RELIGIOUS SUNGAZING

PREHISTORIC SUN WORSHIP

We emerged, as a species, at Olduvai Gorge, East Africa. From there, over the past four million years, we have spread out to cover the whole land mass of the planet. Nearly every area of land close the equator gets twice as much sunlight as Great Britain, and East Africa gets nearly three times as much. 
Thousands of Neolithic tombs erected across Europe and Africa around 10,000 B.C. were apparently built to face the rising sun, securing the sun's importance in various human cultures across three countries, two continents and the Mediterranean islands, according to Michael Hoskin, a historian of astronomy at Churchill College in Cambridge, England.
"I think all these cultures looked on the sunrise as a symbol of hope," said Hoskin, in an e-mail interview. "The customs of structure of the tombs vary hugely from region to region, but the patterns of orientation are very similar".
"In studies like this, in which you have a large sample of tombs, you look for trends," said E.C. Krupp, an archaeoastronomer and director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angles, California, adding that it's amazing such structures can be identified in the first place. "So not only are the dead part of the story, but the sun is part of the story too."
Hoskin spent 12 years personally cataloging the positions of 2,000 Neolithic tombs, and researching documented descriptions of some 1,000 others, across France, Portugal, Spain and North Africa.
In the Alenterejo region of central Portugal, for example, every one of the 177 tombs measured by Hoskin faced sunrise, usually during autumn and early winter, with a sharp cutoff at the winter solstice. 
"All the evidence is consistent with their having aligned their tombs with sunrise on the day when building started, which is exactly what we know happened commonly with Christian churches,
" Hoskin said. "The churches face the rising sun as a symbol of Christ rising from the dead. No doubt the Neolithic people saw the rising sun as a symbol of hope of afterlife." The only exception were some tombs around the small French town of Fontvieille, where the monuments were built facing sunset, unlike any others found, Hoskin added.

THE FIRST SUN GOD(DESS) 

Our history begins in Mesopotamia, where Shamash, the Mesopotamian god of the sun, exercised the power of light over darkness and evil. In this capacity he became known as the god of justice and equity and was the judge of both gods and men. (According to legend, the Babylonian king Hammurabi received his code of laws from Shamash.) At night, Shamash became judge of the underworld. 
On a 9th century BC stone relief of the Babylonian god Shamash the divine human figure is associated with a cross represented as a four-pointed star inside a disc with interspersed wavy lines: an accompanying inscription reads “the image of the sun, the great lord who dwells in the temple”. Shamash was pictured seated on a throne, holding in his hand the symbols of justice and righteousness, a staff and a ring.  He is often pictured with a disk, having a cross inside, that symbolized the Sun. 
In fact, Shamash did not representing the sun, or the sun God, but rather a hero who had the power to stare into the sun, as is written into the story of Gilgamesh, tablet X:
265:"No man has ever gone that way and lived to say he crossed the sea. Shamash only ventures there, only Shamash would dare to stare into the sun.”
307: "But there is no one else who can see what Shamash only can see within the sun.”
The name Shamash/Shemesh or Sama signifies "servant", thus pointing to a secondary position. (1911 Encyclopedia Britannica).
In a Babylonian prayer, Shamash is seen as a supreme judge who is different from God:
"O Shamash, supreme judge of heaven and earth art thou. O Shamash, on this day cleanse and purify the king, the son of his God. Whatsoever is evil within him, let it be taken out."
A similar view had the Essenes. The name of their Lawgiver, after God, was a matter of great veneration to them; if anyone blasphemed the name of the Lawgiver he was sentenced to death. The Essenes kept secret his name, but it is obvious that it was Shamash.

The Akkadian/ Babylonian sun god Shamash or Shemesh, also a bringer of light, upholder of law and order, and prophetic oracle, was originally an eagle-shaped Sun-goddess, as seen into an Sumerian artifact, and as demonstrated in personal names Ummi-Shamash which means My Mother is Shamash. Phoenicians called her  Shapash and was the goddess of the Sun. Called the Luminary of the Deities, the Torch of the Gods, She sees all that transpires on Earth by day and guards the souls of the dead in the underworld by night. Like the Akkadian Shamash, She is a deity of justice, often serving to mediate for the deities in disputes. She is related to Shamsh, Chems, an Arabic Sun-goddess worshipped at sunrise, noon, and sunset.

 

 

 

THE EYE OF THE SUN

Shapash, the Cannanite Sun-Goddess, is the all-seeing eye that sees all in the world -- and the Underworld -- which she travels over in her daily course. In a Babylonian bas relief she has a lion face and the all seeing eye as the third eye, the Ajna chakra from yoga, the spiritual sight. This is the only instance when the third eye is represented in ancient times in other area than India. The relief shows how she was stabbed and killed by Shamash, who took her place as a Sun God and law giver. This marks the end of the matriarchal society and the beginning of the patriarchal one. However, Shamash did not inherit the all seeing eye, a distinct characteristic of Shapash, that later was addopted by Egyptians as the Eye of Horus, and later a Christian symbol associated to God and a Masonic symbol, seen on the reverse of the Great Seal, from the reverse of the 1 $ bill, above the pyramid.

The cult of Goddess Shapash reached Egypt, where she survived under the name of Sekhmet, the fierce lioness goddess of the sun and one of the eyes of Ra. 
Sekhmet (also spelt Sachmet, Sakhet, and Sakhmet), was originally the war goddess of Upper Egypt. She was seen as the Avenger of Wrongs. Her name means (one who is) powerful, and she was also given titles such as (One) Before Whom Evil Trembles, and Lady of Slaughter. An Invocation of Sekhmet from Dendera says:
"The Powerful, powerful in her existence, She that impurity fears. 
 The one who's face is beautiful, remarkable of image, who thrusts back sadness.
The solar feminine disc, radiant, rejuvenating, illuminating the country"
 During the Middle Kingdom, the name "Sekhmet" literally became synonymous with doctors and surgeons. In antiquity, many of Sekhmet's priests were often considered to be on the same level as physicians.

 

 

 

 

A terra-cotta found in a Phoenician tomb from Cyprus shows a  Sun-priestess, having swastikas on her attire and carrying a vase on her had, just as Sekhmet carries the sun on her head.
Geneticist Spencer Wells, in his study for The National Geographic Society, ran tests on the DNA gathered from Phoenician skeletons and concluded that they're far older than either “Semite” or “Indo-European”. They come from “the older Mediterranean sub-stratum” predating both of these groups. However, they eventually adopted a Semitic language.
Stanford University admits that the Phoenicians are known to have traded with the Indian city of Kerala as early as 3000 BC "for ivory, sandalwood, and spices." That might explain the presence of the swastikas, the Hindu sign for prosperity, on this Phoenician artifact.
In a tomb from Skyros (Greece), was found a golden disc decorated with five rosettes and four swastikas.

The cross and the swastikas were represented also on the "Hands of God" (Ręce Boga), allegedly an old (pre-Christian) Vandals and Slavic solar symbol.
Dazh'bog is the Slavic name of the sun god, this name meaning "The giving god". The name Dazhbog is a compound of dazh' (the imperative form of dati, "to give") and bog ("god").  The name Dazhbog (Old Russian, Dazh'bog) is first mentioned in the Kievan pantheon, listed in the Russian Primary Chronicle (c. 1111 CE). His connection with the sun is clearly stated in the Malalas Chronicle of 1114: "Tsar Sun is the son of Svarog, and his name is Dazhbog."
Dazhbog was a fair and just divinity associated with light and happiness. He rewarded the ones leading a good life and punished the evil. He is regarded as the ultimate ancestor of the Russian people, and even today a poetic reference to Russians can be made using the phrase “children” or “grandchildren of Dazhdebog”. 
Folklore from Russia says that the Sun was the king of twelve kingdoms (the twelve signs of the Zodiac).
In pre-Christian Slavic mythology, the swastika  was dedicated to the sun god Svarog and was called kolovrat, (Polish kołowrót). In the Polish first Republic the symbol of the swastika was also popular with the nobility. According to chronicles, Varangians prince Oleg who in the 9th century with his Rus Vikings had captured Constantinople, had nailed his shield to the city's gates, which had a large red swastika painted on it.
To this time Bulgarians call Sourjvaki the New Year, as it falls in with the festival in honor of the ancient Slavonian god Sourja. In the Slavonian mythology this deity – Sourja or Sourva, – evidently identical with the Aryan Surya . . . sun . . . is the god of heat, fertility, and abundance. The celebration of this festival is of an immense antiquity, as, far before the days of Christianity, the Bulgarians worshipped Sourva, and consecrated New Year's day to this god, praying him to bless their fields with fertility, and send them happiness and prosperity. The following stanzas are addressed by them to those they visit:

Sôurvá, Soúrvá, Lord of the Season,
Happy New Year mayst thou send;
Health and fortune on this household,
Success and blessings till next year.
With good crops and full ears, 
With gold and silk, and grapes and fruits;
With barrels full of wine, and stomachs full,
You and your house be blessed by the God . . .
His blessing on you all. – Amen! Amen! Amen!

Like Sekhmet, Tefnut was generally shown as a woman with a lion's head, or as a full lioness.
Tefnut (Tefenet, Tefnet) was the daughter of Ra, mother of the twin sky and the earth deities, and was also called the “Eye of Ra” as well as a creative force as the “Tongue of Ptah”. Tefnut was representing the third eye, the central eye of Ra, that radiates life and brings life to the dead.. She was shown within the solar disk encircled by Uraeus, and accompanied by Toth, represented as a baboon.

The following excerpts from The Papyrus of Ani (Egyptian Book of the Dead) are talking about sungazing at the disk of the sun:

"Those who have lain down in death rise up to see thee, they breathe the air, and they look upon thy face when the disk riseth on the horizon. Their hearts are at peace since they behold thee, o thou who art Eternity and Everlastingness."

"Hail, thou Disk, thou lord of rays, who risest on the horizon day by day. Shine thou with thy beams of light upon the face of the
Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, for he singeth hymns of praise to thee at dawn, and he maketh thee to sit at eventide [with words of adoration].

"And I, Ani, have come into thy presence, so that I may be with thee, and may behold thy Disk every day. Let me not be kept captive [by the tomb], and let me not be turned back [on my way]. Let the members of my body be made new again when I contemplate thy beauties, even as are the members of all thy favoured ones, because I am one of those who worshipped thee upon earth. Let
me arrive in the Land of Eternity, let me enter into the Land of Everlastingness. This, O my Lord, behold thou shalt ordain for me."

"And moreover, the Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, in peace, the truth-speaker, saith:- Homage to thee, O thou who risest on thy horizon in the form of Ra, who restest upon Law, [which can neither be changed nor altered]. Thou passest over the sky, and every face, watcheth thee and thy course, for thou thyself art hidden from their gaze. Thou dost show thyself [to them] at dawn and at eventide each day. The Sektet Boat, wherein Thy Majesty dwelleth, setteth forth on its journey with vigour. Thy beams [fall] upon all faces, thy light with its manifold colours is incomprehensible [to man], and thy brilliant rays cannot be reported. The Lands of the Gods see thee, they could write [concerning thee]; the Deserts of Punt could count thee. Thy creation is hidden. It is one by the opening of thy mouth."

"I enter in by the Disk, I come forth by the god Ahui. I shall hold converse with the Followers of the Gods. I shall hold converse with the Disk."

The Egyptian funerary ritual involving the funerary boat and the sun is echoed by an ancient funerary ritual that survived in the valley of Jalesh, Romania, where, for the dead man peace of soul, a boy or a girl aged fewer than 12 bring water from the river and deliver it in three houses, during seven weeks. The ritual is called “bearing the river”. Then follows the “releasing of the river”. The child goes to the river accompanied by the widow and there they perform the “ritual of Sun”, believed to be the greatest force of creation, and release the half of a pumpkin-shell with burning candles, to float down the river (similar to a Japanese ritual). The longer it flows, the strongest the faith of “bearing the river” and proper performance of the ritual. 

The disk of the sun was portrayed similarly by Hindus,  Gnostics and Persians:
For the Hindus, the sun is the "eye of the world" (loka chakshus), seeing and uniting all selves in itself, an image of and a pathway to the divine. 
The face of truth is hidden by thy golden orb, O Sun. That do thou remove, in order that I who am devoted to truth may behold its glory.” (Isha Upanishad, XV)
"The images are manifest to man, but the light in them remains concealed in the image of the light of the father. He will become manifest, but his image will remain concealed by his light." (The Gospel of Thomas, 83)
"Draw breath from the rays, draw in three times as strongly as you can and you will feel yourself raised up and walking towards the height, and you will seem to be in the middle of the aerial region. The path of the visible gods will appear through the disc of the sun, who is God my father- Likewise the so-called tube, the origin of the ministering wind. For you will see hanging down from the disc of the sun something that looks like a tube." (Mentioned by Carl Jung, referring to a work published in 1910 by Albrecht Dieterich, about a Greek papyrus in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. The text is undoubtedly a religious prescription for carrying out certain incantations in which Mithras is named. It comes from the Alexandrian school of mysticism and shows affinities with certain passages in the Leiden papyri and the Corpus Hermeticum.)

