It is one of those curious little mysteries of our sphere – how particular portions of the Indo-European mythology have changed and shifted to acquire the now entrenched archetypal connotations we are so familiar with today … especially in those areas wherein the modern perception of things is so clearly at odds with how things were viewed in this or that corner of the ancient Indo-European world.
There are few areas in which this could be more readily apparent than what we are about to discuss. Namely, the notion that archaic Indo-European religion often tended to have a *female* Solar deific association (and a corresponding *male* Lunar one) … and that said Solar Goddess was, far and away from the stereotypical pulp-pastiche Patriarchy Uber Alles barbarian cliche – actually a very powerful and respected figure. Indeed, contingent upon the Indo-European mythology in question, potentially *the* most powerful and highest of The Gods. [Although it should be noted that this latter element is an obviously controversial proposition, and even within Arya Akasha ourselves we have not arrived at a consensus upon the matter]
Both of these contentions contrast rather heavily with what you will often hear, and with what many people have as the subconscious ‘mental furniture’ of their mytho-religious perspective. Which states that the Moon is a female connotation, while the Sun is inherently male in divinity; and, no doubt linked to that somewhat – that Goddesses are axiomatically less important, less significant, less meaningful to the point almost of being props or plot devices or mere extensions of Their Husbands’ Divine Will.
So why the difference? What changed to make the latter set of beliefs more dominant?
Well, in a word, Classics. The simple truth is that our far greater familiarity with a slightly theme-park esque version of the mythologies of the Greeks and Romans (particularly in their later and more syncretic stages) has exerted an influence out of all proportion to our actual degree of direct connectivity to these peoples (for most of us, anyway) when it comes to imagining a polytheist past. [And it should also, vitally importantly, be noted that even amidst the Classical mythologies, the residual recollections of the Solar Goddesses were still to be found – She may have been eclipsed somewhat, but even behind the darkness of the lunar sphere, the Sun can *never* be entirely blotted out. The corona, as it were, remains. As do the Sunbeams. But more upon that, later]
We can demonstrate this quite easily by asking ourselves Who comes to mind when we attempt to conjure the names of a few deities of the Moon and Sun. Most of us will fairly immediately come up with Artemis / Diana, Selene, and of course, the practically eponymous Luna.
Comparatively fewer of us, even if we are of the traditions in question, would instantly name Mani, Meness, or Chandra as our first responses.
A similar pattern is in evidence for the Solar Gods. We would almost all come up with Helios or Apollo ; it is less likely that one would be so quick to think of Sunna / Sol [the Nordic rather than the Roman figure], Hemera, Tabiti, Kushmanda, Saule, the various Hittite Solar Goddesses – or even, for that matter, the well-attested and virtually pan-Indo-European occurrence of what my colleague, Oli Havranek, had termed the ‘Princess of the Dawn’ deific.
So what happened? Why did the Greeks – and others – so significantly de-emphasize the Solar Goddess, in favour of male Sun Gods? And, given that we come at these matters from the perspective of religious fundamentalist zealots who are of the revolutionary opinion that The Gods *Actually* Exist … what actually happened to the Goddess following Her Eclipse in some of these mythologies? Where did She Go? Where is She to be found amongst the Greeks, say – or anyone else for that matter.
The answer to that is quite simple, and hinges around what the Sun *is* for Indo-European Man. It is not, as C.S. Lewis by way of Terry Pratchett once saliently observed, a “mere ball of flaming gas” that illuminates the world. Or, rather, it is not *just* that. In symbolic terms, the Sun is the source of all energy – of all life, ultimately, which is (as Sadhguru may have pointed out) ‘solar powered’. It is also symbolic of the Grand Arch of Law and Order within our cosmos – the Sun’s passage across the sky being *the* regular thing that divides Night from Day and enfords time-keeping being a thing in the first place, whether on the daily or the seasonal (yearly) level. It is further, in terms of how we now know our solar system to work, the hearth-fire that is at the *center* of said orrery – the center of our localized cosmos, in much the same manner as the tent-pole for a shelter, or the sacrificial post for a rite (that is a shelter of another kind, properly construed – and not just because the demons are on the *other side* of the line of Enclosure therefrom, and thus from us in here).
