Mithras and the Taurobolium

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The word "Taurobolium" means literally the lassoing of the bull. In Mithraic myth, Mithras caught and subdued a bull, slaughtering it by thrusting a dagger in its right side much like a modern Spanish bullfight.

In Rome, the word ‘taurobolium’ applied to the sacrifice of a bull and the baptism in its blood of a suitably prepared and mature Mithraic initiate. Such a baptism would assure the initiate a place in the outer reaches of the universe which was not subject to time, that is eternity.

Rome’s main Mithraic baptistery was an annex of the Phrygianum (and later the Basilical Petros) on the side of Mons Vaticanus (the Vatican Hill), and bloody baptisms continued well into the latter half of the fourth century AD. The Phrygianum was the temple of Phrygia where both Attis and Cybele were worshipped. Roman Mithra was thus a blend of Attis (emasculated with his Liberty Cap) and the Venusian Goddess Cybele. Like Attis, he was a Brahamanical solar deity and named after the Vedic god of light Mitra.

At Easter, the vernal equinox, priests led a garlanded bull, crowned with gold and sporting gold discs on it flanks, into the baptistery. A be-ribboned initiate crowned with gold and wearing silk vestments entered the pit at the centre of the baptistery, which was then covered with perforated wooden boards. The priests enticed the bull onto the boards and secured it. The priest then offered prayers with correct ritual, concluding by thrusting a consecrated spear into the right flank of the pinioned beast. Steaming blood showered though the perforated boarding under which the initiate, who in ecstacy, presented his face to the dripping blood washing his eyes in gore and drinking the blood. The baptised initiate emerged, in gory glory, like a newborn babe into a new world, freed from sin and bestowed with the promise of immortality.

The bull was crowned, dressed, secured or immobilised, pierced by a spear, and blood issued forth which the initiate drank. Cleansed, the initiate later banqueted on the carcass. The initiate drank the blood of and ate the body of the bull which represented the body of Christ and the Sun itself.

Thus the Mithraic initiate, who had previously been baptized through an entheogenic communion in the Mithraeum temple (link in comments), had successfully reenacted the story of Mithra and conquered the bull. This rite had several levels of meaning.

Since Cybele (Venus) resurrected Attis (the Sun) in Taurus, sacrificing the bull at Easter was done to ensure celestial fertility and rebirth of the Sun. On another level, Mithra killing the bull also symbolized the son's triumph over his father, a common theme in ancient religion and royal succession. But perhaps most important, overcoming the bull symbolized control of one's inner beast; his inner sexuality; and a purification of one's animal instincts to gain access to Heaven. This was actually a symbolic form of emasculation, as practiced literally by the Phrygian Galli.

Also known as Apollo, Helios and Sol Invictus; Mithra finally assumed the name ‘Christ’, meaning King or 'the anointed one.' Roman Catholicism, meaning 'purification,' is a continuation of this fertility rite with Jesus taking the place of Mithra and, more specifically, the bull. Like the bull, Christ was speared with the Holy Lance during his sacrifice on the Tau-cross. In this way, the crucifix symbol replaced the Golden Calf.

* Photo of Mithra the Hunter wearing the Liberty Cap of Attis while sacrificing Taurus the bull. He looks over his shoulder at the cock (=Virgo) while a scorpion (Scorpio) attacks the bull's testicles, a serpent (Ophiuchus) bites at his leg and a dog (the dog star of Sirius) bites at the wound. This group of constellations is know as the Taurobollum of Mithra.