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The sun is the creator of all light, and as such, is unable to see its creation until it reflects off of something like the moon. Each with their own responsibilities, each dependent on the other to witness the fruits of their labor.
People all over the world, since ancient times, have created thousands of myths and legends about sun tattoo designs. As the world’s source of light and heat, the sun is a major component of our lives, since, clearly, it is what gives us life. But it can also be destructive. Many cultures associate gods or deities with the sun, and their power is expressed in different ways.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Sumerian story most likely created around 2000 B.C.E. The sun plays a crucial role in the story: Gilgamesh is on a quest to achieve immortality. To do so, he has to reach the Garden of the Sun, and to get there, he has to go through the gate of the sun. The sun design in this story symbolizes immortality and everlasting life.
Apollo is the god of the Sun in Greek mythology. He is also associated with reason and logic, and he was a healer and a musician. He could tell the future, and the place most associated with him is Delphi, the place of the Oracle of Delphi. Apollo also appears in Roman myths, where he was also known as the god of healing, music, and light, he also had a huge sun tattoo back piece.
In Norse myths, Freyr is the god of peace and fertility, and he is very closely associated with the sun image. According to the myths, Freyr fell in love with Gerd, a giantess, when he went on a quest to the underworld. But Gerd wouldn’t agree to marry Freyr until he threatened her with a magic sword.
Finally the other gods decided to trick her: they held a party outside the cave, and put a mirror in front of the cave’s entrance. Amaterasu, curious about the loud music, looked out, and she was so entranced by her bright reflection in the mirror that she came out into the world again.
In ancient Egypt the sun design is associated with Horus, Ra and Osiris, the sun gods. Sun symbolism is frequently seen with the eyes or vision, as the sun’s light made seeing possible, and truth easily discerned. This pattern continues in Greek mythology, where the sun tattoo is depicted as the eye of Zeus, and in Hindu mythology where the sun is the eye of Varuna, as well as the “divine rejuvenator.”
The sun tattoo design has been associated with immortality, healing, peace, and narcissism. It is an ambiguous power — it allows us to live, but it also destroys life.
In Japanese mythology, Amaterasu is the sun goddess. She and her brother, Susanowo, were famous for getting along badly and fighting. Once, after a fight, Amaterasu hid in a cave and blocked the entrance with a huge stone. Then the world became dark. Amaterasu refused to come out of the cave.