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buber.net > Basque > Astro > On Basque Astronymy: The Mother of the Sun
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On Basque Astronymy: The Mother of the Sun

by M. G. Ramos

Tr: Blas Pedro Uberuaga

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The Mother of the Sun

50. Another detail of great interest, which the cited verses contain, could not pass by us undetected. In them, not only is the sun invoked, but they also speak of a trip to where her mother is. And arises the question: Who is she, where is the mother of the sun?

We return again to call to our aid comparative mythology. In Vedic, dív, dyu `sky' was considered generally as the father, while the earth was the mother and Ushas (dawn) the daughter. (Monier-Williams). According to Macdonell, the conception of the earth as mother and of the sky as father (Sanskrit Dyaus pítar, Greek Zeus páter, Latin Jupiter), dates for what seems from very remote times. Because the idea that the sky and the earth are parents of the universe was not only familiar to Vedic mythology, but also to those of Greece, China, and New Zealand. There remain vestiges in Egyptian mythology as well. (Macdonell) [+].

This idea was the product of the observation that man made that both the sky and the earth are encharged to provide to the alimentation of living beings: the sky in the form of rain and light which fertilizes the earth and the earth with the vegetation that leaves from her bosom. The myth of the conjugal union of the sky and the earth is encountered amplialy diffused among the primitive cultures, and it is believed that it is probably prior to the separation of the Indo-Europeans. In the Vedas, sky and earth are not only called parents but also are invoked as parents of the gods. Also, the dawn ( Ushas) is spoken of incidentally as mother of the sun, for preceding it in its appearance. (Macdonell).

According recounts Herodoto, the Egyptians had laws and customs that, in its majority, were the opposite of those that the rest of humanity observed. This observation could also be applied to their mythology. They personified the sky and the earth, but made the earth the husband and the sky the wife. This anomaly was based on purely grammatical reasons, since in Egyptian the term `sky' pet was feminine and to `earth' masculine. (Frazer).

51. For the primitive Basque, the sun was personified as a woman, whose mother was the earth. In the least, the meaning of the phrase authorizes one to suppose thus. We must not forget that the children recite these verses at sunset, and on saying go to your mother, when the sun is hidden by the horizon, it seems to be an allusion to the Mother earth.

Otherwise, it is necessary to think that the Basques believed at one time in the existence of an underworld, analogous to that which the mythologies of other cultures presents. In that of the Eskimos, for example, arises the curious coincidence that the one who governs is an ancient woman, named Sedna. The Egyptians believed that the sun crossed this underworld during the hours of the night (Encicl. Brit.). On the other hand, in the Vedas there is no direct allusion to the passage of the sun beneath the earth. It is supposed that the belief existed that the sun retraced by night its path, returning to the east, but completely extinguished. (Macdonell).

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