There was a day when darkness gathered itself into a hungry snake and crawled upon the earth. On her belly she crept toward the city of light, swallowing whatever lay in her path: Men and women, beasts, vegetables and Gods. And no thing that touched her lips escaped her, for all matter was lost in the darkness.
That was the day, or rather the night, that Ra left the sky and took his shape in the cat. To fool the snake, he slept under the leathery leaves of the laurel, holding in his strength, stirring only once for a single languid lick of his paws to brush against his whiskers.
Seeing the cat ~ that tasty bit of flesh, the snake slithered over and opened its mouth. On the other side of her teeth swelled the void, the abyss, the great nothing, and from it issued the cries of all the lost things of creation. Their voices were a wailing wind that beckoned from the darkness.
Then the soul of Ra in the form of a tiny cat leapt up beneath the shade of the laurel and, with teeth of iron and gold, he snapped off the head of the snake and sliced its body into a thousand pieces and swallowed them up.
Blood from the snake’s mouth spilled onto the ground. In that manner Ra’s creations returned to earth. The blood seeped into the ground and was taken up by the thirsty laurel, which burst into bloom with the souls of the dead in the shape of yellow flowers.
Now leaning down from the east edge of heaven, the God of words had witnessed the battle. He had felt each puncture of the snake’s teeth upon his own throat and praised the cat which had given its shape to Ra.
“How like the God that made him is the radiant cat. How he slew the darkness with his mouth!” And Mau became the cat’s name and the God gave him words of power.
I have stood on the eastern bank beneath that flowering laurel ~ it is old now; its roots gnarled but still bursting with life ~ and I have gazed at the sky seeing daily the same battle. The sun rises. Light overcomes darkness and the high pink clouds of morning are tinged with the blood of the snake.
I am like that cat, overcoming my own darknesses. The soul duels fear and doubt and inertia, for these are the children of the snake, the worms hidden in the clay of being that would gnaw a man to death even while he lived.
I am that cat. I stand up and fight. I struggle with the evils of my own petty insistence. The battle of old Gods wages in my. I am a creature of history ~ human and divine. I am the scroll of numerous myths, one teller of a single story.
Now the sun rises as the gold egg of God, whole light of the world, saffron cake of being. Ra shines from his disk in heaven. He rises up ~ a golden wonder, a bead on the throat of sky. Gusts of wind issue forth as warm breath of his mouth and drive the boats along the water, sails the sun over a river of sky and enlivens the nostrils of his people.
He rises, making plain the two worlds of heaven and earth. I see myself by the light of my becoming.
~ From Awakening Osiris
Where there is a road an old man walks thinking, bent under the weight of his soul clinging like a child to his back. Ra spits his words into the dirt where they cover themselves and wait like seeds. The wheat will rise up singing.
The old man walks in circles beneath the circling sun. He makes a journey for himself from mewling infant to old man, old man to renewed God.
The snakes comes to take his heart, finding there the sun.
~From Awakening Osiris
Face the rising sun as you chant, arms raised in greeting.
A he! Arise! Arise!
Rise! Arise! Arise!
Ah eh Wake Up!
Life is calling you.
Ah eh Wake up!
Life is greeting you.
Father sun God, he is calling you.
Father sun God, he is greeting you.
Ah eh ta ho t hey
Eh ta ho ta hey.
Ah ah eh ta ho
A ya he ta ne
Ah ah e ta ho
A ya he ta ne.
A ya a wey
O wey to na wey
A ya a wey
O wey to na wey.
From: Circle of Song
Great One of Heaven,
Power of the Sun,
we invoke thee in thine ancient names –
Micheal, Balin, Arthur, Lugh;
come again as of old into this thy land.
Lift up thy shining spear of light to protect us.
Put to flight the powers of darkness.
Give us fair woodlands and green fields,
blossoming orchards and ripening corn.
Bring us to stand upon thy hill of vision
and show us the path
to the lovely realms of the gods.
– J and S Farrar
On the evening of the third day, I kneel down on the rug and carefully open the egg. Something resembling smoke rises up from it and suddenly Izdubar is standing before me, enormous, transformed, and complete. His limbs are whole and I find no trace of damage on them. It’s as if he had awoken from a deep sleep. He says:
Where am I? How narrow it is here,
how dark, how cool ~ am I in the grave? Where was I?
It seemed to me as if I had been outside in the universe ~
over and under me was an endlessly dark star-glittering sky ~
and I was in a passion of unspeakable yearning.
Streams of fire broke from my radiating body ~
I surged through blazing flames ~
I swam in a sea that wrapped me in living fires ~
Full of light, full of longing, full of eternity ~
I was ancient and perpetually renewing myself ~
Falling from the heights to the depths,
and whirled glowing from the depths to the heights ~
hovering around myself amidst glowing clouds ~
as raining embers beating down like the foam of the surf,
engulfing myself in stifling heat ~
Embracing and rejecting myself in a boundless game ~
Where was I? I was completely sun.
My God, I love you as a mother loves the unborn whom she carries in her heart. Grow in the egg of the East, nourish yourself from my love, drink the juice of my life so that you will become a radiant God. We need your light. Oh child. Since we go into darkness, light up our paths. May your light shine before us, may your fire warm the coldness of our life. We do not need your power but life.
O Sun, great Oriental, my proud mind’s golden cap,
I love to wear you cocked askew, to play and burst
in song throughout our lives, and so rejoice our hearts.
Good is this earth, it suits us! Like the global grape
it hangs, dear God, in the blue air and sways in the gale,
nibbled by all the birds and spirits of the four winds.
Come, let’s start nibbling too, and so refresh our minds!
Between two throbbing temples in the mind’s great wine vats
I tread on the crisp grapes until the wild must boils
and my mind laughs and steams within the upright day.
