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The mystery of the sun symbol through the ages

- Categories : All about symbols

As a source of life and power, the sun has always been the source of myths and legends. Necessary element, bringing light and warmth, it regulated the life in community and inspired by its power. Worshipped in many cultures, it has become a symbol and a deity.

Let's see the representations that have marked the star of fire.

Meaning of the sun

The dictionary gives us the following definition: "The star that gives light and heat to the Earth, and gives rhythm to life on its surface."

However, if we look at the symbolism of the sun through traditions and religions, it has a much more important character than we think.

The sun has always fascinated men, who have venerated it.

The symbolism of the Sun

In alchemy, the symbol of the sun and gold is a circle with a point in the center. It represents the interior with all that revolves around it. In astronomy as in astrology, the symbol is the same.


Astronomical symbol of the moon and the sun

The use of astronomical symbols for the sun and moon dates back to antiquity. They appear in Greek horoscope papyri as a circle with a radius for the sun and a crescent for the moon

The modern solar symbol, a circle with a dot in the center (☉), appeared in Europe during the Renaissance.

These symbols are also used in alchemical texts, with the sun representing gold, the moon representing silver, etc.

The wheel of the sun

The sun has always fascinated people. In ancient civilizations, it is represented by a circle with a dot in its center. This symbol recalls the cycle of the sun, from sunrise to sunset.

The sun wheel comes from the wisdom of the ancients. It represents the two universal principles of masculine and feminine, yin and yang: the man and the woman who unite and become androgynous, that is to say, creators by thought, feeling, will and act. And by their act, they bring love, goodness, dignity or else stupidity, destruction, nothingness.

For our ancestors, the sun was the symbol of life, of the higher consciousness: when it is no longer there, everything disappears, nothing exists because we can no longer see anything, and when it is there, everything appears and we can direct ourselves.

The sun was the symbol of consciousness and the absence of the sun was the symbol of the man who is not fixed, who dreams, who does not see the reality of things, bathing in illusions.

This is the wisdom of the wheel of the sun, which awakens man to higher consciousness, and the wheel of illusions, which locks him into a dead world.

The four-pointed wheel, known in the Mystery Schools as the Sun Wheel, is one of the oldest and most widespread universal symbols. Since prehistoric times, it has been alive in many peoples and traditions.

This wheel of the four elements is found in the medicine wheel of the Amerindians, which is a circle with a cross inside.

We also find the solar wheel among the Celts, through the Celtic cross, as well as among the Basques, in the lauburu, the cross with curved branches which represents the solar God Egu.


In ancient Greece, it is discovered in the legend of Prometheus, who stole a seed of fire from the wheel of the sun and brought it back to men, who had been denied the use of fire by Zeus.

This wheel of the sun of Olympus is also the swastika, which can be described as a cross composed of four branches taking the form of the Greek letter gamma in capital (Γ), hence the nickname " swastika " that the Nazis gave it.

Almost all ancient peoples have spoken of this spinning cross.

- It symbolizes for the Hindus the God Ganesh, who is invoked as the positive force that removes obstacles. It is one of the two main symbols of Hinduism, representing the cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth.
- For Freemasons, it represents the universe, the center of the cross symbolizing the North Star, and the four branches, the four cardinal points.
- In Jainism, it symbolizes the Tirthankara Suparsva, the seventh saint, the one who has reached the seventh level of wisdom.
- In Tibetanism it is called yungdrung, which means "eternal".
- It is the Chinese ideogram for "ten thousand" or "myriad", meaning eternity or "Buddha's heart", and in Chinese Buddhism it symbolizes the realization of the ten thousand merits, which lead to nirvana.
- In Zen Buddhism, a branch of Japanese Buddhism, it is the " seal of the Buddha mind ". It is not uncommon to see statues of the Enlightened One with a swastika on the chest or forehead.
- The swastika is used by the Navajo as the "swirling log" for healing rites, while among the Hopi it represents the wanderings of the clans.
- This symbol was very present in the religious traditions of several American Indian tribes, so much so that until 1940, it could be seen on the milestones of the county roads of the State of Arizona, in the United States of America.
- The symbol is so ancient that it has even been found in Samarra, on ceramics and coins dating back to Mesopotamia, about 5500 BC.


After this symbol had represented Light, wisdom, eternity, enlightenment for centuries on earth, there came a man who chose it as the emblem of his reign of terror: Adolf Hitler.

Since that dark episode of humanity when it was the symbol of the Nazi regime, the swastika, the wheel of the sun, no longer evokes the Light but darkness.

However, this symbol has not changed; only man's view of it has changed, because he has been tainted, manipulated, and deluded into not seeing the Light where it is hidden.

Sun God or Sun Goddess?

Symbol of eternity, light, life, wisdom, prosperity, warmth, hope, the sun is considered in most cultures as a masculine element. In Taoism in particular, it is the male principle opposed to the moon, the female principle. We find this duality in the yin and the yang.

