also known as Amaterasu-Ōmikami (天照大御神, 天照大神) or Ōhirume-no-Muchi-no-Kami (大日孁貴神) among other names, is the goddess of the sun in Japanese mythology. One of the major deities (kami) of Shinto, she is also portrayed in Japan's earliest literary texts, the Kojiki (ca. 712 CE) and the Nihon Shoki (720 CE), as the ruler (or one of the rulers) of the heavenly realm Takamagahara and the mythical ancestress of the Imperial House of Japan via her grandson Ninigi. Along with her siblings, the moon deity Tsukuyomi and the impetuous storm god Susanoo, she is considered to be one of the "Three Precious Children" (三貴子, mihashira no uzu no miko / sankishi), the three most important offspring of the creator god Izanagi.
Amaterasu's chief place of worship, the Grand Shrine of Ise in Ise, Mie Prefecture, is one of Shinto's holiest sites and a major pilgrimage center and tourist spot. As with other Shinto kami, she is also enshrined in a number of Shinto shrines throughout Japan.
Amaterasu, while primarily being the goddess of the sun, is also sometimes worshiped as having connections with other aspects and forms of nature. Amaterasu can also be considered a goddess of the wind and typhoons alongside her brother, and even possibly death. There are many connections between local legends in the Ise region with other goddesses of nature, such as a nameless goddess of the underworld and sea. It's possible that Amaterasu's name became associated with these legends in the Shinto religion as it grew throughout Japan.
In contrast, Amaterasu, while enshrined at other locations, also can be seen as the goddess that represents Japan and its ethnicity. The many differences in Shinto religion and mythology can be due to how different local gods and beliefs clashed. In the Meiji Era, the belief in Amaterasu fought against the Izumo belief in Ōkuninushi for spiritual control over the land of Japan. During this time, the religious nature of Okininushi may have been changed to be included in Shinto mythology. Osagawara Shouzo built shrines in other countries to mainly spread Japan's culture and Shinto religion. It, however, was usually seen as the worshiping of Japan itself, rather than Amaterasu. Most of these colonial and oversea shrines were destroyed after WWII.
Outside of being worshiped as a sun goddess, some have argued that Amaterasu was once related to snakes. There was a legend circulating among the Ise Priests that essentially described an encounter of Amaterasu sleeping with the Saiō every night in the form of a snake or lizard, evidenced by fallen scales in the priestess' bed. This was recorded by a medieval monk in his diary, which stated that "in ancient times Amaterasu was regarded as a snake deity or as a sun deity." In the Ise kanjō, the god's snake form is considered an embodiment of the "three poisons", namely greed, anger, and ignorance. Amaterasu is also linked to a snake cult, which is also tied to the theory that the initial gender of the goddess was male.
In general, some of these Amaterasu-dragon associations have been in reference to Japanese plays. One example has been within the Chikubushima tradition in which the dragon goddess Benzaiten was the emanation of Amaterasu. Following that, in the Japanese epic, Taiheki, one of the characters, Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞), made comparisons with Amaterasu and a dragon with the quote: “I have heard that the Sun Goddess of Ise … conceals her true being in the august image of Vairocana, and that she has appeared in this world in the guise of a dragon god of the blue ocean.”
Another tradition of the Heavenly Cave story depicts Amaterasu as a "dragon-fox" (shinko or tatsugitsune) during her descent to the famed cave because it is a type of animal/kami that emits light from its entire body.
Because Amaterasu has the highest position among the Shinto deities, there has been debate on her influence and relation to women's positions in early Japanese society. Some scholars have argued that the goddess' presence and high stature within the kami system could suggest that early rulers in Japan were female. Others have argued the goddess' presence implies strong influences female priests had in Japanese politics and religion.
Dazhbog (Russian: Дажьбо́г, Дажбог), alternatively Daždźbok (Belarusian: Даждзьбог), Dažbog, Dazhdbog, Dajbog, Daybog, Dabog, Dazibogu, or Dadzbóg, was one of the major gods of Slavic mythology, most likely a solar deity and possibly a cultural hero. He is one of several authentic Slavic gods, mentioned by a number of medieval manuscripts, and one of the few Slavic gods for which evidence of worship can be found in all Slavic tribes.
