Sun Symbolism Through History – Meaning of the Sun Across Cultures

Our world depends as much on the sun as it does on the water and oxygen that are found within its atmosphere. Throughout history, you will find powerful sun symbolism attesting to this importance. Almost every ancient and modern culture has a common thread regarding sun symbolism: energy, positivity, clarity, power, and many other positive symbols.

As a natural force, there’s hardly anything we can do to control the sun. We are completely at its mercy, and in some cases, it can be a cruel master. Yet, even in cases where the sun seems intent on destroying, like in the deserts, you will find that there’s still life and purpose in what seems like suffering.

sun symbolism through history

One thing is certain: we cannot live without the sun. In fact, without it, our world wouldn’t be what we know it to be today.

Sun Symbolism in the Ancient World

Every prominent culture that has come and gone has had some reverence for the sun. Ancient Egyptians had a sun god named Ra, and so did the Aztecs, the cultures of Mesopotamia and even European cultures in the Middle Ages.

Every single one of these cultures depicted the sun in its own way. We can see these depictions in the art and artifacts they left behind. Sun symbols often have circles, crosses, rays, and discs as their most common themes.

Somewhere along the line, the sun became a symbol of both power and peace. For example, King Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King or Louis the Great, used the sun as his royal symbol. His main aim was to unite and restore peace to his lands.

Sun Symbolism and Various Meanings

Being a powerful force, the sun has been used as a symbol to represent many ideologies throughout history. Here are some of the most common sun symbols and meanings throughout history and today.

morning sun


Without the sun, no living thing would thrive on this planet. Plants need the sun to grow; humans need it for Vitamin D; and animals need it to navigate the world as they try to make a living. It’s, therefore, no surprise that the sun has been used to symbolize life in the past.

It’s simply a life-giving force that sustains all life on Earth. As such, it has been used as a symbol of life, vitality, and energy. It’s also been used as a symbol of hope and renewal. This is easy to understand. The sun goes down every evening and comes up every morning, bringing a new lease of life and hope; as such, it can be closely associated as a symbol of rebirth or resurrection.

Strength and Power

Throughout history, the sun has been closely associated with gods and goddesses. These solar deities were some of the most important to those cultures. In fact, in many cultures, such as ancient Egyptian and ancient Greek cultures, their sun gods were closely associated with war and victory.

The sun’s divinity bleeds over to protection, as the sun was viewed as a protective force that kept evil forces at bay, just as sunlight keeps the darkness of the night away. As such, the sun was typically used as a symbol of security and safety.

The “Solar Plexus Chakra” is one of the most important chakras in our bodies. It represents our inner strength and energy.

Prosperity and Good Luck

Seen as a symbol of good fortune in many ancient cultures, the sun is closely associated with positive emotions. In the Bible, when God was done punishing the world with a flood during Noah’s time, it is said that the sun shone again, symbolizing the end of the flood.


Solar energy has become one of the world’s most popular renewable energy sources. This is especially true in areas where the sun shines most of the day and year.

Perhaps this is why the sun has become closely associated with feeling energetic. Energetic people tend to love life, and they want to live it to the fullest. This is often associated with people who go for hikes, love to be out in nature, and generally have fun in the sun. This lifestyle is upbeat and energetic; for the most part, it is associated with when the sun shines rather than when it snows.


Take a second to think about it: How do you feel when you wake up, see the rising sun, feel its warmth on your skin, and see no clouds in the sky? For most people, it feels like a good day to go and have fun at the beach or “get out there and simply live.”

Imagine waking up to two feet of snow on the ground and a gloomy, windy day with little sunlight. This looks like a day to stay indoors and just spend your time under the covers.

That’s the kind of powerful positivity that the sun brings to this world. We believe it will be a bright and good day whenever it’s sunny.

The kind of positivity brought about by the sun is not just anecdotal. Research shows that those who spend more time in the sun—several hours or even just a few minutes daily—are generally happier.

The sun is such a powerful symbol that those who carry it with them on the part of their bodies, in the form of a necklace, tattoos or even totems, tend to have more positive personalities.


When the day is gloomy, foggy, and cloudy, visibility suffers. As such, the day can be said to lack clarity. This is all fixed as soon as the sun shines through. Sun rays clear out any confusion and visibility issues the clouds might have created. As such, the sun has always been associated with clarity.


For a very long time in ancient times, people used the sun as the guiding light on their journey. Even today, in orientation classes, people are still taught how to use the sun as a guiding light to find the different points of the compass.

Travelers and explorers used the sun to determine which way was east and which way was west in ancient cartography. The sundial is also considered one of the earliest clocks. This means that the sun was used not only as a tool for finding direction but also as a measure of time.

Negative Sun Symbolism

As positive as the sun is and has been throughout history, some negative associations are still tied to this positive force. Here are some negative sun symbols that stand out.

  • Killing force: The sun is often seen as a force for life because its warmth and rays give life to plants and animals and vitamin D. However, in extreme conditions such as droughts or heat waves, the sun’s force can be a killing force that brings disaster.
  • Diseases: In many cases, getting some sun on your skin is a healthy way to live. However, the sun also has UV rays that can give you skin cancer if you remain exposed to them for a long time.

As one of the most important stars in our universe, the sun is an overwhelmingly positive force of nature. This is characterized by the incredible amount of positive sun symbolism that can be found throughout mankind’s history.

The sun symbolisms highlighted here are just a few examples of what the sun means to many people. Like most powerful symbols, the sun can symbolize a number of different things to each individual.

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