Phanes: Illuminating Compassion and the Awakening of Empathy

Phanes, an intriguing and multifaceted symbol, holds deep significance in mythology and psychological interpretations. Let us delve into the rich tapestry of its symbolism and unravel its profound meaning for awakening compassion.

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Symbolism of the Sun God: A Catalyst for Spiritual Awakening

In the mesmerizing painting above, we are captivated by the depiction of Surya, the sun god, from the 19th century. Seated on his chariot led by a horse with seven heads, Surya exudes an aura of majestic power and divine radiance. This imagery carries profound symbolism, inviting us to explore the significance of the sun god as a catalyst for spiritual awakening and the integration of cosmic and psychic aspects of life.

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Symbolism of Ra: Personification of the Vital Force

Ra is an Egyptian deity (2494 to 2345 BC). His name is thought to mean ‘creative power’ and ‘creator’. If we examine the image of the Sun God Ra we can see archetypal images associated with the vital forces: the hawk, a snake coiled around a (sun) disk, and the scepter. Notice also the Anuk, a union of a female symbol (the oval, representing the vagina or uterus) with a male symbol (the phallic upright line).

Both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung speak of ‘libidinal’ forces arising from the depths of the psyche. Libidinal forces are the psychic and emotional energy associated with instinctual drives. Freud says, “the deepest strata of our mind [are] made up of instinctual impulses”(1914-1916). Sigmund Freud saw these impulses as are our desires, and most specifically our sexual desires.

Carl Jung noticed that the ‘vital forces’ are often associated with the God image, and are essential to the Self. Jung says: “If one honors God, the sun or the fire, then one honors one’s own vital force, the libido.” He adds: It is as Seneca says: ‘ God is near you, he is with you, in you.’ God is our own longing to which we pay divine honors.” (1916)


1. Sigmund Freud SE XIV, Our Attitude Towards Death ((1914-1916)

2. Carl Jung (1916) Psychology of the Unconscious