Article by Justin Narovski with contributions by Jenny Belikov and Matthew Osmund.
Some examples of revival groups amongst modern day descendants of the civilization of the sun.
Reverence for the sun is the most ancient and widespread spiritual practice of humanity, evident in the religious traditions, symbols, myths, and sacred sites of numerous cultures around the world.
The similarities between these diverse cultures point to a common ancestor or source of influence in remote pre-history—a lost civilization of the sun. Myths record how this global civilization was initiated by ancient wisdom bringers in various parts of the world. It built enormous monuments aligned to the sun and practiced a common religion, which expressed a reverence for the sun and stars as the source of all creation and the origin of our spiritual being.
However, over time this civilization fragmented. Many of the ancient religions known today are scattered remnants of this once great knowledge, which survived in various cultures. This page contains a growing list of these cultures, with a brief synopses of each and how they connect to the civilization of the sun.
- Ancient Egyptians
- Vedic Civilization and Hinduism
- Celts and Druidism
- Mesoamerican and South American Civilizations
- Ancient Cultures of the United States and Canada
- Jesus and the Gnostics
- The Yazidi
- The Sampsæans
- Ancient Greek and Aegean Civilizations
- Revival Groups Celebrating the Sun Today
- A Work in Progress
- Author Credits
The Egyptians are one of the oldest civilizations known to history. Their own preserved chronologies stretch back tens of thousands of years and speak of a long period when Egypt was ruled by the “Sheshu Hor” or “divine pharaohs who came from elsewhere.” These divine beings supposedly reigned before the earliest known historical pharaohs.
Sun-worship was integral to the Egyptian religion, with solar deities such as Atum and Ra being the primary gods of the Egyptian pantheon. Ra was later merged with the god Horus, who represents the son in the Egyptian trinity along with Osiris (father) and Isis (mother).
The Pyramid Texts, dated to 2,400 BC, making them some of the oldest spiritual texts preserved today, compares Horus (the divine son and saviour) to the physical sun:
[…] There is a clamour in heaven.
“We see a new thing,” say the primordial gods.
O Ennead, a Horus is in the rays of the sun.
The lords of form serve him,
the Two Enneads entire serve him,
as he sits in place of the All-lord. […]
—Pyramid Text, Utterance 2571
Egypt is home to some of the most famous ancient sacred sites in the world, such as the complex at Giza. These sites have precise solar and stellar alignments to both the solstices and equinoxes. The great pyramid also encodes measurements that show knowledge about Pi and the precession of the equinoxes,2 suggesting that such monuments may have also been built as repositories of advanced knowledge. Other Egyptian sites such as the Osireon temple are made with a distinctive style of masonry, with huge, carefully fitted monoliths. This style is similar to that used by other cultures that were associated with the civilization of the sun.
There is evidence to suggest that some Egyptian monuments, such as the Great Sphinx at Giza, are also incredibly ancient. The sphinx is almost universally believed to date to circa 2,500 BC on the basis of very circumstantial evidence. However, geologist and professor Robert Schoch has determined the sphinx dates to at minimum 5,000 BC (and possibly to 10,000 BC) based on heavy erosion that could only be caused by a climate with heavy rainfall.3 This climate has not existed at the Giza plateau since at least 5,000 BC.Egyptian myths also refer to an advanced civilization existing in this pre-historic time, describing several divine wisdom bringers that are credited with initiating laws, agriculture, writing, and other hallmarks of civilization in Egypt, including Thoth and Osiris. Osiris is also described in myth as traveling to bring civilization to other countries.
Archaeological evidence supports the possibility that the lost civilization of the sun was spread from Egypt to other far-flung corners of the world, as recent discoveries of an ancient sea-side port used by the Egyptians contain remains of ships that show evidence of being used to travel in salt-water oceans.4
Vedic Civilization and Hinduism
The Vedic civilization emerged in the Indus Valley region, which spans modern-day northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Archaeological remains show signs of a society with knowledge of agriculture dating back to 7,000 BC in this region, although inhabitation could date back even further.
Conventional belief states that an Indo-European people who called themselves Aryans migrated into India around 1,500 BC and initiated the Vedic civilization (named after the Vedas, the sacred texts associated with those people). However, there is significant evidence indicating the knowledge of the religion of the sun, practiced by the Aryan peoples, had reached India long before that time.
For example, while DNA evidence does suggest common ancestry between Indian and European populations, research indicates this shared ancestry stems from a far more ancient time than 1,500 BC.5
Hindu myth also records a flood tradition, in which a primeval man called Manu was rescued from a terrible flood, with his boat being steered by an avatar of Vishnu (the divine son) in the form of a great fish. Manu was a wisdom bringer who brought with him the seven sages (Saptarishi) and the Vedas. The story of Manu parallels hundreds of similar myths in many cultures that appear to record a shared memory of a terrible cataclysm that destroyed a prior civilization, which geological evidence suggests could have occurred around 12,000 years ago.6 Many myths also similarly indicate that sea-faring wisdom bringers emerged from the remnants of this civilization and went on to initiate the global civilization of the sun.