Referring to the Mithraic celebrations, from which Christmas originated, Carl Jung says that, they link us back to "the creative power of our own soul." In his fifth volume of the collected works, Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist states:
"The sun. . . is the truly "rational"image of God, whether we adopt the standpoint of the primitive savage or of modern science. In either case Father-God from whom all living things draw life; he is the fructifier and the creator, the source of energy into our world. The discord into which the human soul has fallen can be harmoniously resolved through the sun as a natural object which knows no inner conflict . . . It shines equally on the just and the unjust, and allows useful creatures to flourish as well as the harmful. Therefore the sun is perfectly suited to represent the visible God of this world, i.e., the creative power of our own soul, which we call libido, and whose nature it is to bring forth the useful and the harmful, the good and the bad. That this comparison is not just a matter of words can be seen from the teachings of the mystics: when they descend into the depths
of their own being, they find "in their heart" the image of the sun, they find their own life-force which they call the "sun" for a legitimate and, I would say, a physical reason, because our source of energy and life actually is the sun. Our physiological life, regarded as an energy process, is entirely solar."

The word Elohim 'elohim (Hebrew) comes from from 'eloah goddess + im masculine plural ending. The 'elohim is the sole divine name mentioned in Genesis 1:1-2. De Purucker translates these verses from the original Hebrew as: "In a host (or multitude), the gods (Elohim) formed themselves into the heavens and the earth. And the earth became ethereal. And darkness upon the face of the ethers. And the ruah (the spirit-soul) of the gods (of Elohim) fluttered or hovered, brooding". 
Ruah or ruach, a feminine noun in Hebrew, means spirit, wind or breath and is also used to mean the Holy Spirit. God brought life to man by "blowing into his nostrils the breath of life". In Psalm 33:6 "By LORD'S word the heavens were made; by the breath of his mouth, all their host." Likewise, on the day of Pentecost the Apostles were all together when they heard a noise like strong mighty wind which filled the house where they were. "They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues."

Ea or Enki was known as the "Lord of the Sacred Eye" in Sumerian religion and represented divine vigilance and omniscience. 
In "Studies in Biblical and Semitic Symbolism" we learn that the ancient Mesopotamian sun-god Shamash was, "regarded as witness of all that passes on Earth." Similarly, the Hebrews represented the sun as an eye, and as possessing the attributes of an eye.
In Psalms is written: "Nothing is hidden from God’s sun" (Psalms 19:7) while in Job III, 9 and XLI, 10 we read of "the eyelids of the dawn".
In Joshua XV, 7, there is a reference to a city known as En Shemesh (eye of the sun); whilst it has been suggested that Anamelekh (2 Kings XVII, 31), who was worshipped at Sepharvaim, one of the Babylonian centers of sun worship, means eye of the sun god Melech. 

THE WINGED DISK, THE CROSS AND THE TREE OF LIFE 

The British Museum has a bas relief representing the Father, holding the scepter, and the Son, both standing around the Tree of Life and pointing at Ashur, or the Holy Spirit, that hovers above the Tree of Life. They are flanked by two priests that are sprinkling them with the holy water. Winged-shaped Ashur originates from the Sumerian sun-goddess Ummi-Shamash.
 The name of Assyria comes from Assur/Ashur, the name of the Assyrian God, that is represented inside a winged disk hovering above the tree of life.
The winged disk, symbolizing the sun that keeps alive the tree of the life is personified as Assur/Ashur, who holds in his hand a ring (see the above detail), exactly like the Sun-God Shamash.

 

 

The winged solar disk is also present on a Hittite seal of “Great King Hattushili and Great Queen Puduhepa”
Puduhepa sent a letter personally to Ramses II, concerning the plans to marry her daughter to the king of Egypt. 
Equality between a king and queen in international politics is indicated by the royal correspondence, and the use of personal seals of queens to ratify agreements indicates that queens made decision in their own names.
The royal couple had composed prayers which open with an invocation to the Sun Goddess of Arinna, the chief goddess of the pantheon, and go on to thank her for her favor. The prayer begins as follows:

O Sun Goddess of the city of Arinna,
my lady, mistress of our lands.
Queen of Heaven and earth,
mistress of the kings and queens of the land of Hatti.

The Hittite king Mursili II was particularly devoted to the sun goddess of Arinna, because an "omen of the sun," or solar eclipse, occurred in his tenth year as king (1312 BC), around noon, just as he was about to launch his campaign against the Kaska peoples. 
On Hittite, Sumerian, Phoenician and Kassi seals (shown above) were found images of  crosses inside winged or not winged circles, laying on poles (asherim) and also images of crosses represented above goats. This indicates that the goat was a sacred/sacrificed animal for the solar cross. On a seal can be seen a winged man with goat legs and tail, apparently worshipping the solar disk mounted on a pole flanked by two goats.
The sacred trees and their substitutes, the poles (asherim) are mentioned in Deuteronomy 12:2-3: "Ye shall surely destroy all the places wherein the nations that ye shall dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: and ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire"
Ashur or the Holy Spirit is always depicted hovering above the Tree of Life, which was called Asherah.  Near Megiddo, are two representations of Asherah, first in human form and then as a sacred tree. The "Lachishewer", generally dated to the thirteenth century, depicts a pair of lions, in one case flanking a goddess and in the other flanking a sacred tree and ibexes. Asherah comes from "asher", which comes from "asharo", which means "the beginning" or "the start".
The Tree of Life was sometimes explicitly replaced by a flying goddess, above who hovered the winged disk, and flanked by the two winged priests, each holding a bucket with holy water.
There were found several pieces of pottery from two large jars, in a strange structure in the northern Sinai, at Kuntillet Ajrud, and dating from 8th century BC. On the fragment coming from just around the shoulder of the jar, there is a drawing representing two ibexes nibbling on a sacred tree placed on a lion. The sacred tree almost certainly intended it to represent the goddess Asherah, for the artist emphasized the goddess content by placing the tree on a lion's back, a stance assumed by numerous goddesses in numerous images. Other goddesses represented in the same way were Hathor and Qudsh. 
Like Asherah, Hathor was also represented standing on a lion and thus dominating the lion as the symbol of the king, in the presence of  the Egyptian fertility god Min and a warrior god holding a spear. 

For the ancients, wisdom and the tree of life were related and both were feminine. They represented these concepts by a goddess depicted with symbols of fertility and long life in her right hand and with symbols of success in war (bringing wealth and glory) in her left hand:
"Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the mortal who knows prudence. For it is better to traffic for her, than for treasures of gold and silver. And she is more valuable than precious stones: no evil thing shall resist her: she is well known to all that approach her, and no precious thing is equal to her in value. For length of existence and years of life are in her right hand; and in her left hand are wealth and glory: out of her mouth proceeds righteousness, and she carries law and mercy upon her tongue. Her ways are good ways, and all her paths are peaceful. She is the tree of life to all that lay hold upon her; and she is a secure help to all that stay themselves on her, as on the Lord." (Prov. III: 13-18)
Hathor's worship originated in Egypt during the predynastic times (4th millennium BC). The Egyptian word Hor translates as "face". Hathor was closely connected with the sun god Re of Heliopolis, whose "eye" or daughter she was said to be.
At Dayr al-Bahri, in the necropolis of Thebes, she became "Lady of the West" and patroness of the region of the dead. 
Hathor will offer the deceased a precious drink from her tree and will let him sit beside her under her tree. "I sit under the branches of the tree in the vicinity of Hathor". "The wings of the sky-doors will be opened for thy beauty (person). Thou risest up. Thou seest Hathor."
Hathor is also the Asherah, the vegetation Goddess who is present in her sacred sycamore tree, and gives nourishment from the midst of her fig tree even in the underworld. She is the "Lady of the Sycamore" and the goddess of love, tombs and song.
Similarly to Hathor, the Syrian fertility goddess Qudsh was depicted standing on a lion in the presence of (left) the Egyptian fertility god Min and (right) a Syrian god holding a spear and the Egyptian symbol of life. The root of her name is the Hebrew "qadosh", meaning "holy". From her name, appeared the Quedesha (Kedesha or Kedeshah), Akkadian Qadishtu, who were a class of sacred prostitutes found throughout the ancient Middle East, especially in the worship of Astarte (Ashtoreth), Akkadian Ishtar, who was the goddess of fertility, sexual love and war.
In Egypt, a goddess named Qedeshu, Lady of Kadesh (Syria), was worshiped in the 19th and 20th dynasties (1292-c. 1075 BC). Her representation is found on private stelae of middle-class workers. She is shown nude, posed frontally on a lioness (or a leopard), holding arrows in her hands. Although Israelite prophets and reformers repeatedly denounced sacred prostitution, the early Israelites seem to have adopted the local Canaanite rites, which they apparently practiced publicly until the reform of King Josiah about 622 BC.
"They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery." (Hosea 4:13 )
Hosea's dilemma goes to the heart of the biological reality of the conflict between Yahweh and the Queen of Heaven. Sacred prostitution had a chaotic effect on paternal inheritance lines, but kept maternal lines intact.
The Greek goddess corresponding to Asherah was Artemis, the twin sister of the sun-god Apollo.
Among the rural populace, Artemis was the favourite goddess. Dances of maidens representing tree nymphs (dryads) were especially common in Artemis' worship as goddess of the tree cult, a role especially popular in the Peloponnese. In parts of the peninsula her dances were wild and lascivious.
In a relief is represented the tree of life flanked by Enlil and his wife Ninlil. Enlil is represented like Shamash, holding in his hand the symbols of justice and righteousness, the staff and the ring.  
Enlil was the chief deity in Sumerian religion, and his name was pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as Ellil in later Akkadian. The name is of Sumerian origin and has been believed to mean 'Lord Wind' or 'Lord of the Command'.

In Assyria, Enlil corresponded to the supreme god, Bel/Bal. Bel was the Father-God of the Phoenicians. He was represented on a Phoenician altar of about the fourth century B.C. as  God of the Sun, having a rayed halo around his head.

Ninlil corresponded to the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess Mullitu or Mylitta, who was regarded as the goddess of love and fertility and and childbirth. 
In Babylon every woman, whether rich or poor, had once in her life to submit to the embraces of a stranger at the temple of Mylitta, and to dedicate to the goddess the wages earned by this sanctified harlotry.
Ninlil was raped by Enlil who, was punished by the been banished there by the winged gods, Anunnaki, by being sent in the underworld.

Persians adopted the same solar symbols, as seen in a relief depicting the sun god Mithra on a lion, in front of the king, who has his hands raised in a prayer.
A Persian necklace with swastikas, from first millennium BC, was excavated from Kaluraz, Guilan. In Zoroastrian Persia, the swastika symbolized the revolving sun (Garduneh-e Khorshid), Mithra's Wheel (Garduneh-e Mehr), fire, infinity, or continuing recreation. 
"At Erythrae, on the coast of Ionia, was to be seen a statue of Hercules, of an aspect completely Egyptian. The worship of the god was here celebrated by certain Thracian females, because the females of the country were said to have refused to make to the god an offering of their locks on his arrival at Erythrae.” -- Anthon's Classical Dictionary, article Hercules.
"Grecian hero Hercules was identified with Melcarth, the sun-god of the Phoenicians. Hence we find Hercules so frequently represented as the sun-god, and his twelve labors regarded as the passage of the sun through the twelve signs of the zodiac. " -- Anthon's Classical Dictionary, article Hercules.
The Paeonians of Thrace were sun-worshippers; and in their worship they adored an image of the sun in the form of a disk at the top of a long pole. 

The asherahs originally marked the limits of the sacred precincts, and that in the Ma'sub inscription it is the equivalent of "sacred enclosure." Moore finds in this fact the explanation of the use of the word in Assyrian (ashirtu, ashrâti; eshirtu, eshrâti), in the sense of sanctuary. Assyrian and Phenician use of the word in the sense of "sanctuary," taken in connection with the Arabian and Syrian use of it as the name of a goddess, indicates that the posts were used at the sanctuaries of the primitive Semitic mother-goddess, and that in course of time their name attached itself in certain quarters to the goddess herself, and has survived in South Arabia and Syria.
Asherah was also the name of a Syrian goddess. In the El-Amarna tablets of the fifteenth century B.C. her name appears with the determinative for deity as a part of the name Arad-Ashirta (or 'Ebed-Asherah).
The asherah became formalised in architecture as two pillars of stone that stood before every Phoenician temple and were termed the pillars of the sun.

