The Midsummer Sun

sunrise
Photo by Howard Lebowitz      Creative Commons License 2.0

I love the sun.  I have a naturally low body temperature and it seems like I’m almost always cold, until these muggy summer days come around and the sun blazes so hard She burns skin.  These days leading up to the Summer Solstice are some of my favorite.

The longest day of the year is a magical occasion, at least this far into the Northern Hemisphere.  As a child, it was so exciting – the sun seemed to be out until almost 10 o’clock at night, allowing me to delay my usual bedtime until there wasn’t enough light to read by.  These days, I get up a bit before 6 and am usually asleep a little bit after 9 at night; I don’t go a few minutes without seeing any of Her light.

These days feel almost like they are created to be special occasions, the way the Winter Solstice time always feels as if it was purposefully made for staying indoors with a candle or a good fire.  Sunna, the Goddess of the sun, is one of my primary deities, and this is Her time.  Ask any random person on the street to draw one symbol representing summer, and I’d be willing to wager the sun would be the most common one.  She is at Her most powerful, most brilliant, and it is this time in which Her strength is converted into life through the magic of photosynthesis.

sunchariot
Trundholm Sun Chariot

In the first century BCE, Julius Caeser writes a bit about the Germanic tribes and their religions in Caesar’s Commentaries.  He says that the Germanic tribes “rank in the number of the gods those alone whom they behold, and by whose instrumentality they are obviously benefited, namely, the sun, fire, and the moon”.  The sun has always been incredibly important to many polytheistic religions, and the ancient Germanic tribes were no exception.

The Trundholm Sun Chariot is one famous object from the Nordic Bronze Age, a beautiful disc gilded with gold and pulled by a horse.  We see this image persist through the centuries, for in Snorri’s Prose Edda we learn that Sol is a human child deified and set into the heavens to drive the flaming chariot of the sun.  How powerful a cultural image this sun seated in the chariot must have been!

I honor Sunna each morning as part of my devotional routine, but as the days stretch and grow longer the pull towards Her grows even more intense.  If anyone else is feeling the call of the sun this solstice, here is the simple prayer I say to Her each morning.

Hail Sunna, bright bride of the heavens,

all-shining bringer of life.
Your flaming chariot soars across the sky,
The fire that feeds the world.

I kindle the sacred fire in my heart
with the joy of the dawning day.
May it bring light and life to me and mine.

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