Lac vaccinum defloratum
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The cow personifies the Great Mother and all moon goodesses in their nurishing aspect. She is the pruductive power of the earth and the maternal instinct. Scandinavian myths tell that the primordial cow sprang from the ice and by licking the ice produced the first man. In Vedic literature the black cow played a part in funeral rites, whilst the white was a symbol of illumination. Its image is everywhere one of happiness and patience. ,Cows were often given the task uf guiding the souls of the dead. Cows were brought to the bedsides of the dying who, with tbeir last reserves of strength, clutched the creature's tail. The corpse was then taken to the funeral pyre on a cart drawn by cows and folonwed by a black cow. The latter was sacrificed, its flesh laid on the corpse and both laid on the pyre, carefully wrapped in the victim's hide. The pyre was lighted and the mourners chanted a hymn begging the cow to rise up with the deceased along the Milky Way to the kingdom of the blessed.
Among sacrificial animals, the bovines were the pure victims, which must perforce lead a life of chastity, even as Christ by bis very nature did in his life on earth. ,,The first Christian commentators and symbolists recognized various symbols of the Redeemer in each different form of bovine offered as sacrifice in the ancient religion of Israel. The calf, image of Christ - ,Vitulus Christus', as the Archbishop of Mainz, Rabanus Maurus, wrote in the 9th century - represents the Saviour as a victim free from sin, because its youth makes it is a virgin animal, and also because the conditions of its sacrifice, specified in the Book of Numbers, require that it be without spot or blemish. . . In telling us of the apostasy of the Hebrews at the foot of Mount Sinai, as they turned away from Yahweh to prostrate themselves before the sacred calf of the country of Canaan, the book of Exodus made this animal one of the symbols of the spirit of evil. The calf of cast gold, this ,golden god', became in fact the image of the demon of riches' in Christian symbolism. And at times the golden calf does not represent cupidity but simply idolatry, in remembrance of the apostasy of Israel~
The thoughtless frolicking of the young calves and heifers in the pastures was regarded by the ancient masters of spiritual life as a symbol of dizzy recklessness, ,the impulsiveness that throws youth in the path of violent passions.' From another angle, the cow was at times taken as the symbol of lack of intelligence, of stupidity; and when seen walking after a bull who refuses the yoke, it is the symbol of the soul that follows blindly the instigators of schisms and heresies, which rebel against the yoke of the Church. lt has also been one of the signs for abject passions."
SCAPEGOAT In many cultures public scapegoats serve to expel embodieds. A black cow not uncommonly acts as the vehicle which carries away the collected demons or ills of a whole community. ,,When cholera rages among the Bhars, Mallans, and Kurmis of India, they take a goat or a buffalo in either case the animal must be female, and as black as possible - then having tied some grain, doves, and red lead in a yellow cloth on its back they turn it out of tbe village. The animal is conducted beyond the boundary and not allowed to retum. Amongst the Dinkas, a pastoral people of the White Nile, each family possesses a sacred cow. When the country is threatened with war, famine, or any other public calamity, the chiefs of the village require a particular family to surrender their sacred cow to serve as a scapegoat. The animal is driven by the women to the brink of the river and across it to the other bank, there to wander in the wilderness and fall a prey to ravening beasts. Then the women return in silence and without looking behind them; were they to cast a backward glance, they imagine that the ceremony would have no effect.