The most interesting passage about Dazhbog comes from the Hypatian Codex, a 15th-century compilation of several much older documents from the Ipatiev Monastery in Russia. The complete passage, reconstructed from several manuscripts, translates as follows:
“(Then) began his reign Feosta (Hephaestus), whom the Egyptians called Svarog… during his rule, from the heavens fell the smith's prongs and weapons were forged for the first time; before that, (people) fought with clubs and stones. Feosta also commanded the women that they should have only a single husband… and that is why Egyptians called him Svarog… After him ruled his son, his name was the Sun, and they called him Dazhbog… Sun tsar, son of Svarog, this is Dazhbog.”
This is, in fact, a Slavic translation of an original Greek manuscript of Malalin from the 6th century. In the Greek text, the names of gods are Hephaestus and Helios. Apparently, the unknown Rus translator tried to re-tell the entire story (set in Egypt) by replacing the names of classical deities with those that were better known to his readers.
One can only hope that he indeed replaced the names of Greek gods with their fitting Slavic counterparts; however, at least one issue remains problematic: in all Slavic languages, the word for Sun, Suntse, is of neutral or feminine gender, never masculine (however, there is an Old East Slavic epic character "Vladimir Beautiful Sun" or "Vladimir Bright Sun" (ru) which has the same place as Arthur in English culture).
Also, in Baltic mythology, which is most akin to Slavic, Sun is a female deity, Saule, while the Moon is a male one. The same pattern can be observed in the folklore of many Slavic nations, where the Sun is most often identified with mother or a bride, and Moon with father or husband, their children being the stars. Where exactly this leaves Dazhbog as a possible male solar deity of Slavic pantheon remains questionable.
Furthermore, this passage has raised quite a few theories about family relations between Slavic gods. If we assume that indeed Svarog was believed to be Dazhbog's father, the question arises of his relation with Svarozhits, another deity who is mentioned as a god of fire and war in several other medieval documents describing the pagan beliefs of Slavs. Svarozhits is simply a diminutive of Svarog's name, i.e., "little Svarog", which implicates he was considered a child of Svarog. Vyacheslav Ivanov and Vladimir Toporov proposed a reconstruction of this mythical genealogy that Svarog, a deity of fire and forge similar to the Greek Hephaestus, had two sons; Dazhbog, who represented the fire in the sky (i.e., the Sun), and Svarozhits, who symbolised the flame on earth, in the forge.
Henryk Łowmiański, however, theorised that Svarog was a Slavic sky god and personification of daylight sky itself, possibly a continuation of Proto-Indo-European *Dyēus Ph2ter, while Svarozhits and solar Dazhbog were the same deity, though, he concluded, two other aspects of Svarozhits also existed: fiery Svarozhits, as in the Sun (mentioned in Old East Slavic medieval manuscripts), and lunar Svarozhits, associated with the Moon. Franjo Ledic, on the other hand, assumed that Svarog and Dazhbog are the same god.
Many mythologists also believe Dazhbog to be identical with another East Slavic deity with possible solar attributes, Khors. Osip Maximovich Bodjanskij based this theory on the following passage from Primary Chronicle:
And Vladimir began his reign in Kiev alone and erected idols on the hill outside his palace with porch: Perun of wood with a head of silver and moustache of gold and Khors Dazhbog and Stribog and Simargl and Mokosh.
Note that the names Khors and Dazhbog are the only two not clearly separated by the word "and" in the text. This could be an indication of a compound deity, Khors Dazhbog. On this basis, Toporov assumed that Khors could be an Iranian (possibly Sarmatian or Scythian) name for this god, and Dazhbog a Slavic one. Boris Rybakov compared Khors and Dazhbog to Helios and Apollo, respectively, concluding that both of them were solar gods, but while Hors represented the Sun itself, Dazhbog, as deus dator, rather symbolised the life-giving power of the Sun. That Khors was indeed a solar deity was deduced from the following passage in the Tale of Igor's Campaign:
Vseslav the prince judged men; as prince, he ruled towns; but at night he prowled in the guise of a wolf. From Kiev, prowling, he reached, before the cocks crew, Tmutorokan. The path of great Khors, as a wolf, prowling, he crossed.
