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Solar Folklore

For centuries, humans have attempted to explain the Sun in terms of their own worldviews. The Sun can be a god, a demon, a mischievous spirit, an omnipotent creator or a ruthless taker of life. Whatever role it plays, most cultures have recognized the significance of the Sun as prime controller of all life on Earth.

As you read these, remember they were not stories created to entertain, nor were they written for children. These myths, legends and accounts represent their culture's worldview, a peoples' attempt to explain, understand, and come to grips with nature's phenomena. To the people who tell them, these reports are as relevant and true, as deeply meaningful and spiritually important, as any scientific explanations.

Indigenous American · Indigenous Australian · Mesopotamia · Judeo-Christian · Other Cultures · Ancient Observatories · Rock Art · Solar Symbolism · Great Quotes · Other Resources


Native American Head-dress
Indigenous American


North American

For more Indigenous American starlore, see Starlore of Native America.

Rabbit

Mezo & South American

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Flower pattern
Indigenous Australian / Aborigine

No one knows what the earliest humans thought about the sky, for no records exist. However, the cultures of the Australian Aborigines, which have been passed down via legends, songs, and dances for more than 40,000 years, give us a glimpse of how these earliest known astronomers may have interpreted the Sun and stars.

The Indigenous people of Australia, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, represent the world's oldest and most long-lived cultures, a heritage rich in wisdom and insight. Before European intrusion, indigenous peoples inhabited most areas of the Australian continent. With more than 700 separate languages, distinctive lifestyles, and religious and cultural traditions in different regions, these adaptable and creative peoples had complex social systems with highly developed traditions reflecting their deep connection with the land and environment. Their view of the cosmos is based on their concept of the Dreaming -- a distance past when the Spirit Ancestors created the world. Aboriginal songs, dances, and tales convey how, long ago, the Spirit Ancestors created the natural world and entwined the people into a close interrelationship with nature and the sky. For more information see the Australian Museum's website Indigenous Australia.

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Gilgamesh and the Sun
Mesopotamia

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Sunset
Judeo-Christian

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Other Cultures
Spiral

Ancient Egypt

African Cultures

China

Classical Greece and Rome

Inuit (Greenland)

Japan

Norse

Polynesia/Hawaii

Maui sunset

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  • about-arts.com
    A directory of literature related websites and discussion groups. Our page is listed under the "culture" hot button.

Great Quotes

"The Sun is a mass of fiery stone, a little larger than Greece."
--Anaxagoras 434 BC


"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you."
--Maori proverb


"The Universe is populated by innumerable suns, innumerable earths,
and perhaps, innumerable forms of life. That thought expresses the
essence of the Copernican revolution. No revelation more striking has
ever come from the scientific mind." --Robert Jastrow 1989


"To the best of our knowledge, our Sun is the only star proven to grow
vegetables." --Philip Scherrer 1973


"The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the
heavens." --Anaxagoras 459 BC


"The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever
will be." --Carl Sagan

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Credits:

  • The beautiful background for the Native American folklore pages was created by Brad Snowder of the Western Washington University Planetarium . Many of the Native American stories are from his Starlore of Native America site. Used with permission.
  • The raven image on some of the Native American folklore pages is actually a head-dress. The body is leather (or some kind of fabric) and serves as a hat. The wings fold down over the wearer's ears, and the tail folds back over one's neck. The beak protrudes from one's forehead. The artifact was produced by the Haida tribe of the Pacific Northwest. It is owned by the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institutes. Washington D.C. The photographer is Don Eiler. The source for this info is: "Native American Arts and Crafts." Colin F. Taylor Ph.D et al. Salamander Books Ltd. 1995. London, page 98.
  • Newgrange image from knowth.com, an authorized associate of amazon.com
  • Quotations extracted from collections by Brad Snowder, Western Washington University Physics Club, and Amara Graps.

Cool site of the day

Exploratorium Ten Cool Sites

Featured in the 31 January 2005 issue of whatsfordinner.net, a daily, online magazine that presents fun, educational topics for parents and children to discuss during their family dinner.


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