summer solstice sunrise Stonehenge

Tens of thousands gathered at Stonehenge to witness its alignment to the summer solstice sunrise again in modern times (photo CC BY-SA 2.0 by Andrew Dunn).


This article is an extract taken from the book The Path of the Spiritual Sun.



The ancient veneration of the sun is one of the greatest celebrations in history. It has been encoded in sacred sites and texts by peoples separated by vast distances for thousands of years across the world—all the way from the Great Pyramids of Egypt, to the megaliths of Stonehenge, and the huge stone statues of Easter Island. The sun is one of the oldest and most universal themes connecting the ancient wisdom traditions of the world.

It’s estimated ancient cultures built hundreds (if not thousands) of huge megalithic structures, stone circles, temples, and secret inner rooms that aligned with the sun at its major annual stages—the solstices and equinoxes—across Europe and Britain, in Africa, Russia, North, Central and South America, Easter Island, Australia, Asia, and many other parts of the world.

Most today see it as a form of sun or agricultural worship and pagan celebration to do with the seasons—and yet some of these sites have endured as the most enigmatic and mystical places in the world, and remain some of the most advanced sites astronomically, mathematically, architecturally, and spiritually even to this day. Down through the ages they have echoed messages from a Golden Age of spirituality, that have largely been misinterpreted as primitive by a modern world that has become so distanced from natural and cosmic principles that it has failed to recognize what is hidden in plain sight.

The sun and stars, source of all light and life in the universe, are central to a cosmic spirituality that is both ancient and timeless—and as ever-present as always. Its principles have formed the basis of many of the world’s religions—unbeknownst even to many of their adherents—and are just as relevant to people searching for spirituality today.

This book delves into the profound spiritual significance of the veneration of the sun, pulling together the sites, texts, traditions, and symbols from around the world that were based on the sun’s cycle, to reveal the common thread of spirituality running through all of them. This knowledge has then been used to form a practical guide to celebrate the spiritual sun just as it was in ancient times, incorporating sacred symbols and texts from the ancient Egyptians, to the Druids, Maya, Hindus, and more, for people to re-enliven and experience the spirituality of the cosmos again all over the world.

It’s important to note though that the ceremonies in this book are not about a worship of the physical sun. Instead they are like plays that enact the process of individual enlightenment, which can be found in the progress of the spiritual sun throughout the year. They were used in the past, and can likewise be used today, to assist in the perception of the principles of the sun and creation, which are found manifest in nature and can be experienced and understood through celebrations that enact these principles in tune with the cycles of the cosmos.

A diagram of the solstices and equinoxes from the viewer’s perspective of the sun from the earth.

A diagram of the solstices and equinoxes from the viewer’s perspective of the sun from the earth.

The journey of the sun through the sky (or rather our planet’s journey around it) goes through four distinct stages every year, which occur at four equidistant points—the autumn equinox, winter solstice, spring equinox, and summer solstice—forming the “wheel of the year.” These points mark the main stages in the movement of the earth around the sun and the sun’s varying influence over light and darkness, day and night, and the passage of the seasons. But they also hold a greater spiritual significance.

As Above, So Below

maier, atlanta fugiens, 1618

Here the alchemist (who transforms the lead of the personality into the gold of the spirit) draws our attention to the relationship between the world contained in the smaller circle in which we find ourselves, and the world contained in the larger circle – that is, between the microcosmic and the macrocosmic, as well as the mathematical principles that apply to both. The alchemist looks above, whilst the figure of the man in the drawing, points below.

It’s easy to write off ancient spiritual people as simple-minded nature worshippers. But there is a reason why natural principles are found throughout sacred texts and ancient sites—this is because there are universal principles that govern all of creation, including all life in the largest to the smallest of scales. Thus we can see the same principles of the macrocosmic movement of the planets, in the microcosmic structure of an atom. Mathematically, in the spiral of a galaxy, we see the spiral of a shell, and the unfolding of a fern. The principles that govern all life above us, also govern life here below on earth—which is why an ancient maxim of wisdom was, “as above, so below.”

“Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from Tao; but the law of Tao is its own spontaneity.”
~ The Tao Te Ching, translated by Lionel Giles

“The sages of old studied living things to a point of realization that God is most perfectly understood through a knowledge of His supreme handiwork—animate and inanimate Nature. Every existing creature manifests some aspect of the intelligence or power of the Eternal One, who can never be known save through a study and appreciation of His numbered but inconceivable parts. When a creature is chosen, therefore, to symbolize to the concrete human mind some concealed abstract principle it is because its characteristics demonstrate this invisible principle in visible action.”

~ Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Going further, not only do the principles of life and creation govern the outer world, but they also govern the inner, spiritual world. Spirituality exists in the very fabric of the universe. Thus when someone studies creation, they find spirituality and the supernatural. This is why scientists are now theorizing about the existence of other dimensions, parallel universes, and the inexplicable realm of possibilities, energy, and matter, from the study of the behavior and structure of minute particles.

Today, these properties of the universe, in which the same principles apply at the largest to the smallest scales, and both to the inner and outer world, have been described as fractal and holographic. Fractal in that the same fundamental pattern appears at all scales, and holographic in that wholeness is found everywhere and in everything, essentially making the same observations as the ancient maxims of wisdom “As above, so below,” and “As within, so without.”

The sun in its movement throughout the course of the year then becomes a symbol of something much, much greater than a physical object bringing the change of seasons.

The Spiritual Sun

Egyptian Totenbuch

The physical sun is a blazing fire—it gives light and life to all things physical. From the physical sun, all creation comes into being. Literally, science theorizes that the universe came from a fiery burst of light called the “Big Bang”—and that the first few elements which emerged from this sudden burst of creation fused to form stars. These stars, through a process of nucleosynthesis, created almost all matter and everything we see, including us, and even now are in a constant process of creation as they produce and eject elements into space.

But life is multi-dimensional. Mystics have known this throughout time—that there is more to our world than what we perceive with our five senses. With improvements in technology, there are now huge numbers of compelling accounts of life beyond the physical body in other dimensions from near-death experiences, reported by people all over the world, and these numbers are increasing rapidly by the day. Scientists are even theorizing about the existence of multiple dimensions from the behavior of particles existing in multiple places at the same time (in the field of quantum physics).

Because the universe is multi-dimensional, everything within it, including the sun, has other dimensional aspects.

In the ancient text Pistis Sophia, Jesus speaks of the multi-dimensional nature of the sun:

“For the light of the sun in its shape in truth is not in this world, for its light pierceth through many veils and regions.”
~ Jesus in Pistis Sophia, translated by G.R.S. Mead

The sun that exists in the physical world as the fire we see in the sky also exists in the higher dimensions as a spiritual fire and the spiritual source of all creation, which is why there is an overlap in accounts of creation in many ancient cultures between natural and supernatural phenomena. The natural phenomenon is the physical, tangible manifestation of the supernatural phenomenon. That is why many spiritual cultures throughout the world venerated the sun—they knew of its spiritual side.

Manly P. Hall writes in his extensive study of the esoteric teachings of the world:

“In the majority of cases, the religions of antiquity agree that the material visible sun was a reflector rather than a source of power. The sun was sometimes represented as a shield carried on the arm of the Sun God, as for example, Frey, the Scandinavian Solar Deity. This sun reflected the light of the invisible spiritual sun, which was the true source of life, light, and truth. The physical nature of the universe is receptive; it is a realm of effects. The invisible causes of these effects belong to the spiritual world. Hence, the spiritual world is the sphere of causation; the material world is the sphere of effects; while the intellectual—or soul—world is the sphere of mediation. Thus Christ, the personified higher intellect and soul nature, is called ‘the Mediator’ who, by virtue of His position and power, says: ‘No man cometh to the Father, but by me.’”
~ Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Because creation of physical matter comes from the physical aspect of stars, then the higher dimensional parts of matter are likewise created by the stars in higher dimensions. We find references to this in ancient texts. In the Taoist texts of ancient China for instance, creation is described as moving from the subtle and unseen realms (which are higher dimensional), into physical manifestation. The source of these subtle energies is said to be the stars, and the sun is the star with which we share our closest relationship.