So where do we see these elements reflected? Or, rather, where are these elements reflected from …
The most prominent is surely in the Hindusphere. Wherein Devi holds these portfolios. As the Mother of All [in particular as Hiranyagarbha – The Golden Womb], the Limitlessness of Sky [Aditi], the Director and Empowerer of the Sun [Kushmanda], the Emanation of Order into our World [Vak Devi], the Fire that makes Life possible and which nurtures the Plants so that we may eat. She may be Mother of the Sun that is Surya [and curiously enough, there is also a female Surya occasionally mentioned – married to Soma, that is The Moon], but allowing Her Son to Shine does not diminish Her Mighty Radiance – it merely shows that the Order which She suffuses throughout Her Creation is in evidence; and allows Her greater freedom to focus upon other areas of its incipient stabilization.
Now, interestingly – this notion of a Female Solar Goddess, reflecting Her Power to us via a male intermediary, is also found within the Nordic Indo-European mythology. Here, Sol has Svalinn standing between us and Her – and given the plausible etymology as well as functional role of ‘Svalinn’, it is perhaps apt to term this great golden shield to be the original Cool Shade(s). For that is why the Shield is there – to help preserve the world from an incandescently bright fate amidst incendiary conflagration sparked via the unreduced potency of the (true, female) Solar Principal’s energies that would ensue in His absence [Which should not, strictly speaking, be read as conflating Sol *with* The Sun within the realms of Nordic mythology, and therefore Her implicit de-anthropomorphicization – more as a statement that the Power of the Sun as an object is at Her command and under Her aegis of direct responsibility as a part of the overarching Divine Order of the Heavens]. Perhaps that is what we find ourselves looking at [but not directly] in various other Indo-European religions – the (male) Sun as the necessary protection against and loka-lized diffuser of the otherwise unwithstandable potency of the (female) Over-Sun that is its ultimate energetic origin-source.
To briefly address the aforementioned etymology – it is intriguing to note that while “Svalinn” itself means something akin to ‘Cooling’, ‘Chilling’ [and is directly ascribed this role by Odin in the course of the Grimnismal, wherein He notes that were said Shield not to be in place, the high places and the sea alike would burn – which, to be fair and sure, may also be a resonancy or partial fortelling of what happens at Ragnarok … as during the course of said Twilight, the demonic-wolf pursuing the Sun causes exactly that, followed eventually by the World burning down so as to start again, anew; a new Cycle of the Sun !] … the actual underlying roots of the word are slightly different in their inclination.
The immediate precedent, Proto-Germanic ‘Swalaz’ does mean ‘chill’/’cold’, but earlier in its evolution it was more in the sense of a burning cold – an ambit more directly expressed in the earlier form of the term, ‘Swelana’. This latter (yet earlier) word of Proto-Germanic appears also to have meant ‘to burn slowly’ – which, in reference to the Solar energy, would logically refer to the reduced (relative) radiance of something burning slowly rather than all at once (which is, technically speaking, an explosion), and thus would connote just such a ‘chilling’ modulation of the Sun’s rays afore they reach us down here in the Worlds. The origin of the Proto-Germanic is to be found in the Proto-Indo-European ‘Swel’, which means ‘to burn’, ‘to shine’ – and there appears to be some degree of cross-over or co-terminity with the more better known ‘Sohwl’, which more directly and specifically refers to the Sun Itself.
So thus, as you can see, encoded within the etymology of “Svalinn”, is to be found a derivation, an adjacent expression, to “Sol”, to “Sun” – perhaps to be thought of as the ‘radiance’, the ‘sunlight’ … rather than the massive thermonuclear perma-explosion which gives it light and life. The ‘Sunlight’, we can withstand (Ozone layer, perhaps, permitting) – the conditions of its origin, burn all back down to dust and even constituent atoms or subatomic particles (rather than just molecules). Exactly as we should, perhaps, find at the physical Origin Of All Things at some point after the Big Bang. And furthermore, as an associate pointed out, contingent upon proton decay, pretty much what everything eventually returns to [well, photons and neutrinos] given the sufficient passage of time during our gradually winding down period in the ongoing cycle of the universe.
There are further Nordic elements to be considered with a view to setting out a proper typology – such as that of the Solar Horseman, Dagr [‘Day’] astride Skinfaxi [‘Shining Mane’], His Father, Dellingr, and also potentially Baldr … but we shall set those aside for the moment in a bid to get back to the Solar Goddesses at the heart of this piece.