This chronology also finds support within the Vedas themselves. Scholars have studied the intricate series of astronomical references in these texts and suggested that they may be as old as 10,000 BC, based on the unique astronomical phenomena described.7 This time frame lines up precisely with the timing proposed for the cataclysm which may have preceded the emergence of the civilization of the sun.
The Vedas are composed in the Indo-European language Sanskrit and are some of the oldest religious texts known to history. They contain hundreds of references to the sun, associating it with various divinities, such as the following hymn to Surya, the sun god:
His herald rays are seen afar refulgent o’er the world of men,
Like flames of fire that burn and blaze.
Swift and all beautiful art thou, O Surya, maker of the light,
Illuming all the radiant realm.
—Rig Veda, 01-0508
David Frawley, founder and director of the American Institute for Vedic Studies, explains the Vedas originate from an “ancient solar religion” which influenced the formation of later religions that emerged in the subcontinent:
The spirituality of the Vedas developed over time in India into the practice of the religion known today as Hinduism. This tradition retains Vedic practices, and has also produced many texts and epics that preserve elements of the religion of the sun, such as parts of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita (a section of the Mahabharata), the Ramayana, the Puranas, and others.
“The Vedas contain spiritual, occult and cosmic secrets that we are just beginning to become aware of. The great India based religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism may represent only later aspects of ancient enlightenment traditions that were probably more common during the Vedic era. The Vedas represent the remains of these early traditions, of which there were no doubt many more. Vedic literature portrays an ancient solar religion of Yoga and enlightenment, such as was once common throughout the entire world. The Sun is a symbol of the higher Self, the Atman or Purusha of yogic thought. This Vedic religion of light is a religion of consciousness, which is the supreme form of light.”
These texts present a vast vision of a universe created and sustained by divine forces, in which both spiritual beings and entities of darkness play an active part. The Spiritual Son in Hinduism is represented by the god Vishnu, who is associated in the Rig Veda with the sun and who was known as a creator, protector, and preserver. Many Hindu epics and sacred texts describe Vishnu incarnating on earth in various avatars to preserve Dharma (order, right way of living) from the forces of darkness and destruction.
Hindu mythology also describes mother goddess figures such as Kali or Durga, who are portrayed as powerful warriors defeating evil and demonic forces. This represents the warrior role of the Spiritual Mother — the feminine spiritual part of a person’s higher Being — who can be called upon to eliminate the inner darkness of egoic states within oneself (negative inner states like greed, hatred, envy, lust etc. which are the cause of sin and suffering) and liberate the light of consciousness within.9
The Hindu religion also contains many practices related to the spirituality of the sun, including mantras, meditation, and prayer. Millions of observant Hindus incorporate these practices into their daily lives to this day.
Celts and Druidism
Celtic culture is frequently associated with myths, symbolism, and megalithic architecture that celebrate the sun, traces of which appear across Europe and the British Isles. The Celts appear to be the inheritors of a spiritual and cultural legacy left by an even earlier civilization of the sun.
The Celts left no written records, meaning that what knowledge we have comes from archaeological evidence or the writings of Greeks and later Roman historians, who witnessed the conflict with and eventual absorption of much of Celtic society into the Roman empire. The scant evidence indicates that religion played an important role in Celtic culture, with its spiritual life governed by a priesthood class known as the Druids.
In Celtic mythology Belenus (or Bel) is the sun god, known as the “Fair Shinning One.”10 He was frequently associated with the wheel (a symbol of the sun) as well as the horse, and was depicted riding the sun across the sky in a horse-drawn chariot11, much like the Vedic sun god Surya (depicted in the photo above in the Vedic section), and the later Greek and Roman sun god Apollo (who is identified with Belenus).12 Belenus was married to Belisama, goddess of fire.
The Spiritual Son in Druidic religion was also represented by Lugus, another god associated with light and the sun, who survived into the folklore of both the Irish (as Lugh) and the Welsh (as Lleu). Like the Vedic sages and some Greek philosophers, the Celts reportedly believed in the immortality of the soul and in reincarnation.
In the absence of their own written records, the Celtic culture best survives today in the symbols and architecture they used, many of which reflect solar movements or are aligned to solstices and equinoxes. It seems likely that the monuments associated with Druidism are in fact remnants of an even older civilization that the Celtic culture inherited and continued to use.
Some of the most well-known of the monuments they used for their rituals are megalithic stone circles (such as Stonehenge), which are found across Europe and the British Isles. Other sites take the form of mounds or cairns, such as the site at Newgrange in Ireland. An opening in this cairn is aligned so that sunlight floods a special chamber on the morning of the winter solstice.Newgrange is also covered in carvings containing many solar symbols, including the spiral. This symbol represents the movement of the sun across the heavens between the solstices and appears widely in areas where the civilization of the sun had a presence. For example, the symbol is repeated in the facial tattoos of Maori chieftains in New Zealand, where Maori myths speak of a people with similar physical characteristics to modern-day Celts inhabiting the Island in ancient times. The remains of standing stone circles have also been found in New Zealand.13
Mesoamerican and South American CivilizationsMultiple distinct civilizations have flourished in what is presently Mexico and Central and South America. The most well-known among them are the Tiwanaku, Incas, Maya, and Aztecs, although there are many others. Although these cultures are conventionally dated to different time periods and are distinct, there are also significant similarities that suggest they are the descendants of a common cultural legacy.
