Summer is officially here in the Northern Hemisphere; the summer solstice took place on June 21st, so we are into a new season. And this new season of summer with holidays, long lazy days and sun on the menu it is easy to see why it is everyone’s favourite. Schools and colleges close, things wind down and everyone is uplifted in the summer time and it is all down to that big yellow ball of light in the sky, called the sun. The sun has been venerated for thousands of years and rightly so. It gives us light and heat and brings the planet to life. Plants grow, trees grow, and animals’ biological clocks are managed, simply without the sun, there would be no life on this planet. The sun has huge implications for the planet and ourselves of course. So, it is of no surprise to see how it has been worshipped over the centuries. Indeed, the symbol of the sun was an equal-length cross, representing the four seasons, or the four parts of the solar year; the spring equinox, the summer solstice, the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Many times this equal-length cross was surrounded by a circle to symbolise the sun itself, or the wheel of the year:

The sun has been venerated by cultures the world over and on every continent. The cross has been a universal symbol of the sun by the ancients. It is to no surprise then that when Roman Emperor Constantine (280-337 AD) wanted to unite his empire under one religion (in order to keep the peace), he choose Christianity which at the time was gaining momentum. Constantine seized the opportunity to bring together the old and the new and kept it simple by mirroring the already venerated sun, with the son of God Jesus Christ. The symbolic life and death of Jesus is a reflection of our solar year. As the sun dies in the winter, so too did Jesus die on the ‘cross’, or the cross of the solar year, and in the spring the sun/son returns, or resurrects and brings new life. We see how we have four Christian gospels; the four evangelists of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are representations of the four seasons or the 4 parts of the solar year. In fact, the veneration of the sun is so entangled with our religions, and not only in Christian religions, there are many stories of a man born of a virgin (Virgo the star constellation representing the maiden tied to fertility and agriculture), who dies on a cross and is resurrected on the third day: Osiris, Horus, Buddha, Krishna, Zarathustra, Hercules, Mithra, Dionysus, Thammuz, Hermes, Adonis and all of these were years before the time of Jesus of Nazareth. The significance of the third day has to be understood correctly, it is the 3 days following the winter solstice when the sun seems ‘dead’ because it has not seemed to have moved. it is only on the 3rd day after the solstice of December 21st on the 24th of December that there is a clear vision that the sun is actually rising again on the horizon after the death of winter. Hence the light of the world is born on December 25th. Most Christian symbolism is taken from the sun, and we need to be aware of it and not take things literally. Knowledge is power, and when you are empowered you can come to your own conclusions and not what others tell you to believe. The sun is magic, and all of life depends on it, it is something universal just like what the word ‘Catholic’ actually means universal. But, it does beg the question how much do we really know about this man Jesus Christ? How do we determine truth from fiction? Well that for me is easy. His life may have been symbolic, but his teachings to me make sense, they ring with truth. Who cares if he wasn’t crucified, physically resurrected or born of a virgin on December 25th, the important thing here is to not throw out the baby with the bath water! A guy who thought love must have been on the right path, regardless if that path took him to Golgotha or not. Whatever his true journey was in this life, I hope the sun was smiling down on Him, and that it will smile too on us this summer. Happy holidays.

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