Among the most archaic images of the sun is as the brilliant radiance, which clothes the Great Goddess. The great Mother of the pre-Islamic peoples of Southern Arabia was the sun, Atthar, or Al-Ilat. In Mesopotamia She was called Arinna, Queen of Heaven. The Vikings named Her Sol; the old Germanic tribes, Sunna; the Celts, Sul or Sulis.
The Goddess Sun was known among the societies of Siberia and North America. She is Sun Sister to the Inuit; Sun Woman to the Australian Arunta; Akewa to the Toba of Argentina. The sun has retained its archaic feminine gender in Northern Europe and Arab nations as well as in Japan. To this day, members of the Japanese royal family trace their shining descent to Amaterasu Omikami, the Heaven Illuminating Goddess, Queen of the Heavens.
According to legend, Amaterasu withdrew into a cave to hide from the irritating antics of her bothersome brother, Susu-wo-no, the Storm God. Her action plunged the world into darkness and the people panicked. They begged, beseeched, implored the Sun Goddess to come back, but to no avail. At last, on the Winter Solstice, Alarming Woman, a sacred clown, succeeded in charming, teasing and finally yanking Her out, as if from an earthy birth canal, and reinstating Her on Her rightful celestial throne.
In ancient Egypt, the Summer Solstice was celebrated by the Burning of the Lamps at Sais in honor of Isis, Queen of Heaven. In Rome, the day was dedicated to Vesta, also known as Hestia in Greece. The Vestal Virgins, Her oracular priestesses, were the guardians of the public hearth and altar. On this day the perpetual fire representing the mystical heart of the empire, was extinguished, re-kindled and blessed.
On the Summer Solstice Beiwe, the Sami Sun Goddess of Lapland is celebrated for providing the light that the plants need to grow. This is crucial, for the plants feed the reindeer, the vital source of food, clothing and tools for the people.
Other cultures see the goddess not as the sun Herself, but as the mother of the sun. The bringer forth, the protector and controller, the guiding light of the sun and its cycles. According to Maori myth, the sun dies each night and returns to the cave/womb of the deep to bathe in the maternal uterine waters of life from which he is re-born each morning. The Hindu Fire God, Agni, is described as “He who swells in the mother.”
The sun goddesses represent the generative power and nutritive light of the sun. However, today most cultures associate the Goddess with the energy and phases of the moon, which reflects the light of the male sun. This change is a result of the shift in power brought about and enforced by the patriarchal revolution.
The usurpation of the power of the feminine divine can be seen the myths of several solar Queens such as the Alaskan Akycha who retreated to the sky after She was raped by Her own brother and the aboriginal Djanggawul Sisters whose power objects were stolen from them by their brothers.
The age-old worship of the Solar Goddesses was a reflection of the awe that people felt for the power and life giving energy of the sun — and of all nature. That respect and reverence, has all but disappeared in contemporary western society.
We have tampered with the perfectly functioning divine order of Nature, trying to fix what wasn’t broken. The universal scenario has shifted, and the world will never be the same. We have turned the heat up too high and the fires burn out of control. The deserts are spreading. The icebergs are melting. The oceans are sullied. The atmosphere is shrinking. The crops are scorched and fertile soil is washed away. The hot air dries out the foliage and sears our lungs. The whole world is suffering from testosterone poisoning.
Mother Sun is no longer honored, Mother Earth is on a slow burn, and Mother Nature’s patience is totally fried. The sun — the bringer of light and life, the center of our once-adoring orbit — has now become something to stay out of.
This Summer Solstice let us honor our debt to the Solar Queen by making friends with Her once again. We can show our respect for the gift of Her power by putting it to good use. We can collect Her cosmic resource and utilize it as fuel to power our lives. We can plant arbors for shade and trees to prevent erosion. We can conserve, reuse and recycle. And most important of all, we can be the emissaries of the majestic sun by emulating Her and spreading warmth and light and energy wherever we go, whatever we do.
Here are two chances to mark the Summer Solstice this year. What better way to celebrate the longest day of the year than to drum the sun up in the morning and then back down again again at night?
Please join me — in person or in spirit — for my 35th Annual (two part) Soulstice Ceremony.
Please wear red, yellow, gold, sunny summer colors and bring kids, dogs, drums and lots and lots of spirit.
The events will be held on both sides of the East River in New York City, which we will surround with loving prayers and blessings. The river will carry our best intentions for healing the waters of the Gulf out into the ocean where there is great need for our loving concern and care.
Both events are family friendly and free. And, as always, they are rain or shine.
MONDAY, JUNE 21 7:00 AM
SUNRISE SOULSTICE CEREMONY with Mama Donna Henes & Friends
Drum up the sun as it rises over the river.
Pier 16 South Street Seaport
For info: 718-857-1343
MONDAY, JUNE 21 8:00 PM
SUNSET SOULSTICE CEREMONY with Mama Donna Henes & Friends
Drum the sun down as it sets on the river.
Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, Queens
For info: 718-956-1819