afterworld. In the sky, this river "flows" between Christ (Orion) and the Enemy of the Church (Cetus) -- the two final destinations of souls.

In continuing the theme of judgment, the story goes that Paethon, the son of the Sun god, asked his father to drive the chariot that pulled the Sun around the earth, a dangerous thing to ask due to the power of the horses and the difficulty in controlling them. Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, has the Sun god telling his boy,

Suppose you are given the chariot. What will you do? Will you be able to counter the turning poles so that the swiftness of the skies does not carry you away? Perhaps you conceive in imagination that there are groves there and cities of the gods and temples with rich gifts. The way runs through ambush, and apparitions of wild beasts! Even if you keep your course, and do not steer awry, you must still avoid the horns of Taurus the Bull, Sagittarius the Haemonian Archer, raging Leo and the Lion's jaw, Scorpio's cruel pincers sweeping out to encircle you from one side, and Cancer's crab-claws reaching out from the other. You will not easily rule those proud horses, breathing out through mouth and nostrils the fires burning in their chests. They scarcely tolerate my control when their fierce spirits are hot, and their necks resist the reins. Beware my boy, that I am not the source of a gift fatal to you, while something can still be done to set right your request!

But the boy was insistent, and the expected happened: he lost control over the chariot, thereby risking the fate of the entire earth. To save the planet, Jupiter (Zeus) cast Paethon into the Eridanus river. It was pride that led to Paethon's death and caused him to fall, and it was pride that caused Lucifer to rebel and fall. It was pride and our sins that led to the scorpion's killing "Orion," symbolic of Christ's Crucifixion.

But Christ rose from the tomb, and His Church has been freed (Andromeda and Perseus); His Mother has been enthroned (Cassiopeia); and the presence of Taurus the Bull lets us know that His Justice will be had.

Decan Three: Auriga

Auriga has been depicted as a charioteer since the time of the Greeks, but to the ancients of Mesopotamia, it was depicted as a Shepherd. Those two symbols became intertwined such that to the medievals, it was seen as a charioteer who held one kid over his shoulder, and two under his arm, and one of those goats gives its name to this constellation's brightest star, the third brightest star in the Northern skies: Capella ("Little Goat"), actually a quadruple star system.

In spite of His terrible Justice, as symbolized by Orion, He is full of mercy for us and will forever protect those who belong to Him.

Taurus can be seen between October and March.


Taurus relative to other stars in the Winter sky:

Table of Contents

The Zodiac


A Tour of the Heavens

Envisioning the Celestial Sphere

The Constellations of the Zodiac












Summary and a Few Odds and Ends

The Traditional Catholic View of Astrology

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