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Here Comes the Sun

Even after all this time

The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe Me.” Hafiz



Sunday on Baker Beach started out calm, but the winds picked up. Rapidly. Soon waves were white capping and froth spewing onto the sands. People started pulling on hats and zipping up their puffy jackets, prepared for San Francisco beach life. I’m embarrassed to admit I wondered for the first time, “what is wind?” So I looked it up, and apparently, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Wind is caused by uneven heating of the earth's surface by the sun. Because the earth's surface is made up of different types of land and water, the earth absorbs the sun's heat at different rates.”

 

Of course! The sun causes wind, and about everything else moving and growing and blowing and swimming and flying on planet earth. Increased sunlight triggers plants and algae grow through photosynthesis. Trees pass this energy along to mushroom mycelium, who don’t photosynthesize, but in return provide the tree roots with more nutrients and water. Birds use the position of the sun to navigate. Underwater creatures like sharks and salmon may not be celestial travelers, but they do use the earth’s magnetic field, known as a magnetosphere, to orient themselves. The magnetosphere is a vast field that protects us from solar winds and cosmic rays. But it also creates our rotations, our seasons, our tides, our days and nights.

 

From NASA, Explore: “The invisible lines of the magnetic field travel in a closed, continuous loop, flowing into Earth at the north magnetic pole and out at the south magnetic pole. The solar wind compresses the field’s shape on Earth’s Sun-facing side and stretches it into a long tail on the night-facing side.”

 

It’s all the sun.. No wonder so many once cultures worshipped this fiery orb. The great temples of the Inca in Peru and Maya and Aztec in Mexico were built to honor the sun. In Japan, Amaterasu was the Shinto goddess of the sun. She is the giver of life – and moody, as also associated with typhoons. Sufis whirl the same direction as the planets rotating the sun, building up speed until they transcend their egos. Egyptians believed the sun god Ra traveled across the sky in a solar boat, pulling up the sun and then putting it to rest each day. In the Old Testament, it was primarily Ra against the God of the Israelites.

 

By sheer coincidence, the Hebrew word רָעָה raʿa “evil” is the name of the Egyptian sun god Ra. The Biblical plagues: #8 locusts blotting out the midday sun, #9 darkness (possibly from sandstorm) # 10 death of firstborn at midnight, darkest part of the night were all associated with the sun.


Friends invited to their Passover dinner and I was struck with how familiar the story of Moses was from my Catholic upbringing. The meal progressed through remembrances of the wandering in the desert, the 10 commandments, the reluctant leadership of Moses, the promised land. The men at this Passover wore shawls and caps; everyone knew the songs and prayers in Hebrew – except me and the other gentiles at the table. I wondered why on earth was I taught to have faith in a history that has nothing to do with my ancestry. Moses was wandering the desert about 14th–13th century BC. At this time, my ancestors were Celts in Ireland and my DNA was worshipping trees and salmon and spelunking caves to find the other world dwellers who could explain the mystery of the cosmos.  One of the main Irish Celtic holidays is Beltane Day – which falls on May 1st and marks the beginning of summer, as it’s midway between the spring equinox- when both hemispheres get equal amounts of sunlight,  and summer solstice, when the tilt of the earth is closest to the sun and we have our longest – or shortest day, depending on your hemisphere.

 

In the Irish language, the name for sun is Grainne and she was a goddess of fertility and her association with the sun is one of growth and abundance. But rather than use darkness as a punishment, she embraced it by taking Donn, god of the underworld, as her lover. Áine is also an Irish Celtic sun goddess and guardian of people’s deepest desires. Fires are lit to honor her during Beltane festivals in early May. Along with the sun, she’s considered to also be the goddess of beauty, wealth, love and joy.

 

Monotheism did not bring about war. Violence has always been a part of us. And the Irish have engaged in their share of it.  But what is also true, is that every day we get to witness the marvel that is this windy, hot, dark, stunning, light-filled, rotating, glorious and brutal planet. And something as simple as the beauty of a sunset flushing hues of colors across the sky, or the sun rising each day, can be a reminder that there’s always the potential for joy.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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