Generally speaking, the sun is seen as a masculine and active principle

Some nomadic peoples of Central Asia considered it as a feminine principle (the Mother Sun), this is also the case of the Japanese for whom the Sun is the kami Amaterasu, the great goddess, sister of Tsukuyomi, the kami of the Moon

Even in the German language, the Sun is feminine according to its article (die Sonne). In Norse mythology, the children of Mundilfari and Glaur are named Sol (goddess of the Sun) and Máni (god of the Moon)

Often, the Sun represents power. This star gives life and if the Sun were to disappear, or even if its rays no longer reached us, life would be extinguished on Earth, hence the symbol of life (giver of life). If the sun is not associated with a god, some personalities have associated it with themselves like the French king Louis XIV nicknamed the Sun King (crowned by God). And the Japanese imperial family boasts of being descended from Amaterasu, goddess of the Sun.

The sun, deity among deities

The word sun comes from the Latin sol, solis, which means star and deity.

In many civilizations, he is incarnated by a god. Sometimes guardian of time, like Utu among the Babylonians, sometimes defender of justice, like Shamash among the Sumerians, the sun holds a central place among the deities.

In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli is both god of the sun and war and master of the world.

Among the Persians, it is Mithra who is presented as the spirit of good and the organizer of the world, with his thousand eyes and his thousand ears. Apollo, in Roman mythology, is the god of music and song, of male beauty and sunlight.

Let us also mention Helios, the personified god of the Sun, often represented with a radiant crown and riding a chariot across the sky.


The sun symbol in Egypt: who is the Sun God?

The Egyptian mythology erected Ra, god of the Sun, as the most powerful of all. According to the legend, he adopts three different forms. Khepri, the beetle, represents the rising sun. Ra, the solar disk, the noon sun and Atum, an old man leaning on his stick, the setting sun. Every evening, the goddess of the sky swallows Ra and makes him sail in a celestial boat.

What you need to know is that more than ten thousand years ago, seven great kings of Light lived in India, like demi-gods who ruled the earth. They were called "O-Rishis", which means " Sons of the Sun ". Later, the Egyptians called the Father of all life "Osiris", a word in which we find all the phonetic components of the name "Ri-shis".

Indeed, "Osiris" can also be pronounced "O-Shi-Ris". Thus, Osiris was the Father of the Rishis, of the Pharaohs, the one who begets the Sons of the Sun, as it is said in the Gospels when speaking of Jesus who receives the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove: "This is my beloved Son, today I have begotten him." In Egypt, Pharaoh received the Holy Spirit and the anointing of royalty in the form of the falcon Horus. These images speak of a universal science and knowledge, common to all the traditions of the peoples.

By calling "Is-Ra-El" the people of the Children of the Light leaving the lost paradise (usurped Egypt), Moses revealed his direct filiation with the ancient Rishis and also that he was a priest of Isis and Osiris, a son of Horus, an heir of the secret science of the pharaohs

Indeed, we find again the same phonetic components as in the two previous names. In a very ancient language, even earlier than those of ancient India and Egypt (but from which they drew their own language), "IS" designates man, "RA" corresponds to the Sun and "EL" means God. "Israel" can thus be translated as "man awakened in the Sun of God ".


This was the secret name of the initiates and priests of Egypt, of whom Moses was the supreme leader, the only legitimate pharaoh. Two thousand years later, it is Jesus who will become this supreme leader, the Sun of God living in a man, as his name indicates: in Hebrew, Jesus-King is pronounced "Ie-shou-a-ra" and Israel, "I-shou-a-ra- el". It is the same name!

The sun, source of light for the Celts

The sun is considered by the Celtic people as the source of all light. Belenos, god of the Sun, symbolizes harmony and beauty. He warms the soul and the body and knows how to heal all ills

According to Wikipedia, Belenos was honored on May 1st, during the festival of Beltane, Beltaine or "Beltene" in Ireland, that is to say "the fires of Belenos". This marks a break in the year, the passage from the dark season to the light season

At the time of this festival, the druids carried out a ritual consisting in making pass the cattle through the smoke produced by the fires, by reciting incantations, to purify it and protect it from epizootics. All the ritual fires were partly associated with it, starting with the fires of St. John at the summer solstice and the bures preserved by the peasantry in Merovingian times during the carnival period.

During this last occasion, the vigorous jumps of the dancers above the collective hearth announced the height of the harvests (cereals, flax...) to be reaped. Let us note that the size of the stem (thus of the straw) was allotted to Lug or to the Moon, whereas the size of the grain was conferred to Belenos/Grannos.

All the sanctuaries dedicated to light or to the solar cult were in his domain. His cult seems to have been important throughout the Celtic world since inscriptions have been found in many Gallic territories.


The Roman cult to the glory of the sun

Sol invictus, which means "unconquered sun" in Latin, is a solar deity whose cult appeared in the 3rd century in ancient Rome. Proclaimed by Emperor Aurelian as the main patron of the Roman Empire, it is celebrated every year on December 25, the day of the winter solstice. This celebration, called the "day of the birth of the unconquered sun" extends the period of the Saturnalia, an ancient festival that was the most important in Rome.

The Emperor Constantine subsequently made Sunday the "day of the sun", a day of rest in homage to the Sol Invictus. The tipping of the Empire into Christianity in the 4th century transformed the festival of Sol Invictus into a festival of the birth of Jesus.

