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Mythology of the Sun

In this series, we will be exploring the mythology of the symbols of astrology. Most astrologers consider the sun to be the first of the important symbols, so appropriately, we will begin with the mythology of the sun symbol. The sun is unique because the other planets revolved around it. Though most of us use the geocentric or earth centered method of calculating a chart the sun is still the central planet in the chart, the primary reference point.

The deity of the sun most familiar in Western culture is Apollo, the Romanized Greek god who displaced the Greek sun god, Helios, who drove his chariot across the sky daily. Apollo’s legend begins with his pregnant mother, Leto, loved by Zeus, but abandoned by him and seeking refuge from the possible wrath of Hera, Zeus’s wife. On the island of Ortygia, Leto gave birth to a daughter, Artmeis, who became the goddess of the moon, and who was the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis then helped her mother to flee Ortygia and finding no place that would welcome her, she eventually came to a free floating mass of barren rock called Delos, where she was welcomed and where legend has it, four pillars were instantly produced, anchoring the floating mass permanently. Artemis helped her mother give birth to Apollo and Delos became one of the most renowned places in the Greek world.

Apollo was gifted in music, mathematics, medicine and prophecy. As an adult, he wandered Greece looking for a place to establish his shrine. Eventually he came to Delphi, which was guarded by Python, the gigantic serpent. He killed Python in battle and established his shrine at that site. The Priestess of his shrine became known as the Pythoness and would answer the questions put to the Delphic Oracle.

The slaying of the serpent legend (or dragon in some cultures) permeates all ancient mythologies, which indicates a commonality of a deeper significance, within the collective unconscious. There are two modern theories for the myth. One explanation is that it symbolizes the patriarchal tribes overthrowing the matriarchal system of life. There is a basic acceptance of the myth that in the beginning women ruled and controlled life much the same way men do in modern times. The Jungian interpretation of the myth is that the serpent or dragon is the collective unconscious (evidenced by the fact it resided in the water or under the earth). It is the vital power of life itself. The slayer represents a bringing of order to the directionless unconscious.

Originally Apollo was the sun god and became so only in classical times. He was the god of science, mathematics, archery, and oracles and prophecy. This represents the balance between focused consciousness and mystical awareness. It is also the fulcrum between Yin and Yang.

Traditionally the sun has always been symbolic of directed will or a sense of purpose, which is why is it associated with the self in astrology. The sun rules the sign Leo and is a masculine archetype for the inner king, the vital force that emerges when there is a true union between the masculine and feminine qualities within.

The myth of Apollo does not end with the slaying of the Python and the establishment of his shrine. Apollo never married as the result of a failed relationship with nymph, Daphne. Apollo was self-absorbed. His interests and goals were his only real interest. He had no real ability to relate to other people. In anger she turned her into a laurel tree.

It is important to remember that those planets aspecting the sun have a significant affect on the native’s ability to reach goals in life. Vitality and life force are the center of health is affected by Apollo as the god of medicine (healing). A balance between self and the world surroundings which in Apollo’s Apollonian in nature so it is important to understand the significance of Apollo as the myth behind the sun


Mythology by Edith Hamilton

Dictionary of Astrology by Fred Gettings

Mythic Astrology: Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope by Ariel Guttman & Kenneth Johnson

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