The sun from the south, the moon's companion,
her right-hand cast about the heavenly horses.
The sun knew not where she a dwelling had,
the moon knows not what power he possessed,
the stars knew not where they had a station.
Voluspa, Thorpe Translation
Like our previous god of the week, Baldr, there’s certainly an element of heavy fate over Sól’s (also known as Sunna) existence – chased as she is day in, day out by the suneater. Sköll.* Alongside her brother, Mani, Sól is destined to ‘die’ at the coming of Ragnarök after a divine lifetime of driving the sun across the cosmos.
Then said Gangleri: "The sun fares swiftly, and almost as if she were afraid: she could not hasten her course any the more if she feared her destruction." Then Hárr made answer: "It is no marvel that she hastens furiously: close cometh he that seeks her, and she has no escape save to run away." Then said Gangleri: "Who is he that causes her this disquiet?" Hárr replied: "It is two wolves; and he that runs after her is called Skoll; she fears him, and he shall take her…..
Chapter 12 of Gylfaginning
Like other gods in the lore who have a duty that dictates much of their time, we know very little about Sól. After all, she doesn’t venture outside of her star-bound chariot, she goes on no quests, and rarely interacts with other gods. She is the “day star”, daughter of Mundilfari, called “grace shine”, “ever-glow” and “all-bright seen”. Her chariot is pulled by Arvakr and Alsviðr, two horses that do not stop and do not waver.
Sol has an interesting role within heathenry – after all, the sun or those associated with it are so often the centre of worship in other cultures and beliefs. In heathenry, that is not always the case, with a focus seemingly being more gods who appear frequently in the Eddas and are more active in the affairs of us mortals. Sól has a duty and is (if you believe in Ragnarök) burdened with the knowledge that the wolf at her back will one day overwhelm her.
There’s absolutely a sense of mortality with the stories associated with our gods, and even the ones that shine brightest can have their light extinguished. Indeed, alongside Baldr, it seems that those that are called gleaming and day star are often the first to perish. An interesting theme in our lore.
But, on to brighter things! How do you worship Sól, if you do? What does Sól mean to you?
*Interestingly, the Poetic Edda’s Grímnismál has the following verse which seems to suggest that Hati chases the sun instead of Sköll.
39. Skoll is the wolf | that to Ironwood
Follows the glittering god,
And the son of Hrothvitnir, | Hati, awaits
The burning bride of heaven.
(Translated by Bellows, 1936)