Each of the two priests holds a vase with holy water in the left hand and is sprinkling it, with the right hand, on the Father and on the Sun, or the tree of life. The priests are sometimes wearing a fish-like robe , exactly like the fish-god Dagon/Dagan, the Philistine deity of crop fertility, worshiped extensively throughout the ancient Middle East. Dagon is a diminutive, derived from the Semitic root dag, and means, accordingly, "little fish".  Dagan was also the Hebrew and Ugaritic common noun for "grain". Dagon may be seen on the coins of various Philistine or Phoenician cities, on most of which is represented as a composite half-man and half-fish figure. He was the foremost deity of maritime cities as Azotus, Gaza , Ascalon, and Arvad. 
In Mali, West Africa, lives a tribe of people called the Dogon. The Dogon are believed to be of Egyptian descent and according to their oral traditions, a race people from the Sirius system called the Nommos visited Earth thousands of years ago. The Nommos were ugly, amphibious beings that resembled mermen and mermaids. They also appear in Babylonian, Accadian, and Sumerian myths, depicted as fish-god Dagon/Dagan
Dagon seems to be also related to the former fish-like deity called Oannes.
Oannes, according to Sumerian history, introduced written language in the Mesopotamian Valley over 5,000 years ago. Joannes, as the Greek representation of Jonah would appear in Assyrian either as Ioannes or as Oannes. Therefore, Oannes would be a regular Greco-Babylonian writing for Jonah.
"At Babylon there was (in these times) a great resort of people of various nations, who inhabited Chaldaea, and lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field. In the first year there appeared, from that part of the Erythraean sea which borders upon Babylonia, an animal destitute of reason [sic], by name Oannes, whose whole body (according to the account of Apollodorus) was that of a fish, that under the fish's head he had another head, with feet also below, similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish's tail. His voice too, and language, was articulated and human, and a representation of him is preserved even to this day. 
"This Being was accustomed to pass the day among men; but took no food at that season; and he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and arts of every kind. He taught them to construct cities, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and shewed them how to collect the fruits; in short, he instructed them in everything which could tend to soften manners and humanize their lives. From that time, nothing material has been added by way of improvement to his instructions. And when the sun had set, this Being Oannes, retired again into the sea, and passed the night in the deep; for he was amphibious. After this there appeared other animals like Oannes." 
"There were Annedoti who came after him, five in number - 'all like Oannes in form and teaching the same'; but Musarus Oannes was the first to appear, and this he did during the reign of Ammenon, the third [fourth]"
Berossus, from Ancient Fragments (Isaac Preston Cory) 
The fish symbol used by early Christians, for recognizing each other, was actually the symbol of Oannes/Dagon. That's why the first Christian priests, including Peter, were "fishers".
All the successors of Peter, the Popes, maintained the ancient form of their mitre, resembling a fish-head with the mouth open, like the cap of Dagon's priests. 
The Christmas tree is actually coming from the Mesopotamian Tree of Life. 
The Christmas is in fact the celebration of the Holy Spirit, who protects us in the absence of the sun, during the longest night of the year. The ritual sprinkling with holy water during this period of the winter, now celebrated on the 6th of January, had the purpose to keep alive the Tree of Life, in a period when all the other trees lost their leafs and seemed dead.

The name of the Egyptian god Osiris, is a Greek version of the original ancient Egyptian name. The actual pronunciation of the hieroglyphs denoting Osiris in the ancient Egyptian language would have been As-ar or As-ari and this pronunciation corresponds favourably with the name of the god Ashur of Assyria and also with Asari, an honorific title of the god Marduk of Babylon.
In 'From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt' the renowned Egyptologist Sir E. A. Wallis Budge wrote: 
"The group of wedges which we read ASARI is -=I. The first has the well-known meaning of 'tent', or 'dwelling', or 'resting-place', and the second has the meaning of 'eye', and is placed inside the sign for 'tent'. The two signs by which these are transcribed in Egyptian are. . . a seat or throne, and . . . an eye. Now the sign -=II is followed in the text by two other cuneiform characters. . . these form a title of ASARI and are read in Sumerian LU DUG, and they mean 'good man or being'. Thus we have 'ASARI, the good being'. But we find in the Egyptian texts that one of the principal titles of OSIRIS is UN-NEFER. . . i.e. the 'Good Being', and it seems clear that this title is the Egyptian translation of the cuneiform (characters meaning 'good man or being'). Thus there is little doubt that the Egyptian AS-AR is the equivalent of the Babylonian ASARI." 
As Budge points out, the cuneiform character that means 'eye' is enclosed within that which means 'tent' thus one could quite reasonably translate the title Asari as meaning 'the eye in the tent'. The word 'tent' was a common metaphor for the sky in the ancient world; both the 19th and 104th Psalms contain perfect examples of this.
The 19th Psalm: "In them (i.e. the heavens) He (God) has set a tent for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices as a strong man to run his course." 
The symbol of Assur reached Egypt, where a spread-eagle device is featured in the treasure of Tut-ankh-amoun which has a bird's body with a human head, and in which hieroglyphic symbols are held in the outstretched talons.
From Egypt, the solar symbol of Assur/Asari reached Persia, where it was named Farohar, or Faravahar and became an emblem of the Zoroastrian religion. The Parsees call the sun "the eye of Ahura Mazda" (Yacna, I, 35; III, 49). The Farohar is the spirit of human being that had been existed before his/her birth and will continue to exist after his/her death. Thus it kept the original Assyrian significance of Holy Spirit.
An ancient bas relief representing the Farohar can be seen at Persepolis.  
The name Farohar means the Grace (har) of the Pharaoh (Faro), indicating its Egyptian origin.

The sun-god was worshipped in Persia by horse sacrifice, as seen in Ovid’s poem Fasti, Book 1, January 9:
"Persia propitiates Hyperion, crowned with rays,
With horses, no sluggish victims for the swift god."

Taittiriya Samhita 5.4.12.3, says that "it is a disused sacrifice, for, say they, who knows if the whole of it is performed or not?"'Ashva of the horse sacrifice, we are told, is really the sun!
The Ashvamedha ("horse sacrifice") is one of the most important royal rituals of Vedic religion (1st millennium BC, the last recorded performance dates to the 4th century AD), described in detail in the Yajurveda (TS 7.1-5, VS 22–25 and the pertaining commentary in the Shatapatha Brahmana).

 

The Ashvamedha could only be conducted by a king (raja). Its object was the acquisition of power and glory, the sovereignty over neighbouring provinces, and general prosperity of the kingdom.
A horse sacrifice is mentioned also in a fragmentary cuneiform tablet from Assur. Middle-Eastern archaeologists generally believe that this tablet might approximately belong to a period around 1600 BCE. 
On a neo Assyrian cylinder, Ashur/Assur was represented standing on a horse, accompanied by a fish-priest and flanked by the sun and the moon. This suggests that the horse was his sacrificial animal by that time.

Haruspicy (divination by examining the entrails of sacrificial animals), was a science inherited by the Hittites from the Babylonian seers. The word "har" is also found into the Etruscan "haruspex", a word for the priest that made divination by examining livers of sacrificial lambs. They all checked the Grace of God. The only language that kept up to now the word "har" with its meaning of "Divine Grace" is the Romanian. 
Assur/Asari was borrowed by the Etruscans under the name of Summanus, the winged god of nocturnal thunder, as opposed to Tinia (Jupiter), the god of diurnal (daylight) thunder. The Romans also built temples to him, circa 278 B.C.E. In the Roman pantheon, he was the only winged god, having claws instead of the legs, resembling to an eagle. 
The fact that Summanus' temple stood at the Circus Maximus, meaning "the largest circle" (a solar symbol), and his feast was on June 20, at the summer solstice, suggests that he was originally a solar god.
Saint Augustine wrote: "For, as we read in their own authors, the ancient Romans paid greater honors to I know not what Summanus, to whom they attributed nocturnal thunderbolts, than to Jupiter, to whom diurnal thunderbolts were held to pertain. But, after a famous and conspicuous temple had been built to Jupiter, owing to the dignity of the building, the multitude resorted to him in so great numbers, that scarce one can be found who remembers even to have read the name of Summanus, which now he cannot once hear named." (Saint Augustine, The City of God, Book IV, Chapter 23)
A Roman bas-relief shows the winged-god Summanus gazing into the heights of the sky, probably at the sun, with his left hand raised as for a salute or for a prayer. His right hand is bent downwards, making, together with his left hand, a Swastika-like sign, which was a symbol of the sun .
In the Lithuanian language, "sumanus" means intelligent.
Summanus is more a genius than a god. Saint Augustine speaks of the genius as the rational spirit ("rationalis animus") of each man. 
The name Summanus appears to be related to the Latin word "humanus", meaning "human" = "intelligent". Summanus probably stands from "sum humanus" meaning "I am human", suggesting, together with his wings, that he's in fact a human spirit and a holy spirit, left to protect us during the night, when the sun cannot be seen.
How could have a human spirit been seen as a god? In De Deo Socratis, Apuleius (c. A.D. 158) wrote that a specific god represents some specific kinds of desires of the soul. A good desire of the soul is a good god (“igitur et bona cupido animi bonus deus est”), and the good daemon is the mind perfectly virtuous (“. . . daemon bonus id est animus virtute perfectus est,” ). The good daemon may be identified with the genius, he continues, who is both a god and the soul of each man, immortal, although begotten in some way along with man (genius is “deus, qui est animus sum cuique, quamquam sit inmortalis, tamen quodam modo cum homine gignitur,”).
Martianus (c. A.D. 423) calls the genius  a manes. The good manes is then regarded as a lar, and the evil manes as a larva.
Martianus considered that Summanus stands from "summus Manium", meaning "we are manes", thus suggesting Summanus is representing a group of souls. 
The Di Manes from the earliest of times represented the unindividualized family dead, becoming personalized only later with the rise of individuality in Roman religion and philosophy. 

In ancient Egypt, originally, gods who manifested themselves anonymously were called ba, later it became also the visible form a god assumed, thus the Phoenix was the ba of Re, the sun god.
From the end of the Old Kingdom onwards the ba was the sum of the immortal forces inherent in human beings which made up his personality. It might be called a person's psyche and is generally translated as soul. The attributes and the representation of ba are very similar to those of the Roman god Summanus.
The nearby picture shows the ba-bird of Tutankhamen, which is related to the Persian Farohar.
The ba was mostly represented in the form of a bird, generally with a human head and, according to grave images, often perching on trees planted by the tomb. 
"The Osiris X knows the names of your ba, the form in which you travel our world - the sun.
Ba pure of body, health-embodying ba, ba bright and unharmed, ba of magic,
ba who causes himself to appear, male ba, ba whose warm energy encourages copulating." (Book of the Dead 15a )



The Egyptian winged goddess Maat, was the daughter of the sun god Ra/Re. Maat had similar attributes with the Assyrian sun god Shamash, representing the ideals of law, order, and truth. The word, Maat translates "that which is straight." it implies anything that is true, ordered, or balanced. She is a very ancient goddess because we find her in the boat of Ra as it rose above the waters of the abyss of Nu on the first day. Together with Thoth, they charted the daily course of the sun god Ra. She is sometimes called the 'eye of Ra' or the 'daughter of Ra'.
Pharaohs had to follow the law of Maat, exactly like the Assyrian kings had to follow the law of Shamash. Deviation from the tenets of Maát could prove disastrous for the Sheket/Shekem (priest/priestess/pharaoh).
The Devotees (students) aim in ancient Kemet (Egypt) was for a person to become "One with the Goddess." The path to the development of goddess-like qualities was through the development of virtues. These virtues were sought by the Kemites (Egyptians) to become one with Maát (the kosmic order).
Maat was the supreme judge, playing an important part in the Book of the Dead. It is in the Hall of Maat the judgement of the dead was performed. This was done by weighing one's heart (conscience) against the feather of Maat. If a balance was struck the deceased was deemed to be worthy of meeting Osiris in the after life. If the heart of the deceased was found to be heavier then the feather of Maat it would be devoured by Ammut and die the final death.

The Assyrians also represented Assur/Ashur/sun as an eagle with a disk having a cross inside, on a bas relief of Assurnasirpal II, found in Irak, at Nimrud. Each wing of the sun-eagle has six rays/plumes (2 x 6 = 12 signs of the zodiac) and the same is valid for it's tail. It is the custom of the eagle to look at the sun's rays with unwavering gaze.
In most groups of Babylonian and Assyrian divine emblems, there occur two distinct representations of the sun, “one being figured with four rays or divisions within the orb, and the other, with eight.” According to George Rawlinson, these figures represent a distinction between the male and female powers residing within the sun, the quartered disk signifying the male energy, and the eight-rayed orb appearing as the emblem of the female.
There's no coincidence that the Holy Spirit is even today represented as a bird (dove or pigeon).
The cross was worn by King Shamshi-Adad V, who lived between 824-811 BC. Actually, the cross was a symbol for the holy spirit that emanates from the sun and brings life to everything. 
As seen earlier, the sun goddess Shapash, known at Ebla as  Shipish, was first represented as a winged goddess and later as a sun-lion headed goddess. As a winged goddess, she was represented on a golden plaque, having four wings shaped as a X cross. In this representation, the goddess is naked and wears a small triangular apron covering her genital area. Latter, a winged god was represented exactly in the same way, twice, with lotus blossoms and a winged sun disc, as found on a bronze cheek-piece for a horse (length: 51 centimeters) from a tomb at ancient Salamis on Cyprus dated the end of the 8th century BCE. His 4 wings are also cross shaped, suggesting his solar origin.
The winged God was also the also the God of Israel, the winged sun of righteousness, as appears in:

 

In the Saint Peter Archeological Museum of Vienna can be seen a relief of Mithra, represented as a winged god, found, in 1840, inside a mithraeum located in the center of Vienna (Austria). There, Mithra is represented with a lion head, with four crossed wings and wearing an apron having a triangular side folded over a square side, just like those used by the Masons. As seen in the above representation of Shapash/Shipish, the original purpose of the apron was to cover the genital area of a naked body. The apron was used in initiatic organizations including the Essenes and the Mithraic Mysteries. Its use indicates that the initiate was naked while he was initiated.
The apron is at once an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. By innocence is meant clean thinking, clean living and a loyal obedience.
This particular representation of Mithra is connecting his cult to that of Shapash and indicates that the Masons took some rituals from the Mithraic religion.

