Balladeer’s Blog’s mythology posts are among the most popular parts of this site. As a change of pace from my examinations of multiple deities from a single mythological pantheon this time I’ll do a light-hearted look at solar deities – both male and female – from around the world. Given the familiarity of the Greco- Roman sun god I’ll omit him and deal with less well-known deities.
Lore: Also called Malina, Seqinek’s home was in Udlormiut, the land that was on the other side of the sky. In Inuit cosmology the sky was the roof of the enormous ice- house (igloo) that enclosed the world and Udlormiut lay on the other side. By day Seqinek would leave her home and run across the sky, with the sun itself being the flame from the torch she carried as she ran. The goddess was forever fleeing her brother, the moon god Tatqim, whose partially burnt- out torch was the moon.
For more Inuit deities – https://glitternight.com/inuit-myth/
Lore: The sun was Surya’s chariot racing across the sky, pulled by seven shining horses who sported manes that burned like flames. In alternate versions Surya’s chariot is pulled by one giant horse with seven heads. Surya’s four hands hold a lotus, a mace, a conch and a wheel. The sun god’s daughter Ushas precedes him across the sky and is considered the goddess of the dawn. His wives were the goddesses Suranya and Chhaya. Though later considered an aspect of Vishnu, in the Rig Veda Surya was part of the original Trimurti, along with Indra the storm god and Agni the fire god.
For more Hindu deities – https://glitternight.com/2011/07/05/the-eleven-most-neglected-deities-in-hindu-mythology/
Lore: This sun goddess was depicted as an elderly woman carrying the sun across the sky by balancing it on her head, the way baskets and other burdens are carried in various cultures. At the end of each day after carrying her cargo in this manner to the west Nyakakaikuru would remove it from the top of her head. She would then devour all the solar “meat” off of the sun as her evening meal. The sun goddess would then toss the sun’s “bone” to Ruhanga, the supreme deity of the Bunyoro pantheon. Ruhanga, who was Nyakakaikuru’s husband in some accounts and her father in others, would cause a new sun to form around that bone overnight. In this manner each morning a fresh sun was ready to be borne across the sky by Nyakakaikuru.
For more Bunyoro deities – https://glitternight.com/bunyoro-mythology/
Lore: Tonatiuh is the sun god of our current world, the Fifth World, according to Aztec cosmology. Each of the four previous worlds had their own individual sun gods who died along with those worlds. When the Aztec deities assembled to create this Fifth World two gods volunteered to become the new sun – Nanahuatzin – the previous world’s despised leprosy deity, and Tecciztecatl, the previous world’s wealth god. The lowly and humble Nanahuatzin outdid the haughty and boastful Tecciztecatl in the contests held and thus won the honor. He leaped into the sacrificial flames and was ignited as Tonatiuh, the new sun god. The Aztecs believed the rivers of blood from large- scale human sacrifices were necessary to slake Tonatiuh’s incredible thirst so he could keep moving across the sky.
For more Aztec deities – https://glitternight.com/2011/05/10/the-top-eleven-deities-in-aztec-mythology/
Lore: Sometimes conflated with Nanishta, the creator god and supreme deity of the Choctaw pantheon, Hashtali was originally simply the sun god. He crossed the sky each day by riding on the back of an enormous buzzard. The Choctaw people would leave dead bodies in the sunlight so that Hashtali’s heat and his familiar buzzards could dispose of the remains, leaving the spirit of the deceased with no body to try to return to. Humans were given fire when the spider god Uncta stole some of Hashtali’s heat, and all fires are loyal to the sun god, telling him everything that occurs around them. Eclipses were caused by a giant black squirrel attacking the sun god, who would have to fight him off. Hashtali’s wife was the moon goddess Hvashi and their daughter was Ohoyochisba the corn goddess.
For more Choctaw deities – https://glitternight.com/2012/06/03/the-top-twelve-deities-in-choctaw-mythology/
6. MAT GA TRONG
Lore: The sun was this goddess’ palanquin on which she regally reclined while six celestial bearers carried it across the sky each day. Mat Ga Trong’s palanquin was adorned with rooster images in some accounts and with crow images in others. She provides the world with light and heat while her attendants transport her across the sky. In summer her six attendants are young and virile males who take their time and flirt with the goddess as they carry her, hence the longer days in summer. In winter her six celestial attendants are old and worn males who rush with Mat Ga Trong across the sky so that they can get done with their work more quickly and rest, hence the shorter days in winter. Mat Ga Trong’s son is Ah Nhi the fire god and her sister is Trang Chim the moon goddess.
