TThe Sun in the horoscope is the Logos image, the permanent principle living in the individual as a vital impulse.
The mythological attribution of the star to the divinity appears at first sight rather elaborate. There are two representative figures of the solar role in the Greek pantheon: Helios and Apollo.
Helios (Gr. Ἥλιος), related to the Latin Sol and the Sanskrit Sūrya, is considered a minor deity in classical Greece, not part of the twelve Olympic deities. In late antiquity, his role – thanks also to his identification with the solar divinities of the Roman era – acquires greater visibility. Son of the Titans Hyperion (god of light and vigilant attention) and his sister Teia (goddess of sight), Helios becomes the representation of the physical sun. Among his designations and nicknames (sometimes depicted as lesser deities), we remember Elektor (the radiant), Terpsimbrotos (cheering mortals up) and Hekatebolos (from the sharp arrows, regarding the sun’s rays).
Helios is typically depicted as a handsome young man with a crown or halo of sunlight, cruising the sky every day aboard his chariot pulled by four steeds. In addition to being seen as a personification of the solar disk, Helios represents the creative power inherent in the 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 the god of archery, music, dance, prophecy, healing and disease, protector of shepherds and flocks, dedicated to caring of youth: a god with different responsibilities. In Homeric literature, Apollo is also the bearer of plagues sent to humanity with arrows shot from his bow. In the late 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 – from Greek 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 mythological narratives, Apollo and Helios appear distinct.
In late antiquity, in that period of transition between classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages, Helios assumed traits and elements of other divinities. In 274 AD, on 25 December, the emperor Aurelian instituted the Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) cult, which collects aspects of other deities such as Mithras and Harpocrates, the Hellenic representation of the god Horus. With Julian, the last pagan emperor, we witness the apotheosis of the figure of Helios, who becomes the primary divinity. Julian, philosopher emperor and author of texts in Greek, combines elements of Mithraism with Neoplatonic doctrines, and Helios seems to be the expression of a trinity: the One, who rules the realm of Platonic forms; Helios-Mitra, the god of the intellectual realm; and the Sun, the Helios’ manifestation on the physical plane. As a centralising expression of this trinity, Helios is the Logos, the divine word.
In this tripartition, we can see the association created between the figures of Apollo and Helios. The pure potential of manifestation is revealed as energy and matter, from whose subsequent hierogamy, or attraction, the plane of forms is born. With the introduction of the fourth term, which is like an immanent replica of the transcendent One, we clarify the twofold attribution of the Sun, of which Helios represents the physical vehicle – the chariot of the Sun driven by him in his daily run – while Apollo preserves his spiritual traits. In a broader sense, we can assume that some of Apollo’s qualities are as expressions of the vivifying solar energy, the harmonisation of which in the individual is a source of health (Apollo the healer), while in the event of conflicts, the disease breaks out (Apollo carrier of pestilence). So it is also for his beauty, youth patronage, etc. Everything in him reveals the central role of the sun, but as if hidden by appearances. It is the hidden Sun, the Sun behind the sun.
In the Latinisation of the cult, Helios appears associated with the bull-god Mithras. Mithraic mysteries were significantly followed in the Roman Empire, starting with Christianity and up to the 4th century AD. Such rites have always made it difficult for 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 is a succession of states leading the novice to overcome the Taurus nature in the animal sense, up to their integration on the throne of the Eagle. It is the final elevation and liberation from the domination of nature subservient to the instincts; the “bellow” resounding from the officiant’s throat is proof of the bull’s yoke. We find a sign of this struggle in the astrological symbolism of Taurus and Scorpio: when the poisonous tail of Scorpio pierces the nature of Taurus – the opposite sign – the bond with earthly density melts, and Scorpio becomes Eagle. It resolves the dualistic contradiction between spirit and matter by announcing its liberation from constraints.
Some consider the Sun-Mithra association a gloss inserted erroneously by some scribes. 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, the “centre”. But the contradiction is only apparent because if the aim is to assume the central role of the Sun, the meaning of the double attribution becomes clear again: Mithra resolves the Sun by making the human microcosm, through the regained centre of itself, become an exact semblance of the macrocosm: the central star, with its procession of planets, becomes a visible image of this reconciliation.
The solar symbolism
Attempting to distinguish between the Sun as a vital node of the individual and the planes of the horizon and meridian, which form the incarnation cross from the terrestrial point of view, is not easy. However, these are two different reference systems comprising human individuality. The axes of the horoscope chart represent the architecture of the field of consciousness, that is, the form through which consciousness expresses itself. The intersection point of the axes is the Primum Mobile (first moved), an immaterial point, the potential for individual manifestation that unfolds through the axes. All this would be nothing without the solar presence, from whose light (where the eye is its somatic expression) emanates the energy of life and vision, the self. The ego represents its individualising stage in the earthly incarnation.
However, we must understand that the Sun is only the image of the Logos, the permanent principle of which the individual is a transitory 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 (domification) exhibits the modes of earthly representation of the solar principle, that is, how and in what form the essence completes in individual life. We could call it the primary destiny.
The presence of the Sun in the sign quantitatively characterises the gradient of solar energy 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. This fact is evident 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 the extremes, where the symbolic expression of the solar principle touches the greatest strength and weakness. This will affect the individuals’ social manifestations, which will be limited with proximity to the poles and then achieve greater expressiveness in 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 bond will later express itself as the true nature of human beings, the keynote of their life cycle. The whole meaning will, of course, be revealed by the combination of planetary and zodiacal configurations. However, the sun sign is the underlying motif, the plot where to weave the themes of one’s life.