All these cultures share a myth of a creator god, who represents the Spiritual Son, who also acted as a wisdom bringer and divine savior. To the Maya he was Kukulcan, who became Quetzalcoatl for the Aztecs. To the Tiwanaku and Incas, he was Viracocha. Significantly, all three of these deities were described as having caucasian/Indo-European features and having come over the sea in boats.
Virococha was known as the son of the sun and was the Andean solar deity. One myth records him appearing from Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.14 Other legends state he brought with him a group of companions called the Viracocha-Runa and that they initiated civilization in the region, including agriculture, laws, and spirituality.
Kukulcan and Quetzalcoatl were similarly described as bringers of civilization and were depicted as the plumed or feathered serpent, which is an important symbol of the religion of the sun, representing the complete integration of the three primary forces of creation. The depiction of the feathered serpent is found at sacred sites throughout Mexico, including Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza.
All these societies were associated with megalithic architecture on a massive scale, with monuments aligned to solar and stellar phenomena. As is the case with other descendant cultures of the civilization of the sun, it is most likely that these cultures inherited and built on top of existing, much older sites, as many of them show evidence of continual modification and overbuilding throughout time.Many sites in Mexico contain massive pyramids similar to those built in Egypt. The central pyramid of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico has an alignment to the equinoxes, during which the sun creates the image of a serpent ascending and descending the pyramid, aligning with a stone serpent head at the base. The pyramid is also aligned with the winter solstice.
Teotihuacan, also in Mexico, is an enormous complex of buildings. The name of the site has been translated as “the place where men become gods.” The Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan faces the sunset precisely on the Equinoxes. Additionally, some researchers have suggested that the site encodes advanced knowledge of astronomy and geography. For example, the research of engineer Hugh Harleston Jr. indicates that the dimensions of the area known as “The Citadel” (which contains the Temple of the Feathered Serpent) encode the circumference of the earth, at a scale of 1:100,000.15 This would appear to be knowledge handed down from an advanced sea-faring civilization.
The Tiwanaku culture, which had its center near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, was similarly associated with monuments encoding knowledge of complex astronomy. The Gateway of the sun at Tiwanaku has been shown to contain a complete solar calendar, while the engineer and archaeologist Arthur Posnansky found that a central part of the site aligned to the summer and winter solstices.The Tiwanaku appear to have influenced or shared a common source of influence with the Incas, who similarly revered Viracocha and inhabited sites aligned to the sun. The style of massive masonry in monuments associated with the Incas is similar to that found in Egypt and Easter Island, as exemplified by the famous site of Machu Picchu, where there is a prominent alignment with the winter solstice.
Today, many Mesoamerican and South American cultures are often associated with horrific practices such as bloodletting and human sacrifice. This indicates how these civilizations degenerated over time and adopted practices that were diametrically opposed to the religion of the sun. Some myths suggest how these civilizations gradually lost touch with their original spiritual values and were infiltrated by dark forces—a fate that affected a number of cultures descended from the civilization of the sun.
Ancient Cultures of the United States and Canada
There is evidence linking the peoples living in what is presently the United States and Canada before the arrival of Europeans to the lost civilization of the sun in both their myths and ancient sites found in areas they inhabited.
For example, the Yurok tribe of California spoke of an ancient race of fair-skinned people that they called the Wa-Gas. They state these people were present in North America when the Yurok arrived and that the two cultures lived together in peace and mutual friendship until the Wa-Gas suddenly departed those lands. This myth of an advanced fair-skinned civilization in pre-history parallels the myths of the Incas, which describe the Viracocha-Runa.The United States and Canada also contain many mysterious monuments with alignments to the sun. For example, The Great Serpent Mound in Ohio is a 1,348 long representation of a serpent formed from a raised mound. Researchers have discovered alignments to both solstices and equinoxes within the mound, with the most prominent alignment being to the summer solstice, where the serpent’s head aligns. The serpent’s mouth wraps around an oval, which is a representation of the serpent eating the sun. This symbolism links the mound to the feathered serpent imagery of Mexico, as the feathered serpent also eats the sun/Spiritual Son, symbolizing the union of the Spiritual Son with the divine mother (which is represented by the serpent).
There are numerous other cairns, mounds, dolmens, circles, and medicine wheels located throughout North America that have solar alignments. Researchers claim some of these, such as the Majorville Medicine Wheel in Alberta are highly sophisticated astronomical calendars capable of tracking solar alignments throughout the year and the precession of the equinoxes.