For more Vietnamese deities – https://glitternight.com/vietnamese-myth/
Lore: The sun was Haemosu’s home, a domain he claimed by retrieving the sun when it was stolen by a gigantic crow in the ancient past. The crow feathers that decorated Haemosu’s headdress were from that enormous beast that he had slain in order to restore the sun’s light and heat to the world. The sun god’s primary weapon was a solar sword that gleamed like the sun. Each day as the sun made its way across the sky Haemosu would let it take its course while he would fly to the Earth below via his chariot Oryonggeo. That chariot was pulled by five flying dragons. Haemosu would pass the day presiding over human affairs, hearing appeals from earthly kings just as kings heard appeals from their subjects. His wife was Yuhwa, the goddess of willow trees and their son was Jumong (also spelled Chumong), the most active figure in Korean myths.
For more Korean deities – https://glitternight.com/2011/03/24/the-top-11-deities-in-korean-mythology/
Lore: Tsohanoai rode across the heavens on a sky-blue horse he created and the sun was the gleaming shield he carried with him on his journey. Originally he simply carried that shield across the sky but later invented horses for himself and for humanity to ride on. Tsohanoai’s home was a square house that floated on what we call the Pacific Ocean and upon returning to that house at sunset he would hang the sun on a peg for the night. His wife, the seasonal goddess Estsanatlehi, lived there with him. Among the other deities living in the sun god’s divine house in the west were Tonenili the rain god and Niltsi the wind god. Tsohanoai’s house was built by Niltsi’s father Hastsehogan. The sun god’s own children were numerous and included the war god Nayanazgeni and Nohoilpi, the god of gambling.
For more Navajo deities – https://glitternight.com/navajo-myth-clear/
Pantheon: Hawaiian and other Polynesian pantheons
Lore: Thus far we’ve seen the sun depicted as a torch, a chariot, a palanquin, a shield and even as a meal in addition to other items. The depiction of the sun in regard to the god Maui was as a beast “tamed” by the deity. Originally the sun was fished up from the sea in a net by the sky god Rangi (though later myths attribute this act to the god Lono instead). Rangi set it in orbit but in later years Maui’s mother complained to him that the days were too short for her and for mortal humans to get all their work done. Rising to the challenge Maui lassoed the sun with vines from cocoanut trees and met the fiery beast in combat. After a monumental struggle Maui had “tamed” the sun and ordered it to go across the sky more slowly, giving the world longer days than it originally had. Maui’s sister was Hina the moon goddess.
For more Hawaiian deities – https://glitternight.com/hawaiian-myth/
Lore: Also called Amen-Ra, Re, Atum-Ra and other combinations. The sun was Ra’s ship, or ark, making its way across the sky, with a vast contingent of the god’s subordinate deities also on board. After a long day of sailing across the heavens Ra would navigate his ship the sun down into the subterranean land of the dead, lighting it by night as he had the land of the living by day. Every night Ra and his solar vessel would traverse the river leading through that netherworld and would face the dangers posed by the god Set as well as demonic entities like Apophis and others. When this nightly struggle for survival was over the sun would rise again in the east, beginning another day of providing light and heat for the Earth. Ra’s first- born children were Nut the sky goddess and Geb the Earth god.
For more Egyptian deities – https://glitternight.com/2011/08/15/the-eleven-most-neglected-deities-in-egyptian-mythology/
Lore: Amaterasu was the sun itself, her beauty and radiance so dazzling and so intense she could light and heat the entire world by day. The sun goddess was the supreme deity of the Shinto pantheon. Amaterasu was the daughter of the god Izanagi and the goddess Izanami in the Shinto holy book Nihongi, but in the Kojiki she was said to have sprung from an eye of the sky god Izanagi alone. This odd tradition dates back to even older myths in which the sun was regarded as one eye of the sky god and the moon as his other eye. Amaterasu exiled her brother Tsukuyomi the moon god to the nighttime skies in her disgust over Tsukuyomi’s slaying of the food goddess Ugetsu. Susanowo the storm god, another brother of Amaterasu, often rebelled against his sister’s rule and once when he caused a storm so intense that it blotted out the sun for several days Amaterasu withdrew in anger to a cave. The other Shinto deities successfully convinced the goddess to return, so that the world would have light and heat. They also punished Susanowo by reducing his power and exiling him to ancient Japan. Through her grandson, the god Ninigi, Amaterasu is the divine ancestor of all the Emperors of Japan.
For more Shinto deities – https://glitternight.com/shinto-myth/
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.