The thundering sun god drove his chariots
over the tops of the clouds
and lightning flashed from the chariot wheel.


2000 – 1500 BC.
Wheel hangers (4, 6, and 12 spokes), Zurich, Switzerland
The disk of the sun was considered a wheel; hence the myth that the sun god rides across the sky in a chariot.
(Photo © National Museum, Switzerland)

1700 BC.
Rock carving, Brastad, Sweden.
The 6-spokes sun symbol is attached, along with another cosmological object, to two ships being moved through the sky by a deity. All in all, there are 6 ships on the Backa petroglyph, all aligned NE-SW, meaning that they sail from sunrise at SummerSolstice to sunset at WinterSolstice. The large ship in the middle is manned by 36 people. The number of ships and the number of sailors seem to be another manifestation of the application of the sexagesimal system in this rock engraving.
There may be a possible connection between the sun, the spokes figures and death. The clustering of images around the entrance to a cave at the site may explain that the location was interpreted as an opening to another world, such as the underworld, spirit world or realm of the ancestors. Therefore, there seems to be a connection between the sun symbol, death and a portal between different worlds.

1000 BC.
Gold urn (calendar) from Mjövik, Sweden.
The sun, or sun god, is in the centre and with six radial spokes or sun rays going out to every second sun symbol along the edge, making a calendar-sun wheel of 6 segments of 60 days (2 solar and moon cycles) that is a year of 360 days (not including leap years). This is a manifestation of the Sumerian-Babylonian sexagesimal system. The year consists of 12 solar and 12 lunar months (with an irregular position in the six segments of 60 days).
(Photo © Historical Museum Sweden)

Already before the Celtic period, during the bronze age in Europe, the wheel was regarded as a sun symbol. Slowly, through different wind directions, the thunder god was born, with the wheel and lightning as the most important symbol. In Western Europe, Taranis was worshipped as the thunder god. Rome introduced its Jupiter worship. Eastern Europe worshipped Rod, later Perun.

2d – 1st c. BC.
Votive ‘Taranis’ wheels
of the Remi tribe in Celtic Belgae
from Nanteuil-Sur-Aisne
Votive wheels were found in sacred Celtic cemeteries.
Musée d’achéologie nationale, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
(Photo © unknown)

ca. 45 – 40 BC.
Golden stater
of the Trinovantes tribe in Celtic Britain
Abstracted head of Apollo on the right. Romanticised horse rearing to right, wheel with six spokes below.
Philip Ashton Collection

ca. 60 BC.
Silver stater
from the Treveri tribe in Gaul
From Trier
(Photo © unknown)

Dating unknown, 1st – 4th c. AD.
Fragment of bronze votive wheel and eagle’s wing.
from Icklingham, Suffolk, England
Ashmolean Museum, England

4th c. BC.
Votive wheel, England
Similarity to a spindle whorl, see chapter Spinwheel
(Photo © Catawiki)

3 – 1st c. BC
Tin-lead alloy spoked-wheel amulet, England
(Photo © Catawiki)

500 BC. – 100 AD.
Bronze statue ‘Celtic thunder god Taranis with wheel and lightning bolt’.
He is also called the wheel god, because of the attributes with which he is always depicted: the sun wheel and the flash of lightning that accompanies thunder. Taranis means ‘thunderer’ and the word ‘taran’ still means thunder in modern Welsh and Breton.
(Photo © National Archaeological Museum, France)

Date unknown, 1st – 4th c. AD.
Bronze attachment
Decorated with figures of Taranis with lightning, 6-spokes wheel, eagle, bull with 3 horns and dolphin (symbolising the underworld).
University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge

3th -1st c. BC.
Silver cauldron
From Gundestrup, Denmark
Probably made in the Balkans, with Celtic and Thracian influences
National Museum of Denmark
(Photo © World History Archive)

Fragment of cauldron from Gundestrup.
Picture of Taranis with broken wheel.

Fragment of cauldron from Gundestrup.
Representation of a goddess with an elephant and a griffin on either side and the Germ of Life.

Fragment of cauldron from Gundestrup.
Image of Cernunos holding a torque and snake, surrounded by various animals.

2350 – 2000 BC.
The Pashupati seal (Lord of Animals) from the Indus Valley civilisation bears a remarkable resemblance to the antler figure.
See also chapter Sunwheel

1st c. AD.
Silver coin, from Hampshire, England.
Image of Cernunos’ head and a ladder with a sun symbol between his antlers.
National Museum of Wales, England.
(Photo © unknown)

Dating unknown, 1st – 4th c. AD.
Stone image of Taranis with wheel
From Netherby, England
Tullie House Museum, Carlisle, England
(Photo © Tullie House Museum)

Dating unknown, 1st – 4th c. AD.
Stone column
Image of Taranis with wheel
From Roman Gaul.
Alsace, France
(Photo © unknown)

Dating unknown, 1st – 4th c. AD.
Stone altar
The wheel – a prominent symbol for the native Taranis and/or (introduced by Rome) Jupiter, the god of thunder.
Musée d’Archéologie, Nîmes, France
(Photo © Ralph Haeussler)

Dating unknown, 1st – 4th c. AD.
Stone altar to the ‘wheel-thunder-god’ Taranis/Jupiter
Southern Gaul (Roman period), Vaison-la-Romaine
Musée d’Archéologie, Nîmes, France
(Photo © Ralph Haeussler)

Date unknown, 1st – 4th c. AD.
Triangular clay figure of the wheel god
From Roman fort, Caerleon, England
National Museum of Wales
(Photo © unknown)

Dating unknown, 1st – 4th c. AD.
Bronze wheel and swastika brooches
Tongeren, Belgium
Gallo-Roman Museum, Tongeren, Belgium
(Photo © unknown)

1st c. AD.
Fibulae, Hainaut, Belgium.
Resemblance to the votive wheels of the Taranis cult.
Museum Art & History, Brussels, Belgium
(Photo © Stefaan Algoet)

The course of the sun in the sky has never changed since time immemorial. Day after day, the fiery wheel rose above the horizon and travelled along the sky to the other end of the earth. Day after day, the sun gave warmth and light to people, dispelling the nightly twilight and cold. The sun represented the victory of the forces of light over darkness. The victory of the forces of good over the forces of evil.