Ancient petroglyph (rock art) sites with solstice and equinox alignments are also not uncommon. Notable examples of these include the Anubis caves and Picture Canyon sites in Oklahoma and Colorado, which align to spring equinox and contain references to Mithraic sun worship, and the Celtic sun god Belenus, as well as Ogham writing. The Swansea petroglyphs in California depicting a serpent swallowing the sun at the equinox (much like the representation at the Ohio Serpent Mound mentioned above). Another interesting site, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, contains pertoglyph alignments to the summer solstice. The entire complex of Chaco Canyon is an incredible archaeoastranomical structure, with a variety alignments to solstices and equinoxes.
Many of these sites are just beginning to be investigated.
Jesus and the Gnostics
This section will be expanded with more detail soon.
The YazidiThe Yazidi, who are sometimes referred to as “the Children of the Sun,” are a distinct religious community coming primarily from northern Iraq, in an area that was historically part of ancient Mesopotamia. They are ethnically Kurdish, a group that is very similar to Persians that live in modern-day Iran.
Yazidism is a mystical religion that attempts to approach god through a veneration of the natural elements, with a particular emphasis on the sun, which is their most sacred element and represents the fire and light of god.16 Yazidis have many spiritual rituals that are part of their daily life, including prayer three times a day facing the sun.
Researchers have found in their religious teachings similarities both to Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Persia, and to ancient Mesopotamian religion, such as that of Sumeria.17 Yazidi teachings also have elements similar to Vedic religion, such as a belief in reincarnation.
Yazidi myth speaks of a primeval sea, through which a group of seven angels travelled by boat to found the Yazidi civilization.18 This myth could be reflective of wisdom bringers travelling by boat to spread civilization, a theme appearing in the mythology of many other civilizations descended from the ancient religion of the sun. It also reflects the importance of the number seven in the religion of the sun, as seven is said to be the number through which the physical world is created.
The Yazidis have tragically been subjected to mass persecution and genocide by Islamic extremists, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Yazidis or to their becoming forced refugees, expelled from their ancestral homeland.
The Sampsæans or “sun-worshippers” are an enigmatic group about which little is known.They lived in the middle east around the time of Jesus and are said to have produced a series of texts—today known as the Essene Gospel of Peace—containing teachings of Jesus not found in the canonical bible. These texts also describe many aspects of their communal life and spiritual practice. They were first published in the 20th century by Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, who claims to have found the original text in the Vatican Library.
The Gospel of Peace contains a profound spiritual teaching connected with the religion of the sun. It is notable for frequent reference to the sacred feminine or mother goddess. It regularly describe both a “Heavenly Father” and “Earthly Mother” along with the “Son of man,” or Spiritual Son. This reveals the presence in esoteric Christianity of the three primary forces of Father, Mother, and Divine Son (as opposed to the all-male trinity that was a later popularized by orthodox Christianity) and demonstrates a commonality with many other Father/Mother/Son trinities found in spiritual traditions around the world.
The label “Essene” attached to these people is likely a misnomer. The Essenes were described as a Jewish sect who lived throughout Palestine, Egypt, and Syria in the centuries before and after the time of Jesus, but the name may have been applied to a wide variety of groups with differing beliefs and practices.
A reference by the 4th century Christian Bishop Epiphanius to a group called Sampsæans, which he states are a remnant of the Essenes, suggests that the Sampsæans could have been a group of Essenes that adopted the esoteric side of the teachings of Jesus and the spirituality of the sun.
Both their texts and archaeological findings emphasize a reverence for the sun and an understanding of spirituality as being present in the natural world. Their daily spiritual practice involved meditation on light and sound. Additionally, an ancient building at Qumran near the Dead Sea (where a monastic community that could have been the Sampsæans lived during the time of Jesus) contains a a room with altars aligned with the setting sun on the summer solstice and a sundial that could have been used to measure the solstices and equinoxes.
The Hermetic texts are a collection of spiritual works ascribed to the mysterious figure Hermes Trismegistus, who is traditionally revered as an ancient Egyptian sage19 and associated with the Egyptian god Thoth.20 Like Thoth, Hermes Trismegistus was credited with being a wisdom bringer and initiating language, writing, religion, music, astronomy, medicine, and other aspects of civilization.21
Mantheo, an Egyptian priest of the 3rd century BC, reportedly described how Hermes Trismegistus set down his knowledge and deposited it in the sanctuaries of the temples of Egypt.22 Modern scholars have noted parallels between Hermetic writings and ancient Egyptian mythologies and wisdom literature such as the “Instructions,” which reach back to the Old Kingdom.23A link has also been suggested between the legendary 42 books of Hermes Trismegistus and the description of sacred writings inscribed on the walls of an Egyptian temple in Edfu, which themselves describe a very ancient antediluvian past.24
It is possible this tradition could have roots leading back to the Atlantean wisdom bringer Thoth himself, as some early writers believed that the Hermetic knowledge was first recorded in hieroglyphics before a great flood devastated the earth.25
This knowledge is presented as a secret tradition reserved for those who are spiritually prepared.2627 It describes a process of enlightenment, through which an initiate would overcome their lower nature and merge with divinity. For example, Poimander (who appears to represent Hermes’ own divine being in the mystical vision called “Poimander”) states:
This is the final good for those who have received knowledge: to be made god.”28
This divine nature is described as containing multiple parts, including the “Son of God” – the “Word” that “takes flesh” in the wise and is “the redeemer of all men.”29 This word is in turn brought forth by the “Supreme Being […] male and female,”30 thus representing the three primary forces described in the Religion of the Sun: the Spiritual Father, Spiritual Mother, and Spiritual Son.
