The Sun Goddess (in both Balkan and Slavic cultures) has a far more ancient symbolic meaning, than what is used in today’s rituals of the recent pagan past. In the past several thousand years her symbol evolved to be regarded as a “star” and this is a relatively recent concept. Prior to the evolution of astronomy, astrology, science and religion, the eight pointed star (associated with the Sun Goddess and Goddesses like Ishtar, Tanit and some older archaic goddesses) it represented the Midnight Sun of the Winter Solstice here on earth, not in the sky and that is the most important of all.
This star can be seen in the symbolism of folk ritual, folk art, rich textiles, pysanky eggs and sacred art of both the Slavs and the Balkan people. One later example is the early Medieval Slavic Moravia Magna (Moravian Empire) and it’s 8 pointed Vesna symbol which looks like a “flower”. Vesna is the Goddess of life, beauty, love and the spring and asscociated with the Goddess Lada.
Because the earth was woman’s only focus prior to men’s teachings (paganism and religion) the symbols and images belonging to woman’s prehistory were actually quite different and in many ways an opposition of what we have today in the meanings of symbols. If we release the associations created through these dominant teachings of the Sun Cults (which began to around 2,200 bce) we can begin to see the symbols come alive and express a more healing and magical meaning, which came forth from women weaving connectedness to the immediate surroundings and to accepting the dark winters without rushing to bring any light forth ahead of spring. In these ways we were accepting of the dark night and the time of silence. We were accepting to go inward and enter the night forest of mother earth and to heal the deepest during this time.
If we look at the Rozhy as a sacred symbol, which emerged from ancient earth-focused artists (who were generally the healers and enactors of rituals and leadership) we can see that the eight-pointed Ruzha (ружа) is not a “star” but a “flower”. The Rozhy (mallow flowers) are so often similar to the eight-pointed star motif that during the shift from feminine to masculine-dominated teachings to see everything linear, the flower took on the connotation of the solar god and began to be regarded as a representation of the sun itself. Today this symbol still represents the feminine, and woman’s sensitivities of the beauty of nurturing, and symbolizes love and caring for others. The Sun Goddess’s symbol, which retains both the meaning of the “Sun” and “Flower” allows us to trace its origin to the archaic symbol of the “Fire Flower.”
One of the most beautiful symbols of the Winter Solstice (which remains passed down from a direct lineages of the Matriarchal structures) is the 8 pointed Midnight Sun (or Fire Flower) that is carried atop a ritual staff by Ukrainian carolers at Christmas. Long ago shamanic ritual and Fire Dances would have accompanied these singers in their solstice celebration. The names of the Mallow flower (which is representative of the Fire Flower) in various Slavic and Balkan countries are:
Bulgarian: Горски слез (Gorski slez)
Czech: Sléz lesní
Croatian: Sljez crni, Sljez divlji
Georgian: ბალბა (Balba)
Macedonian: црн слез
Polish: Ślaz dziki
Romanian: Nalba de culturä, nalba de padure
Serbian: Crni slez
Slovak: Slez lesný
Slovene: Gozdni slezenovec
Ukrainian: Мальва лісова
In China, the mallow flower is called the “power of magic” for its abilities to ward off shadows and shadow-natured humans who walk between the worlds. A similar reference is found in Polish mythology which mentions Fire Flowers in much of their folklore. The ritual of the Vesta is a distinct Fire Flower rite and is a shamanic ritual in origin. The rite of the Fire Flower wasn’t a game or a celebration, but a real shamanic initiation which could last five to twenty years.
In today’s pagan ritual its said that to find the Fire Flower the seeker must enter a forest before midnight on the Eve of Kupala of the Summer Solstice. Blooming precisely at midnight, the brightness of the flower is so brilliant that no person can look at it directly. The reference of both “Flower” and “Midnight” in these stories also connect to the observance of the solstices.
For this powerful flower to be harvested, a circle had to be drawn around it. The seeker would encounter demons who would try to distract or prevent him/her from completing this task. It was said that if you answered the voices, or faltered during the task the cost would be your life. Anyone who succeeded in possessing this flower gained the ability to repel all evils. Thus, within the folklore of this Fire Flower lies the symbolism of the spiritual tests of the Shamans from these regions.
