Who were the Sun Gods?

Stele_Sol_Invictus_Terme (1)

A virgin gave birth to a baby who was both god and human. He was born on December 25th, and he came to bring light to the darkness of the world. He was Horus, and Egyptian records show he lived, died and was resurrected at least 5,000 years before Christ. Horus was just one of many “Sun Gods” born around the winter solstice. Mithra, Heracles, Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus are just a few of many others. Their stories are all similar. Born to virgins, they come to save the world, do miracles, heal, and bring peace. Many die and are reborn. But why does the story repeat across cultures, and why do the gods appear to share a birthday?

Two common themes tie ancient religions together: virgin or divine births, and astrological occurrences. Quetzaltcoatl was the Mayan “Lord of the star of dawn.” Born of a virgin, he was the god of light, justice, and mercy. He was a symbol of resurrection and rebirth. He descended into the underworld and gave new life to the bones of previous races (the dead) with his own blood, and died by setting himself on fire and ascending into heaven as the morning star.

The story of Quetzaltcoatl bears resemblance to that of Jesus, who was also called the “Morning Star” in the Bible. Christians believe Christ shed his blood to forgive our sins and grant us everlasting life. Some believe he ascended into the underworld. The myth of dry bones being reborn appears in the Bible, in Ezekiel 37.  Jesus was also a symbol of death and resurrection. His birth was marked by a bright star in the sky.

“You have saved us in the shed blood,” states one early painting to the God Mithras. Mithras was born to a virgin near the time of the winter solstice. He was best known for defeating a bull and shedding its blood to save mankind. Ancient religions saw stories in the stars. Taurus the Bull, and Virgo the Virgin are constellations, and figures that appear repetitively across religions. Many of the ancient Egyptian gods are pictured with horned caps, and bull worship was common across cultures. You may recognize Pisces, the fish, even in modern-day references to Jesus.

Caves and water form other prominent markers in ancient religion. Mithras brought water to dry land. Jesus was baptized with water, and offered his followers “living water.” Jesus died and was placed in a dark “cave” for three days. While in Japan, the Sun Goddess Ameratasu slept in a cave, before re-emerging and “returning light to the Earth.”

Sol Invictus, or the Unconquered Sun, was the official God of Rome up until the time that the newest sun god, Jesus, claimed many of the stories, holidays, and traditions as the new religion spread and gained followers. The festival of Natalis Invicti (Birth of the Sun) was celebrated on the 25th of December. That date was chosen because it was close to winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year. After solstice, the sun would “return to the Earth,” filling it with abundance, harvest, warmth, light, and life. It’s no wonder that the sun gods were known as the “light of the world.”

It wasn’t until the year 336 that the Roman Emperor Constantine decided that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on December 25th, officially joining the belief of Christ’s divine birth to the ancient celebration of the “birth of the sun.” For thousands of years humans have experienced a desire, deeply rooted in survival,  to revere the sun, our life source. The faces of our gods and their stories have changed very little through hundreds of generations.  Likewise, the followers of sun gods have remained fervent and devoted. It seems we are drawn by a primal force to feel reverence when the light of the sun kisses our skin, and fear when it withdraws into the darkness of unknown space.

In today’s modern age, nonbelievers can participate in the age-old celebration of the sun in new, relevant, and scientific ways. By discovering methods to protect the harmony and balance between the heavens and earth, we can figuratively join hands with our ancestors as they celebrated this season. Choosing to support the Earth through purchasing green and organic, eating vegetarian or reducing meat consumption, and minimizing our carbon footprint are ways we can protect the glory of our life-giving sun for generations to come.



10 thoughts on “Who were the Sun Gods?

  1. Excellent summary. Thanks and happy holidays to you. I heard the arguments that all these previous to Christ were preparing us for the real thing. Or that all the others were false gods, but not this time. Right! Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Jim. I’m guessing most religions depend on “debunking” every other belief in order to gain and retain followers. I think gaining a healthy perspective on the commonalities in ancient and modern religions will be beneficial to humankind, as we slowly emerge from the age of superstition and fear. While not religious myself, I recognize in religion a human yearning for survival, love, tradition, and knowledge. Fortunately with today’s access to knowledge, we can achieve the same ends by uniting behind reality, research, science and compassion, instead of dividing ourselves among myths. Glad you enjoyed, and hope you have a wonderful holiday season yourself!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Jim, I’m so sorry. I couldn’t retrieve your comment. I fully agreed with it and was about to reply. Yes…religion often causes us to think “someone else will fix the world.” Or worse, “Those people deserve what they’re going through, because they’re not in the ‘right’ religion.”
    Oh, I can copy it from my email:
    I like that “we can achieve the same ends by uniting behind reality”. I have been thinking that so much lately. Half the people are waiting for Jesus to come fix everything. He isn’t coming. Let’s get to work and make the world awesome without wasting so much time in something that’s not going to help.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. minimizing our carbon footprint are ways we can protect the glory of our life-giving sun for generations to come.

    Until the inevitable collision with the Andromeda galaxy. Our sun would have died by then, thank goodness!
    Besides, We’ll all be living on Vulcan so no problemo, right?
    As Mr Spock would say ….”Live long and Prosper.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “The book The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur (2004) makes this very claim, however, and has given rise to the so-called Horus-Jesus Controversy also known as the Son of God Controversy. Harpur claims that Christianity was invented wholly from Egyptian mythology and that Jesus Christ is simply Horus re-imagined. To support his claim, Harpur cites `experts’ on the subject such as Godfrey Higgins, Gerald Massey, and Alvin Boyd Kuhn, all writers from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, none of whom were biblical scholars or Egyptologists. Higgins was an English magistrate who believed all religions came from the Lost City of Atlantis; Massey, a self-styled Egyptologist, was an English spiritualist who studied available inscriptions at the British Museum; Kuhn was a self-published author whose primary focus was promoting his Christ Myth Theory which was essentially just a re-write of the work done by Higgins and Massey.

    Harpur presents these `experts’ as though they had uncovered something miraculous and unheard of when, in reality, their observations are often innacurate re-treads of earlier works (such as those of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius) or wildly speculative theories presented as though they are brilliant insights. The Dying and Reviving God motif had existed for thousands of years before the apostle Paul began is evangelical efforts c. 42-62 CE and the concept of eternal life through personal dedication to a god was equally well established. Harpur’s book presents a number of very serious problems to any reader acquainted with the Bible, Christianity, and Egyptian Mythology and history but his most serious offense is the claim that Horus and Jesus share “remarkable similarities”.

    This claim, which is quite obviously false to anyone who knows the stories of the two figures, has become the best known of the book. Unfortunately, many readers who do not know the original stories take Harpur’s claims as legitimate scholarship when they are not….”

    Merry Christmas, Danica!


    1. Merry Christmas, and thank you so much for this thorough and well-presented argument to the theory. I will check out the materials you referenced for sure! I wish you the best in the year to come. 🙂


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