Hermetic narratives also describe these divine forces as intimately connected to the sun, stars, light, and fire. Those who succeed in reaching divine unity will “[dwell] in the light,” returning to their source “in the ring of the fixed stars.”31 These stars are principles controlling the universe, which in turn burns with the radiance of the “one fire.”32 The Spiritual Father himself is said to consist of “Life and Light,” of which all things are made,33 and in one narrative Hermes instructs his son and disciple to worship the sun, stating:
“when the setting sun descends […] bow down in adoration; when the sun returns, bow likewise toward the east.”34
Hermeticism emphasizes a number of key spiritual practices, which are common with other traditions connected to the Religion of the Sun. The foundation of Hermetic practice is the pursuit of self-knowledge, for “he who has understood himself advances towards god.”35 A person must eliminate the “tormentors” that exist within, which are the personification of various defects such as anger, lust, injustice, greed, deceit, envy, and malice, to realize their divine nature.36
Hermes Trismegistus was also revered as the “father of alchemy,”37 a knowledge that describes symbolically a process of inner birth through the sexual union of husband and wife, which Hermetic texts see as an “echo of the divine act of creation.”38 Hermetic texts also feature prayer39 and mystical experiences of many kinds, including descriptions of experiences out of the body,4041 and emphasize the importance of helping others spiritually.42
The Hermetic texts have retained great influence throughout history in both the east and the west and appear to have been used as sacred scriptures by various groups.
For example, some scholars believe that in Hellenistic Egypt of the 3rd to 1st centuries BC, communities of people may have gathered to study Hermetic works and to practice mystical exercises and ceremonies.4344
The Sabians were another group who reportedly used the Hermetic texts as their sacred scriptures.45 The name of this mysterious group quite likely derives from “Sba,” the Egyptian word for “star,” and they were reportedly star worshippers and followers of the “Book of Thoth.”46 The Sabians are recorded as having lived in the ancient city of Harran (located in modern-day Turkey, within a few miles of the megalithic site Göbekli Tepe) from at least the 8th century AD, from which they would make regular pilgrimages to the Great Pyramids at Giza.47
In Northern Europe, Hermes Trismegistus became an important figure for the alchemists of the Middle Ages and beyond.48 In Italy, the Renaissance also saw an enormous surge of interest in the Hermetic texts, as the works of Hermes were translated into Latin and made available to new audiences.49 And in the modern era, interest in the Hermetica has remained very much alive among many who study mysticism and alternative spirituality.50
TaoismTaoism is an ancient religion that developed in China, where tradition states it was founded by the legendary sage Lao-Tzu (also commonly written Laotzi), who reportedly lived in the 6th century BC.51 Little is known about him with certainty, with some scholars questioning whether he was a historical figure or a mythological one.
There is substantial evidence indicating that Taoism has roots in even older Chinese traditions connected to the Religion of the Sun. For example, the ideas of Tao, Yin, and Yang (central to Taoism) are found in the I Ching, the most ancient Chinese classic that has origins 3,000 or possibly up to 4,500 years old.52 China and the surrounding region additionally have numerous structures aligned with the sun, such as this ancient sun altar and numerous pyramids similar to those of Egypt and Mesoamerica, some of which have orientations to the solstices and equinoxes.53
Sun symbols of great antiquity have also been found throughout China, such as swastikas on neolithic pottery dated to at least 5,000 years ago (and possibly much earlier),5455 and a sun symbol crafted of pure gold (estimated to be at least 3,000 years old) found in the ancient city of Jinsha.56These very ancient roots are just beginning to be explored, so there is likely much more to uncover and understand about Taoism’s origins.
Taoism was often described as an initiatic tradition, where the most sacred knowledge was communicated from master to disciple in sworn secrecy.5758 However, among those teachings that were committed to writing we can find many elements of a profound esoteric wisdom connected with the Religion of the Sun.
At the heart of Taoism is the concept of the “Tao” (or “Dao”) itself, “the Absolute Factor in existence…self-existent, eternal, complete and infinite.”59 Similar in concept to the “Brahman” of Hinduism, it represents the unknowable and unmanifest source of creation, which words cannot truly describe:
The form of the formless,
The image of the imageless,
It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.
Stand before it and there is no beginning.
Follow it and there is no end.
—Tao Te Ching, Chapter 1460
Taoist texts state that from the uncreated Tao, creation emerged, a process attributed to the interaction of three cosmic forces:
The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.
