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Sun Goddess in Baltic Mythology

Niina is a folklorist and a storyteller who loves to research and explore myths from all around the world.

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Saule the Sun Goddess

The wonderful sun goddess Saule (pronounced "Sow-ley") was the universe's first matriarch and the queen of heaven and earth. She was very well-liked by both Lithuanians and Latvians, who called her their deity. Saule was honored during the Rasa festival, commemorating the summer solstice. It was thought that Saule ruled the globe throughout the summer and diminished as winter drew near. She underwent numerous charms and rituals to bolster her being. Around November 30, Lithuanians started counting down to the sun's return, and celebrations to mark the occasion continued through January 6.

Later, this period of anticipation for Saule's return became known as the Christian advent. Saule was depicted as having golden hair, golden silk clothing, a golden scarf, and a golden crown. Two white horses called Asviniai dragged her chariot as it was raised to the heavens. Saulé has a strong connection to the sea, where it is thought that she rode at the conclusion of her daily voyage and bathed her mounts. Saul spent the night visiting the underworld and embracing her magical side.

Saule was thought to be the mother of the planets because she was the head of the heavenly household. Vaivora (Mercury), Ziazdré (Mars), Indraja (Jupiter), Aurin (Venus), Selija (Saturn), and Zemyna were her daughters (Earth). Some sources claim that tribes from ancient Lithuania gave their planet's names before the Greeks and Romans.

sun-goddess-and-fairies-in-baltic-mythology

Saule interrupts her journey back on December 13 and dances with her daughters. She also performs dances on Rasa and Velykos (Easter, the summer solstice). In some tales, Saule was wed to Menulis (the moon), whom she later divorced due to his adultery with their daughter Austrine. Saule scratched his face out of rage, which is why the moon only presents the earth with one side of him. Saule is also linked to the mythical Kalvis, the blacksmith deity. The sun was supposedly produced by Kalvis and positioned in the heavens.

This narrative is particularly prevalent in Finno-Baltic civilizations and is also found in folktales from Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. The worship of Saule can be traced back to early European goddess religions. Saule was revered as the devoted mother goddess who cherished all people. She was frequently compared to good women. All demons and evil spirits would depart from her presence, allowing people to resume their tasks safe and sound.

Baltic Mythology and Folktales

Home of Saule

According to legend, Saule resided in a mystical heavenly garden in the west. There were a lot of apple trees, and the fruits they produced were covered in gold, silver, and diamonds. Saule was referred to as the golden apple in folk songs. Her emblem in Latvia was a crimson apple that represented the sub. Horses, the mystical serpents known as Altys, white cows, white goats, and birds were her sacred creatures. Her sacred linden tree and daisies and roses were her sacred flowers.

She was also known as Ridolele the Rolling Sun. She is referred to as "ligo" in Latvian songs, where "ligot" means "to sway" and "rota" means "to hop or roll." Burning solar wheels and solar crosses that were built especially for Rasa celebrations served as Saul's insignia. People got up early on the summer solstice morning and congregated outside to witness the first sunbeams. Everyone yearned to watch the sun dancing and the many colours she radiated as she warmed the ground. The Latvian hymn "The sun dancing on the silver hill, wears silver shoes on her feet" depicts these celebrations.

Shepherds particularly revered Saule in Lithuania, who regarded her as their protective goddess and wrote numerous songs and prayers in her honor. Saule was also revered as a woman's defender, especially for single moms, and she was strongly associated with maternity and healing. Saule was a goddess associated with the arts and music who also played the kankles, a traditional instrument resembling a harp. In Latvia, Saule served as a protector for those going through terrible times and for orphaned children.

An image of a kankles, a traditional Lithuanian folk string instrument.

An image of a kankles, a traditional Lithuanian folk string instrument.

According to legends, Saule is wed to three gods: Perkunas, the thunder god, Dievas, and Menulis, the moon. Saule continues to be the independent matriarch of the sky in the end. The concept of a sun goddess is widespread, and many societies, including Finnish, Japanese, Hindu, Scandinavian, Saami, and many Native American tribes, have female sun goddesses. For the people who lived in the ancient world, the sun was essential in making life on earth possible. Saule, who represented the sun, represented life itself in all its splendour for the ancient Balts.

sun-goddess-and-fairies-in-baltic-mythology

Source

Trinkunas, Jonas. (1999). Of Gods & Holidays: The Baltic Heritage. TvermeÌ.