Saturday, November 24, 2012

Worship of the Sun

     The sun has always been a mysterious and prominent force, a bright ball of light in the sky, one that disappears every evening but returns with godly certitude at the start of every day.
     In Mesopotamia, the hero Gilgamesh was a link between heaven and earth, the son of a human woman and father(s) the sun god, Shamash and the storm god Adad.
     In Egypt, the cult of Re (Ra), the God of the Sun was dominant around 2600 BC with its center at Heliopolis (Sun City). Greek myth has a somewhat confusing mix of 'sun deities': Apollo was the son of Zeus and, as one of the 12 gods of Mount Olympus, was known as the god of the sun. Before Apollo however, there was the Titan sun god, Hyperion; Helius, another god of the sun was perhaps contemporary with Apollo.

     But the sun was not always seen as the dominant force in the heavens. In African mythology (Yoruba), the sun and moon were created by Oleron, the supreme deity who directed the sun and moon when to come out and how to behave.
     In one aboriginal story from Australia, Wuriupranala, the 'Sun Woman' was given a torch of fire and her brother Thaparra, 'Moon Man', another torch but one of lesser intensity, explaining why the moon was never as bright as the sun.

Florentine Codex-Aztec Gods
     Aztec mythology focused on 5 suns or ages in the world. The First Sun (Sun of the Earth), inhabited by giants, was annihilated by jaguars; the Second Sun (Sun of the Air), populated by sinful people, was destroyed by the wind god, Ehecatl; the Third Sun (Sun of Rain) where people did not fulfill their sacred duties, was destroyed by a rain of ash and fire; the Fourth Sun (Sun of Water) was created and destroyed by flood (another flood myth?); the Fifth Sun (the final sun) is our present era , ruled by the sun god, Tonatiuh.

     If human beings do not work in harmony with the gods, this final age will also be destroyed, never to be created again.
     Although many of the sun deities were male, many were also female: the Arunta of Australia worshipped Sun Woman; in Japan, the sun goddess Amaterasu was revered; the Cherokee of native North America told the story of Grandmother Sun.

     A 'solar trinity' is seen in many theologies including Persian, Egyptian, Hindu, Babylonian and Christian (ie Father, Son and Holy Ghost) representing the light of the sun in its three phases: rising sun/dawn: God, the father, creator of the world, shrouded in blue (see blog: The Colors of Faith); the mid-day sun, the Illuminating One (yellow);and the setting sun: God, the Holy Ghost wrapped in flaming red.
     The sun, since very ancient times, has been recognized as creator, sustainer and, sometimes as destroyer.

     "Sun, sacred and blessed, rejoin your mother." - an ancient Basque bedtime prayer, still repeated in modern times.
     *Sky worship: subject of research for the novel  The Tao of the Thirteenth God - Amazon Kindle.

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