Tauren History Part One: Why Do Cows Suddenly Appear Every Time You Are Near?

We’re taking it a little easy this week, as last week’s foray into the world of Night Elf history still has my fingers bruised. This week we’re looking at another of the Horde races – the loveable, cuddly tauren, aka ‘WoW’s moocows’. The Tauren are often viewed as the ‘good guys of the Horde’ – whereas the other Horde races can and have been brutal, bloodthirsty and rage-ridden, the tauren are generally viewed as the Horde’s peaceful inhabitants, and more often than not win the title of World of Warcraft’s ‘nicest’ race. Is this a correct assumption to make? Are the Tauren really that pleasant, fun-loving and good-natured? Where exactly did they come from anyway, and why on earth did they bother joining up with the Horde?

While Night Elf history is well documented, one can hardly say the same of the Tauren race. Much of their history is orally told through story and myth, and very little of it is written down anywhere to actually read. This makes documenting Tauren history a challenge of a different kind – rather than being almost too much history to go over in a week’s time, the Tauren may not have enough to go on. Therefore the Tauren history this week is going to be a little different – mostly conjecture based upon the small amount of material Blizzard has given us to work with. Keep in mind that almost none of the following assumptions and conclusions have been validated by Blizzard as being correct. This week, it’s a week of historical speculation!

The Earthmother and the Creation of the Tauren

The tauren race has been around for an undefined period of time. Quiet for the most part, though they were present before the Sundering that split the great continent of Kalimdor into the continents we are familiar with today. Which…means I need to adjust the map of pre-Sundering Kalimdor I made and add the Tauren territories in there. I’ll post that later this week. At any rate! Tauren. The earliest records of any kind of Tauren history are hanging in the great tent occupied by Arch Druid Hamuul Runetotem over on Elder Rise in Thunder Bluff. These scrolls are readable by players, and placed sequentially around the tent in a clockwise fashion. There are five Thunder Bluff Scrolls, and they tell the earliest stories of Tauren civilization and birth. I’ll be examining each one of these piece by piece over the next several days, and what the possible symbolism and myths behind each scroll could mean.

Banner One: Mists of Dawn

Part one: Before the Age of Memory, the gentle Earthmother breathed upon the golden mists of dawn. Where the amber clouds came to rest, there were endless fields of flowing wheat and barley. This was the basin of her works – the great basket of life and hope.

The first scroll is a fairly straightforward retelling of the dawn of the world and the tauren on it. The Earthmother is essentially the tauren’s idea of God. A benevolent goddess that is the ideal and combination of all of the spirits of nature combined into one. Oddly enough, there is one other group that speaks of the Earthmother, and they most certainly are not tauren. The Wildhammer dwarves of the Hinterlands also speak of the Earthmother and view her as a deity. This seems a little out of place, as the dwarves and the tauren aren’t really connected otherwise. Why would this little sect of dwarves worship the same spiritual mother as the tauren?

There have been several theories thrown about that speculate as to the nature of the Earthmother’s existence. One of these theories is that the Earthmother is actually Therazane the Stonemother, one of four Elemental Lords who were lieutenants in the armies of the Old Gods. Therazane was described as being formed almost completely out of stone, earth, and clinging plants. Think of Princess Theradras from Maraudon. The Princess is actually Therezane’s daughter, and the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree. Therazane is the ruler over the earth, dirt, rock and mountains and is described of being the most benevolent and kind of all of the Elemental Lords. Almost motherly, she is patient and loving, encouraging life to grow.

Therazane ties into the Old Gods, who in turn tie into the Titans, who in turn tie into Dwarven creation and mythology, so it’s not as far a leap as you’d expect.

Another theory suggests that the Earthmother may be none other than Alexstrasza the Life-binder, Queen of the Red Dragonflight. Alexstrasza is the guardian of all life on Azeroth, one of the five Dragon Aspects that were created to by the titans to lead the dragonflights and watch over the world that the Titans had created. This too has it’s own merits. The Dragon Aspects were created by the Titans, which in turn tie into the Dwarves, so it works within the Tauren/Wildhammer dual mythos. But Alexstrasza doesn’t really meddle in mortal affairs, preferring a hands-off approach. She didn’t really create the world, she was just set to watch over it. Which leads to the third theory.

