Article by Justin Norris with contributions by Jenny Resnick and Matthew Butler, based on the research and ideas put forth in the book The Path of the Spiritual Sun.
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.
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.2
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 2574
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,5 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.6 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.8
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.10
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.11 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.13 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, 01-05014
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 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.”
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.
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.17 18
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.”20 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 chariot21, 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).22 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.24
Multiple 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.26 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 1:100,000.28 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, Mesoamerican cultures are often associated with horrific practices such as bloodletting and human sacrifice. This indicates how the Mesoamerican 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
The teachings of Jesus are intimately connected with the spirituality of the sun. The spiritual author Belsebuub describes how the events of his life are in fact a representation of the path of the spiritual son, in which the preparation for his coming and then his birth, resurrection, and ascension represent what a spiritually prepared person experiences inwardly during the process of enlightenment. These stages are also mirrored in the cycles of the solstices and equinoxes.
This section will be expanded with more detail soon.
The 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.33 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.34 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.35 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 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/sun 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 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 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.
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 Norris with contributions by Jenny Resnick and Matthew Butler, based on the research and ideas put forth in the book The Path of the Spiritual Sun.
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Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard, The Path of the Spiritual Sun: Celebrating the Solstices & Equinoxes (Mystical Life Publications, 2016), 73-80 ↩
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Photo by Tamarah (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons ↩