“Trees and animals, humans and insects, flowers and birds: These are active images of the subtle energies that flow from the stars throughout the universe. Meeting and combining with each other and the elements of the earth, they give rise to all living things.”
~ Lao-Tzu in Hua Hu Ching translated by Brian Walker

In The Vision of Hermes, a text attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and believed to have originated in Egypt prior to Christianity, the spirits of the stars are said to control the universe and have their origin in the “One Fire,” which is the spiritual source of creation.

“At the Word of the Dragon the heavens opened and the innumerable Light Powers were revealed, soaring through Cosmos on pinions of streaming fire. Hermes beheld the spirits of the stars, the celestials controlling the universe, and all those Powers which shine with the radiance of the One Fire—the glory of the Sovereign Mind.”
~ The Vision of Hermes, translation from The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall

Going further, not only does both physical and other dimensional matter have its source in the stars—so too does our own inner spiritual light, called consciousness. The light of the sun and stars is the spiritual source of creation, and gives rise both to matter and the spirit.

“These two things, the spiritual and the material, though we call them by different names, in their origin are one and the same. This sameness is a mystery,—the mystery of mysteries. It is the gate of all spirituality.”
~ Tao Te Ching, translated by Lionel Giles

As many ancient cultures believed, the Milky Way is said to be the place where our souls were born.

“Behold, O Hermes, there is a great mystery in the Eighth Sphere, for the Milky Way is the seed-ground of souls…”
~ Poimandres (the Mind of the Universe) to Hermes in The Vision of Hermes, translation from The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall

Is it little wonder then, that often when pondering the meaning of life and the question of where we came from, we tend to raise our eyes to the stars or gaze at the sun, and likewise when calling for spiritual guidance or help. This intuitive sense of home has been with humankind throughout the ages. From a scientific perspective, the elements that created our bodies, and all that exists materially, came from the stars. From a spiritual perspective, our consciousness, our inner spiritual part, also originated in the stars, in higher dimensions—from the greatest source of life and light in creation.

Ahu Akivi of Easter Island

The 7 Maoi facing the equinox sunset at Ahu Akivi on Easter Island (photo CC BY-SA 3.0 by Ian Sewell).

This is why so many ancient cultures, such as the Hindus, Sumerians, Egyptians, Gnostics, Inca, and Maya, all referred to themselves as the “Children of the Sun” or “Children of Light.” The Inca literally believed that they were the descendants of the sun, and celebrated their spiritual lineage at the winter solstice.

The sun worship of the past in the more advanced societies was really the worship of the spiritual sun, not the physical sun.

Paracelsus, the great alchemist of the Renaissance, wrote in the 1500s:

“There is an earthly sun, which is the cause of all heat, and all who are able to see may see the sun; and those who are blind and cannot see him may feel his heat. There is an Eternal Sun, which is the source of all wisdom, and those whose spiritual senses have awakened to life will see that sun and be conscious of His existence; but those who have not attained spiritual consciousness may yet feel His power by an inner faculty which is called Intuition.”
~ Paracelsus

There are hundreds of ancient sites aligned to the solstices and equinoxes, some of the most famous sacred texts encode solar events and venerate the sun, and supreme deities in many ancient spiritual teachings are associated with the sun and its attributes. Both the Druids and mystery schools of Greece conducted their initiation rituals and mysteries on the equinoxes and solstices. Throughout the world we see evidence of an ancient religion of the sun.

Copyright © Belsebuub & Angela Pritchard 2011


This is about 1/4 of chapter one. Keep reading in the book The Path of the Spiritual Sun.




More on the solstice and equinox

The Significance of the Solstice and Equinox in Spirituality
A Guide to Celebrating the Solstice and Equinox

Winter Solstice
The Spiritual Meaning of the Winter Solstice
Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Winter Solstice
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Winter Solstice

Spring Equinox
The Spiritual Meaning of the Spring Equinox
Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Spring Equinox
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Spring Equinox

Summer Solstice
The Spiritual Meaning of the Summer Solstice
Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Summer Solstice
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Autumn Equinox
The Spiritual Meaning of the Autumn Equinox
Ancient Sacred Sites Aligned to the Autumn Equinox
A Ceremony to Celebrate the Autumn Equinox