The Planets & Their Mythology: The Sun
In this series, I will be exploring the basics of what each planet in astrology represents by looking at both the astronomy of each planet as well as the mythology associated with it. I am starting the series with not a "planet," per se, but a star, The Sun.
What is the Sun?
The Sun is the center of our solar system, the star that all the other planets revolve around. It's a giant ball of light, heat, and energy. In astrology, it represents our conscious ego or perhaps a better word would be self, since "ego," has a negative connotation and the Sun is where we shine. It is our core and it's placement in our birth chart shows how we express ourselves.
For decades, pop astrology has revolved around Sun sign horoscopes. Everyone knew the sign corresponding with their birth month but rarely did anyone look further beyond it. Unfortunately, in modern times, however, it seems that astrology students have studied so much - their Moon, their Rising, their Lilith, their asteroids - to the point of forgetting that the basics are basic for a reason.
Without the light, heat, and energy generated by the Sun, there would be no life on Earth. The electrical currents generated by the Sun produce a magnetic field that is carried out throughout our entire solar system - extending beyond even the realms of Neptune & Pluto - by a solar wind. While actually a relatively small star within the scope of our universe, it's gravity is what holds our solar system together. The same is true in astrology: without the influence of the Sun, the other planets (and asteroids) would mean nothing. Without the Sun, there would be no Ascendant, no Midheaven, no houses.
The Ascendant, the most important part of anyone's astrology chart, the point where soul meets body, is determined by calculating the exact place the Sun's path crosses the horizon in the East, while the Descendant is determined by calculating the exact place where the Sun's path crosses the horizon in the West. The Sun will be conjunct the Ascendant point when it rises, hence why it gets referred to as "the Rising Sign." From there, it determines the rest of the houses in a horoscope.
The Sun also produces the seasons, the weather, the climate that all earthly life (and the whole system of astrology) depend on. With that in mind, you could even argue that it's the Sun itself that determines the meaning of the zodiac signs themselves, at least in tropical astrology. The Winter and Summer Solstice occur when the Sun's path is farthest from the Earth's equator. In the Northern Hemisphere (where Western Astrology was born), the Earth's pole is tilted towards the Sun on June 21st, making it the longest day of the year. This date not only marks the beginning of summer, when the weather is hot, but the beginning of Cancer Season. Cancer is known for it's warm and caring attitude in contrast to its opposite sign, Capricorn. The beginning of Capricorn Season coincides with the Winter Solstice, when the Earth's North Pole is tilted away from the Sun, causing it to be the shortest day of the year, as well as causing cold weather in some climates. Capricorn is not only described as "cold," "dark," and "restricted" but it's ruling planet is "the great malefic", Saturn, the farthest visible planet and the farthest away from the Sun in traditional astrology. The Autumnal and Vernal Equinoxes, on the other hand, occur when the Sun crosses the equator, causing the days and nights to be of equal length. The Autumnal Equinox coincides with the Sun's entrance into Libra, the sign of balance, while the Vernal Equinox, or the beginning of Spring, happens when the Sun enters Aries, the "first," sign of the zodiac, known for it's trailblazing spirit.
The Sun represents the spark of life or energy or so(u)l within not just humanity but all living things. It literally gives us life.
The Sun's Mythology
The Sun was worshipped by many cultures since probably the beginning of human history. It's only natural, really: our ancient ancestors saw this magnificent ball of light in the sky and knew that all life on earth depended upon it. I could honestly write a whole book on the mythology of the Sun, throughout all the cultures of the world, but for simplicity's sake, I'm going to focus on the mythology of the Greeks & Romans. This is not because their mythology is better or closer to the truth (and I really do urge you to read up on the mythology of all cultures) but because the planets (Mercury through Pluto) have been named after Greek & Roman gods, which makes the mythology associated with the planets more accessible to us.
In Greek religion, Helios was the original Sun God, often depicted with a radiant crown, driving a horse-drawn chariot through the sky from east to west. He was worshipped as the source of life and creation of the world. Although a relatively minor god, at least in Athens, his worship grew when he became equated with Apollo and the Roman Sol Invictus or Mithras.
Apollo was the son of Zeus, King of the Gods, and twin sister of Artemis, a Goddess associated with the Moon. He lived on Mount Olympus, and leader of the muses, he was primarily known as the god of music & poetry. He was as youthful and handsome as he was intelligent, and he was also assigned the role of bringing the Sun to the Earth each morning, associating him with sun & light. Additionally, he was known for having the gift of prophecy, although his insights into the future weren't perfect and he sought out the assistance of the Oracle of Delphi to help him out with that. Nevertheless, his many talents reflect the Sun's role as an enlightener, creator, center of attention and being of conscious intelligence.
The Mithraic cult was also Solar in nature. Having it's roots in pre-Zoroastrian Iran, Mithraism gained considerable influence in the Roman Empire, where he was worshipped as the god of justice & any kind of mutual contract. He was seen as a mediator between mankind and the Sun or stars above. He was also the god of kings and their warriors as well. Mythologically, Mithras was said to sacrifice a white bull who was then transformed into the Moon, and worshippers of Mithras would participate in bull sacrifice to commemorate this ritual.
