The Sun as a Symbol

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The sun; the centre of our Galaxy and that which gives us life, has been subject of hundreds of years of fascination and awe. From the ancient depictions of the sun as a God, up to our own modern perceptions of the sun as an almighty, flaming colossus in the sky, it has caused those who take interest in it, to ponder it’s seemingly omnipresent nature until the day they leave this earth. It is a symbol of hope, and yet one of chaos and desolation; Providing the warmth and energy required for our planet to flourish, but also providing the radiation and heat that will ultimately destroy it. These connotations of ‘The one that gives‘ and ‘The one that takes’ are deeply rooted in our conciousness as that of Fate, something that we as humans cannot control, but is predestined for us. Much like the fact that we know the sun will one day engulf our world as it dies, reinforces this fact that to the Sun, we are nothing, and this both terrifies and fascinates us as humans.

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The Egyptian Solar Deity, Ra

The Sun is something that cannot be ignored, as just stated, it’s light is constant 24/7, as even when the earth rotates and we are plunged into darkness, the sun is reflected in it’s parallel planetary deity, the Moon. This aspect creates an image of the sun not unlike the God of both traditional and more modernised religions; omnipotent and omnipresent. We see this within ancient Egypt, of which the Sun god ‘Ra’ (later merged with the other solar deity ‘Horus’) is the chief deity within the pantheon, and known as the creator of the world. He caused the creation of all living beings by pronouncing their secret names out loud, and whatever was spoken of was brought into reality. Alternatively, humans were  classed as being crafted from the Tears and/or Sweat of  the god himself; ‘that Ra wept, and from the tears he wept came man.‘  In a passage of the Book of the Dead, Ra cuts himself, and his blood transforms into two intellectual personifications: Hu, or authority, and Sia, or mind. Oh, how could we even dream of confronting such a Being? A god that crafted both our existence and blessed us with our sentience, something that the animals were left without? The Solar Deity is always classed as the creator, and to the sun we owe our lives. This idea of rebirth and renewal is also seen in the legends surrounding Ra, and can be seen in this passage from the wikipedia article on the God;

‘Apophis, the God of chaos, was an enormous serpent who attempted to stop the sun boat’s journey every night by consuming it or by stopping it in its tracks with a hypnotic stare. During the evening, the Egyptians believed that Ra set as Atum or in the form of a ram. The Mesektet, or the Night boat, would carry him through the underworld and back towards the east in preparation for his rebirth.

These myths of Ra represented the sun rising as the rebirth of the sun by the sky goddess Nut; thus attributing the concept of rebirth and renewal to Ra and strengthening his role as a creator god as well‘.

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As well as this the other solar deity of the time, Horus, who later merged with the God Ra, interestingly shares many traits with Jesus Christ. Amongst the many similarities, the most noticeable are;

– Both born of a virgin, Mary and Isis respectively.

– Performed Miracles and Walked on Water, a well as raising a believer from Death’s grip.

-Had Twelve Disciples each.

-They were both Crucified, buried within a tomb, and then resurrected.

How interesting to see the similarities between these prominent Solar Deities, often acknowledged as ‘The Light’ or some  variation of this title, sharing these traits.

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The Alchemical symbol for the Sun/Gold

Here, much like the symbol seen in Alchemy for the Star in the middle of our circular Solar System, we come full circle fro the Alchemy I have so vehemently studied these past few months. The symbol for the sun is seen elsewhere, most commonly in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics concerning both the Deity Ra, as well as the flaming orb he represented. The sun is the ruling planet of  the ‘Perfect metal’ of Gold, and as well as the obvious religious and godly connotations this holds for the Element, it also references the ‘Magnum Opus’ for crafting Gold out of Base Metals, and through this process, achieving perfection not only in the transmutation of the subject matter, but also for the Alchemist, in which he would achieve a level of ‘Superhumanity’ which would bring him closer to God.

Fascinating as this is, this also causes some rather dark theories to arise about the process itself; As mentioned prior, the sun is a symbol of hope and desolation, and this leans to the idea that for millennia we have remained unable to actually go to the Sun, and the solution to this still eludes us to this day. This creates the desire that comes with something unattainable, and this lends well to the luster of Gold, which has been said to drive a man mad; couple this with the potentially lethal chemicals and experiments conducted within the practice of Alchemy, and it seems like the whole process is nothing more than fool’s gold. However, the promise of immortality and the removal of that grim ultimatum we all must face, is desirable enough to work yourself to death for this prize.To transcend time, and achieve the pinnacle of human perfection, as lesser beings than the planets, and the gods we perceive within them, is something we can only dream about.

The sun in itself, is a symbol of Enlightenment, and the beneficial knowledge that comes alongside.

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