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Solar Symbolism

Solar Symbolism, Ancient and Modern

sun icon The Sun Icon

There is a common astrological, and now astronomical, symbol for the Sun. It's a circle with a dot in it. This particular image was once the alchemical symbol for gold, being "...the most perfect of the metals. For the alchemist, it represented the perfection of all matter on any level, including that of the mind, spirit, and soul." The symbol's association with both gold and the Sun evidently dates back as far as alchemy does. The article Gold and the Sun mentions that aurum the latin word for gold, is derived from the Greek name Aurora, the goddess of the dawn. So the color of gold was associated with the brilliance of the Sun since ancient times. Another site, Alchemy and Symbols, notes that "Only a few metals were known to the alchemists. They were, namely, gold, silver, iron, mercury, tin, copper and lead. Since they knew only seven planets [sic - should be 6 planets plus the Sun] and seven gods, they named these seven metals after the gods of the planets. These metals then, were known as the "Seven Metals of the Ancients." Gold, the noble metal, was named after Sol, the golden Sun whose symbol was the perfect sphere;..." and later, "The seven metals were each assigned a day in the week; thus, Sunday was gold (Sol)...". One site notes that "A dot or point in the center of a circle symbolizes the blending of male and female forces. Hindus call the midpoint in a circle the bindu - the spark of (masculine) life within the cosmic womb. However, how that relates to the Sun is not explained.

Egyptian winged eye The Winged Eye

There are some intriguing interpretations of the ancient Egyptian winged eye symbol and the Aztec "Eye of God" symbol as representing the coronas seen during total solar eclipses. You might also check out the An Aztec "Eye of God" Symbol and animation.

solar cross symbol The Solar Cross

The commonly seen solar "cross" symbol is generally understood as representing the cyclical nature of the seasons: The Cross Symbol.

sun with face The Face in the Sun

It appears that the Sun was worshipped as a personified, life-giving deity in Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other major civilizations of history. For a culture who viewed the Sun as a god, it was not a far next step to feature their god with a face, such as the common symbol face in the center of the Sun's rays.

At least one website features a Sun face that was said to be part of an 18th century Masonic ritual painting, and that it illustrated a symbol that has been central to most major spiritual systems of history. "Since the Sun god usually reigned over a pantheon of lesser gods. his symbol played a vital part in pagan worship (and in the rituals of occult secret societies) around the world. In Inca myths, the Sun was worshipped as the divine ancestor of the nation." For more on Masonic symbolism, see Various Masonic Symbols.

New Mexico flag Zia Symbol

The Zia Indians of New Mexico regard the Sun as a sacred symbol. Their symbol, a red circle with groups of rays pointing in four directions, is painted on ceremonial vases, drawn on the ground around campfires, and used to introduce newborns to the Sun. Four is the sacred number of the Zia and can be found repeated in the four points radiating from the circle. The number four is embodied in the four points of the of the compass, north, south, east, and west; in the four seasons of the year spring, summer, autumn and winter; in the 24 hours of each day by sunrise, noon, evening and night; by four seasons of life, childhood, youth, adulthood and old age. The Zia also believe that with life come four sacred obligations: development of a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit and devotion to the welfare of people/family. All of these are bound together within the circle of life.

The Zia Sun symbol also adorns the New Mexico state flag, the governor's stationery and the yellow pages, peddling items from pest control to portable toilets. In 1999, the Zias and other tribes looked to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to stop commercial exploitation of their sacred symbols. See also The New Mexico State Flag.

Please note that some of the websites mentioned above are sponsored by various religions of one form or another and may be seeing the symbolism from their own point of view.

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