 Sun worship was practiced by the Iroquois, Plains, and Tsimshian peoples of North America and reached a high state of development among the Native Americans of Mexico and Peru. Surprisingly, in Wayne County was found an Amerindian representation of the sun which is quite similar to the Assyrian one. Moreover, the inner cross is surrounded by a sun having twelve rays, while the Babilonians considered the sun was moving through twelve zodiacal signs, during the year. Another similar representation, containing a cross and four birds arranged to form a swastika, was found engraved on a rock from  Spiro Mound in Oklahoma. Also known as the sun wheel, this swastika elaborates upon the Native American concept of the four directions and the four winds, under the "square sky" through which the sun traveled.
The swastika  is also an ancient symbol in the culture of the Kuna people of Kuna Yala, Panama.
Christian priests found in Palenque, Mexico a heathen temple known as the "Temple of the Cross." This temple, almost 3,000 years old, preserved a cross that is identical to the modern form now being used in the Catholic Church. (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X, p. 252.)
The Mayan word uahomche symbolizes the cross and means “the tree which awakens.” The Mayan word for Lord is Ahau, which also means Sun.
Traveling into what would one day become Vera Cruz, Mexico, the Spaniard priests found a marble cross, identical to their own sacred symbol, topped with a crown of gold. The natives told the astonished priests that "one more glorious than the sun died upon the cross!" (Murray-Ayosley, Symbolism of the East and West, p 70.)
 The communion in the form of the Aztec sun deity "was made of the flour of maize, mixed with blood, and after consecration by the priest, was distributed among the people, who, as they ate it, "showed signs of humiliation and sorrow, declaring it was the flesh of the deity." (Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico, Volume 111, p.369.)
Some native American Indians use to say this prayer at sunrise:

Now this day, my sun father,
Now that you have come out standing to your sacred place,
That from which we draw the water of life,
Prayer meal, here I give to you.
Your long life, Your old age, Your waters, Your seeds, Your riches, Your power, Your strong spirit,
All these to me may you grant.

A votive offering was found near Numidia in 1833. It represented a man surrounded with a wreath of beams, with both arms stretched out and holding a branch in each hand, thus representing a perfect cross. Below him was this surprising inscription, which reads as translated by Gesenius, "To the Lord Baal, the Solar King eternal, who has heard prayers." Kindred to this it must be noticed that, in many ancient pictures of our Saviour in Italy, the words Deo Soli are inscribed, which signify, alike, "to the only God" and "to the God Sol (Sun)."

OBELISKS AND THE SEATS OF POWER

Pliny (23-79 AD) considered that the Egyptian obelisks were dedicated to the Sun ("Solis numini sacratos") and represent an image of the sun.
When Augustus conquered Egypt he brought two obelisks away from Heliopolis to Rome, where he set them up, one of them in the Circus Maximus, the other in the Field of Mars (Plin. XXXVI.14), where was set up by Augustus as a sun-dial. The obelisks still stand in Rome, though not in their original positions; the one which Augustus placed in the Circus Maximus is now in the Piazza del Popolo; the other, which graced the Field of Mars, now stands in the Piazza di Monte Citorio. Each of them bears an inscription which records that, after reducing Egypt to the condition of a Roman province, Augustus in his eleventh consulship (10 B.C.) dedicated the obelisk as a gift to the Sun. 
Another red granite obelisk, 83 feet high, was shipped from Heliopolis (meaning the city of the Sun) to Rome, on the order of Emperor Caligula and was placed on the Vatican in the Circus of Caligula (Plin. XXXVI.15, XVI.76 §2), on A.D. 38. Caligula, a devoted Sun-worshiper, dedicated the obelisk to Lord Mithra, the Sun-god. In 1585, a decree from Vatican went out saying that the obelisk must be brought to the front of St. Peter's cathedral and set up in the exact center of the circular court. The decree included a death penalty to the mover, if he accidentally broke the obelisk in moving it. On September 10,1586 the obelisk was ready to be erected in the circular court. The pope himself was present to pray that the obelisk would not be damaged. He also issued a decree that no one in the crowds could speak aloud, on pain of death, lest the workmen be distracted and the obelisk be shattered. When the job was completed, hundreds of church bells rang out, cannons roared, Pope Sixtus dedicated the obelisk to the "cross" and held solemn mass in its honor. It remained up to now, placed into the core of Christianity: the center of St. Peter's square.
But the largest obelisk at Rome is that which was originally transported from Heliopolis to Alexandria by Constantine, and conveyed to Rome by his son Constantius, who placed it in the Circus Maximus (Amm. Marc. XVII.4). Its present position is before the north portico of the Lateran church, where it was placed in 1588. Its whole height is about 149 feet, and without the base about 105 feet. 

The obelisk from St. Peter's Square, marking the center of the Christian seat of power is paralleled by the obelisk from Washington, D.C., that is a memorial to George Washington, the first American president and was built at intervals between 1848 and 1884. The Smithsonian states that the undertaking was eventually financed by a private society rather than the federal government.
George Washington, the first president of the United States of America was a Mason and belonged to Alexandria Lodge 22. He was named the lodge's Charter Master in 1788.
The granite obelisk faced with Maryland marble has very particular dimensions: it is 55 feet (16.8 m) square at the base, 555 feet 5 inches high.
Maryland was a Roman Catholic colony, named for the Virgin Mary. In the 1663 Maryland records, the exact site of the Capitol was recorded under the title “Rome,” its owner a man named “Pope” and the branch of the Potomac River is called the “Tiber.” This information was written in the 1902 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia under the article on John Carroll. The information was deleted in the 1967 edition to keep the public from knowing that Washington, D.C., which was carved out of Maryland, was built on property whose title deeds show that it was either owned by Rome or dedicated to their use. The Capitol from Washington, the new Rome, had to resemble the old St. Peter's Cathedral, since their architects shared similar values.
 Two other obelisks were removed from Egypt a few years prior to the completion of the Washington Monument -- one was placed in London in 1878 and the other in New York in 1880.

Another Egyptian obelisk is the Paris Needle and is placed in the Place de la Concorde (former Place Louis XV). The center of the Place is occupied by the giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramses II. It once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The viceroy of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, presented the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1829. King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the centre of Place de la Concorde in 1833. Given the technical limitations of the day, transporting it was no easy feat — on the pedestal are drawn diagrams explaining the machineries that were used for the transportation. The red granite column rises 23 meters high, including the base, and weighs over 250 tons.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the greatest American founder, author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the United States, designed his own tombstone and its inscription. 
Jefferson gave strict instructions as to the wording to go on it. In his, "A Memorandum (Rules of Etiquette)", written in November 1803, Jefferson wrote:  "on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more:

                                                                        'Here was buried Thomas Jefferson 
                                                                        Author of the Declaration of American Independence 
                                                                        of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom 
                                                                          & Father of the University of Virginia.' 

Like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin was a deist. In one of his youthful essays he said:
"The Infinite Father expects or requires no worship or praise from us. I conceive, then, that the Infinite has created many beings or gods vastly superior to man. It may be these created gods are immortals; or it may be that after many ages, they are changed, and others supply their places. Howbeit, I conceive that each of these is exceeding good and very powerful; and that each has made for himself one glorious sun, attended with a beautiful and admirable system of planets. It is that particular wise and good God, who is the author and owner of our system, that I propose for the object of my praise and adoration" (Franklin's Works, Vol. ii., p. 2). 
At the age of eighty-four, just previous to his death, in reply to inquiries concerning his religious belief from Ezra Stiles, the President of Yale College, he wrote as follows:
"Here is my creed: I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable service we render him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this."

At Independence Hall, as the delegates signed the Constitution, Franklin pointed to the president's chair, which had a sun painted on it. Franklin eloquently stated before all the representatives: "I have often...in the course of this session...looked at that...without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting; but now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun."

The first coin authorized by the Continental Congress after the signing of the Declaration of Independence was the 1776 Continental Currency, called the Continental Dollar, designed by Benjamin Franklin. The coin had a small Sun which is shining rays onto the Sundial beneath it. Around the outside of the obverse is the statement, CONTINENTAL CURRENCY. Under the Sundial the legend says MIND YOUR BUSINESS, not In God We Trust. The word "Fugio," Latin for "I fly," sat next to the sundial, reminding everyone that tempus fugit. On the reverse side of the Continental Currency coin there are thirteen rings strung together the edge like links in a chain, signifying unending, unbreakable unity. The names of the thirteen states are ingraved on the thirteen rings. In the very center it says, horizontally, WE ARE ONE. Around those words is AMERICAN CONGRESS.

In 1787, the American Congress authorized the issue of the FUGIO CENT, generally known as the Franklin Cent because the coin is very similar to the Continental Dollar of 1776. It has a much larger Sun and Rays beating down on a much larger Sundial. The MIND YOUR BUSINESS motto is also much larger, being situated under the pedestal of the Sundial at the bottom of the obverse. On the reverse of the Fugio Cent we again see the interlocked rings signifying the unity of the states. In the center of the reverse side is the same statement found in the Continental Dollar, WE ARE ONE. Instead of saying American Congress around the center, it says UNITED STATES or the reverse.

RITUAL SUNGAZING AND SUNBATHING

Watching the sunrise was a daily practice, performed by the Mesopotamians in the honor of Shamash. This practice was also employed by Jews, even though it was officially condemned: "And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east." (Ezekiel 8:16 )
The practice of sun gazing is also mentioned in Ecclesiastes 11:7: "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun."
Sun gazing at sunrise is also evidenced in Odes of Solomon:
1 As the sun is the joy to them that seek for its daybreak, so is my joy the Lord;
2 Because He is my Sun and His rays have lifted me up; and His light hath dispelled all darkness from my face. (Odes of Solomon, Ode 15)

The above quotes are clearly indicating that sun gazing was a widespread practice among the ancient Jews, and even though it was later banished and those who practiced it were sentenced to death, sun gazing survived inside the community of Essenes, as we'll see in the following quotes.

"And if afterward there remain within you aught of your past sins and uncleanness, seek the angel of sunlight. Put off your shoes and your clothing and suffer the angel of sunlight to embrace all your body. Then breathe long and deeply, that the angel of sunlight may be brought within you. And the angel of sunlight shall cast out of your body all evil-smelling and unclean things which defiled it without and within. And all unclean and evil-smelling things shall rise from you, even as the darkness of night fades before the brightness of the rising sun. For I tell you truly, holy is the angel of sunlight who cleans out all uncleanness and makes all evil-smelling things of a sweet odor. None may come before the face of God, whom the angel of sunlight lets not pass. Truly, all must be born again of sun and of truth, for your body basks in the sunlight of the Earthly Mother, and your spirit basks in the sunlight of the truth of the Heavenly Father." (The ESSENE GOSPEL OF PEACE, Book One)

The ESSENE GOSPEL OF PEACE was translated from the IIIrd Century Aramaic Manuscript, found in the basement of the Vatican and the Royal Library of the Habsburgs in Austria, by Edmond Bordeaux Szekely.

The inhabitants of Qumran by the Dead Sea, who Pliny referred to as Essenes, used a 364 days solar-based calendar, rather than the traditional lunar-based Judaic calendar (the Shawui). 
At the beginning of the first century, A.D., there existed two liturgical calendars. In one of these the feasts were assigned to days of the lunar month; this was the official calendar, about which we can find information in later rabbinical Judaism. In the second, the feasts always fell on fixed days of the week. The character of this calendar may now be discovered in contemporary Jewish sources. It is witnessed only in its Jubilees-Qumran type.
The Essene calendar, the calendar attested in I Enoch and the Book of jubilees, consisted of a solar calendar of 364 days divided into seven-day weeks, twelve months of thirty days each except for one extra day in the last month of each quarter.
The several 50 day feasts referred in the Temple Scroll from Qumran were also being followed in Egypt among the Theraputae Essenes. 

Josephus Flavius says about the Essenes: "Before sun-rise they speak not a word about profane matters, but offer up certain prayers, which they have received from their forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising" (Wars II: VIII: 5).  
A similar view is to be found at King David, who was expressing his great desire to praise God, so great that he will wake the dawn up with his praises:
Wake up, my glory! Wake up, psaltery and harp! I will wake up the dawn. (Psalms 57:8)
Wake up, harp and lyre! I will wake up the dawn. (Psalms 108:2)

Philo of Alexandria noted that "As regards philosophy, they first of all leave logic to word-chasers, seeing that it is useless in the acquisition of virtue; then they leave natural philosophy to street orators, seeing that it is beyond human nature, except, however, in what it teaches of the existence of God and the origin of the world." (Quod omnis probus liber sit, 80)
Philo relates of the Essene Therapeutes (Vit. Cont. II, II. p. 485), that they "stand with their faces and their whole body towards the East, and when they see that the sun is risen, holding out their hands to heaven they pray for a happy day and for truth and for keen vision of reason." He also mentions that "over four thousand, are called Essenes".
Eusebius of Caesarea labeled the monastic ascetic groups of Therapeutae and Therapeutrides - described in Philo's De Vita Contemplativa - as Christians!

Epiphanius (Hær. xix. 2, xx. 3, pp. 40 sq., 47) speaks of a sect called the Sampsæans or "Sun-worshippers", as existing in his own time in Peræa on the borders of Moab and on the shores of the Dead Sea. He describes them as a remnant of the Ossenes (i.e. Essenes), who have accepted a spurious form of Christianity and are neither Jews nor Christians. This debased Christianity which they adopted is embodied, he tells us, in the pretended revelation of the Book of Elchasai, and dates from the time of Trajan (Galatians p. 324 sq.). Elsewhere (xxx. 3, p. 127) he seems to use the terms Sampsæan, Ossene, and Elchasaite as synonymous (para toiV SamyhnoiV kai OsshnoiV kai ElkessaioiV kaloumenoiV).
Pliny the Younger reported in a letter to the emperor Trajan in 112 CE that "Christians appear to be harmless people who meet at daybreak and sign hymns to the honor of the Christo quasi deo (the Christ as if he were a god)."

