The remains of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, where the phrase “Know Thyself,” a famous maxim of self-knowledge, was once inscribed. By Kevin Gabbert – User: (WT-shared) Kevin James at wts wikivoyage (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Before the famous civilization of ancient Greece flourished in the Aegean sea region, it was home to the earlier Minoan and Mycenean cultures, which are some of the oldest known civilizations in Europe.1 DNA research suggests the peoples of all these civilizations originate from Early Neolithic farmers of Europe who settled the area at least 9,000 years ago.23 This suggests a connection between ancient Greek culture and the older civilization of the sun that helped spread agriculture after the last ice age.
From these distant origins emerged civilizations demonstrating a profound knowledge of the Religion of the Sun. For example, numerous ancient sites across the region contain alignments to the solstices and equinoxes, such as the mountain sanctuary at Petsophas, Crete, 45 the “Treasury of Atreus” in Mycenae,6 and the famous palace/temple of Knossos.7
A 19th century painting depicting a procession of Greek women enacting the role of the Greek goddess Demeter and her attendants, whose mythology is associated with the equinox. Francis Davis Millet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Among these structures and other artifacts can be found many symbols related to the Religion of the Sun, such as the double-axe (connected to the equinox as a symbol of balance, reflecting day and night being equal),8 the cross, sun disk, solar wheel, swastika, and spiral.910
Ancient inscriptions also reveal many traces of deities connected to the Religion of the Sun, such as the mother goddess Potnia, whose epithet “a-ta-na,” connects her to Athena, a representation of the spiritual Mother in later Greek mythology,11 or the male deity Velchanos, a title later attributed to the Greek god Zeus, representing the spiritual Father.12
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 Eleusis13 or by Classical Greek sages such as Pythagoras. He was said to have travelled Greece learning from its wise men and then travelled abroad to study esoteric knowledge in Persia, India, and Egypt—all civilizations descended from the Civilization of the Sun.141516 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.17
Although no first-hand reports of the Pythagoreans’ spiritual practice survive, later writers described some of their spiritual exercises, including practices of being in the present moment, using retrospection for self-knowledge, learning from dreams, establishing a spiritual framework for daily living, and using music for spiritual inspiration. Further information on these practices will appear below. A more detailed overview of connections between Aegean civilizations and the Religion of the Sun can be found in the article, “Cultures Descended from the Civilization of the Sun.”
- One scholar describes Minoan civilization as a “Cradle of Civilization on a level with the Nile, Indus, Tigris, and Euphrates valleys.” (Rodney Castleden, Minoans: life in Bronze Age Crete (London: Routledge, 2005), 3.) This also aligns with the tale of an Egyptian priest (recorded by Plato) that describes Greek civilization dating back to 9,600 BC and being even older than that of Egypt. (Plato. “Timaeus.” The Internet Classics Archive. Accessed November 13, 2017. http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/timaeus.html.)
- Iosif Lazaridis, Alissa Mittnik, Nick Patterson, et al, “Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans,” Nature 548 (August 10, 2017): 214, doi:10.1038.
- Jeffery R. Hughey, Peristera Paschou, Petros Drineas, et al, “A European population in Minoan Bronze Age Crete,” Nature Communications: 2, doi:10.1038/ncomms2871.
- Emilia Banou, “Minoan ‘Horns of Consecration’ Revised: A symbol of Sun Worship in Palatial and Post-Palatial Crete?” Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 8, no. 1 (2008): 33-34.
- Mary Sullivan Blomberg, Göran Henriksson, and Peter E. Blomberg, “Drawings – Petsophas,” Minoan Astronomy, , accessed November 10, 2017, http://minoanastronomy.mikrob.com/plans.html#petsophas.
- 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. See a video demonstration of the alignment here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-Prwb93Ad0.
- G. Henriksson and M. Blomberg, “The Evidence from Knossos on the Minoan Calendar,” Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 11, no. 1 (2011): 61.
- Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard, The Path of the Spiritual Sun: Celebrating the Solstices & Equinoxes (Mystical Life Publications, Revised and updated second edition July 2017) 287.
- 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.
- Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard, The Path of the Spiritual Sun (Second edition) 124.
- See Ibid, 125 as well as Angela Pritchard, “A Guide to Creating a Shrine to the Religion of the Sun,” Sakro Sawel, October 29, 2017, accessed November 10, 2017, https://sakrosawel.com/a-guide-to-creating-a-shrine-religion-of-the-sun/.
- Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard, The Path of the Spiritual Sun (Second edition) 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.
- Ibid, 76-82.