The Theosophical Forum – July 1936



The meaning of Sun can be gathered by considering the sun of our solar system. It is the heart of that system, the center whence flows all the life and light. Earth and other planets attend it, like the retinue around the throne, and shine by reflected luster. There is a sun in the human body, generally called the heart, but rather the vital center controlling the heart than the actual muscular sac. Its contraction and expansion accompany the circulation of the life-streams; its slackening means swoon; its stoppage, death. The solar heart of the solar system also pulsates, in a period said to be eleven years — the sunspot period; an analogy about which we shall know more when we have studied better the magnetic and electric phenomena connected with the sun.

The Sun is the Logos of any hierarchy, which manifests itself as seven rays. This can be symbolized by drawing within a circle six smaller circles touching each other and the large circle and forming a sixfold figure, with six circles grouped around a central one. The Sun is the father of the Gods. In mythology we find him represented as Helios and Sol, as Phoebus and Apollo. Sun-worship has always been universal. Ignorant people have supposed that sun-worshipers worship the visible orb of day only; they imagine that the sun is nothing more than a vast globe of incandescent gases, and say that people who worship a globe of incandescent gases must be poor untutored savages. What is really worshiped is the Spiritual Sun, of which the visible sun is but an outer garment; and it is only natural that the Spiritual Sun should be invoked through its outer symbol. The outer ceremonial is made to correspond with the inner meaning; but there would be times when the inner meaning would be forgotten and the worship degenerate into empty form, as may happen in other religions. The Sun is the Divine Light striving to manifest itself in us; its light is reflected from a number of planets, and these may stand for the subordinate phases of our mentality.

The Moon is a complex symbol and it is not practicable to attempt a comprehensive survey of all its meanings. It stands between the Sun and Earth as a reflector of light and life from the former to the latter. If we divide man into Spirit, Soul, and Body, the Moon will stand for Soul — using that term in a wide sense, for the intermediate nature of man, mental, psychic, emotional. The Moon is the imagination. The moon goes through its phases, which are called the light and the dark side of the moon; in one phase it transmits light from sun to earth; in the other it gleams with a light borrowed from earth. So our imagination may reflect the light of the Spiritual Sun or the lower light from the Earth. But our little satellite stands as representative of a far more august divinity — Isis, consort of Osiris, the great Mother, ever-fecund Nature. The Mother of the Gods is the consort of the Father of the Gods. The Great Mother has also been a universal cult. It represents the passive, receptive, fertile, feminine side of the manifested universe — in a word, Nature. This is the highest aspect of the lunar symbolism; but in another and lower aspect it stands for the "lesser light that rules the night." Hence we often find lunar worship, lunar magic, lunar cults, etc., contrasted unfavorably with the solar. Man's personal, passional, emotional nature is sometimes called his lunar self, in contrast with his solar self, the Spiritual Ego. To avoid confusion we must keep in mind this fickle changeful nature of the moon, causing it to have different significations; a clue that may help us to understand several things in our experience. If the Moon is Nature, then, like Nature, she may be anything from the bride of the Spiritual Sun to the womb of terrestrial Nature.

The usual symbol of the Moon is a crescent, which is a duality as compared with the unity of the solar circle. The two aspects of the Moon are denoted in astrology by the ascending and descending nodes, called the Dragon's Head and Tail, or Rahu and Ketu in India; in the first the bulge is upward and the horns down; in the second it is the reverse way. This Dragon represents the emotional side of our nature, which oscillates from high religious exaltation down to great physiological excitement at the other pole.

We have before mentioned the symbol of the planet Mercury as being composed of a circle with a crescent above and a cross below, and this may stand for a threefold representation of human nature, in which the circle or sun is the Heart, the crescent or moon is the psycho-mental nature, and the cross is the physical. But we must not interpret such highly generalized symbols too narrowly, for they have special applications on many different planes. Thus we may take Atma-Buddhi as being symbolized by sun and moon or Osiris and Isis, etc.; or again we may consider the higher triad as solar and the intermediate nature of man as lunar; and again, if Prana is solar, Linga-sarira is lunar. Sun and moon make a duad which is found throughout; and these two, with the cross added, make a triad which is of equally universal application. All this illustrates the importance of symbols as enabling us to sum up ideas too broad and general to be conveyed in any other way; and in interpreting them into word-language, we have to present first one aspect and then another, so that the essential meaning may be intuitively grasped out of the multitude of apparently diverse meanings. These symbols are embalmed in the figurative language of poetical diction and stock phrases; but modern scholarship, in discussing the figurative use of such words as Sun, Heart, Light, and the like, has usually viewed matters from the wrong end and supposed the figurative use to be derived from the concrete use. The Sun which the sun-worshipers venerate is called an idealization of the astronomical sun, and an expression like "the Heart of the Universe" may be regarded as a mere metaphor.

The Sun and Moon are everywhere the active and passive potencies, or we may say the masculine and feminine, the energic and the formative, etc. — it does not much signify, so that we get the right idea. More attention is being paid to the influence of our moon in organic life, and it seems to have special relation to the vegetable kingdom. Some items of folk-lore, once dismissed by science as superstition, are receiving more attention.

The moon in classical symbology was denoted by Hecate, a triple-headed divinity, which indicated a threefold character of the Moon; for the goddess was powerful in the Heaven-world, on earth, and in the underworld. The Moon presides over birth and death, which lead into each other. The reason for the moon being associated with things uncanny and black-magical is that, in her function as goddess of the underworld she presides over the purificatory processes of Nature. Man should not consort with the decaying remnants of creatures which, if let alone, will pass naturally along their appropriate arc in the cycle of evolution.

The Theosophical Forum