Saturday, August 20, 2016

Under the Sun

Here we are in the middle of an astrological time of the sign of Leo, which represents the sun. In Michigan, it is nearing the close of summer, but people are tanning on our many beaches. The day’s length is beginning to shorten from the solstice and reaches its equinox next month, but its light and solar energy are still causing beautiful, bright days, high temperatures and skin burn.

According to Alice G. Walton, who has studied biopsychology and behavioral neuroscience, the sun might be addictive. In an article in Forbes Magazine, she states it is not yet proven, but "since there’s an evolutionary drive to get at least some sun exposure – sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis – it’s not so farfetched that the process might be addicting." Addicting? That has such a negative connotation, but I can see overly tanned individuals might well be addicted. Overall though, the sun makes the day brighter encouraging me, and I suspect you, to get outdoors and enjoy the day. It makes ordinary days enjoyable. 

First off, the sun goes by many names like sol (Latin, Swedish, Portuguese), sole (Italian), soleil (French), solntsa, son (Afrikaans), sonce (Slovenian), sunce (Serbian), sonne (German), soorajh (Hindu), zon (Dutch), zundi (Yiddish), and araw (Filipino), aurinko (Finnish), giiziss (Ojibwa), helios (Greek) helo (Breton) haul (Welsh), kala (Hawaiian), khorshid (Persian), te rā (Maori), tai-yang (Mandarin), taiyo (Japanese), nikko (Japanese sunshine). I’ve read Sanskrit has many different names for the sun, maybe as many as a thousand, but include Mitra, soorya, ravi, and arka.

Did ancients know the world could not survive without the sun? Did they know that plants use photosynthesis to turn its energy into food, which feed animals? I doubt it. Certainly, they knew the sun brought the daylight and felt its warmth. They had to notice day length affected plant growth and the weather. Since they were outdoors for greater periods than most people today, and if the new discovery is true, the rays probably addicted them to its light and warmth. Glimpsing the the sun for seconds brings brief blindness, staring for longer periods brings permanent blindness, something the ancients would have known. They would have watched it with careful respect. The fire brought from the gods was a gift of the sun's power. Closely linked to the sun in ancient minds, fire also gave light, warmth, but could also burn just like the sun.

Very early in his history, men tied the sun to time. Ultimately, hours and calendars evolved from what we now know is the Earth’s rotation around the sun. At that time man thought the sun traveled in an arc above the land. Early men noticed the sun’s cycle each day, and its cycle throughout the year that affected the length of day and night, but they must have puzzled over where the sun came from and where it went at night. The rare eclipse with its dark center and surrounding corona became the eye of god and a symbol of power.

That corona bestowed authority and divinity. Crowns, aureoles, and halos were given to deities and royalty to mimic the corona's rays as seen through squinting eyes.

Another common symbol is the circle with rays expanding from it, often with a face. Because of the night day relationship, the sun and moon are often tied together in images. Birds who share the sky were also seen as symbols of the sun.

As the largest thing flying through the sky, the sun was a mystery demanding an explanation. his mystery led to fables and myths about male and female deities forming or controlling the fiery orb, so since ancient times the sun has played an important character in folklore and myth. The Stanford Solar Center (fun site) has a list of all the sun gods and their myths here on folklore, it also has a page of solar symbols, and information about the sun itself.

Three known mythic creatures were associated with the sun. Kua Fu was a Chinese giant who chased the sun. The East also had a three-legged crow-like creature that represented the sun. Actually, there were 10 of these three-legged sunbirds feasting on the fruit of a mulberry tree of learning in the valley of the sun. They took turns flying around the world, one leaving each day, another leaving when the other returned; but when all appeared on the same day, the world burned up. The third mythic symbol of the sun is the phoenix of Greek Mythology which self immolates periodically to be born anew. 

Eventually, five billion years from now, the sun will become a red giant and engulf the Earth. Life will have ended long before then. As the gravitational forces with the sun allow it to expand, the heat from the star will bake the Earth. It is estimated humans can live on the planet for about a billion more years, that is if we don't destroy it or ourselves before then. Perhaps there is a chance man can take to the stars looking for a new home to settle. As authors predict man’s future in space and scientists work toward that goal, the power of the sun will continue to fulfill its primeval function in narratives. So if you want to play with ancient, present, or future stories, you might well want to know about the sun. It affects everything.

Quote from King James Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:11: I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

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