Saule, Goddess of the Dead

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Okay, so here’s something that I’ve been thinking about involving Saule.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about this myth of her that I found (you can see it here) that involves her taking the souls of the dead to the afterlife.

Now, if you don’t know Saule (and unless you’ve read my other posts, there’s no reason that you would or should), she’s a Lithuanian and Latvian goddess of the sun, who drives across the sky mountain on her chariot, pouring sunlight from a jug. And apparently, as she goes driving around, she picks up souls as she goes.

I sort of like this myth, honestly. It’s peaceful to think of the sunlight being responsible for taking away the souls of the dead. It’s also a new angle for me on her, as I’m used to thinking about her as a goddess of living and life. However, in a way this makes complete sense- she watches over the unlucky and over orphans, so it only goes to follow that she’d take care of the people that need her the most- the dead.

(Okay, I don’t actually know that the dead need her more than the living. In fact, most of the time, I’d argue the opposite. However, for the purposes of this post, let’s just assume that they need help getting places too, mmkay?)

There are parallels in her myth itself, too. See, in the morning when she wakes up, she takes her jug of light and goes riding across the earth in her cart, pouring it across the earth. When she reaches the ends of the earth, she stops, bathes her horses, and then takes a boat underneath the earth. While she’s on the boat,  she sleeps. There’s another goddess, Perkunatele, who guides her safely to the other side, where she wakes up and begins again.

If one equates Saule’s sleeping with the concept of death (which I am for this post), that means that her myth involves a constant cycle of dying and being reborn. And consider this: in the myths, the sun itself is remade every morning by Kalvis, the god of the smith.

Birth. Travel. Death. I can see parallels within human life, too. Honestly, sometimes, I think of her less as a sun goddess and more as a goddess that takes care of people and who happens to be in charge of the sun. I suspect that interpretation has more to do with the role she plays in my life, though.

(Note: While I certainly think that she’s a goddess of the dead, she’s not *the* goddess of death. That would be Giltine, who we will definitely discuss, but on a different day.)


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