The Slavic peoples (from 2000 BC onwards) used numerous images of the sun (6-spokes wheel) as a strong protection symbol to protect themselves and their homes and as guardian symbols against all ‘known and unknown evils’.

Rod was the supreme god of the Eastern Slavic pantheon in the first millennium B.C. He was a creator, a deity of fertility and light. He gave life on earth, and rode among the clouds in the sky and assigned man his destiny. The use of his thunder sign was not so much as a defence against thunder and lightning, but an acknowledgement of his existence as a divine being, and a call to spare oneself from calamity and protection from misfortune.
Rod was replaced in the centuries that followed by Perun (Perunica or Perkūnas), with the same meaning. Taranis was the name of a similar thunder god in Celtic culture.

Over the centuries, the six-spokes wheel was reformed into the rosette with six petals (Germ of Life and derivatives, Seed of Life and Flower of Life). This rosette is associated with the god Perun, the god of thunder and lightning, and was used for general protection (against lightning) and to ensure the favour of thunder. The symbol is appropriately called the ‘symbol of Perun’.

These ‘ancient symbols’ were engraved on roof beams or over entrances to village houses. It is carved in stone as well as in wood, on cradles, chests. It is also often found in chapels and churches, which shows that even Christianity could not completely avoid it. 

If we divide the rosette into geometrical elements, we get six leaves, in hexagram form, within a circle. A symbol of the cycle of changes of earth time (polygon) and infinite time (circle). The circle is primarily a symbol of time and divinity, which is endless and all-encompassing.

According to Jung, the rosettes belong to the archetypal mandala group (mandala is a Sanskrit word for circle), which occurs in both the East and the West and represents a universal symbolic structure. 

In this two-coloured rosette, the red and blue Y intersect in the middle, two opposites that merge into one another – analogous to a hexagram – which consists of two overlapping equilateral triangles, with one pointing downwards and the other upwards (six-pointed star). This shape symbolises the union of the feminine and the masculine – the microcosm and the macrocosm – so above and so below.

The rosette shows the cycle of life (darkness and light, spring to summer to autumn to winter). The eternal change of birth, growth and death that man observed daily. All this in a symbolic layer of rosettes.

Thanks to
– Adela Pukl, M.A., counsellor department of spiritual culture, Slovene Ethnographic Museum
– Monika Kropej Telban, Ph. D., Institute of Slovenian Ethnology

– ‘New Find of Six-Spoke Sun Wheels from the Bronze Age in Scandinavia’, by Nils-Axel Mörner, Bob G. Lind
– ‘Astronomy and Sun Cult in the Swedish Bronze Age’, by Nils-Axel Mörner, Bob G. Lind
– ‘Petroglyphs as Paintings’, by James Dodd
– ‘Svarica, rozeta ali šestlistnato znamenje’, by Društvo Slovenski Staroverci
– ‘The Cosmology of the Ancient Balts’, by Straižys V. & Klimka L.
– ‘Representations of an Ancient Cosmovision on Lithuanian Distaffs’, by JonasVaiškūnas
– ‘The Worship of the Romano-Celtic Wheel-God in Britain seen in Relation to Gaulish Evidence’ by Miranda Green


1626 AD.
Germ of Life on a beam in a monastery, Poland.
(Photo © Dariusz Śmigielski)

1643 AD.
Door of wooden church from Budesti-Josani, Romania.
(Photo © Tetcu Mircea Rares)

1681 AD.
Image Germ of Lfe with Christogram, in wooden ceiling beam Log cabin.
Rural Architecture Museum of Sanok, Poland.
(Photo © unknown)

18th c. AD.
Detail of a portal in the wooden church of Gârbău Dejului, Romania.
(Photo © unknown)

19th c. AD.
Wooden ceiling beam, Orawa Ethnographic Park, Zubrzyca Górna, Poland.
(Photo © unknown)


1492 AD.
Woodcut of Crodo, from the Cronicon Picturatum
(Saxon Chronicles) by Conrad Bote, Germany.
(Photo © Bavarian State Library)

1722 AD.
‘Crodo’ illustrated in ‘L’Antiquité expliquée’ by Bernard de Montfaucon, France.

Crodo was the supreme pre-Christian god for the Saxon and West Slavic peoples.
Crodo is another name for Rod (later Perun), also compared to the Latin Saturn (Saeter). He was depicted by an old man and four elements: he stands on a fish, symbol of water; with one hand he holds a wheel, symbol of the sun and of the cycles of the universe and of unity; with the other hand he holds a bucket of flowers, symbol of the flowering earth and of abundance; and around his waist he has a fluttering linen belt, symbol of air.



July 20 Feast Day of Rod, Perun and Saint Elijah

Contemporary ecologists also often use the six-season model for regions with temperate climates: Prevernal (early spring), Vernal (spring), Estival (high summer), Serotinal (late summer), Autumn and Hibernal (winter).

Contemporary Slavic burning ritual, in honor of the god Koliada, to celebrate the birth of the sun, during the winter solstice.

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