Epiphanius is our source on the Ossaean/Essene prophet named Elxai/Elchasai, who is said to have insisted on matrimony:
"He has no use for celibacy, detests continence and insists on matrimony. . . he confesses Christ by name . . He bans burnt offerings and sacrifices, as something foreign to God and never offered to Him on the authority of the fathers and Law . . . he rejects the Jewish custom of eating meat and the rest, and the altar. . . " (Panarion 1:19)

SHEKHINAH, THE HIDDEN POWER

The Essene book of Elchasai "anathematizes immolations and sacrifices (qusiaV kai ierourgiaV) as being alien to God and certainly not offered to God by tradition from (ek) the fathers and the law". It also "says that men ought to pray there at Jerusalem, where the altar was and the sacrifices (were offered), prohibiting the eating of flesh which exists among the Jews, and the rest (of their customs), and the altar and the fire, as being alien to God" (Epiphanius, Hær. xix. 3, p. 42).
Epiphanius (Haer. 19.2.10) correctly translates the word Elchasai as "hidden power" (Galatians p. 325, note 1).
While the book of Elchasai tells that its mysteries should be guarded as precious pearls, and should not be communicated to the world at large, but only to the faithful few (Hippolytus, Hær. ix. 15, 17), its message was revealed in the third year of Trajan (101). The work was dedicated to the "Sobiai" ("baptized" in Aramaic), as the adherents of Elchasai called themselves.
In a fragment of the book of Elchasai preserved by Hippolytus, it was taught among Christians that the Holy Spirit had the form of a woman ninety-six miles tall. An equivalent Jewish teaching encountered in the Holy Zohar of Safed describes the Shekhinah as a giantess whose feet reach down into Sheol, whose head is crowned by the Moon; & from between her legs issues her son, Metatron.
The word Shekhina, in Hebrew, is derived from the Biblical verb shakhan, meaning "the act of dwelling" but taking the feminine form. Shekinah means "presence of God"and is the female principle of God in man. To lead the Shekinah back to God and to unite Her with Him is the true purpose of the Torah.
The Shekinah eventually became an interchangeable term with the Holy Spirit in both Judaism and Christianity. She is often pictured as a bird or dove. Conversion to Judaism is referred to as "coming under the wings of Shekhinah." Shekhinah lives in the west, casting rays of divine presence like a setting sun.  
In Zohar,  the feminine aspect of God, the Shekina is a creative light or radiance which dwells in all things. This divine light was experienced by Moses in his confrontation with burning bush, wherein a fire burned but did not consume. On the night when Moses was born, the Zohar tells us, the divine splendor of Shekina so shined in Moses that the entire house was filled with light.
In a particularly touching story, after kissing and releasing Moses' soul, she carried his body for a long distance on her wings, to his secret grave.
Moses had to live apart from his wife so that he would always be pure enough to communicate with the Shekhina. This gave rise to the curious myth, later elaborated on in the Kabbalah, that Moses and Shekhina lived as husband and wife. 
"The soul, in inward contemplation becomes a Throne and in the light of the Shekhinah rests above the head and flows with luminous joy through and about the devout, deep in prayer." (Zos Imos, Jewish Mystical Traditions)
Shekhinah's devekut is the highest spiritual state in which God remains continually in one's consciousness and one attaches oneself to God. 
The similarity of Shekhina with the Holy Spirit is also obvious in a quotation from early 3rd century: "On that day a thing came about which had never existed since the creation of the world. From the creation of the world and up to that hour the Shekhina had never dwelt among the lower beings. But from the time that the Tabernacle was erected, she did dwell among them."
Other striking resemblances with the Holy Spirit are found in the following quotes: 
"he whose heart is broken and whose spirit is low, and whose mouth rarely utters a word, the Shekhina walks with him every day...". 
"The Emperor said to Raban Gamaliel: ‘You say that wherever ten men are assembled, the Shekhina dwells among them. How many Shekhinas are there?' Thereupon Raban Gamaliel beckoned a servant and began to beat him, saying: ‘Why did you let the sun enter the Emperor's house?' ‘Have you gone mad?' said the Emperor, surprised at the violence of the usually gentle Raban Gamaliel, ‘the sun shines all over the world!' ‘If the sun,' answered Gamaliel ‘which is only one of a thousand myriad servants of God, shines all over the world, how much more so the Shekhina of God!" (Talmud)
Regarding Metatron, a passage in Exodus says:
"Behold I send an angel before thee,
to keep thee in the way and bring thee
unto the place which I have prepared."
Evidence indicates that this guiding angel was Metatron, as it is stated that the angel appeared "as a pillar of fire, his face more dazzling than the sun."
Metatron is also known as the heavenly scribe who writes down everything which happens in Heaven. He was to be seated at the entrance of the seventh (highest) heaven upon a magnificent throne and all who approached the throne of God should first approach him, for he was henceforth the prince of wisdom and the prince of understanding. 
Metatron became the foremost intermediary between the divine and the human, possessing experiences both of the Earthly and the Heavenly.
In the Soncino Zohar glossary, Metatron is given the following two definitions:

As seen in the citations below, Metatron also bears a great likeness to Jesus (Yeshua).
Just like Jesus, "He [Metraton] is the very first. Nobody can understand anything higher than this. Why? Because it is closed for the mind. God’s mind is a closed mystery from above. The mind of man can be connected with things, but no one can connect God’s mind from above, the more His thoughts. He is without end." (Zohar)

THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT

Most of the scholars are considering that Jesus has been a member of  the Essene community and that many of his teachings are similar to the Essene teachings. The Essenes considered themselves to be the children of light. The Essenes fled to Qumran to avoid the rule of the "corrupt" Temple in Jerusalem. According to the War scroll, the Qumran community believed that a coming apocalyptic conflict between the children of the light (Essenes) and the children of darkness (the Jerusalem Temple priests and the Roman authorities) would result in the destruction of the established order in Jerusalem. The Roman general Titus destroyed the Qumran community on his to way to Masada. 

The apostles used the terms "children of light" and "sons of the light" when referring to their followers, the Christians, indicating that they were Essenes:
Those who receive the light become children of light (John 12:36). 
1 Ths. 5:5-8 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.
A medieval Armenian source (eight centuries after the conversion of Armenians to Christianity) describes an Armenian sun cult whose adherents were known as Arevorti (Arevordik), sons (children) of the sun. St. Nersess Shnorhali reacted to the activities the sect, who claimed to be Christians, but who emphasized the sun worship. Besides formulating conditions and devices for the lapsed to return canonically back to the Armenian Church faith, St. Nersess composed the Sunrise Service (Arevakal), performed traditionally during Lent, on the mornings of Wednesdays and Fridays for six consecutive weeks, its message being Jesus, the Light to the World. As an introduction the sunrise is proclaimed the creation of the Creator. The Father is addressed as the Creator of light and the primal light. The background of the service being the physical light of the sun which shines both on the righteous and the sinners, and which makes manifest the deeds of men, good and evil alike. This is the only service where we do not find a dichotomy of the two opposing forces: light and darkness; sinfulness and righteousness.

 We'll see in the further quotes that Jesus preached sun gazing, used to sun gaze and considered the sun to be his power.
1JN 1:5 And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
JN 1:7 The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him.
JN 1:8 He was not the light, but `came' that he might bear witness of the light.
JN 1:9 There was the true light, `even the light' which lighteth every man, coming into the world. 

Even though Jesus said about himself that he is the light (John 8:12) and has come to be the light of this world (John 11:9), John makes clear into the beginning of his gospel that "He was not the light, but `came' that he might bear witness of the light." (JN 1:8 ). Jesus has similar attributes with Shamash, who also was confused with the sun god.
JN 1:9 tells that the "true light" is that "which lighteth every man, coming into the world", suggesting that it has nothing to do with the nationality or religion. Most likely, he was referring to the sunlight, just like in JN 11:9, where the daylight/sunlight is considered to be "the light of this world":  "Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world." (JN 11:9)

The light of God is also considered as "the bread of God":
JN 6:33-35 "The bread of God is he who cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world… I [the Christ] am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.." 

The communion wafers were made circular and had a cross on them simply because they represented the sun, "the bread of God".

MT 6:22 The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
LK 11:34 The lamp of thy body is thine eye: when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
LK 11:36 If therefore thy whole body be full of light, having no part dark, it shall be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining doth give thee light.

Chapter 27 of the Mathew's gospel shows Jesus missing the sun, during the eclipse before his death:
45 From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
46 And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabahtani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
47 Some of the bystanders who heard it said, "This one is calling for Elijah."
The sun disappeared, probably due to an eclipse, from noon to 3 P.M. At about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabahtani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This was in Aramaic, and the bystanders did not understand correctly the meaning, considering Jesus was calling for Elias (Elijah). The usual genitive of  Ελίας is Ελία.  If we translate Eli = Elia = Helios (Sun), it becomes obvious that Jesus was referring to the disappearance of the Sun. In the ancient Latin version, is written: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Hely, Hely lama zabacthani". Here is obvious that he was referring to Hely/Helios = Sun.
At Rhodes, Helios is thought identical with Zeus Atabyrios. In modern Rhodes Mt. Ataira retains the name and Mt. St. Elias is a separate peak. Midsummer fires are lit on St. Ellas’ day in the chapel of St. Elias on the summit of Taygetos (M. Hamilton, Greek Saints, p. 20). Elias' chapels were survivals of Helios worship (see, Petit de Julleville, Recherches en Grece, in Arch. des Miss., 2nd ser., v (1869), p. 519; Deschamps, La Grece d’Aujourd’hui, p. 322; Lawson, Modern Greek Folklore, p. 44; M. Hamilton (Greek Saints, p. 19). There's also a certain similarity in their art-types, Helios being the charioteer of the sun, and Elias being received up into heaven in a chariot of fire.  
In the Dodecanese (meaning 12, from the 12 zodiacal signs),  four white horses were sacrificed annually to sun-god Helios. A similar sacrifice was offered on the summit of Mount Hagios Elias (originally named Helias), in the Taïyetos Mountains, in Laconia. In time virtually all the functions of Helios were transferred to the god Apollo, in his identity as Phoebus.

The ancient synagogue of Beit Alpha is located in the Beit She'an Valley, in the north-east of Israel. 
Two dedicatory inscriptions, one in Aramaic and one in Greek, are situated just inside the main entrance to the prayer hall, flanked by a lion and a bull facing each other. The Aramaic inscription states that the mosaic floor was laid during the reign of Emperor Justin (probably Justin I, beginning of the 6th century)
The mosaic floor of the synagogue was discovered in 1929. On it is represented The Wheel of the Zodiac ('Galgal HaMazalot').  The center of the wheel depicts Helios, the Sun-God in his chariot, drawn by four horses. A similar representation of Helios, with four huge horses, belonging to a Greek chariot of the sun was in Byzantium. The four horses were looted in  by the Venetians in 1204, and now they fiercely stand on the balcony of the church of Saint Mark
The astrological signs were condemned by the prophets, but were widely used as decorative elements in both churches and synagogues (e.g. Tiberias, Khirbet Susiya, Na'aran, Husifa, Yafia, and Sephoris) of the Byzantine period.
The presence of the sun god surrounded by the zodiacal signs can only be explained by the fact that the Byzantine Emperor Constantine, best known for being the first Christian Roman Emperor, was in fact a sun worshipper. His emperorship was a turning point for the Christian Church. However, on a coin from 337 AD, Constantine was represented as the sun-god Helios, proving that he remained a sun worshipper even after convoking the Council of Nicaea in 325. 
Julian, born in 331 in Constantinople, was the son of Julius Constantius, half brother of Emperor Constantine I. Following the pseudo-Christianity of Constantine, Emperor Julian (361-363 AD) instituted a return to the philosophical "religion of the world" and encouraged a revival of the mystery cults. Julian worshiped the Sun as the supreme god, the image of the intelligible Good, in his "Hymn to Helios." The opening passage of the Hymn to Helios says: ". . . from my childhood an extraordinary longing for the rays of the god penetrated deep into my soul; and from my earliest years my mind was so completely swayed by the light that illumines the heavens that not only did I desire to gaze intently at the sun, ..." 
All the above evidences suggests that the early Christian Church has a lot to do with sun-worship, fact that is also confirmed by the mosaic found under St. Peter's Basilica, where Christ is represented as Helios/Sol-Invictus.
The twelve signs are arranged in a circle and accompanied by their Hebrew names. In the center of the zodiac, the sun god Helios is represented seated in a chariot drawn by four horses. The four seasons appear in the corners of the panel in the form of busts of winged women wearing jewels; they are inscribed with the Hebrew months initiating each season: Nisan (spring), Tamuz (summer), Tishri (autumn) and Tevet (winter).
The Jewish ascetic sects who were expecting a son of David to arrive who would invoke the Parousia and regain the throne, said that he would be born in Bethlehem. The earliest references, upon which Mark's gospel is based, insist that Jesus was instead born in Galilee at Nazareth. The last two synoptics, Matthew and Luke, attempt to correct Mark's error by again placing Jesus' birth back in Bethlehem. The Gospel of John, which is totally unconcerned with any notion of Jewish expectations of the Messiah, places Jesus back at Nazareth merely for the sake of argument ascribing the conflict as a "division among the people over him" (Jn. 7:43). The conflict would be a minor one if it were not for the fact that there was no such town in Galilee named Nazareth during Jesus' birth. That Galilean town was established in the third century.
Early Christians may have considered Jesus a sun-god. Nazareth is very closely worded to Mazaroth/Mazalot, which in Hebrew is "the twelve signs (of the zodiac)." The root verb nazar means to "surround" as in the twelve constellations of the zodiac, which pass overhead each night, thus surrounding the earth. 
St. Patrick's Confession refers to Helias (Helios): "That same night, when I was asleep, Satan assailed me violently, a thing I shall remember as long as I shall be in this body. And he fell upon me like a huge rock, and I could not stir a limb. But whence came it into my mind, ignorant as I am, to call upon Helias? And meanwhile I saw the sun rise in the sky, and while I was shouting `Helias! Helias' with all my might, suddenly the splendor of that sun fell on me and immediately freed me of all misery."
The most explicit text showing Jesus as a sun worshipper comes from the Gospel of Peter. Unlike the canonical Gospel accounts, which do not explicitly name their authors, the Gospel of Peter explicitly names Simon Peter as its author, within the text. The sentence: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" is replaced by "My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me", showing that Jesus got his power from the sun:
5 And it was noon, and darkness came over all Judaea: and they were troubled and distressed, lest the sun had set, whilst he was yet alive: [for] it is written for them, that the sun set not on him that hath been put to death. And one of them said, Give him to drink gall with vinegar. And they mixed and gave him to drink, and fulfilled all things, and accomplished their sins against their own head. And many went about with lamps, supposing that it was night, and fell down. And the Lord cried out, saying, My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me

