The Esoteric Significance of Jose Delgado's Bullfight

by Aaron Franz

first published July, 2013


Jose Delgado brought a science which he called Electronic Stimulation of the Brain (ESB) to the the eyes of the public in the 1960s with his now infamous bullfighting experiment. More of an exhibition than an experiment, this high profile event was highly controversial. By implanting electrodes in a bull's brain Delgado was able to stop the bull's charge simply by pressing the button on a radio control.


 watch this video of Delgado's bullfight 


The history of Delgado's work is an important study of its own, but in this article I want to concentrate on the bullfighting event itself. Simultaneously this event was an experiment, an exhibition, and a ritual; Each of these words describes Delgado's bullfight with increasing depth. It would be accurate to label these descriptions as exoteric, occult, and esoteric respectively.

Concerning the esoteric meaning of Delgado's bullfight we must first look deeply at bullfighting in general. The bullfight has always been a ritual of extreme occult significance. It is absolutely laden with symbolism. The primary meaning of this ritual concerns the triumph of the Enlightened Man over his own animal nature. Bullfighter and bull are actually one in the same.



The Matador wears his traje de luces, or suit of lights. This extravagant garb is typically festooned with metallic gold ornamentation. Gold symbolizes the sun, and so the traje de luces with its gold trim symbolizes the sun, light, and fire, all of which are synonomous with each other. In the esoteric tradition every man has a sun within himself residing at the center of his own being. This inner sun symbolizes the heart and also the soul. Regarding the external solar/planetary sun, it sustains life with its light, its heat, but fire can also burn. Fire can destroy. Thus man is faced with controlling the fires within his own heart. The seeds of both self-destruction and of divine revelation are his to choose from. They exist within his heart, his soul. It is the wise man's duty to control his inner flame. This is why the heart is symbolically referred to as a mediator. It stands between heaven and hell, and is able to choose between the two. The right choice brings spiritual riches, and the wrong choice brings about corruption. Using his sword, symbolizing spirit, the Matador slays the beast. 


The beast as it relates to Man is his own lower carnal appetites and desires negative traits such as fear, pride, and lust. These are the aspects within Man which harm his spiritual progress. They also represent the negative polarity of fire which burns out of control and destroys all in its path. The beast of a bullfight is a literal bull. On this bull is heaped a mass of occult significance in direct relation to both fire and the inner world of Man, of the bullfighter. All of those negative traits that exist within Man's psyche are represented in the symbol of the raging bull. 

To better understand the connection between the Bull and Fire it would help to point out a strange piece of folklore regarding bulls. It has been said that they will react violently to the mere sight of the color red. You probably remember this idea famously depicted in Bugs Bunny cartoons. The likelihood that this is at all true is slim. Literally speaking red probably doesn't effect a bull at all, but symbolically speaking we have something to explore concerning fire. Interestingly fire is depicted as a trinity within the Mysteries. This trinity is expressed visually by three colors: blue, yellow, and red. Blue corresponds to the highest spiritual flame whereas red represents the lowest purely material flame. The red flame in turn can be used to symbolize the lower nature of man. When man loses the power of his Will he allows lust to take over his decision making process. In doing so he allows his own inner bull to run wild. The untamed raging bull becomes destructive as the red fire of lust burns out of control.


Fire Trinity
Blue flame = Spirit
Yellow flame = Intellect
Red flame = Material Force


Could there be an occult message to this product?


Man's purely physical body is also a very important aspect of the bull symbol. In one sense the bull symbolizes the astrological sign of Taurus. The Taurus bull represents the raw material strength or force of the Earth. With this in mind we should also note that Taurus also represents the element of Earth. So, if we look at the face off between matador and bull, we are seeing a conjunction of fire and earth. It is these two elements that are at play in the bullfight ritual. We know that fire is akin to the heart, but what about earth? Earth is symbolic of the body of Man. Whereas the heart and mind are connected with conscious awareness and control, the body is not. It is merely the vessel that Man inhabits. It is a raw material that may be shaped either by conscious awareness, or through ignorance. Through ignorance any and all base appetites are fed without a second thought. 

