Sunday, October 11, 2015

Solar Sunna

Solar Deity

Long ago, according to legend, there was a giant named Mundilfari who was called the Turner of Time. His children Sunna, Mani, and Sinthgunt became the deities of Sun, Moon, and Twilight. An ancient giantess, Nott, joined the House of Mundilfari and became the goddess of Night, the herald of Mani. Nott's son Daeg (by a red elf named Delling) became the god of Day, Sunna's herald. Mundilfari's family and House gives us our sense of Time, every day of our lives.

sunnane-48587335693.jpgIn the more northerly parts of Scandinavia, around the summer solstice, the light doesn't completely fade from the sky. Friends who've traveled there at that time report that they felt happy, almost euphoric, and that the native Scandinavians seemed to react with equal energy. On the other hand, around the winter solstice, the dark doesn't completely leave either. Melancholia, depression, substance abuse, and violence may all increase then. Some Scandinavians install banks of full spectrum lighting in their homes to counteract the loss of light.

This Sun/Moon connection is glimpsed in the Norse myth about a mortal man of our world whose name was Mundilfari. He fathered a son and a daughter who were so lovely that he called the boy Moon and the girl Sun. Angered by this hubris, the chief Norse God, Odin, and the Gods known as Aesir, stole the children and assigned them to guide the chariots of the Sun and the Moon through the sky. The boy was to lead the Moon, and the girl was to follow, leading the Sun. Wolves would hotly pursue both of them, the wolf Hati chasing the Moon, and the wolf Skoll chasing the Sun. In the beginning of Ragnarok-the period during which the doom of the Gods and the destruction of life on Midgard (Earth) would take place-the wolves would catch the Sun and Moon and devour them.


sun noon dd87fsd.pngSunna, or Sol, is the Norse Goddess of the Sun. She has been called All-Bright, Everglow, and Fair Wheel. She drives across the sky each day, chased by the wolf Skoll who keeps her on course, which she considers mostly a fun game. Her Sun Chariot is drawn by two golden horses, Allsvinn (All-Swift), and Arvaker (Early-Waker), who pull the sun behind them. Its heat would be too much for them, except that Odin created a talisman called the Isarnkol, which hangs above their shoulders on the double yoke and constantly spreads cool mists, protecting them from heatstroke.

Sunna is sometimes called Sol, and the sun is the living embodiment of Her power.  She must have been immensely important to our ancestors; anyone living as farmers would be, especially before industrialization, utterly dependent on Her for a good harvest. As my colleague Sophie Oberlander has noted in The Jotunbok, Sunna’s presence in the heavens also has tremendous eschatological import: Her capture by the wolf Skoll is one of the signs of impending Ragnarok.

sun morningds8df7.pngMore than that though, Sunna’s power is one of the building blocks of an ordered, healthy, whole society. Her sister Sinthgunt is associated with healing (She is mentioned in the Merseburg charm as having healing power), and in a way, Sunna might also be said to have healing power. As the Sun She brings health and vitality. As the sun is made of heat and fire, so Sunna’s power has the potential to hallow, just as all fire has the potential to cleanse and consecrate. She drives out metaphysical darkness and decay as Her sister drives out disease. “She makes the world holy and by doing so defines the inangard, the sacred enclosure of a healthy community.”

Scandinavian winters were and are long, tedious, and hard. The lengthening presence of the Sun in Her daily voyage across the sky must have been a welcome sight to our ancestors as winter turned slowly into spring. As Sophie Oberlander points out:


Many of the holy tides, the holidays celebrated within both Heathenry and Neo-Paganism, revolve around the yearly cycle of the Sun and Her control of the earthly seasons. …today, we may not be bound to cycles of the seasons in the same way our ancestors were, but we can still benefit from a certain mindfulness of the Sun’s cycles. Most of us live busy, harried lives made all the busier by the supposed convenience of modern technology. The rhythm of our days is largely governed by Sunna’s cycle across the heavens: we rise in the morning, work throughout the day and seek our rest as She disappears into the Western horizon. Without Her life-giving light and warmth, the earth would be a barren, frozen, lifeless rock. Technology enables us to forget about Her for a time, but when all is said and done, we are still dependent on Her for nourishment. Modern science has even proven that some people will suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally if they do not receive enough of Her life giving rays (SAD or seasonal affective disorder). In our rush through our work day, many of us who ignore the rhythm She sets for us end up overworked, over-stressed, and ill.

Sunna is our Pace-Setter. She orders our days just as She did for our ancestors. She is our defender, teaching us how to maintain health and well-being even in the midst of industry and endeavor. …Looking to Her to be our guide as we strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance is a subtle way of nourishing spiritual awareness in the sturm and drang of our daily, often numbingly mundane lives. That after all, is one of Her greatest lessons: nourishing a sense of the holy both within and without. Sunna teaches us to create the holy in our lives by managing our time, wisely, mindfully, and well.


Gifts Sunna Gives: Energy. Time management. Enthusiasm. Motivation.

Symbols: anything shaped like the sun or with the sun on it, sun wheel images, sunflowers, horse drawn chariots, green, growing things. 

Colors: gold, oranges, reds, greens

Rune: Dagaz, Sowelo

Stones: sunstone, orange quartz, citrine, amber

Food and drink: goldschlager, cider, mead, apple juice

Other offerings: sunflowers, plants, fruits (especially citrus and apples), gold, any work which benefits the land or works toward helping the environment, mindful work on your own health.

Things not to do: egregiously rudely show disrespect for the land, air, and environment.


Hail the rising of the Sun,
Great Goddess, Bestower of all good things,
Shining brightly, You traverse the heavens
Driving back the blanket of night.
Mighty Sunna, be my pace-setter.
Help me to structure my day rightly
With time to work, and play, and pray.
Let me not lose myself to the hammering call
Of all that has to be done.
Help me to follow Your rhythms,
For You are wise and practical
And Your presence blesses us all.




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