—Tao Te Ching, Chapter 4261
These three forces correspond to the Spiritual Father, Mother, and Son, which are frequently mentioned in traditions descended from the Religion of the Sun. In other Taoist sources, they are referred to as “Yin, Yang, and the Central Harmony,”62 where Yang corresponds to the masculine, active, positive force represented as Heaven, Yin corresponds to the feminine, passive, negative force represented by Earth,63 and the “Central Harmony” suggests the role of the Spiritual Son as the neutral and reconciling force of creation. In other traditions we find these forces symbolized as Osiris, Isis, and Horus (Egyptian), the Heavenly Father, Earthly Mother, and Jesus (Sampsaen) Odin, Frigg, and Balder (Norse), and many others.
The forces of Yin and Yang are also depicted visually in the famous “Yin-Yang” symbol, which represents the dual polarities that give rise to all creation as well as the cycles between darkness and light that occur on a cosmic level (as the sun moves through the progression of solstices and equinoxes) and that also occur on a personal level during the process of spiritual transformation.64
Elements of the sacred feminine also appear in Taoist mythology as the goddess Xi Wangmu, “Spirit Mother of the West,” who was sometimes paired with a “Royal Father of the East”; her worship predates the known history of Taoism itself.65 She is described as living on a sacred mountain with a great tree that is a “cosmic axis that connects heaven and earth,” on which grows sacred fruit that can grant immortality to spiritual seekers.66 The world tree is another common image in Indo-European traditions connected to the Religion of the Sun, such as the tree Yggdrasil in Norse myth.67Taoists held that a “transcendent and primordial parcel of light” exists within all beings68 and that the aim of spiritual practice is to develop this potential and achieve immortality.69 This is described as a “return to the Dao,”7071 in which someone reintegrates the primary forces of creation within themselves to return to the source of unity72 — the same process of returning to the source described elsewhere in the Religion of the Sun. Taoist texts depict this as a gradual process requiring disciplined spiritual practice and emphasize the importance of a technique called neidan (“inner alchemy“), also referred to as heqi (“merging pneumas”).73 This is a concept similar to those portrayed in some traditions in India and many other places whereby the spiritual union of masculine and feminine energies (Yin and Yang) is understood to form the basis of both creation and spiritual transformation.
Taoist texts also emphasize the importance of gaining self-knowledge through self-observation and awareness and also describe concentrative meditation, breathing exercises, visualization, and many other mystical practices. Another central virtue of Taoism is helping others spiritually by sharing spiritual knowledge and helping others discover the Tao.
Taoism remains a living religious tradition today; some estimate that up to several hundred million people incorporate some form of Taoist practice into their lives.74 Its core philosophy has also gained enduring widespread appeal, with the central text of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, being described as the most-translated Chinese text of all time.75
Ancient Greek and Aegean CivilizationsClassical Greece of the 5th and 4th centuries BC is widely seen as a fountainhead of western civilization—a powerful and enduring influence on philosophy, architecture, politics, and more.
However, this culture has its roots in even older Aegean civilizations, such as the Minoan, Mycenaean, and Cycladic, which stretch back thousands of years earlier. Minoan monumental culture (located on the present-day Greek island of Crete) dates to at least 4,000 years before present, and there is evidence for settlements dating back 7,000 years.76 There is also evidence of sophisticated astronomical observation and solar calculations among Early Helladic culture on the Cyclades Islands dating back 6,000 years,77 and new discoveries continue to be made that expand our perception of how sophisticated these ancient cultures were.The Minoans and Mycenaeans are genetically similar to each other as well as to modern-day inhabitants of Greece; DNA evidence indicates that they settled the Aegean at least 9,000 years ago and are descendants of the Early Neolithic farmers of Europe, who are associated with the spread of agriculture across Europe after the end of the last ice age.7879 This DNA connection suggests these cultures could have been seeded or influenced at an early stage by the civilization of the sun.
This notion is reinforced by the statement of an Egyptian priest, recorded by Plato, who states:
…there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word.80
The priest also states that Greek and Egyptian culture were founded by the same goddess (indicating a common religion) and that the Greek culture dates back to 9,600 BC.81
From these prehistoric origins emerged civilizations demonstrating a profound knowledge of the Religion of the Sun. For example, numerous ancient sites across the region are aligned to solar events, such as the mountain sanctuary at Petsophas, Crete, which aligns to the equinox and solstice,8283 or the “Treasury of Atreus” in Mycenae, which has an equinox sunrise alignment.84 The famous palace/temple of Knossos is also aligned to the sun; researchers believe that a special concave stone in one of its halls was meant to hold liquid capturing the sun on the equinox sunrise and reflecting it to create a shadow touching a double-axe symbol carved on the wall.85The double-axe is similar to the infinity symbol and one of the most prominent symbols of Minoan culture, connected to the equinox as a symbol of balance, reflecting day and night being equal. This symbol also connects to the stars: a line drawn between Orion and Sirius (stars important to the Minoans) creates a double-axe constellation.86 Numerous other solar symbols have been found decorating Minoan/Mycenaean artefacts, such as the cross, sun disk, solar wheel, swastika, and spiral.8788
Other archaeological finds also reveal the deep understanding of solar and celestial phenomena among Aegean cultures of antiquity. Researchers have identified that ceramics from the Cyclades dating back 4,000-6,000 years (often referred to as “frying pans” because of their characteristic shape) contain markings that track the movements of the sun and planets, including several that possibly were intended to calculate the distance between the winter and summer solstice.