In particular the raw power of the sexual regenerative force is inherent in the symbol of the bull. Regeneration itself lies at the core of the Mystery Tradition. The power of creation is the ultimate mystery to understand, and within man this power is present as a dualistic sexual force. The wild animal only acts out of its raw untamed sexual instinct. Being a domesticated animal, the bull has the potential to have these instincts controlled. Man has the power to consciously alter the nature of the bull through domestication. Likewise, man has the power to control his own lust. This is what the bullfight is all about, the man versus the bull. The bull actually symbolizes the lust and desire inherent within Man and his physical body.

We can understand that the bull is a domesticated animal, but we must also recognize that man is domesticated too. Both creatures still retain their raw untamed instincts, but they have also been tamed to a great extent. There is much to say about the Enlightened Man in this context as he doesn't necessarily have to be civilized as such. He could actually live as a hermit, but the blanket term "civilized" now has a positive ring that has become akin to enlightenment. To Jose Delgado these two terms (civilized and enlightened) would be interchangeable. The entire point of his scientific work with ESB has to do with civilizing the mind of Man. In fact he wrote a book about his experiments titled Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychocivilized Society. One quote from his book is of particular significance here,

"The victory of human intelligence over the fate of a mindless nature"

Now we are able to understand the reason that a bullfight was used to present Delgado's work to the world. It has everything to do with the esoteric interpretation of the bullfight ritual. Esoteric meanings always bring symbols back to the realm of tangible experience. They elucidate the ways in which intellectual ideas may be used to transmute (transform) matter. How did Delgado tame the bull? It was through the scientific method. With brain implants he was able to stop the bull's deadly charge. He would also have been able to halt the base instincts of a human being using the same technological means. This is what was actually done for Delgado conducted many ESB experiments on human subjects. 

It has to be understood that Delgado saw his work as a truly humanitarian effort. To him implantable electrodes presented a powerful new potential way to control all of the dark and destructive behaviors that the human brain is capable of. His bullfight also helps portray his altruistic intentions. He didn't have to literally kill the bull to conquer it. He did not spill the animal's blood as is typical in this ritual. He did not partake in literal animal sacrifice which is always seen as a perversion of the true meaning of occult sacrificial rituals. 

Looking back in human history we see many examples of animal sacrifice. None may be more appropriate to mention here than the sacrifice of the Apis Bull in Egypt.  If Egyptians actually killed the Apis Bull in their annual ritual, then it was due to their ignorance of the true meaning of that ritual. Although, one would also have to point out the role that the priests played in this example. If they oversaw the literal sacrifice of the Apis Bull then they would have been complicit, especially due to the fact that they would have known the esoteric meaning of the ritual sacrifice. They should never have allowed actual blood to be spilled. Their own excuse may have been that the power of the angry mob would have destroyed them if they had tried to intervene. This raw force is the very same one present in the raging bull. It is the raw material force of an uncritical, unthoughtful Nature. 

The example of the Apis Bull sacrifice is important as it relates to modern day bullfighting, and also to Delgado's good intentions. It isn't hard to point out the brutality of a literal bullfight. Delgado's benevolence is also something that should be criticized, however this is a conversation that becomes far more complex. Attempting to simplify the matter let's point out that it has been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Even by trying to do something good with ESB one still opens up the door to mind control and all of its dark possibilities. Your first experiment may be all about stopping a bulls charge, but later you may end up sending that same bull off the edge of a cliff to its own death. Why would one do this? The answer to this question is unattainable without first pondering the mere existence of perversion itself. Is perversion something that can be ultimately controlled, or is it something that will always arise where there are advanced forms of consciousness? Can the very means devised to subdue violence be used to amplify violence? By creating mind control technologies to halt perversion aren't we also creating a way to enhance its dark power? To what extent can we force the Force of Nature itself into compliance?

It is always necessary to ask these kinds of questions before we are merely carried away by the drumbeat of progress.



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