Symbols - What does heaven look like
A symbol of the creative force and thus the role of the Creator. I wish to emphasise the importance of the idea of the role, there is not one Intelligence capable of creating but numerous creators all with that role - the entire Intelligence hierarchy, similarly we too can create, so being a 'Sun god' simply meant one had the ability and power to create.
More details can be found in the section on Sun and Moon as the two symbols are usually used together. There is also a further explanation of the link between these two symbols of Sun and Moon and tunnels as well as horns. The tunnel believed to go to the sun was symbolically the route which did not result in reincarnation, whereas that leading to the Moon did result in reincarnation.
Examples in various cultures
Cults of the sun were extremely prevalent in many cultures worldwide – Africa, Australia, Oceania, North and South America. They reached an advanced stage of development in the new World, particularly Mexico and Peru.
Roman culture also had a solar hierophany, which during the Roman Empire dominated the other cults in the form of the Mithraic ritual. Sol was the solar deity in Ancient Roman religion. He became identified with Janus at an early period, and only in the late Roman Empire re-appears as an independent Sun god, as Sol Invictus. The Romans held a festival on December 25 of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun." December 25 was the date after the winter solstice, with the first detectable lengthening of daylight hours. There was also a festival on December 19th when the Sun was at its lowest ebb. The three days in between were symbolic of the ‘resurrection’, when the sun rose again.
In Egypt during the 18th dynasty, Ikhnaton solar symbolism became the only religion.
In some religions, the Sun is the ‘eye of God' – the all seeing and all knowing aspect of the Ultimate Intelligence. In effect beyond the Sun is the Ultimate Intelligence. In Persia, it is the eye of Ahuramazda; in Greece the eye of Zeus; in Egypt the eye of Ra; for the Pigmies and Bushmen of Africa the sun is the eye of the supreme God and in Islam the sun is the eye of Allah.
Mircea Eliade – Patterns in Comparative religion
Generally, the Supreme Being gives place to a demiurge whom he has himself created and who, in his name and following his instructions, sets the world in order; or to a sun god. So, for certain Bantu peoples the demiurge Unkulunkulu is the creator of the human race, but is subordinate to the supreme being of the sky Utikxo, although he has since pushed the latter into the shade
The use of the Sun as a symbol for the Creator role is well chosen, its attributes are particularly apt in describing the properties perceived in a Creator.
The physical as opposed to symbolic Sun is the source of all life and brings Light and warmth. Thus the sun is a symbol of the creative force. It is the thing which creates life - the active Creator force.
The physical sun’s power is immense, no one is able to look at the sun because it is so strong and powerful and it has huge reserves of energy, appearing to have existed for millions of years and destined to carry on existing for millions of years. Thus again symbolically it is ideal to represent the Creative force.
Other useful symbolic attributes include the fact the sun doesn't wax or wane like the moon , but shines constantly, is always active. It is also a source of 'illumination' a word that can mean both edification and giver of light. The Sun can also be destructive and although I have used the word creation in the headings, both Creation and Destruction activities are included within the concept of the Creator. Finally it is bright and full of splendour – awesome in its correct meaning.
The Sun rises in the East. When it does it appears to be ‘born’, thus it is symbolic of creation. It sets in the West and at that time appears to ‘die’ giving way to night time. At this time it is symbolic of death and destruction. The Creator encompasses both creation and destruction as activities.
This idea of birth and new life and death is also echoed in the winter and summer solstices.
Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice occurs some time round about December 21st/22nd each year in the northern hemisphere, and between June 21st/22nd in the southern hemisphere, and it is the time when we experience the shortest day or longest night of the year. In some senses, the sun appears to be ‘dying’ and as living things also appear to have died, it is a time when death features strongly - destruction in other words. Hence the Sun symbolically dies each winter solstice, in some latitudes it dies altogether not appearing above the horizon. Thus this period is a useful symbolic reminder that one of the activities of the development of the systems of the universe is destruction of the systems of the universe – from small systems to large systems to souls.
The Sun is masculine in the symbolism used because it is, passionate, active, fierce and can be destructive. It may create the systems of the universe, but it does not carry them as a mother would in its womb. This is the role of the Moon mother.
Back to the Sun when it sets.
The Sun when it has set becomes ‘invisible’. Thus the sun is ambivalent – it can be seen and not seen. A mystic would immediately understand this remark, as generally speaking unless you have a spiritual experience you have no awareness of a Creator – you are in darkness, but once you open the door to spiritual experience then the Creator’s existence becomes visible – you see the light!
Alchemists took up this symbolism of the ‘sol niger’ when they described the spiritual path. In essence someone who had not yet reached any awareness of spiritual reality was in ‘sol niger’. An aspiring mystic must begin a long and painful process of reworking and purification in order to eventually see the full sun – climbing the spiritual ladder slowly until he/she reaches gold. The alchemists even used the Sun’s intermediate colours of red as Fire to indicate stages on the way to full awareness.
Both sunrise and sunset are accompanied by particularly splendid displays of light and energy. Thus might we think of the act of creation and destruction in the same way – the glory of creation and the power of destruction.
The colour of the Sun may be roughly characterised as gold or yellow, both symbolic of the Creator [activity/method]. The metal gold of course also signifying something extremely precious and valuable.
The term ‘Sol in homine’ is used to describe the sun within us – the creative force that also exists within us
SOL INVICTUS, SOL SALUTIS, SOL IUSTITIAE
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