The Aztecs, who lived in Mexico for a few thousand years before the Spanish arrival, were known to play a ball game a bit like volleyball but with no net. The ball represented the path of the sun or moon as it was battered back by each of the opponents using hips, knees and elbows. Points could be attained by hitting discs along the court and the game won by sinking the four-kilogram rubber ball through a small ring in the centre. The game was often used to settle disputes and was played in front of the high priests in long alley like stadiums. The losers were often sacrificed to the Sun God.
I like this. Not the discriminate sacrifice of young able-bodied Aztecs, but the concept of a religion based upon sun worship. It seems to me that the Aztecs were right – the sun truly is God. Here are some reasons why it makes sense that the sun be The God, or at least a God, for us all to worship.
Firstly, you can see the sun. It is there each day. Rising every morning to remind you of its existence and setting each evening with blistering beauty just for show. It is one of the few Gods of the human experience that one can actually see. Its presence is not beyond the realms of our senses, and its existence is not reduced to faith.
Of course if one can see The Sun and it also has the other elements of a God, then surely it must join the pantheon of Gods resting beside Buddha, Jesus, Allah and Zeus in Mount Olympus.
The Sun gives us light. Let there be light one God had commanded early in the Genesis of the Universe. The Sun gives light of its own accord without the need for an order. It is a huge blob of nuclear fusion hanging in space, giving off indescribable amounts of energy and heat to the solar system and to our humble earth. Heating it like a warming fire and keeping it alive and protected from the deadly cold of space.
Humanities first great invention was fire. It was probably the key to the great human migration and our early evolution as a species. Yet fire was just energy – a microcosm of the sun’s great heat. We were trying to replicate the sun in a small way, trying to copy our God in the heavens above in order to keep us warm and keep the darkness at bay on the ground below.
Our day, our time of work, is defined by the sun. From sunrise to sunset we act as humans – creating, building and working. And when the sun disappears, we sleep, rejuvenating our bodies for the return of the sun.
Without the sun there is no life. No plants, no animals, no trees, nothing in the seas, nothing in the air, nothing. Life needs heat and energy and light – all of which come from the mighty sun. The Sun is life!
The Sun is sublime. Its beauty transcends that of the earth. It is beyond it, from the universe looking down. It is a star, but even more special than all the other stars in the universe, for it is the only star that gave life. The earth helped, providing the right soil for the seed to grow, but the sun pulled it in to orbit and pelted it with energy and light until like magic, our world started to grow, and grew it did, from a seedling to a untamed forest.
I saw a sunset last evening that was a sensation to behold. The sun hung over the vast ocean like a golden Chinese lantern. Colours exploded from all sides – an amber hue covering a ghostly pink and then a gentle velvet blue slipped into the sea. Deep red and ethereal orange appeared from the intense spot of energy that had created this masterpiece; this wonder for all to see.
As I sat in my chair upon the beach and looked out at the majestical sunset, I thought of God. This must truly be God. Everywhere I looked there were others like me, sitting or lying, and looking out at the sun and the colours it had made across the sky. I realised then that we were all paying homage – homage to the Sun. A ritual practiced all over the world as people head to cliffs and beaches, or just look out from their homes as the sun sets for another day.
To watch a sunset perched atop a rock is to touch God. And we can all reach and touch as humans have done since the dawn of time. It’s easy to see why the Mayans and Aztecs had seen God in that Sun.
The Sun is everything. Our light, life, energy and heat, and it should be our God. Each day we are reminded of its eternal presence. Not forced to pray and make homage, just subtly reminded of its beauty and power – of its impact upon our existence and its necessity for creation. It doesn’t judge, it doesn’t deceive, it doesn’t hate, it doesn’t hide in mysterious places – it sits atop the world, outside the heavens and the earth – and fills it with life and energy and reminds us all of its transcendental beauty.
A truly great God would give itself entirely to the life it created. The sun will burn on until it burns itself out, and with it, all the life we have ever known – For the Sun is Life and Life the Sun.
I look up now and see the hot sun burning down. I salute you Lord Sun and give myself to you – A sun worshiper like the Aztecs of the past, which reminds me that I better find someone to sacrifice to this Sun God. To remind it to keep burning bright for me; to tell it that I am here and listening, that I am faithful to the cause and have committed myself to it. A true God like the Sun wouldn’t care. It’s not egotistical and doesn’t require worship. It is going to burn on for burning on sake – for life, for all – and the worship or failure of a little man like me won’t change that.
Still I really ought to sacrifice somebody…
How about a game of that Aztec ball game? We all play. The loser gets sacrificed. Funnily enough, archeologists and historians are unsure if it was the losing side or the winners of that ancient ball game that were actually sacrificed. Apparently it was a great honour to be sacrificed to the Sun God. The greatest honour an Aztec could have.
No one seems particularly keen to be sacrificed, so I’ll just write a little tribute to the sun instead.
To The Sun – Keep smiling upon the earth. Keep shining your great light. Keep burning yourself to warm us. Keep sending forth your energy to keep us living. You created life and you are our life.