While it is worth noting that some cultures associated the Sun with feminine figures (such as the many Celtic solar goddesses, the Germanic or Norse Sunna, and the Egyptian Sekhmet who interestingly was depicted as a lionness, like the Sun's ruling sign, Leo), most cultures associated the Sun with masculinity and the Moon with femininity. This identification seems to have carried on into both modern and traditional astrology, where the Sun is said to rule the father & the Moon the mother, along with corresponding to more metaphorical "masculine," & "feminine" themes and qualities. I would love to write an article exploring the Solar & Lunar myths of other cultures when I have the chance but for now, we're going to end here so I can write about the other planets sooner rather than later.
Dignities & Debilities
The Sun rules the sign of Leo. Apparently, as I admittedly learned from this Fated Crossings post, this has its root in Ancient Egypt, where they relied on the rising of the star, Sirius, to regulate their economic and agricultural calendar: when Sirius rose in the morning before the Sun, they knew it was time for planting and the rising of Sirius just so happened to coincide with the Sun's transit through the sign of Leo. Of course, it is fitting that the Sun, King of our Solar System, should be dignified in the sign of Leo, the Lion & King of the Jungle. Leo Season also marks the hottest days of the year in many parts of the world, along with the second most hours of daylight (the most being under the Sun's transit through the sign of Cancer) in the Northern Hemisphere. In essence, the Sun shines very brightly in Leo, a sign known for its confidence, leadership skills, generosity and desire to express itself, as well as its egotistical or narcissistic qualities at times.
While the Sun is given domicile lordship over Leo, it is exalted in Aries, specifically at 19 degrees Aries. I'm not sure of the exact astrological reason for this. It may have something to do with the trine to Leo. However, I also know that the Sun's passage through the sign of Aries corresponds with the Spring Season in the Northern Hemisphere & the "rebirth" of the Sun after a dark, cold winter. The sign of the ram, ruled by Mars, like Leo is very much concerned with the self: it is prone to selfishness and self-absorption but also, as a cardinal fire sign, it is possessed of great strength, confidence & leadership skills.
The Sun is also, at least to some extent, traditionally said to be dignified in the third decan of Gemini, first decan of Virgo, second decan of Scorpio and third decan of Capricorn. The Sun also rules the fire triplicity by day.
Aquarius, on the other hand, traditionally ruled by Saturn, is the sign of the Sun's detriment while Libra (19 degrees of Libra, in particulary), ruled by Venus, is the sign of the Sun's Fall. This is due to Aquarius' opposition to Leo and Libra's opposition to Aries. These two Air signs are more about the group or the awareness of other people than the self or the ego.
Now that's the signs. As far as houses are concerned, according to the planetary joys schema, the Sun has it's joy in the 9th house, traditionally known as the "Place of God." This is the house of religion, philosophy, and dreams or divination, as well as higher education, travel, and sometimes law. This concepts fits well with Sun's rule as an enlightener (or in other words, bringer of truth) and the Sun God, Apollo's connection with prophecy.
The Sun is a hot, dry, choleric, diurnal and masculine planet, according to the traditional rules of astrology. It is generally, to my knowledge, regarded as benefic, although I have heard of it being considered as a minor malefic, as well, in certain circumstances (i.e. when a planet is too close to or "under the beams of" the Sun, it is said to be combust). I guess it could go either way. The Sun is the giver of life: without it's heat & light, no life on earth would be possible. But at the same time, we'll get burnt if we get too close and go blind if we stare too long.
Traditionally, it signified kings, as well as virtually anyone in a position of authority and/or royalty. It is said to signify the father and sometimes, at least in the charts of women, men in general. It also rules over palaces, high courts, theatres, showrooms, playgrounds, the living or dining room of a house, virtually any large or magnificent structure as well as just about any central location (i.e. downtown, city center). It's day is Sunday and it is associated with all things bright & gold. In the body, it rules over the heart, mind and vital spirit.
In psychological astrology, the Sun is representative of consciousness and our creative energy. Those with the Sun prominent in their charts are said to be honorable, generous, charismatic, confident, faithful, creative, soulful, expressive and enthusiastic but proud, arrogant, narrow-minded and domineering if afflicted. All in all, however, the Sun is our light, our heart, our so(u)l, the central being of who we are and how we express ourselves. The Sun, in modern astrology, is the planet that most people refer to "as their sign," based on their date of birth. It's sign and house placement in a birth chart will tell you about a person's core personality or central identity, as well as their prime motivations in life. I hope this article helped to shed some light on the topic and help people better understand how to interpret it in some way.
About the Creator
My name’s Kait. I would define myself mainly as a truth seeker. I write about a lot of things, primarily astrology, religion & spirituality, relationships and social issues.