Commentary: Signs of the Antichrist.

apis.jpgForget that idiot Puerto Rican minister Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda -- you know, the bozo who’s going around calling himself the Antichrist. Forget Akercocke, the Brit band that’s been drumming up publicity with its toe-tapping little tune “Summon the Antichrist.” (Pretty good death-metal outfit, nonetheless, even if it’s 666ing over a decade after Manson did.) Forget the pope, who’s just AN Antichrist, not THE. You can even forget George Whatshisname -- you know, that Texas jackass, who deserves the AC-in-DC title if anyone does.

When it comes to the Antichrist, we need something with deeper resonance. Which is why I’m surprised nobody’s been paying much attention to the bulls. Not the papal bulls. Not the NBA’s Chicago Bulls -- even though they swept their playoff series with the Heat, which clearly makes them lords of hell. No, I’m talking about the mutant bulls.

The first sign came in 2004 (2 + 0 + 0 + 4 = 6), when a black bull with six legs was born dead in Minnesota. (It’s now in a museum. No one but me seems to have noticed that between its shoulder blades, this calf is marked with a REVERSED white image of the Hebrew letter Teth, which corresponds to the number 9 -- the digit of holiness in Chaldean numerology.) Then, this January, a white cow with six legs and two vaginas was born in Colombia. Finally, on 4/29 (4 + 2 + 9 = 15; 1 + 5 = 6), a black calf with six legs and both male and female sex organs was born in Nebraska.

There you have it: six six six. That’s the number of the Beast in the Book of Revelation, and though the Bible does not specifically connect 666 to the Antichrist, many interpreters over the years have done so. Who am I to argue?

Beast or Antichrist -- neither one’s good news. And the main point is that these beasts are cattle.

We all know about India and its sacred cows, but cattle, especially bulls, have held mythic significance in many cultures: the Cretan bull of Minos (Minotaur); the Celtic, Ephesian and Mithraic sacrificial bulls; the ancient Egyptian Apis bulls. The bull’s fertility symbolism springs from both its tireless phallus and its curved horns, the latter reflecting the crescent phase of the moon, heavenly governor of the human menstrual cycle.

The bull therefore represents both male and female (as in the Nebraska calf), and is often associated with deities of the nether world -- the dark half of the annual death-and-rebirth cycle. When Christianity came along, these gods came to be called devils.

apis2.jpgI myself have visited the tomb of the Apis bulls in Saqqara, just south of Cairo. For over a thousand years beginning at least as early as 1400 B.C.E., Egyptians searched for bulls with special markings that designated them as sons of Osiris, god of the underworld. The discovery of such a bull, which happened on average only about once every 100 years, was marked with great celebration, and upon the animal’s death it was mummified and entombed in a 65-ton sarcophagus within a chamber of the great underground corridor system called the Serapeum.

Walking the Serapeum’s corridors alone in the dim light, passing chamber after chamber, I reflected that no other place in the world contains an equal representation of religious continuity. Even the coffins of the popes under St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome must take second place. Today, stuffing the mutant bulls and displaying them in Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums seems a sacrilege.

Of course, in this first sacred year of a new millennium (2 + 0 + 0 + 7 = 9), cattle are venerated primarily in the temples of Black Angus. Which doesn’t mean that the great forces of the universe have quit dispatching bulls to us with special messages. It just means we can’t read them anymore.

Watch for developments; the Beast has arrived.