No Dearth of Sun Gods: Germanic Solar Religion

Written by Dyami Millarson

Germanic religion does not have a missing Sun God problem: there is Sól in the North Germanic tradition and Sunna in the West Germanic tradition. There is a host of Old Norse terms for Gods, and three of them particularly stand out for the purpose of studying Germanic solar religion: Tívar, Díar and Álfar. The former two are related to Latin Deī ‘Gods’ and the latter is related to the Latin adjective albus ‘white’ (also see this 2013 thesis which focuses on the Old Norse semantic field of Divinity). Additionally, Deī comes from an Indogermanic root which means ‘heaven.’ Since the meanings of heaven and white are interlinked here in the context of Divinity, a connection of Divinity with (sun)light seems evident. This notion of whiteness and Divinity being connected with (sun)light is also suggested by the relationship of Heimdallr with holiness, the colour white and heaven; I said in my recent article on Heimdallr as a Liminal Deity: “Heimdallr is closely associated with (sun)light and he is called the White God and the whitest of the Gods. This makes sense considering that he is a Týr, one of the Tívar (Sky, Heaven and Light Deities); Heimdallr is considered the most Týr-like due to being the prime example of a White God, Sun God, Lord of Light.”

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