Many are also connected to the movements of the planet Venus, which was known as the “Morning Star” in ancient times and was connected with a number of figures representing the Spiritual Son, such as Jesus and Quetzalcoatl.Greek mythology reveals many traces of deities connected to the Religion of the Sun. A mother goddess in Minoan/Mycenean culture was Potnia; she was given the epithet “a-ta-na,” connecting her to Athena, one of several figures representing the spiritual Mother in later Greek mythology.89 A male Minoan deity was called Velchanos, a title later attributed to the Greek god Zeus, who represents the spiritual Father.9091 Velchanos also held attributes of the Spiritual Son, as he was known to die and be reborn each year,92 reminiscent of myths related to the Greek god Dionysus.93 The knowledge of the Religion of the Sun appears to have been kept alive or revived over the ages by mystery schools such as the famous one at Eleusis94 or by Classical Greek sages such as Pythagoras, who it appears revived the knowledge for his time. He was said by several ancient biographers to have studied esoteric knowledge in Persia, India, and Egypt—all civilizations descended from the Civilization of the Sun.959697 Upon returning to Greece, he founded an esoteric school and community that practiced and studied his teachings, which encompassed spirituality, science, the arts, and more.98 These teachings would have great influence on subsequent generations of Greek thinkers, an influence which persists in many ways to the present day, as the knowledge of mathematics he disseminated (such as the famous Pythagorean Theorem99 ) remain a core part of that discipline.
Revival Groups Celebrating the Sun Today
In many parts of the world, there are groups who are reviving traditional practices of the celebration of the sun. These groups are rediscovering and interpreting the cultural and spiritual heritage of their region and putting it into practice. Although there is wide diversity among the different groups, they all hold celebrations of the sun at important times of the year, such as solstices and equinoxes.
A Work in Progress
This page is a work in progress and contains only the beginning of what could be a much more in-depth study. We will continue to add cultures to this page and update and add details as we learn more.
This article was written by Justin Narovski with contributions by Jenny Belikov and Matthew Osmund.
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- Brian P. Copenhaver, “Introduction,” in Hermetica: the Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new English translation, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), xv.
- Manly P. Hall, The secret teachings of all ages: an encyclopedic outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian symbolical philosophy: being an interpretation of the secret teachings concealed within the rituals, allegories, and mysteries of the ages (Los Angeles, CA: The Philosophical Research Society, Inc., 1988), CLIII.
- Mantheo apparently considered the knowledge already ancient in his time. It is significant that Mantheo described himself as the high priest of Heliopolis and reportedly had access to archival documents of the temple, giving him potential insight into Egyptian wisdom traditions from a more ancient past. Copenhaver, “Introduction,” xv.
- Fragments of Hermetic texts written in Coptic (a descendant language of ancient Egyptian) were found among the Gnostic scriptures at Nag Hammadi in Egypt, sparking renewed scholarship around the possibility of an Egyptian origin for the Hermetica. See Florian Ebeling, The secret history of Hermes Trismegistus: hermeticism from ancient to modern times, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011), 30.
- The 42 Books were chronicled by early Church Father Clement of Alexandria, who describes them as being sacred to the Egyptians. Copenhaver, “Introduction,” lvii, xxxiii.
- Mantheo traced the ultimate origin of the Hermetic knowledge to the Egyptian god Thoth, who had created “stelae in the land of Seiria […] inscribed in the sacred tongue in heiroglyphic letters” in a time before the flood. (Copenhaver, “Introduction,” xv.) Josephus Flavius, a historian in Rome, makes a similar claim, stating that the Hermetic knowledge was inscribed on columns before the flood, and that one had actually survived and could be seen in Syria. Ammianus Marcellinus, another Roman historian, goes further, stating that “wise men of Egypt, anticipating a catastrophic flood, prepared subterranean galleries and caves and covered their walls with hieroglyphic inscriptions in which all their wisdom was recorded.” (Assmann, “Introduction,” ix.
- Assmann, “Introduction,” x, xii.
- Wouter Hanegraaff, “Altered States of Knowledge: The Attainment of Gnōsis in the Hermetica,” The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 2, no. 2 (2008): 135.
- Brian P. Copenhaver (Translator), “Discourse of Hermes Trismegistus: Poimander,” in Hermetica: the Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new English translation, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 6.
- From the “Poimander” presented by Manly P. Hall in Hall, “Secret Teachings,” XL.
- Ibid, XXXIX.
- Ibid, XL.
- Ibid, XXXIX.
- Ibid, XL
- G.R.S. Mead (Translator), “Corpus Hermeticum XIII: The Secret Sermon on the Mountain,” Internet Sacred Texts Archive, accessed September 14, 2017, http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/herm/hermes13.htm.