Midnight Sun symbolism of the Winter Dark Goddess
The ancients like myself as a shaman recognize two seasons: Summer and Winter and when one tries to relearn alignment with the celebration of these two seasons of earth, rather than the four we have come to regard as wholeness, one begins to be in rhythm with the rhythms of their emotional body as the earth herself does. These two-halves of the (whole) year are divided into two :
FIRE (spring-summer / solstice) Light half of the year from Spring to Autumn
NIGHT (autumn-winter / solstice) Night half of the year from Autumn to Spring
These two halves of the year are marked by the solstices and correlate with the north and south axis of Earth. These axis are the gates where dreamers, dream walkers, and soul bodied astral traveling shamans and humans exited and entered the mystical veils of earth (not off earth, like the new 4,000 year teachings of star lore wishes you to believe). Once the pyramids were built on earth, these were to disrupt magnetic energy and slowly eradicate your dreaming and this ability through the magnetics of your emotional body and soul.
The demarcation of two halves of the year is one of the main differences between prehistory dreaming rituals and tribes and the rituals that have taken their place in the the past 4,000 years. This resulted in the loss of our connection to our dreamer and night dreams as real and powerful which our astral body crosses back and forth. Woman’s prehistory rites and rituals, link directly to the power of dreaming itself and these celebrations involving the Spring and Autumn Equinox seasons are actually intended for our ordinary and mundane life of the waking world and not for the in-between worlds of the shaman, dreamers or mystics.
Many pagans who observe Halloween and Samhain celebrations would find this odd because (due to the rising power of the men of both Paganism and the Religious Sun cults) much significance has been placed on observing the Equinox and Religions over-took the Solstices and changed them to the mundane world. Nonetheless, the Spring and Autumn Equinox celebrations are important and mark significant turning points in the year, but not the spiritual in-between the worlds’ year.
Another important facet of the Midnight Sun (or reverse sun sometimes called the second sun (core magma of the earth’s center) is its role as symbol of the feminine power of the internal fire and nature’s core of fire. Connected with the archaic Goddess figures of Marzanna and even how she rolled into the Black Madonna, this symbol can be traced back to the lineages of the shaman or cave grandmothers era’s of earth.
The Midnight Sun or Central Sun as some new age groups call it, it is the fire in the belly of the Mother Earth (which is fire). One of the ways to reconnect to the root of Woman’s prehistoric teachings (which have been both lost, destroyed and corrupted) is to reclaim a path of the Powerful Self which is our inner Fire. To do this requires both a healing journey, and a purification process involving working towards the unification of both perception (emotion / souls) and perspective (mind / beliefs) when living our mundane and creative life.
Like most cultures, celebrations which contain vestiges of the original Solstice rituals have changed. Many of the Singing Carolers of Ukraine carry images and amulets of the Svarha (сварга) or Swastika during the Winter Solstice. But before pagan eras, this symbol denoted the movement of Ursa Major across the heavens and the four seasons in symbol form were the four spinning arms of transformation. As Pagan and then the Sun Cults (religions) came into power the symbol began to represent the Sun’s travel across the sky. In Slavic culture this symbol represented the Midnight Sun of the Dark Goddess (like Marzanna) of the winter and would then in later eras symbolized Dazhboh, a benevolent Sun God, in the Summer.
When i look at modern pagans today of both Slavic and Balkan countries, I see a lot of war loving viking imagery and associations and male dominance in the leadership, I see the same in men’s religions. If women are to heal themselves and work with their soul, they must begin to find a way to incorporate the more personal meanings of the moon, the sun, nature and personal ritual that weaves them together, both with intentions of health and letting go of what no longer serves their spiritual paths.
When the complex multi-spoke designs of the “Star” of Christmas became popularized, the rites of the women and grandmothers were eventually conferred to rituals enacted by children. By the 17th century the star lost most of its reference to its previous symbolic meaning and women were no longer allowed to participate in many of the solstice traditions.
The creation of amulets or star symbols, once used in the shamanic rites of women to protect their villages from shadows, were ultimately demoted to a child’s craft activity of Christmas folk art at local museums or schools. But this will change as more and more Slavic pagans return to their origins peacefully again.
So what is the Midnight Sun?
It is the path of the dreamers, when night is all the time and the Sun goes dormant and regenerates and all the planets go dormant (winter cycle). Or what spiritual people and science calls, the Pole Shift. Science still thinks a star dies in the universe… couldn’t be more far from the truth, for nature is perfect, not humans and everything has its life cycle and rebirth… the other thing science was wrong about is that energy can be destroyed… it can.
Sources: Fire Потерчата, 1963, Polish traditional stars, The coloring in Ukrainian by Puzyrna Galyna; Ukraine Illustrator Vera Pavlova; Illustration by Nadia Starovoitova; Verteps parade in Lviv, Ukraine. All photos and images belong to their rightful owners and shared for women’s dreaming educational purposes only. Writing by Phoenix, Edited by Burnt Stone.