The sun symbol in India

In the Hindu religion, polytheist, the Sun God is incarnated by Surya

In Hinduism, Sūrya (from the Sanskrit root sur or svar, to shine) is the sun god, son of Āditi and Kashyapa. He has four wives, Samjnâ, knowledge, Râjnî, sovereignty, Prabhâ, light and Châyâ, shadow. He is the father of Manu, the first man and the legislator of humanity, but also of Yama, the god of Death, and of Yamî, who will become, after his death, the Yamunâ river, one of the three most sacred rivers of Hinduism.

Source of energy and light, it envelops the earth and sets beings and things in motion.

Indian mythology tells that every day he crossed the sky accompanied by Ushas, which represents the dawn. His brightness and warmth nourished, but could also destroy beings. He was so dazzling that his wife decided to leave him.

In Indian iconography, Surya is presented as a young man haloed by the sun disk, driving a chariot of light drawn by 7 horses. They represent the 7 days of the week.

The myth of the ten suns in China

The cycle of the Sun has inspired many other legends. A Chinese myth tells that at the creation of the world there were 10 suns. Sons of Jun, god of the sky, they lived together in a giant tree. Every day, one of them was allowed to rise to the top of the tree. He would then leave in a chariot pulled by six dragons to make a round in the sky. Then he would join his brothers at the foot of the giant tree and darkness would fall.

One day, the ten suns decided to rise and leave together. They inflicted unbearable heat on mankind and caused drought. Monsters appeared and people starved. Jun took pity and sent his best archer to end the lives of his rebellious sons. One of them was fortunately spared.

If all people have worshipped the sun, it is not by chance

The Sun represents the divine world because it is the only star in our solar system that has remained faithful: it is always luminous, it has not become dense, it is not really matter. It is the source of all existence, of all creation. Everything comes from him. Without him, there is nothing.

So here is an invocation prayer to connect you to the sun.

Prayer of invocation to the sun


"O Mother (Nature), I want to approach the Sun in the purity and authenticity
of my true being, he, the king
of light, love and truth. Let my thought be the extension
and manifestation of his light here on earth. May my heart and my feelings
be filled with his warmth.

May my will be in accord
with the creative force of harmony of the Sun. I want to be on earth as the Sun
in the sky, radiant and powerful".

"You, Sun who rises over the world to chase away all darkness,
to triumph over death and to resurrect life in all worlds, teach me the greatness, the purity,
the true wisdom that can dwell
and live through this text. Enlighten me, that I may become
a child of the Sun."


Now sit on the Mother in meditation.

Open your whole being so that light in your thinking, warmth in your heart and pure life in your womb, in your will and in every cell of your body awaken in you.

Perceive the great aura of light of the Sun (preferably rising) that embraces and envelops all.

Enter her as if you were entering a magical temple, invisible yet perfectly real. Awaken to the fine perception of the two worlds: one gross and limited world in which you are confined and cannot breathe, and the other world, the world of endless Light. They are really two worlds, and if you enter one or the other, you will not be in the same state at all

Make this fully aware and evident in your whole being.

Mandala to connect with the sun

The Mandala of Optimism is really evocative of the sun symbol and by itself it illuminates us with its blazing rays!

It makes us realize that everything is for the best in the best of all worlds. But how can I believe it when everything around me is only unhappiness, pain, misery, hypocrisy...?

He tells us that if our intention is beautiful, we will be filled with God. If our work is good, we will be blessed with Light.

When man-made life torments you, do not lower your eyes and do not feed on the lower forces of the earth. Always keep your eyes raised to the sky and even in the storm, remember your ideal that makes your soul live and your heart sing.

This is the real strength.

The word of conclusion

Look at the morning sun with authenticity and your face will light up, your heart will sing, your body will want to dance. The sun is an artist in his soul and the earth is his painting. Who can deny that the sun is the creator of all colors and that it plays with them wonderfully?

It is because he is an artist that he awakens the artist in you. Thus, he produces outside himself what he really is inside. Then, in its light, in its warmth, in its life, we want to laugh, to sing, to dance, to celebrate life. The sun has this power to relax your face and expand your heart.

Then it awakens a smile, laughter, joy is expressed, creativity is manifested. What is laughter? An extension of the smile that comes from a dilation of the heart touched by a ray of sunshine. This is life. Sad-looking beings have cut themselves off from the sun-artist and his higher consciousness. Their heart is closed to its rays, so that no color, no flavor can come out of them. They are serious, that is to say, they have "squeezed the laughter in them" (ser-ri-eux), they have compressed their soul and have taken fear as their master and ideal. To be afraid and to make afraid.

And you, what choice do you make?

The vibrational Mandalas are children of the sun-artist and it is his message that they want to spread in the world and see blossom in the heart of everyone.

We arrive at the end of this article. I hope you liked it, do not hesitate to comment, to share and to subscribe to our newsletter to be informed of the next publications.

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And if you want to go further in the discovery of symbols, welcome to this space / store dedicated to sacred geometry.


Article by Claire Guichard in the Bio Contact of July-August 2022The
wheel of the sun at Essénia Editions

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