In other words, prince Vseslav reached Tmutorokan before dawn, thus crossing the path of Khors, the Sun. In the mythical view of the world, the Sun has to pass through the underworld during the night to reach the eastern horizon by the dawn. This, and the fact that prince Vseslav is transformed into a wolf during the night, while "crossing the path of Khors", draws a parallel with the Serbian Dabog, who, as stated already, was believed to be a lame "wolf shepherd" who rules over the underworld.
Of particular interest is the fact that Serbian folk accounts describe him as being lame; lameness was a standing attribute of Greek Hephaestus, whom, as we have seen, the Hypatian Codex compared with Slavic smith-god Svarog, father of Dazhbog. (In fact, most of Indo-European smith-gods were lame; the reason for this was most likely arsenicosis, low levels of arsenic poisoning, resulting in lameness and skin cancers. Arsenic was added to bronze to harden it, and most smiths of the Bronze Age would have suffered from chronic workplace poisoning.)
Serbian Dabog, being lord of the underworld, was also associated with precious metals, and sometimes was said to have a silver beard. Veselin Čajkanović concluded that the chthonic character of Dabog in Serbian folklore fits very nicely with the solar Dazhbog mentioned in Old East Slavic sources, pointing out that in numerous mythologies, solar deities tend to have double aspects, one benevolent, associated with the Sun during the day, and the other malevolent, associated with night, when the Sun is trapped in the underworld.
In his studies of Serbian folklore, Čajkanović also concluded that many more benevolent aspects of Dazhbog were passed on to popular saints in folk Christianity, in particularly onto St. Sava, Serbian national saint, who, although undoubtedly was a real historical person, in folk tales often appears in the role of culture hero. The fact that in the Tale of Igor's Campaign, the Rus and their princes are being referred to as "Dazhbog's grandchildren", indicates that Dazhbog was considered as an ancestral deity, a common role of a culture hero archetype in mythologies.
Bennu /ˈbɛnuː/] is an ancient Egyptian deity linked with the Sun, creation, and rebirth. He may have been the original inspiration for the phoenix legends that developed in Greek mythology. According to Egyptian mythology, Bennu was a self-created being said to have played a role in the creation of the world. He was said to be the ba of Ra and to have enabled the creative actions of Atum. The deity was said to have flown over the waters of Nun that existed before creation, landing on a rock and issuing a call that determined the nature of creation. He also was a symbol of rebirth and, therefore, was associated with Osiris.
Some of the titles of Bennu were "He Who Came Into Being by Himself", and "Lord of Jubilees"; the latter epithet referred to the belief that Bennu periodically renewed himself like the sun was thought to do. His name is related to the Egyptian verb wbn, meaning "to rise in brilliance" or "to shine".
New Kingdom artwork shows Bennu as a huge grey heron with a long beak and a two-feathered crest. Sometimes Bennu is depicted as perched on a benben stone (representing Ra and the name of the top stone of a pyramid) or in a willow tree (representing Osiris). Because of the connection with Osiris, Bennu sometimes wears the Atef crown, instead of the solar disk.
In comparatively recent times, a large species of heron, now extinct, lived on the Arabian Peninsula. It shares many characteristics with Bennu. It may have been the animal after which Bennu was modeled by the ancient Egyptians during the New Kingdom.
Like Atum and Ra, the Bennu was probably worshipped in their cult center at Heliopolis. The deity also appears on funerary scarab amulets as a symbol of rebirth.
The Greek historian Herodotus, writing about Egyptian customs and traditions in the fifth century BC, wrote that the people at Heliopolis described the "phoenix" to him. They said it lived for 500 years before dying, resuscitating, building a funerary egg with myrrh for the paternal corpse, and carrying it to the temple of the Sun at Heliopolis. His description of the phoenix likens it to an eagle with red and gold plumage, reminiscent of the sun.
Long after Herodotus, the theme ultimately associated with the Greek phoenix, with the fire, pyre, and ashes of the dying bird developed in Greek traditions.
The name, "phoenix", could be derived from "Bennu" and its rebirth and connections with the sun resemble the beliefs about Bennu, however, Egyptian sources do not mention a death of the deity.