The reason why Pontius Pilate was defending Jesus so hard, was that he was also worshipping the sun, as many Roman soldiers did.
In the gospel of Nicodemus (formerly called the acts of Pontius Pilate) is written:
"And Pilate was filled with indignation and went forth without the judgement hall and saith unto them: I call the Sun to witness that I find no fault in this man." (III. 1)
 4 "Pilate took water and washed his hands before the sun, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man: see ye to it." (III. 4)
This is the only Gospel that explicitly tells that there was a solar eclipse when Jesus cried "Hely, Hely lama zabacthani":
"And Pilate sent for the Jews and said unto them: Did ye see that which came to pass? But they said: There was an eclipse of the sun after the accustomed sort." (XI. 2)

SUNGAZING IN ANCIENT EGYPT

Egyptians not only did sun gazing, but they ingested extracts of plants containing atropine, in order to enlarge the pupils and get more sunlight. The image shows Tuth-Shena gazing at the sun and having her palms raised to face the sun. The sun is depicted as god Horus, emitting sunrays made of Datura flowers. Datura is one of the atropine containing plants. The atropine dilates the pupil, allowing more sunlight into the eye. Datura has also profound psychic effects. The pharaoh was believed to be the son of the sun god Horus of the Horizon (Harakhte), symbolized by the falcon, just like Assur, the sun-symbol of the Assyrians. The sun god was also known as Re, among other names.
Another painting shows Akhenaton, who introduced the cult of the sun god Aton, using the red Amanita Muscaria mushrooms in the worship of his sun-god. He is depicted wearing something resembling to sunglasses. The muscarine contained in the Amanita Muscaria mushrooms from his hands, has the propriety to contract the pupil, reducing the amount of sunlight entering the eye, just like the sunglasses. Amanita Muscaria has also profound psychic effects.
A similar representation appears in a bas relief from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, from Dynasty XVIII 1370 B.C. Here, both
Akhenaton and his wife, Nefertiti, hold into their hands symilar offerings, that could be the Amanita Muscaria mushrooms. Both of them are wearing something like sunglasses. There are also visible the trumpet-shaped Datura flowers, also called "The angel's trumpet", that was consumed in order to dilate the pupil.
Akhenaton's wife, Nefertiti, became blind, probably because using atropine containing plants, like Datura, before sun-gazing. 
Queen Nefertiti was a Hittite princess, who came from the land of Mitanni, a small kingdom and Sanskrit-speaking Aryan stronghold, north of the Upper Euphrates. She brought Aryan gods and goddesses with her, including Mitra and Surya. Akhenaten had much influence from Mitanni not only from his in-laws but via his own bloodline as well. Mitanni was a place of solar spirituality and this is a factor in Akhenaten's solar reformation.
Under the Middle Empire, Aton, the solar disk, was a small provincial form of the Sun-god which was worshipped in one little town in the neighborhood of Heliopolis, and it is possible that a temple was built in his honor, in Heliopolis itself.
In the Theban Recesion of the Book of the Dead, which is based upon Heliopolitan, we find Aten mentioned by the deceased thus : "Thou, O Ra, shinest from the horizon of heaven, and Aten is adored when he resteth {or setteth} upon this mountain to give life to the two lands. Hunefer says Ra, Hail, Aten, thou the lord of beams of light, {when} thou shinest all faces {i.e., everybody} lives. Nekht says Ra, O thou beautiful being, thou doest renew thyself and make thyself young again under the form of Aten; Ani says Ra, Thou turnest thy face towards the Underworld, and thou makest the earth to shine like fine copper. The dead rise up to thee, they breath the air and they look upon thy face when Aten shineth in the horizon;------I have come before thee that I may be with thee to behold thy Aten daily: O thou who art in thine Egg, who shinest from thy Aten,..."
These passages show that Aten, at the time when the hymns from which they are taken were composed, was regarded as the material body of the sun wherein dwelt the god Ra, and that he represented merely the solar disk and was visible emblem of the great Sun-god.
The royal couple, Akhenaten and Nefertiti, were shown embracing their children and enjoying the sun. The children are pointing, playing with mother's earrings, the royal streamers are blowing in the wind. This is a big break with tradition.
In the cult of Aten, men were asked only to be grateful to the sun for life and warmth. It was unlike the awful austerity of the great gods of former Egypt, who might punish man for disobedience. It was quite unlike the heavy demands that the Hebrew god would lay upon his people. In the Aton religion there was no "Thou shalt . . ." and no "Thou shalt not. . . .". 
Egyptians were sun gazing daily in the temple of Aten/Aton, as it's written into an ancient Egyptian Prayer:
"Great and living Aten, ordaining life, vigorously alive, our father. Our wall of millions of cubits, our reminder of eternity, our witness of what is eternal. Who fashions himself with his own hands, whom no craftsman has devised. Who is established in rising and setting each day ceaselessly. Whether he is in heaven, or on earth, every eye beholds him without hindrance, whilst he fills the land with his rays and enables everyone to live. With seeing whom, our eyes are satisfied daily in this Temple of the Aten and fills it with his own self by means of his rays, beauteous with love, and embraces us with them in life and power forever."
The temple of Aten was shaped like a cross, the solar emblem. The royal artwork found from this period depicts The Aten with rays of light as arms ending in little mitten-like hands, each of them holding the Ankh (literally "Life"), the Egyptian loop cross.
The ancient Egyptians started their day with a prayer to the rising sun:

Homage to thee, O Ra (the sun), at thy tremendous rising!
Thou risest! Thou shinest! The heavens are rolled aside!
Thou art the King of the Gods, thou art the All-comprising,
From thee we come, in thee we are deified.

FATHER SUN, THE EYE OF THE UNIVERSE

"In days of old, all living beings that had been created were sorely afflicted with hunger. And like a father (unto all of them), Savita (the sun) took compassion upon them. And going first into the northern declension, the sun drew up water by his rays, and coming back to the southern declension, stayed over the earth, with his heat centered in himself. And while the sun so stayed over the earth, the lord of the vegetable world (the moon), converting the effects of the solar heat (vapours) into clouds and pouring them down in the shape of water, caused plants to spring up. Thus it is the sun himself, who, drenched by the lunar influence, is transformed, upon the sprouting of seeds, into holy vegetable furnished with the six tastes. And it is these which constitute the food of all creatures upon the earth. Thus the food that supporteth the lives of
creatures is instinct with solar energy, and the sun is, therefore, the father of all creatures." (Mahabharata, Section III)

<<Yudhishthira said, "Thou art, O sun, the eye of the universe. Thou art the soul of all corporeal existences. Thou art the origin of all things. Thou art the embodiment of the acts of all religious men. Thou art the refuge of those versed in the Sankhya philosophy (the mysteries of the soul), and thou art the support of the Yogins. Thou art a door unfastened with bolts. Thou art the refuge of those wishing for emancipation. Thou sustainest and discoverest the world, and sanctifiest and supportest it from pure compassion. Brahmanas versed in the Vedas appearing before thee, adore thee in due time, reciting the hymns from the respective branches (of the Vedas) they refer. Thou art the adored of the Rishis. The Siddhas, and the Charanas and the Gandharvas and the Yakshas, and the Guhyakas, and the Nagas, desirous of obtaining boons follow thy car coursing through the skies. The thirty-three gods with Upendra (Vishnu) and Mahendra, and the order of Vaimanikas have attained success by worshipping thee. By offering thee garlands of the celestial Mandaras 3 the best of the Vidyadharas have obtained all their desires. The Guhyas and the seven orders of the Pitris--both divine and human--have attained superiority by adoring thee alone. The Vasus, the Manilas, and the Rudras, the Sadhyas, the Marichipas, the Valikhilyas, and the Siddhas, have attained pre-eminence by bowing down unto thee. There is nothing that I know in the entire seven worlds, including that of Brahma which is beyond thee. There are other beings both great and endued with energy; but none of them hath thy lustre and energy. All light is in thee, indeed, thou art the lord of all light.>> (Mahabharata, Section III, Prayer to the Sun)

In the same third section of Mahabharata we find a passage referring to king Yudhishthira, son of Pandu, who after worshipping the sun while standing into the Ganges river, performed a miracle which resembles with Jesus' miracle of feeding 5000 people with 5 breads and 2 fishes, the food increasing and becoming inexhaustible: "the son of Pandu set himself to cook (their day's) food. And the clean food, however little, that was dressed, furnished with the four tastes, increased and became inexhaustible. And with it Yudhishthira began to feed the regenerate ones. And after the Brahmanas had been fed, and his younger brothers also, Yudhishthira himself ate of the food that remained, and which is called Vighasa. And after Yudhishthira had eaten, the daughter of Prishata took what remained. And after she had taken her meal, the day's food became exhausted."

ANCIENT HYMNS AND PRAYERS TO THE SUN

Similarly with the Hindu Surya, the Egyptian Ra is the source of all life forms:
"The gods of the South, the North, the West and the East praise thee, O thou divine substance, from whence all forms of life sprang."  (Papyrus of Ani, Sheet 18)

Egyptians knew that the sun existed before the earth and the other planets. In the Bible's Genesis, God's spirit was hovering above the primordial waters, and after that appeared the light. The sun god Ra "made all that sprang from the waters".
In Genesis 2:7 God gave life to the man (Adam) through his breath. Ra is praised : "Let me breathe the air which comes from thy nostrils". This "air" is called "prana" by the yogis and is considered to originate from the sun.

"Thou speakest--earth is flooded with silence, O thou ONLY ONE, who didst dwell in heaven before ever the earth and the mountain came into being.
O SHEPHERD, O LORD, O ONLY ONE, Creator of what is, thou didst make the tongue of the Nine Gods. Thou hast made all that sprang from the waters, and thou shootest up from them over the land of the pools of the Lake of Horus.
Let me breathe the air which comes from thy nostrils and the north wind which is from thy mother Nut.
Glorify my spirit, O Osiris, make divine my soul." (Papyrus of Ani, Sheet 18)

In Rig Veda HYMN XXXVII, Surya, into the 5-th verse we find Surya portrayed as of Universe's law. This view is very similar with that of the Mesopotamian sun god Shamash mentioned earlier and with the view of the Egyptian sun god Ra who is embraced by Maat (the goddess of Law and Truth):

"Thou risest and shinest on the back of thy mother [the Sky-goddess], O thou who art crowned king of the gods.
Nut (the Sky-goddess) pays homage to thee, and Maat embraces thee at morn and eve." (Papyrus of Ani, Sheet 18)

Surya is also viewed as bringing a happy long life and purer innocence, which resembles closely with the view of the sun found into the ESSENE GOSPEL OF PEACE, Book One.

4. O Surya, with the light whereby thou scatterest gloom, and with thy ray impellest every moving thing,Keep far from us all feeble, worthless sacrifice, and drive away disease and every evil dream.
5. Sent forth thou guardest well the Universe's law, and in thy wonted way arisest free from wrath. When Surya, we address our prayers to thee to-day, may the Gods favour this our purpose and desire.
6. This invocation, these our words may Heaven and Earth, and Indra and the Waters and the Maruts hear. Ne'er may we suffer want in presence of the Sun, and, living happy lives, may we attain old age.
7. Cheerful in spirit, evermore, and keen of sight, with store of children, free from sickness and from sin, Long-living, may we look, O Surya, upon thee uprising day by day, thou great as Mitra is!
8. Surya, may we live long and look upon thee still, thee, O Far-seeing One, bringing the glorious light, The radiant God, the spring of joy to every eye, as thou art mounting up o'er the high shining flood.
9. Thou by whose lustre all the world of life comes forth, and by thy beams again returns unto its rest, O Surya with the golden hair, ascend for us day after day, still bringing purer innocence. (Rig Veda HYMN XXXVII. Surya)

Today in India, millions of Hindus repeat a prayer to the sun known as the Gayatri which similarly reminds us of our sacred relationship with this living being:

"May we gaze on the splendor of your guiding power that charges us with light."

THE MYSTICS OF THE SUN

In the Sangam, at the confluence of Ganges and Yamuna rivers in Allahabad, India, during the Magh Mela festival can be seen sadhus doing sungazing while praying to the sun.

