The Sun in the horoscope is the Logos image, the permanent principle manifesting itself in the individual as a vital drive.
The mythological attribution of the star to the divinity appears at first sight rather elaborate. In the Greek pantheon, there are two representative figures of the solar role: Elios and Apollo.
Elios (Gr. ἥλιος), related to the Latin Sol and the Sanskrit Sūrya, is considered a minor divinity in classical Greece, not part of the twelve Olympic divinities; in late antiquity, its role, thanks also to the identification with the solar gods of the Roman period, acquires greater visibility. Son of the Titans Hyperion (god of light and vigilant attention) and his sister Teia (goddess of sight), Elios becomes the representation of the physical sun. Among his designations and nicknames (sometimes depicted as minor deities), we bear in mind Elektor (the radiant), Terpsimbrotos (who cheers mortals up) and Hekatebolos (from the sharp arrows, regarding the sun’s rays).
Elios is typically portrayed as a handsome young man crowned by a crown or a halo of sunlight, who travels the sky daily on board his chariot pulled by four steeds. In addition to being seen as a personification of the solar disk, Elios represents the creative power inherent in his physical manifestation, the source of life and renewal.
But let’s get to the conflict of attributions. Apollo, Olympian divinity – being the son of Zeus and Leto – is mainly recognised as a god of archery, music, dance, prophecy, healing and disease, protector of shepherds and flocks, devoted to the care of youth: a god with various acknowledgements. In Homeric literature, Apollo is also a carrier of plagues sent to humanity with arrows shot from his bow. In the later Hellenistic period, in the cult and philosophical texts, his identification – as the god of light – with the Sun begins to take hold through the cult of Phoebus – Gr. Φοῖβος, brilliant – one of the epithets of Apollo. Even the poets of Latin classicism begin to use Phoebus as the nickname of the god Sol. But it must be said that, in most of the mythological narratives, Apollo and Elios appear distinct, if not for the shared feature of their nickname.
It is in late antiquity, in that period of transition between classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages, that Elios begins to take on features and elements of other divinities. In 274 AD, on 25 December, the emperor Aurelian establishes the cult of the Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun), which collects aspects from other deities such as Mithras and Harpocrates, the Hellenic representation of the god Horus. But it is with Julian, the last pagan emperor, that we witness the apotheosis of the figure of Elios, who becomes the primary divinity. Julian, philosopher emperor and author of texts in Greek, combines elements of Mithraism with Neoplatonic doctrines, and Elios appears to be the expression of a trinity: the One, who rules the realm of Platonic forms; Elios-Mitra, the god of the intellectual realm; and the Sun, the Elios’ manifestation on the physical plane. As a centralising expression of this trinity, Elios is – in a Christic sense – the Logos, the divine word.
In the Latinisation of the cult, Elios appears associated with the bull-god Mithras; Mithraic mysteries were significantly followed in the Roman Empire, starting from Christianity and up to the fourth century AD. The characteristic of the rites has always made it challenging to open up an accurate understanding of Mithraism, which in the past was associated with pre-existing Iranian cults. The thesis accepted today that the Mithraic mysteries have a character of relative originality offers an explanation that is only apparently more satisfactory. The Mithraic cult reveals itself as a succession of states leading the initiate to overcome the taurine nature in the animal sense, up to their integration on the Eagle’s throne. It is the final elevation and liberation from the domination of nature subservient to the instincts, and the ‘bellow’ resounding from the officiant’s throat is evidence of the bull’s yoking. We find a sign of this uphill struggle in the astrology symbolisms of Taurus and Scorpio: when the taurine nature is ‘pricked’ by the poisonous tail of Scorpio, the opposite sign, the link with the earthly density melts and Scorpio becomes Eagle. It solves the dualistic contradiction between spirit and matter by announcing its liberation from constraints.
Some consider the Sun-Mithra association to be a gloss erroneously inserted by some amanuensis. The initiate of Mithra is, in fact, the one who ‘defeats’ the Sun, who challenges him face to face until he integrates it into himself, becoming, in turn, a ‘centre’. But the contradiction is only apparent because if the purpose is to assume the central role of the Sun, the meaning of the double attribution becomes clear again: Mithra ‘resolves’ the Sun by ensuring that the human microcosm, through the centre of itself reconquered, becomes an exact semblance of the macrocosm: the central star, with its procession of planets, becomes a visible image of this reconciliation.
The solar symbolism
The attempt to establish a distinction between the Sun as a vital node of the individual and the planes of horizon and meridian, which configure the incarnation cross from the terrestrial perspective, is not easy. These are two different reference systems that, nonetheless, both form human individuality. The axes of the horoscope chart depict the architecture of the field of consciousness, that is, the form through which consciousness expresses itself. The point of intersection of the axes is the Primum Mobile (first moved), the immaterial dot, which is the potential for individual manifestation that unfolds through the axes. All this would be an empty box without the solar presence, from whose ‘light’ (where the eye is its somatic expression) emanates the energy that is life and vision, the self. The ego represents its individualising phase in the earthly incarnation. Yet, we must understand that the Sun is only the image of the Logos, the permanent principle of which the individual is a transient manifestation. The Sun, therefore, represents the Logos as the vital principle of the individual self, which in turn manifests itself in the architecture provided by the incarnation cross. The topocentric position of the Sun in this architecture (the domification) exhibits the modes of earthly representation of the solar principle: in what way and in what form the essence completes into individual life. We could call it the primary destiny.
The presence of the Sun in the sign quantitatively characterises the solar energy gradient defined by the inclination of the Earth’s rotation axis on the orbital plane – the seasonal alternation. It brings about the consequent greater or lesser influx of energy and light in the different periods of the year. It is especially true for the latitudes of the temperate belt, where we have the widest variety and regularity of climatic conditions. On the contrary, the equator and poles represent extremes, where the solar principle’s symbolic expression touches the maximum strength and weakness. All of this will affect the individual, their social and spiritual expressions, which will gradually hide with the proximity to the poles, and then reach greater expressiveness in the tropical areas.
Referring to the individual nature, we will read the solar gradient as an imprint given by the synchronisation of the unborn child with the surrounding seasonal environment. This analogical appearance will be subsequently expressed as the real nature of being, the fundamental note of its life cycle. The complete meaning will naturally be revealed by the set of planetary and zodiacal configurations. Still, the sun sign is the underlying motif, the plot where to weave one’s life themes.