The one thing which made me to scratch my head was the tauroctony symbolism in the mithraic cult. I was aware of David Ulansey's astronomical/astrological interpretation (Mithras and the Hypercosmic Sun) but if taurocotony (which encompasses with in itself the entire main message of the mithraic cult) was just about astrology what was the whole point in keeping this knowledge so secret and why call it a mystery if there were no esoteric secrets embedded in their religion? So just like Roger Beck and others I was not entirely satisfied with Ulansey's astrological interpretation and always thought there was something more to it.
As a sun worshiper and as a follower of Helios-Mithras it was a big embarrassment for me that I was not able to crack the hidden mystery behind the tauroctony owing to its unique artefact among all the sun cult religions of the great antiquity. Therefore I decided to extract more information on the subject.
The one thing which everyone have undermined except G.R.S Mead was Porphyry's knowledge on the mithraic cult. Porphyry, On the Cave of the Nymphs. I think Porphyry is right tauroctony actually represents the cosmogony of the mithraic cult. Its a map which provides esoteric pathways to heaven and hell from the cave of mithras which is the entire empirical world or earth. One argument of Porphyry which is most convincing is how he interprets the symbolism of Cautes and Cautopates holding the torch downwards and upwards respectively like mirror images of one another.
"Caves, therefore, in the most remote periods of antiquity were consecrated to the Gods, before temples were erected to them. Hence, the Curetes in Crete dedicated a cavern to Jupiter; in Arcadia, a cave was sacred to the Moon, and to Lycean Pan; and in Naxus, to Bacchus. But wherever Mithra was known, they propitiated the God in a cavern. With respect, however, to the Ithacensian cave, Homer was not satisfied with saying that it had two gates, but adds that one of the gates was turned towards the north, but the other which was more divine, to the south. He also says that the northern gate was |26 pervious to descent, but does not indicate whether this was also the case with the southern gate. For of this, he only says, "It is inaccessible to men, but it is the path of the immortals."
........Theologists therefore assert, that_these two gates are Cancer and Capricorn; but Plato calls them entrances. And of these, theologists say, that Cancer is the gate through which souls descend; but Capricorn that through which they ascend. Cancer is indeed northern, and adapted to descent; but Capricorn is southern, and adapted to ascent (note 12). The northern parts, likewise, pertain to souls descending into generation. And the gates of the cavern which are turned to the north are rightly said to be pervious to the descent of men; but the southern gates are not the avenues of the Gods, but of souls ascending to the Gods. On this account, the poet does not say that they are the avenues of the Gods, but of immortals; this appellation being also common to our souls, which are per se, or essentially, immortal.
It is said that Parmenides mentions these two gates in his treatise "On the Nature of Things", as likewise that they are not unknown to the Romans and Egyptians. For the Romans celebrate their Saturnalia when the Sun is in Capricorn, and during this festivity, slaves wear the shoes of those that are free, and all things are distributed among them in common; the legislator obscurely signifying by this ceremony that through this gate of the heavens, those who are now born slaves will be liberated through the Saturnian festival, and the house attributed to Saturn, i.e., Capricorn, when they live again and return to the fountain of life. Since, however, the path from Capricorn is adapted to ascent, hence the Romans denominate that month in which the Sun, turning from Capricorn to the east, directs his course to the north, Januanus, or January, from janua, a gate.
- Porphyry on the Cave of the Nymphs
Which makes sense because we have a crab placed near the bull's genitals on the left hand side which represents the northern gate where the souls descend to earth and we all know from astrology that the sign of Cancer which is my birth sign too is represented by a crab and we have a goat placed on the right hand side of the bull which represents the southern Capricorn gate where souls ascend to heaven which is the path of immortals.
Ascension to heaven for the sole sake of achieving immortality is also the main purpose of Mithras liturgy which Meyer Marvin believes belongs to the core tenets of the Mithraic cult and I too believe we should treat this ascension very seriously because even Yajnavalkya who received the fresh portions of the Shukla Yajurveda and the Ishavashya Upanishad from the Sun god, Savitr ascended to heaven and each god starting from god of Earth, god of Water, god of Air, god of Fire, god of Space, god of Sense organs, god of Mind, god of Intellect and finally the god of time whom we call Aion was revealed to him at each of the heavens and only then in the end after the revelation of Aion, Helios-Mithras the ego was revealed to him. Some of the gods also appeared in pairs of syzgies or with their male and female consorts as believed in the Valentinian gnostic sects and is one of the reasons why I believe in Valentinianism so strongly.
The symbols in Tauroctony could mean anything and can be interpreted in any way we want but this interpretation by Porphyry and G.R.S Mead who has shed more light on Porphyry's interpretation (G.R.S Mead, The mysteries of Mithra) seems to be the best esoteric interpretation we have on the subject.