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  • Writer's pictureHeathens of Yorkshire

Deity of the Month - Sunna

-by Dan Coultas

June is the month in which we mark the summer solstice, and despite a rather wet first few weeks I thought it would be a fitting time to discuss Sunna.

Sunna by The Saxon Storyteller. (c) 2019 Heathens of Yorkshire.

Also known as Sol, Sunna is the personification of the Sun. She is the sister of Mani, the personification of the Moon, and is also the daughter of Mundilfari. She rides her chariot drawn by her two horses, Arvakr and Alsviðr across the sky, constantly pursued by Sköll, a wolf who will eventually catch and kill her at Ragnarok. After this, it is foretold that her daughter will continue her legacy.

The worship of the sun is one of the oldest known religious practices in the world, and almost all pagan pantheons have a sun deity. Artifacts showing the worship of the sun God Re in Egypt have been found dating back to at least 1300BCE, and he occupied a very high position in the pantheon[1]. The alignment of Neolithic sites in Europe to solar events also suggests that the sun was important in their spiritual practices. Bronze age artifacts have also been found showing the worship of the sun in Scandinavia[2]. In many cultures the sun and moon are said to be related, either as siblings, parent and child or partners.

Sunna is mentioned frequently in the Eddas and sagas. The Prose Edda lists her amongst the Goddesses, and also lists her kennings as "daughter of Mundilfæri", "sister of Máni", "wife of Glen", "fire of sky and air", "day-star", "disc", "ever-glow", "all-bright seen", "fair-wheel", "grace-shine", "Dvalinn's toy", "elf-disc", "doubt-disc", and "ruddy".[3]

In modern Heathenry Sunna is worshipped as a Goddess associated with the seasons (particularly summer) and the provision of life force. She is honoured at the summer solstice when the sun is highest in the sky and the days are long, but is also invoked at Yule, when we long for her return during the cold winter nights.

[1] [2] Sandars, Nancy K., Prehistoric Art in Europe, Penguin (Pelican, now Yale, History of Art), 1968 (nb 1st edn.)

[3] Faulkes, Anthony (Trans.) (1995). Edda. Everyman.

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