The Vedic scriptures of the Hindu religion refer to the sun as the store house of inexhaustible power and radiance. This sun god is referred to as Surya or Aditya. The Vedas are full of hymns describing the celestial body as the source and sustainer of all life on earth. The Ramayana speaks of Sage Agastya initiating Rama into sun worship through the Aditya Hridaya Mantra. 
"Through meditation, one-pointedly fixed upon the sun, will come a consciousness (or knowledge) of the seven worlds." (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 3:26 )
A similar view is found "in the Pythagorean and Platonic schools of Hellenistic Alexandria, where the sun came to be regarded as the doorway linking together the sensible and intelligible spheres, the material and spiritual orders of
existence." [David Fideler, Jesus Christ, Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books),]
Plato understood the sun as the representation of the Logos, "the underlying Order of the universe, the blueprint on which all
creation is based."[ibid.]
It is said that Iran was once a center of Solar worship and that some of the Maga (Magha) priests of Iran had been brought to India to officiate in ceremonies. Referring to the Maga priests, Srivastava shows that these Maga priests came to India during the 6-8th century BC (Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Bhagalpur Session, 1968, pp.86 ff). The Maga priests were the famous Magoi or Magi, Zoroastrian priests who spread the worship of fire and Sun and erected temples at Taxila and Multan. Sun temples in ancient days were known as Aditya Grihas. The traveller Ktesias mentions a site of sun worship in western India (400BC).

Apollonius of Tyana lived in the first century AD in Tyana, Cappadocia, and was a Neo-Pythagorean who became a mythical hero during the time of the Roman Empire. While himself living an ascetic life, Apollonius sought to make Venus the goddess of pure love, free from carnal lust.
Empress Julia Domna instructed the writer Philostratus to write a biography of Apollonius. Philostratus wrote, in 220 AD, "The Life of Apollonius of Tyana".
Philostratus, writes : "Naught would he wear that came from a dead beast, nor touch a morsel of a thing that once had life, nor offer it in sacrifice; nor for him to stain with blood the altars; but honey-cakes and incense, and the service of his song went upward from the man unto the Gods"
Apollonius replied: "Do you, O king, go on with your sacrifice, in your own way, but permit me to sacrifice in mine." 
And he took up a handful of frankincense and said: "O thou Sun, send me as far over the earth as is my pleasure and thine, and may I make the acquaintance of good men, but never hear anything of bad ones, nor they of me." 
One morning Apollonius said "You then, O king, must attend to the business of state, but let me go and devote this hour to the Sun, for I must needs offer up to him my accustomed prayer." Apollonius then returned, when the day was already for advanced.
In the chapter called "The Habitation of the Indian Sages" he wrote about some mysterious practices:
"Now they regard the summit of this hill as the navel of the earth, and on it they worship fire with mysterious rites, deriving the fire, according to their own account, from the rays of the sun; and to the Sun they sing a hymn every day at midday. 
APOLLONIUS himself describes the character of these sages and of their settlement upon the hill; for in one of his addresses to the Egyptians he says: 
"I saw Indian Brahmans living upon the earth and yet not on it, and fortified without fortifications, and possessing nothing, yet having the riches of all men." 
He may indeed be thought to have here written with too much subtlety; but we have anyhow the account of Damis to effect that they made a practice of sleeping the ground, and that they strewed the ground with such grass as they might themselves prefer; and, what is more, he says that he saw them levitating themselves two cubits high from the ground, not for the sake of' miraculous display, for they disdain any such ambition; but they regard any rites they perform, in thus quitting earth and walking with the Sun, as acts of homage acceptable to the God."
"We," said Iarchas, their leader, "see into the very soul, tracing out its qualities by a thousand signs. But as midday is at hand, leave us to our devotions in which you also may, if you will, take part."
When Apollonius inquired of Iarchas whether the cosmos was composed of four elements, the latter replied that it was made not of four but of five, the fifth being the ether. There is, said the Indian sage, "the ether, which we must regard as the stuff of which gods are made, for just as mortal creatures inhale the air, so do immortal and divine natures inhale the ether."

Referring to India, Pliny wrote: “It is known that many of the inhabitants are more than seven feet six inches high, never spit, do not suffer from headache or toothache or pain the eyes, and very rarely have pain in any other part of the body – so hardy are they made by the temperate heat of the sun; and that the sages of their race, whom they call Gymnosophists, stay standing from sunrise to sunset, gazing at the sun with eyes unmoving, and continue all day long standing first on one foot and then on the other in the glowing sand." (Pliny Natural History 7.22)
Max Muller says that a very low race in India named the Santhals call the sun Chandro, which means “bright.” These people declared to the missionaries who settled among them, that Chandro had created the world; and when told that it would be absurd to say that the sun had created the world, they replied: “We do not mean the visible Chandro, but an invisible one.”

According to Diodorus Siculus, it was the belief of the ancients that Dionysos, Osiris, Serapis, Pan, Jupiter and Pluto were all one. They were, the sun.
In Finland, the summer solstice was a celebration of the sun goddess Beiwe, and offerings of reindeer meat were made to her. In Nigeria, the height of summer is the time to celebrate the goddess Inna and the yam harvest. In Christianity, the birth of John the Baptist is celebrated at this time.

CHRISTMAS OR SUN'S BIRTHDAY

Hanukkah is an 8 day celebration that begins on Kislev 25 (corresponding, approximately, to December the 25th). The center branch stands above the other 8 branches; it is given a higher place, yet it is called the Shamash, the name of the sun god. The Shammash is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, and from this the first of remaining 8 lamps is ALSO lit on Kislev 25. Each night of Hanukkah, another of the lamps is lit, generally going left to right, using the fire of the Shammash lamp to light the others.

From the calendar of Philocalus, which was drawn up at Rome about 354 A.D., we learn that the twenty-fifth of December was celebrated as the birthday of the Unconquered Sun by games in the circus. These games are mentioned by the Emperor Julian, who tells us that they were performed with great magnificence in honour of the Unconquered Sun immediately after the end of the Saturnalia.

"The reason why the fathers transferred the celebration of the sixth of January to the twenty-fifth of December was this. It was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the same twenty-fifth of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and festivals the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day and the festival of the Epiphany on the sixth of January. Accordingly, along with this custom, the practice has prevailed of kindling fires until the sixth." (Syrian scholiast on Bar Salibi)

December 13 marked the winter solstice until the revision of the calendar by Pope Gregory in 1582. It is still observed in Sicily, Sweden, Denmark and some other places. On December 13 is celebrated St. Lucia, whose name is derived from "lux," meaning light, symbolizes the return of light to the world. During her festival a girl representing Lucia rides through the village before dawn dressed in white garments with a red sash and wearing in her hair a crown of wortleberry twigs set with nine lighted candles. Santa Lucia came to be thought of as the patron of sight and was depicted by medieval artists carrying a dish containing her eyes. 
In Scandinavia, they also worshiped the sun at the winter solstice, by making huge bonfires. In celebration, a great festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log.
In ancient Europe, the sun was worshipped under names like Cronos, Saturn and Janus. They were all considered as gods of time and their celebrations took place at the end of December, when the old year ended and the new year began. These celebrations were linked to the winter solstice and no mater they were called Saturnalia or the birth of Mithra/Maitreya or Christmas, they were about the time/sun god. As a testimonial of the ancient worship of the time god Cronos, during the period of time corresponding to today’s Christmas, Greek translation of “Merry Christmas” is “Kainourios Chronos”.
The ancient Persians and Babylonians celebrated a similar festival which they called the Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging of places within the community...slaves would become masters and the original masters were obliged to obey the former slaves' commands. 
Strabo asserts that the most ancient Greek historians knew the Sacaea as a people who lived beyond the Caspian Sea. Diodorus says: "The Sacaea sprung from a people in Media who obtained a vast and glorious empire."
The Sacae, a great tribe of Scythians (wanderers) bordering upon them, were so called by a tribal name. Of the fact of the identity of the Sacae and the Scythians there is not the shadow of a doubt, and it is clear that these people called their country Sacasena. Pliny says: "The Sakai were among the most distinguished people of Scythia, who settled in Armenia, and were called Sacae-Sani."
The Scythic Sacae worshipped the god "Gaeto Syrus". Thus the Sanskrit term for Sun, Surya, is derived from the Scythic Syrus.
The ancient Greeks held ceremonies similar to those of the Zagmuk and Sacaea festivals. The purpose of this feast was to assist their god Kronos, who would battle against the god Zeus. In Attica his festival, the Kronia, celebrated the harvest and resembled the Saturnalia. The Romans called this celebration Saturnalia, in honor of their god Saturn, the equivalent of the Greek god Kronos.
The Saturnalia was a fire festival, homes were decorated with evergreens, candles, and especially constructed coloured lanterns. The formal festivities lasted seven days though the whole of the preceding month was dedicated to Saturn. As with Sacaea, the masters and slaves would exchange places.
On December 25th, the birthday of the Persian sun god Mithra, "The Birth of the Unconquerable Sun" was celebrated at Rome, as the days gradually lengthened and the Sun began to regain its dominance. The Saturnalia is also known as "Dies Natalis Invicti Solis", the Day of Birth of the Unconquered Sun. Resulting from this title, the Saturnalia also became associated with the New Year. Subsequently the Romans created a new god to oversee the transition on the following Kalends, or first month day. He was Janus, the two-headed god (male and female) who looked with one face back over the past, and with the other face, forward into the future. His name gave rise to the naming of this first month, January.
There were found striking similarities in the representations of Sol Invictus in Rome (left) and of Helios in Rhodes (right): both have crowns with seven spikes/rays.
In 274, Aurelian created the new cult of the "Sol Invictus" (Invincible Sun). Worshipped in a splendid temple, served by pontiffs who were raised to the level of the ancient pontiffs of Rome and celebrated every fourth year by magnificent games (just like the Greek Olimpic games!), Sol Invictus was definitely promoted to the highest rank in the divine hierarchy and became the official protector of the Sovereigns and of the Empire. Aurelian established a new college of high priests, under the name Pontifices Dei Solis.
The coins of Aurelian also attest his devotion to the solar deity. On one of them the Sun is seen offering to the emperor a globe as a symbol of the empire of the world, with a captive lying at their feet; some of the inscriptions on the coins proclaim the Sun-god to be the Preserver or Restorer of the World or even Lord of the Roman Empire. 
Emperor Nero adopted the radiating crown as the symbol of his sovereignty to exemplify the splendor of the rays of the sun, and to show that he was an incarnation of Mithras.
Under St. Peter's Basilica from Vatican is a necropolis from 3rd/4th century AD. There, on a mosaic from Mausoleum M., Christ is represented as Sol Invictus/Helios, confirming that early Christians were in fact sun worshippers. It can be observed that Christ has a 7-rays crown, just like Sol Invictus and Helios, and is in a chariot with four horses, of which only two are visible in the picture. This representation is very similar to that found on the mosaic of the synagogue of Beit Alpha.

The Statue of Liberty was designed also as a solar symbol: it has the seven-ray crown of  Sol Invictus and holds the torch, symbolizing the sun and the book of law, being the law keeper, like the Assyrian sun god Shamash or like the Egyptian goddess Maat, or like the Roman goddess Vesta, the keeper of the sacred fire and of the law.
Long before Aurelian created the new cult of the "Sol Invictus" at Rome, Apollo was called Bonus Deus Puer (The Good Son [of] God), or Deus Bonus Puer Phosphorus (The Good Shining Son [of] God), in many inscriptions consecrated to him, found in Dacia, mainly in the Apullum city, the capital of Dacia Apulensis province, called so in the honor of the Dacian sun god, Apollo. Apollo’s sceptre assumes at times the form of a cross (cf. coin of Gallienus reproduced in Victor Duruy’s Hist. des Romains, Paris, 1885, Vol. VIII, p. 42, ERE). The cult of Sun was brought to Dacia and from there to entire Europe, by the Agathyrsi, an Iranian tribe. Like the the Indian priests, they recited their laws in a kind of sing-song to prevent their being forgotten, a practice still in existence in the days of Aristotle (Problemata, xix. 28). 
The Dacian pleistoi (majority) were compared by Josephus Flavius with the Essenes (Antiquitates Judaicae XVIII,22).
The original dwellers of the province of Vojvodina, which forms Serbia's most northern border, are believed to be the Agathyrsi and Illyrians, later the Dacians, Thracians and Celts. A unique fragmentary relief, depicting the cult of the sun-god Mithra, was discovered at Konjica, in Bosnia. An miracle from August 2, 1981 restored sun gazing in this region, being practiced today by many pilgrims visiting the holly site from Medjugorje.
In Caesarea, just to the south of the Crusader walls archaeologists from Drew University have discovered a Herodian underground chamber that was altered to form a Mithraeum in the 3rd century AD. This is the first Mithraeum to be found in Palestine. The walls of the chamber were decorated with religious frescoes and there was an altar that was lit by a shaft of sunlight every summer solstice.
In 69AD, Legio III Gallica, with the rest of the Danubian army, aligned first with Otho, then with Vespasian. They were instrumental in the final defeat of Vitellius in the second Battle of Bedriacum . This legion during its service in Syria had developed the custom of saluting the rising sun, and when dawn broke at Bedriacum they turned east to do so: "A shout was raised on all sides, and the soldiers of the third legion saluted, as is the custom in Syria, the rising sun." (Tacitus, History Book 3, 24) The forces of Vitellius thought that they were saluting reinforcements from the east and lost the will to fight. 
Mihr or Mithra is the genius of the light of heaven and the god of truth. Derjan (Derzana) was the district where the Armenian Mithra worship was centered. Its famous temple was in the sacred village of Bagaritch. The Christian fire-festival of the Armenians is celebrated in February, a month dedicated to Mihr, and named  Mehekan.
The ancient scholiast Lactantius Placidus not only explains Mithra as the Sun whom the Persians worhipped in caves, but completes the solar interpretation by adding that the horned bull is the horned Moon, and that the scene is laid in a cave to signify an eclipse of the sun by the interposition of the moon. Therefore, the sacrifice of the bull was meant to bring back the sun eclipsed by the moon.