Aten also Aton, Atonu, or Itn (Ancient Egyptian: jtn, reconstructed [ˈjaːtin]) was the focus of Atenism, the religious system established in ancient Egypt by the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten. The Aten was the disc of the sun and originally an aspect of Ra, the sun god in traditional ancient Egyptian religion. Akhenaten, however, made it the sole focus of official worship during his reign. In his poem "Great Hymn to the Aten", Akhenaten praises Aten as the creator, giver of life, and nurturing spirit of the world. Aten does not have a creation myth or family but is mentioned in the Book of the Dead. The worship of Aten was eradicated by Horemheb.
The solar Aten was extensively worshipped as a god in the reign of Amenhotep III when it was depicted as a falcon-headed man much like Ra. In the reign of Amenhotep III's successor, Amenhotep IV, the Aten became the central god of the Egyptian state religion, and Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten to reflect his close link with the new supreme deity. The principles of Aten's religion were recorded on the rock tomb walls of Akhetaten. In the religion of Aten (Atenism), night is a time to fear. Work is done best when the sun, Aten, is present. Aten cares for every creature, and created a Nile river in the sky (rain) for the Syrians. Aten created all countries and people. The rays of the sun disk only holds out life to the royal family; everyone else receives life from Akhenaten and Nefertiti in exchange for loyalty to Aten. Aten is depicted caring for the people through Akhenaten by Aten's hands extending towards the royalty, giving them ankhs representing life being given to humanity through both Aten and Akhenaten. In Akhenaten's Hymn to Aten, a love for humanity and the Earth is depicted in Aten's mannerisms:
Aten bends low, near the earth, to watch over his creation; he takes his place in the sky for the same purpose; he wearies himself in the service of the creatures; he shines for them all; he gives them sun and sends them rain. The unborn child and the baby chick are cared for; and Akhenaten asks his divine father to 'lift up' the creatures for his sake so that they might aspire to the condition of perfection of his father, Aten.
Akhenaten represented himself not as a god, but as a son of Aten, shifting the previous methods of pharaohs claiming to be the embodiment of Horus. This contributes to the belief that Atenism should be considered a monotheistic religion where "the living Aten beside whom there is no other; he was the sole god".
There is only one known instance of the Aten talking, "said by the 'Living Aten': my rays illuminate…"
Aten is an evolution of the idea of a sun-god in Egyptian mythology, deriving a lot of his concepts of power and representation from the earlier god Ra but building on top of the power Ra represents. Aten carried absolute power in the universe, representing the life-giving force of light to the world as well as merging with the concept and goddess Ma'at to develop further responsibilities for Aten beyond the power of light itself.
In Greek mythology, Hyperion (/haɪˈpɪəriən/; Greek: Ὑπερίων, romanized: Hyperíōn, 'the high one') was one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky) who, led by Cronus, overthrew their father Uranus and were themselves later overthrown by the Olympians. With his sister, the Titaness Theia, Hyperion fathered Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn).
Hyperion's son Helios was referred to in early mythological writings as Helios Hyperion (Ἥλιος Ὑπερίων, "Sun High-one"). In Homer's Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony, and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the Sun is once in each work called Hyperionides (Ὑπεριωνίδης, "son of Hyperion"), and Hesiod certainly imagines Hyperion as a separate being in other writings. Ιn Βook 19 of Homer's Iliad, Homer calls the sun-god "Hyperion", a byname of the Sun, Hyperion's son. In later Greek literature, Hyperion is always distinguished from Helios; the former was ascribed the characteristics of the "God of Watchfulness, Wisdom and the Light", while the latter became the physical incarnation of the Sun. Hyperion is an obscure figure in Greek culture and mythology, mainly appearing in lists of the twelve Titans:
Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by these bodies, and to make these facts known to others; and that for this reason he was called the father of these bodies, since he had begotten, so to speak, the speculation about them and their nature.
As the father of Helios, Hyperion was regarded as the “first principle” by Emperor Julian, though his relevance in Julian's notions of theurgy is unknown.
He was said to be breathtakingly beautiful. Hyperion’s name comes from he Greek for “the one who watches from above.” He is said to be the first to understand the cycles of the sun, the stars, the moon and the dawn or to even have ordered them in the first place.