Eonar the titan, also known as Life-binder, is the one who bid Alexstrasza to watch over the world of Azeroth, giving the red dragon a portion of her own spirit so that she could better protect life. Just like Alexstrasza, Eonar is a protector of life, nature and healing. Eonar works on a larger scale however, protecting the whole universe rather than just little old Azeroth. Eonar appears to be based on the Greek goddess Demeter, the sister of Zeus, who watched over agriculture, living things, and the harvest. Demeter translates to ‘earth-mother’, which would fit in with Blizzard’s tendencies to throw in references to real world mythology and events in-game. This could however be just one of those crazy coincidences. The dwarves are very interested in the titans, especially after events in Uldaman and Uldum lent to the theory that the dwarves were direct descendants of titan creations.

This is probably the most likely theory out of them all, and the one I am choosing to run with. Eonar helped in the creation of many living things, and according to some statues that are scattered around the ruins of Uldaman, the ruins of an ancient titan city, the original five races of the world were trolls, earthen, mountain giants, sea giants, and…tauren. This lends to the theory that the trolls and the tauren were the first two races on Azeroth to evolve – either that, or they were the first creations of the titans that weren’t put in charge of assisting a titan, or defending Azeroth. Eonar has one other reference in modern-day Azeroth – the titanic watcher Freya in Ulduar calls on Eonar for aid when she is fighting raiders.

I personally like the Eonar theory – Freya and the Avatar of Freya both tie into Sholazar Basin. Sholazar Basin ties into Un’goro Crater. The tauren myth refers to Azeroth as being the Earthmother’s basin or basket, which could be taken as referencing Sholazar or Un’goro. Perhaps the tauren were created by Eonar to help watch over Un’goro and Sholazar pre-Sundering, and drifted over time into the areas they now populate, scattered further by the Sundering and the separation of the continents.

Part two: The Earthmother’s eyes shone down upon the lands she had breathed into creation. Her right eye, An’she (the sun), gave warmth and light to the land. Her left eye, Mu’sha (the moon), gave peace and sleep to the stirring creatures of the dawning. Such was the power of her gaze that the Earthmother closed one dreaming eye for every turning of the sky. Thus, her loving gaze turned day into night for the first dawning of the world.

This is the first tauren reference of Mu’sha – the moon goddess, and a direct reference to Elune. Elune was also a deity much like the titans – immortal, and concerned with protecting the world and all living things, promoting peace wherever she went. This really ties her into the intentions of Eonar the Titan, which reinforces the theory that Eonar is actually the Earthmother that the tauren worship.

Where the Night Elves worship solely Elune, and view her as their god, the Tauren instead worship the Earth Mother – Mu’sha is viewed as the Earthmother’s eye, and is slightly less powerful than the Earthmother herself. But the Tauren still worship her as the mother of Cenarius, and the introduction to their druidic roots.

Part three: While the right eye shone down upon the golden dawn, the Earthmother’s gentle hands spread out across the golden plains. Wherever the shadow of her arms passed, a noble people arose from the rich soil. The Shu’halo (the tauren) arose to give thanks and prayer to their loving mother. There, in the endless fields of dawn, the children of the earth swore themselves to her grace and vowed to bless her name until the final darkening of the world.

Now this part is really interesting. It explains how the taurens were born – not evolved, but created. If the Earthmother really were a titan after all, this would be an entirely accurate statement, and not really steeped as much into myth and mythos as one would think.

With legends, it’s all a matter of interpretation – and sometimes the most obvious answer is the correct one. While I do not pretend to know exactly what Blizzard’s ‘real’ origins of the Tauren are, there is plenty out there for speculation and theorizing, if one feels the need to look for it.

Read on for the second of the Thunder Bluff Scrolls!

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2 Comments

  1. 11/26/2009 at 7:21 pm

    Stunning post, I did not thought it was going to be so great when I read the url.

  2. Adrian Sanchez said,

    03/11/2011 at 1:42 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this essay. The conclusions you drew are truly fascinating, much like the tauren race. Ever since I made a tauren, I’ve hoped that the Earthmother is indeed Eonar, or at the very least a true goddess. She has remained somewhat of a mystery within the Warcraft lore, and I would be personally heartbroken to find that the tauren would worship a false deity, albeit unknowingly.

    Thank you for your insight. :)


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