Sun-Worship

From Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894

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WHATEVER the earlier savage races may have thought of religion, if they thought at all about it, those who came after, with more or less touch of civilization, were led, in Ireland, as elsewhere, to contemplate Deity in the Sun. Sun-worship may have superseded other and grosser forms of Nature worship.

Stuart-Glennie has well expressed our thoughts thus—"We should be quite unable truly to understand how the central myths and poesies originated, if we cannot, in some degree at least, realize the wonder with which men saw the daily and yearly renewed sublime spectacle of the birth, the life course, and the death of the life-and-light-giving Creator actually visible in the Heavens.—A wonder of eternal Re-birth."

Dr. Tylor has reason when saying, "In early philosophy throughout the world, the sun and moon were alive, and, as it were, human in their nature." Professor Rhys refers to the tendency of the savage "to endow the sun, moon, the sky, or any feature of the physical world admitting of being readily acknowledged with a soul and body, with parts and passions, like their own."

In all ages, in all climes, and in all nations, the Sun, under various names and symbols, was regarded as the Creator and as sustainer of all things.

Egypt, the primeval seat of learning, was the high seat of Sun adoration. The Sphinx, with the face to the east, represents Harmachus, young Horus, or the rising Sun. The orb is Osiris, the ruling god of day. In its descent it is the dying deity, going below to the land of Shades; but only to be resurrected as the victorious Horus, piercing the head of the dragon of darkness. Twice a year did the bright rays enter the great hall of the Nile temple, to fall straight upon the shrine.

The ancient Persian bowed to Mithra as the Sun; for it was said—

"May he come to us for protection, for joy,
For mercy, for healing, for victory, for hallowing.
Mithra will I honour with offerings,
Will I draw near to us as a Friend with prayer."

The Assyrians, the Akkadians, the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, all alike worshipped the sun, as Merodach, Baal, Apollo, or Adonis. Rabbi Issaaki reads Tammuz of Ezek. ch. viii., as the burning one: i. e. Moloch.

India has down to this day reverenced the Sun. Its Vedic names grew into some sort of active personality. "We can follow," writes Max Müller, "in the Vedic hymns, step by step, the development which changes the sun from a mere luminary into a creator, preserver, ruler." "As the sun sees everything, and knows everything, he is asked to forgive and forget what he alone has seen and knows." He may be Indra, Varuna, Savritri, or Dyaus, the shining one. What to us is poetry was in India prose.

Even in Homer, Hyperion, the sun-god, was the father of all gods. According to Plato, Zeu-pater, or Jupiter, was the Father of Life. Minerva, or Pallas, the early dawn, sprang from the head of Jove every morning, fully armed, to fight the clouds of darkness. Baldur, the white god, or sun, was killed, said our Norseman and Saxon forefathers, by an arrow from the blind Hoder, or night. Africa has in all time been a centre of sun-worship. The Spaniards found the cult both in Mexico and Peru.

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