Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Totems: Bull, Part V

Bull Divinities & Folk Variations

Characters can select various bull totem abilities, spells, side-effects, and totem tests to replace ones they would normally have, reflecting how the bull can confer its mighty power. Select or roll 1d8.

1. Greek & Minoan: Those who follow Poseidon often respect the bull's potency, physical strength, and fittingness for curses, with bull sacrifices and even minotaurs sometimes being the result. Other Greeks who call Hercules or Theseus their heroic patron instead seek to wrestle or slay the mighty bull, ironically using such tauric power to do so. Still, devotees of the Minoan Potnia focus more on the bull's majestic, civilized form, and are famous for being bull-leapers and shapechangers, if not minotaurs themselves.

2. Roman & Etruscan: Mithra's devotees also see the bull as something to be overcome; it's blood grants strength via the Taurobolium, which is commonplace in their rites. The followers of Fufluns instead take a view akin to those of Potnia- the bull is a beautiful, mighty form, worthy of nurturing, even upon a human mother's breast. Though being a more neutral Etruscan version of Dionysus, Fufluns can also grant the very dangerous bull rages and darker, chthonic power. 

3. Celtic: The 3-Horned, Gallic Tarvos Trigaranus befits his followers specifically with horned and charging attack abilities and spells. He may otherwise be treated as a deified bull totem, and thus druids can harness his power, Other Celts see the bull more as an aspect of Cernunnos, replete with cattle raids and the brown bull (Donn CĂșailnge) and the white bull (Finnbhennach) fighting. In either case, wrapping oneself in a bull hide and even partaking of beef is a preeminent method of their divination (Tarbhfhess).

4. Norse: The Uruz Rune is a mighty and key point of bull access. As aurochs, it can be used by the followers of a number of Norse gods, granting great size and strength in the case of Thor, Magni, Vidarr, and others. To a lesser extent the Fehu rune does so too, though more in the fertility and providing aspect of cattle, and would correspond well with the followers of Freyr. 

4. Mesopotamian: Commonly shown amongst the Sumerian and Babylonian divinities, the bull can manifest as hybridizations or monsters with the followers of Enlil (horns), Ishtar (Gugalanna), Marduk (hooves), Nanna (bull lammasu), and Tiamat (kusarikku). They thus tend towards the mutagenic and summoning aspects of the totem.

5. Egyptian & Colchian: The Egyptians have somewhat less of a demonstration of the bull, with Apis being a manifestation of the totem itself mixed with a sacred adoration of the golden calf. Other divinities might access its horns and fertility as Hathor does. In Colchis, land of the Golden Fleece, the Khalkotauroi are followed as bronze, fire-breathing bulls and their devotees draw on many aggressive and tough bull totem abilities. Some strangely call these beasts "gorgons'.
6.  Slavic & Yamnayan: Notably Chernobog (via the Cherno-bull), can have a few bull totem features added in to bring about even greater woe, though other Slavic divinities can do so too for more noble purposes. The Sacred Bull of the Indo-European Yamnaya of course predates many of the cultures above, and can not only be called upon for great strength, but also the ability to consume milk with ease- a trait of great potential advantage to size and strength when on the move.

7. Baphomet & Minotaurs: Darker aspects of the bull manifest in Baphomet the demon lord. Along with warpings of their body, its cultists bring out the worst in the totem, notably hyper-aggression, overwhelming obstinance, belittling of others, and destruction. Minotaurs themselves reflect this savagery too, though with the proper guidance from Poseidon, Potnia, or some of the other divinities above, can harness their taurine power for more meaningful pursuits.

Next week: our series on Totems continues with the Horse!