The Mithraeums were subterranean or semisubterranean temples dedicated to the worship of Mithra.
The Persian word Mihrab, possibly meaning "sun-water", was used to designate the openings in the ceiling of the Mithraeums. Those openings allowed sunlight and rain water to enter the underground Mithraeums, as seen in the picture of a Mithraeum from a Roman house, situated under the Basilica of St. Clemente, Rome.
In Islamic religion, a mihrab, sometimes spelled "mehrab" or "mehraab", is a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla, i.e. the direction of Kaaba that Muslims should face when praying. The mihrab originated in the reign (705-15) of the Umayyad prince al-Walid I, when the famous mosques at Medina, Jerusalem, and Damascus were built. It was adapted from the prayer niches common in Coptic Christian monasteries.
Many Islamic mihrabs are displaing an obvious solar significance, as shown by those from the mosque El Mezquita from Cordoba, Spain and from Al Fateh State Mosque - Bahrain.
In the Qur'anic context, the term Al-Mihrab indicates the "Holy of Holies" of the  Temple in Jerusalem. An example is the story of Mary as a child in the "Al-Mihrab" where Zachariah was a Temple Priest (Q 3.37), which is also told in the Gospels as occurring "in the Holy of Holies".
The mihrab is a "fragment of Holy of Holies" — the place where, in the Temple Angels and Spirit descended on the Praying servants (i.e. priests). The mihrab serves the same "spatial-spiritual point" of "meeting" between the "community of God" and "the Spirit" as the "Holy of Holies" served for the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

SUNGAZING AMONG CHRISTIANS

Phos Hilaron, meaning the dancing light, is an ancient Christian hymn originally written in New Testament Greek. The hymn is known in English as 'Hail Gladdening Light' or 'O Resplendent Light'. It is the earliest known Christian hymn recorded outside of the Bible that is still being used today. The hymn is featured in the vespers of the Byzantine liturgy used by the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions, as well as being included in some modern Anglican and Lutheran liturgies.

From the translation of Phos Hilaron by William Storey, as used in the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours for the Office of the Dead, can be seen that the sun is seen as the face of God the Father, image of the light sublime:

O radiant light, O sun divine
Of God the Father's deathless face,
O image of the light sublime
That fills the heav'nly dwelling place.

Lord Jesus Christ, as daylight fades,
As shine the lights of eventide,
We praise the Father with the Son,
The Spirit blest and with them one.

O Son of God, the source of life,
Praise is your due by night and day;
Unsullied lips must raise the strain
Of your proclaimed and splendid name.


From the translation of Phos Hilaron from the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer can be seen that they did gaze at the setting sun as Jesus "Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light...":

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

The complaint of Pope Leo, in the fifth century, that worshippers in St. Peter’s turned away from the altar and faced the door so that they could adore the rising sun is very significant in regard to the number of Christians who performed sungazing being adherents of some form of sun-worship.

The following is from St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of Brother Sun
Praise to You, O Lord our God, for all Your creatures,
especially our dear Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
fair is he, in splendor radiant,
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

The Christmas was originally a celebration of the birth of the sun god Mithra.
Shortly before Christmas 1223, St. Francis of Assisi wrote to his friend, John Velita, the Lord of Greccio, "I would fain make a memorial of that child who was born in Bethlehem, and in some sort behold with bodily eyes His infant hardships; how He lay in a manger on the hay, with ox and ass standing by." St. Francis organized a group of people to go on Christmas Eve and created the first live nativity scene that year. It has become a greatly practiced custom. 

Marsilio Ficino (October 19, 1433 - October 1 1499) was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance, an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism who was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day, and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin. His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato's school, had enormous influence on the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European philosophy. 
Ficino said that the ultimate essence of God cannot be perceived by our sensed or understood by our mind, so the visible sun that we can perceive is an icon of God, or how he says the tabernacle of God by which the subtle essence of God can be conveyed towards us.

Ficino was also a Catholic priest and as a respect for his great personality his bust was placed on a side wall of  Florence's Cathedral.

Ficino said: "People will perhaps laugh at a Priest who heeds astrology. But I, relying on the authority of the Persians, Egyptians and Chaldeans consider that... Heavenly matters in truth were the sole concern of the Priest... "

 "There will be some men or other, superstitious and blind, who see life plain in even the lowest animals and the meanest plants, but do not see life in the heavens or the world [...] Now if those little men grant life to the smallest particles of the world, what folly! what envy! neither to know that the Whole, in which 'we live and move and have our being,' is itself alive, nor to wish this to be so."

The Book of the Sun, by Marsilio Ficino. is probably the most profound and spiritual book ever written on the sun. Following are some excerpts from it.

Chapter IX: The Sun is the Image of God. Comparison of the Sun to God
This pure light exceeds the intelligence just as in itself sunlight surpasses the acuity of the eyes. In this way, in proportion to the strength you receive from the Sun, you will almost seem to have found God, who placed his tabernacle in the Sun. And finally just as nothing is more alien to the divine light than utterly formless matter, so nothing is more different from the light of the Sun than the
earth. Therefore since bodies in which the earthly condition prevails are most unsuited to light, they accept no light within. This is not because the light may be powerless to penetrate - for while this light cannot illuminate inside wool or a leaf, it may however penetrate a crystal in a moment, which cannot be easily penetrated by anything else. In this way the divine light also shines in the darkness of the soul but the darkness comprehends it not. Is this not also similar to God, who first sows knowledge of divine things in angelic and blessed minds, and then love? Indeed God kindles a love for us believers here which purifies and converts, before it bestows the intelligence of divine things. Thus the Sun completely fills with light clear and pure natures everywhere, as if they are now, for a moment, heavenly; while those opaque and material natures it first warms and kindles with its light, then refines, and soon illuminates. And sometimes it elevates to the heights through heat and light this matter now made light and accessible.

Chapter XI: The Two Lights of the Sun. The Gift of Apollo
Indeed in the same way that this sensible light is experienced by the senses, illuminating, invigorating and forming all sensible things and faculties of sense and converting them to higher planes, so a certain intelligible light in the soul of the Sun illuminates, kindles and recalls the inner spiritual eye. I think for this reason the Sun was called Apollo by the ancient Theologians, and creator of all harmony, and leader of the Muses, since he releases minds from a certain confused turmoil, not so much by visible but by hidden influxes of rays, and he tempers them proportionately, and finally leads them to understanding. Nor should it be thought that this most full and efficacious light, given to and extended among worldly things as the most perfect gift, takes its origin from the small body of the Sun, but from the good itself as the father of lights, in whom whatever is of light is certainly beyond intelligence and quite surpassing all understanding. From there descending into the divine or angelic intellect it becomes intelligible, and then reaching the mind of the world soul it becomes intellectual and imaginal, and then passing into heaven it becomes both sensual and sensible, finally being sent down to the lower regions (as if now divided) it becomes sensory in the eyes of living creatures and in sensible objects, and keeps both characteristics in a few creatures which can see in the dark.

Chapter XIII: That the Sun is not to be worshipped as the Author of all Things
When he was in military service Socrates often used to stand in amazement watching the rising Sun, motionless, his eyes fixed like a statue, to greet the return of the heavenly body. The Platonists, influenced by these and similar signs, would perhaps say that Socrates, inspired since boyhood by a Phoeboean daemon, was accustomed to venerate the Sun above all, and for the same reason was judged by the oracle of Apollo to be the wisest of all the Greeks. […] According to Plato, he called the Sun not God himself but the son of God.

"On October 13, 1917, a severe storm had raged through Europe. The ground was soaked and muddy. A crowd of people estimated between 50,000 and 70,000 made it's way--drenched— to the apparition site (Fatima).

"The Lady appeared. . .as the blessed mother was leaving she opened her hands, and from them rays of light extended in the direction of the sun. Gradually the sun grew pale, appeared as a silver disk at which all could gaze directly, without shielding their eyes. Rays of multicolored light shot out from the sun in every direction; red, blue, pink, green, and every color of the spectrum. Then the sun began to spin madly on its axis and appeared like a giant wheel of fire. The sun began to dance wildly. Suddenly the sun seemed to be torn loose from its orbit. It hurtled closer and closer to earth, and looked like it was going to plummet to the earth. The people were terrified and there arose cries of repentance and appeals for mercy. Many thought it was the end of the world. Then, just as suddenly, the sun stopped plummeting downwards, and in the same swirling motion it began to climb upward until it resumed its place in the sky. The rain- soaked clothes of the people were immediately dry. This was an event reported by several newspapers of the day. . . Pope Paul VI, in his May 1967 encyclical entitled "Signum Magnum identifies Our Blessed Mother at Fatima with "The Woman Clothed with the Sun", equating her directly with Revelation, Chapter 12." (Ted and Maureen Flynn, "The Thunder of Justice", Maxkol Communications, 109 Executive Dr. Suite D, Sterling, Va 20166, page 137-138)

There have been various signs and miracles that accompany the already supernatural apparitions in Medjugorje. The most popular is undoubtedly the "Miracle of the Sun" phenomenon. The dance of the sun witnessed on August 2, 1981 at Medjugorje resembled the solar phenomenon from Fátima, but it was seen on many other occasions. (On October 13, 1917, a crowd, generally estimated at about 70,000, gathered at Fátima witnessed a "miraculous solar phenomenon"). There seem to be some common elements that were witnessed by all of the approximately 150 people who were present on the mountain side that afternoon. The common elements are:
· It took place late in the afternoon when the sun was about to set
· It seemed to come toward those who were watching it and then to recede from them. As it came closer, great darkness appeared behind it. 
· The sun spins wildly and throws off a kaleidoscope of colors in all directions
· The people could look directly at the sun without hurting their eyes. It doesn't hurt or damage the eyes to stare at it, even after 20 minutes or more of constant exposure.
The reaction of the people was varied. Some prayed, some cried, some were afraid, and some ran away. At the end of the event, a white cloud was seen coming down over the mountain side of the apparitions. It moved toward the sun, which continued to spin briefly, and then return to its normal state. The entire phenomenon lasted about fifteen minutes. Finally, for the very fortunate, Jesus or Mary may appear in the sun or on top of it, or sometimes a cross will appear. 

An account, from April, 1989 tells the following: "Precisely at 6:40 P.M., a white disc appeared over the sun, dulling its brightness, enabling us to look directly at it without injuring our eyes. The disc began turning, both clockwise and counterclockwise, and moving vertically as well as horizontally over the sun, turning everything from scarlet to silver to copper to royal blue to purple to green--and then some (definitely no pastels, but brilliant breath-taking colors). Some British tourists, not members of our group, happened by and were astounded! In the midst of our joy and excitement, we told them about the events of Medjugorje as the sun pulsated, strobed (appeared to be flashing on and off), and exhibited every hue of the rainbow."
"The next day when we returned to Rome, the sun repeated its spectacular display at 6:40 P.M. but with far less intensity of colors, witnessed by all 55 pilgrims on the bus."

Another account, from September of 1990: "I observed thousands of people looking directly into the sun every day at 5:45 p.m., when the apparition was allegedly taking place."

The one hour difference (6:40 in April 1989 and 5:45 in September 1990) of the miracle is apparent and due to the one hour difference between the daylight saving time and normal time.

Rene Laurentin, an eminent Marian scholar, stated that "on numerous occasions, thousands have witnessed the sun change colors, spin, become a silver disc, throb and pulsate in the sky, and throw off a rainbow of colors." [ Rene Laurentin, Latest News of Medjugorje (June 1987), trans. Judith Lohre Stiens (Milford, OH: The Riehle Foundation, 1987), X.] 

On May 23, 1995, over 30,000 Catholics from the underground church of China had gathered for Mass at the Donglu shrine. It was the vigil of the feast of Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians, a favorite of Chinese Catholics. Suddenly, during the opening prayer of the Mass and again during the consecration, the people observed the sun spinning from right to left. Light rays of various shades emanated in the sky. The people mesmerized by this phenomenon could look directly at the sun without blinking. Suddenly from the centre of the sun people saw what they later described as an apparition. Some beheld the cross; others said they had seen the Holy Family. Still others had seen Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus, while others claimed they had seen the Sacred Host. People, overwhelmed by the vision, suddenly became conscious of their sinfulness, and began to cry out, "Holy Mother, forgive me my sins," or "Holy Virgin Mary, have pity on us your children." The phenomenon of the sun changing colours and approaching and then retreating while eradiating various hues lasted for about 20 minutes

The Sioux Amerindians believe that the sun sees everything that is going on and knows everything.
Thomas E. Mails described the Sun Dance in his book "Fools Crow". As he tells, sun gazing is involved in the ritual of Sun Dance: "People also say that we stare continually at the sun while we dance [for the whole day -ed.]. But we have never done that. Part of the time we have our backs to it and we are staring at the cloth banners that are tied to the top of the Sun Dance Tree. We do face the sun and pray to God through the sun, asking for strength to complete the Sun Dance, and that all our prayers will be heard. As the pledgers and I continue to do this, we are able to see the sun with our eyes completely open. It doesn't blind us, and in it we see visions. No one should be surprised about this. Wonderful and mysterious things happen at the Sun Dances to prove that Wakan-Tanka's and Grandfather's powers are active in our midst."       

 

BACK