- Copenhaver, “Poimander,” 5.
- Hermes describes these “tormenters” in a dialogue with his son, Tat, saying that they can be gradually removed by one who has been “taken pity on by God” and that they are “chased out” by certain divine powers. G.R.S. Mead (Translator), “Corpus Hermeticum XIII: The Secret Sermon on the Mountain,” Internet Sacred Texts Archive, accessed September 14, 2017, http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/herm/hermes13.htm.
- Hall, Secret teachings, CLIII
- Ebeling, “Secret history,” 32.
- Prayer is frequently alluded to and demonstrated in the Hermetic texts. Perhaps most notably at the end of the discourse “Poimander,” where Herme is filled with joy after his mystical revelations and offers praise to God the father. From the “Poimander” presented by Manly P. Hall in Hall, “Secret Teachings,” XL.
- For example, at the beginning of the “Poimander,” it states that “[f]ollowing the secret instructions of the Temple, [Hermes] gradually freed his higher consciousness from the bondage of his bodily senses” before having a mystical vision. Ibid, XXXVIII.
- In the Corpus Hermeticum XIII, “The Secret Sermon on the Mountain,” Hermes states to his son, “you, too, would have passed out of yourself, as happens to those who are dreaming in sleep, but then in full consciousness.” Cited in Hanegraaff, “Altered States,” 146.
- For example, at the conclusion of the “Poimander” discourse, the divine being orders Hermes to “go forth, to become as a guide to those who wander in darkness, that all men within whom dwells the spirit of My Mind (The Universal Mind) may be saved by My Mind in you, which shall call forth My Mind in them.” Hermes then “consecrated his life to the service of the Great Light” and goes forth to freely share his newfound knowledge with humanity. From the “Poimander” presented by Manly P. Hall in Hall, “Secret Teachings,” XL.
- Hanegraaff, “Altered States,” 160.
- Ebeling, “Secret history,” 35.
- Copenhaver, “Introduction,” xlvi.
- Graham Hancock, Magicians of the gods: the forgotten wisdom of earth’s lost civilization (London: Coronet, 2016), 296.
- Ebeling, “Secret history,” 70.
- Ibid, 60.
- See discussion in ibid, chapters V and VI.
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- Alfred Huang, “Preface,” in The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang, trans. Alfred Huang (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1998), xvi.
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- Hall, “The Obscure Sage,” 4.
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- Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 83.
- Isabelle Robinet, “Cosmogony: 2. Taoist Notions,” in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio (London: Routledge, 2007), 49.
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- Ibid, 43.
- Max Dashu, “Xi Wangmu: The Great Goddess of China,” in Goddesses in World Culture, ed. Patricia Monaghan, vol. 1 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011), 142.
- Ibid, 141.
- Ibid, 221
- Isabelle Robinet, “Syncretism,” in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio (London: Routledge, 2007), 23.
- Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein, “Neidan,” in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio (London: Routledge, 2007), 765.
- Christopher Cullen, “Cosmogony: 1. Overview,” in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio (London: Routledge, 2007), 49.
- Baldrian-Hussein, “Neidan,” 765.
- Fabrizio Pregadio, “Jindan,” in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio (London: Routledge, 2007), 554.
- The neidan tradition within Taoism is vast, and contains a diverse array of schools, texts, and doctrines that understood this practice in different and often contradictory ways, some of which are not in alignment with the Religion of the Sun. Some Taoist texts that do contain knowledge of the Religion of the Sun and are recommended are listed in the resources section of this site.
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- Henriksson and Blomberg, “Evidence from Knossos,” 64-65.
- Rodney Castleden, Minoans: life in Bronze Age Crete (London: Routledge, 2005), 137.
- The Temple of Atreus originally had decorated columns that were covered in spirals. See photos on Victor Reijs, “Possible alignments at Mycenae, Greece,” Geniet: Treasury of Atreus and Tholos of Clytemnestra, accessed November 10, 2017, http://iol.ie/~geniet/eng/atreus.htm.
- Ibid, 344.
- Ibid, 125.
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- Rodney Castleden, Minoans: life in Bronze Age Crete (London: Routledge, 2005), 125.
- The spiritual Son is said to die and resurrect, reflecting both the yearly journey of the sun, the principle of spiritual sacrifice out of love, and a process that occurs during the process of spiritual transformation. See Ibid, 150-162.
- Ibid, 24.
- Ibid, 247.
- Florian Ebeling, The secret history of Hermes Trismegistus: hermeticism from ancient to modern times, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011), 28.
- Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, comp., The Pythagorean sourcebook and library: an anthropology of ancient writings which relate to Pythagoras and Pythagorean philosophy (Grand Rapids: Phanes Press, 1988), 60, 124, 141.
- Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, comp., The Pythagorean sourcebook and library: an anthropology of ancient writings which relate to Pythagoras and Pythagorean philosophy (Grand Rapids: Phanes Press, 1988), 76-82.
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