Has the earth sprouted wings and sails, has my mind swayed
until black-eyed Necessity got drunk and burst in song?
Above me spreads the raging sky, below me swoops
my belly, a white gull that breasts the cooling waves;
my nostrils fill with salty spray, the billows burst
swiftly against my back, rush on, and I rush after.
Great Sun, who pass on high yet watch all things below,
I see the sun-drenched cap of the great castle-wrecker:
let’s kick and scuff it round to see where it will take us!
Learn, lads, that Time has cycles and that Fate has wheels
and that the mind of man sits high and twirls them round;
come quick, let’s spin the world about and send it tumbling!
O Sun, my quick coquetting eye, my red-haired hound,
sniff out all quarries that I love, give them swift chase,
tell me all that you’ve seen on earth, all that you’ve heard,
and I shall pass them through my entrails’ secret forge
till slowly, with profound caresses, play and laughter,
stones, water, fire, and earth shall be transformed to spirit,
and the mud-winged and heavy soul, freed of its flesh,
shall like a flame serene ascend and fade in sun.
This was when there was just a trace of early dawn on the face of the earth, there was no sun. But there was one who magnified himself; Seven Macaw is his name. The sky-earth was already there, but the face of the sun-moon was clouded over. Even so, it is said that his light provided a sign for the people who were flooded. He was like a person of genius in his being.
“I am great. My place is now higher than that of the human work, the human design. I am their sun and I am their light, and I am also their months.
“So be it: my light is great. I am the walkway and I am the foothold of the people, because my eyes are of metal. My teeth just glitter with jewels, and turquoise as well; they stand out blue with stones like the face of the sky.
“And this nose of mine shines white into the distance like the moon. Since my nest is metal, it lights up the face of the earth. When I come forth before my nest, I am like the sun and moon for those who are born in the light, begotten in the light. It must be so, because my face reaches into the distance,” says Seven Macaw.
It is not true that he is the sun, this Seven Macaw, yet he magnifies himself, his wings, his metal. But the scope of his face lies right around his own perch; his face does not reach everywhere beneath the sky. The faces of the sun, moon, and stars are not yet visible, it has not yet dawned.
And so Seven Macaw puffs himself up as the days and the months, though the light of the sun and moon has not yet clarified. He only wished for surpassing greatness.
This was when the flood was worked upon the manikins, woodcarvings.
From: Popol Vuh: the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life
Shamash was the Sun God of ancient Babylon. The prayer that follows is one of the longest and most beautiful of the hymns that have come down to us in cuneiform. I think this would make an awesome invocation, prayer, or meditation to greet the Sun as morning dawns after the longest night of the year (The Winter Solstice).
You climb to the mountains surveying the earth,
You suspend from the heavens the circle of the lands.
You care for all the peoples of the lands,
And everything that Ea, king of the counselors, had created is entrusted to you.
Whatever has breath you shepherd without exception,
You are their keeper in upper and lower regions.
Regularly and without cease you traverse the heavens,
Every day you pass over the broad earth. . . .
Shepherd of that beneath, keeper of that above,
You, Shamash, direct, you are the light of everything.
You never fail to cross the wide expanse of sea,
The depth of which the Igigi know not.
Shamash, your glare reaches down to the abyss
So that monsters of the deep behold your light. . . .
Among all the Igigi there is none who toils but you,
None who is supreme like you in the whole pantheon of gods.
At your rising the gods of the land assemble,
Your fierce glare covers the land.
Of all the lands of varied speech,
You know their plans, you scan their way.
The whole of mankind bows to you,
Shamash, the universe longs for your light. . . .
Every single person is entrusted to your hands;
You manage their omens; that which is perplexing you make plain.
You observe, Shamash, prayer, supplication, and benediction,
Obeisance, kneeling, ritual murmurs, and prostration.
The feeble man calls you from the hollow of his mouth,
The humble, the weak, the afflicted, the poor,
She whose son is captive constantly and unceasingly confronts you.
He whose family is remote, whose city is distant,
The shepherd [amid) the terror of the steppe confronts you,
The herdsman in warfare, the keeper of sheep among enemies.
Shamash, there confronts you the caravan, those journeying in fear,
The travelling merchant, the agent who is carrying capital.
Shamash, there confronts you the fisherman with his net,
The hunter, the bowman who drives the game,
With his bird net the Fowler confronts You.
The prowling thief, the enemy of Shamash,
The marauder along the tracks of the steppe confronts you.
The roving dead, the vagrant soul,
They confront you, Shamash, and you hear all.
You do not obstruct those that confront you. . . .
For my sake, Shamash, do not curse them!
You grant revelations, Shamash, to the families of men,
Your harsh face and fierce light you give to them. . . .
The heavens are not enough as the vessel into which you gaze,
The sum of the lands is inadequate as a seer’s bowl…….
You deliver people surrounded by mighty waves,
In return you receive their pure, clear libations. . . .
They in their reverence laud the mention of you,
And worship your majesty for ever. . . .
Which are the mountains not clothed with your beams?
Which are the regions not warmed by the brightness of your light?
Brightener of gloom, illuminator of darkness,
Dispeller of darkness, illuminator of the broad earth.
Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor
And all blessing.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy
To pronounce your name.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,
And first my lord Brother Sun,
Who brings the day; and light you give to us
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;
In the heavens you have made them, bright
And precious and fair.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all the weather’s moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
so useful, lowly, precious, and pure.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful he is, how joyful!
Full of power and strength.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits and colored flowers and herbs.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon
For love of you; through those who endure
Sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
From whose embrace no mortal can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those She finds doing your will!
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
And serve him with great humility.
by St. Francis of Assisi, Translation from the original Italian