With believed that a god named Ra was the

With modern day science, we have the necessary tools
and resources to explain the natural phenomena’s that happen all around the world
today. Two of these natural phenomena’s that happens in literally every part of
the world are the occurrences of day and night. According to an article written
by Williams (2016), modern science explains that day and night is the result of
Earth’s rotation on its axis. The sun and moon look like they travel across the
sky because the Earth orbits the Sun, and the moon orbits the earth. The Earth
rotates on its axis every twenty-four hours, therefore one day includes both
day time and night time (Earth’s Rotation & Axial Tilt). Before the
advancement of science, societies such as the Egyptians, Nordic, and Japanese
used myths, legends, and religion to explain natural phenomena’s such as day
and night. The Egyptians followed the Journey of the Sun, the Norse believed that
day and night, and the sun and moon were created separately, and the Japanese
culture believed that day and night once coexisted before separating.

 

In ancient Egypt, the explanation for day and night is
described by the myth of the Journey of the Sun. The ancient Egyptians believed
that a god named Ra was the god of the sun, and creator of everything (Budge,
1969, p. 322). Through their myths, the Egyptians explained that Ra would
journey across the sky using two boats. In the morning, he used the boat ‘Matet’
(becoming strong) and at night he would use a second boat called ‘Semktet’
(becoming weak) (Budge, 1969, p. 323). Ra’s journey across the sky symbolically
represented the rising and setting of the Sun, where the Sun would be the
strongest in the morning until noon, and gradually weakened by the evening as
it was setting in the West. When the sun set, Ra had completed his journey
across the sky.

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After the Sun set, or after Ra had completed his
journey across the sky. The Egyptians believed that Ra, then passed through the
underworld in order to make his way back up to light up the sky again in the
morning. However, during his journey through the underworld, he was often required
to fight off demons and monsters that tried to prevent him from returning to Earth
(Budge, 1969, p. 324). The leader of these demons and monsters was a serpent
named Apep, a “personification of the darkness of the darkest hour of the
night, against which Ra must not only fight, but fight successfully before he
could rise in the East in the morning” (Budge, 1969, p.
322). In the temple of Amen-Ra at Thebes, the Egyptians prayed and recited verses
and spells from the ‘Book of Overthrowing Apep’ on a daily basis to aid Ra in
vanquishing the serpent demon. Additionally, “various ceremonies of magical character
were performed to benefit not only Ra, but those who worshipped him on Earth
as well” (Budge, 1969, p. 326). The Sun was extremely important to the ancient
Egyptians as it provided light, heat, and aided the growth of their crops. The
daily and unfailing rise of the Sun every morning essentially provided proof
that their beliefs and worships of Ra were true and effective.

                 

Secondly, in Norse mythology, day and night, and the
sun and moon are described as separate entity’s and explained with two
different myths. Although created for man’s benefit, Giants were actually put
to work to develop the day and night system for the earth. A giantess by the
name of Njorvi, gave birth to a daughter named Nott (Night) who had a dark and
swarthy complexion (Munch, 2012, p. 37). After two failed marriages, Nott eventually married
Delling (Dawn), and together they had a son named Dag (Day) (Munch, 2012,
p. 37). Nott and her son Dag, were given the task by the ‘All-Father’ to “ride
around the earth in alternating courses of twelve hours each” providing the
earth with day and night. The ‘All-Father’ gave the Giants a horse and a carriage
each and commanded that Nott ride first explaining why the Nordic religion forefathers
began the twenty-four-hour days with the night (Munch, 2012, p.
306).

 

Day and night
were not the only ones that travelled across the heavens. According to old Norse
texts translated by Sturluson, Blackwell, & Thorpe (2012),
Norse mythology tells a story of a man named Mundilfari who had two children
whom he named the son Mani (Moon) and the female Sol (Sun). Mundilfari believed
his children were so lovely and graceful, that the gods became annoyed by his
confidence (p. 266). As punishment, the gods took Mundulfair’s children from
him, and placed them in the heavens. Sol was tasked to drive the horse and
carriage that carried the sun and Mani was given the moons course (p. 267). As almost most
mythologies indicate, the world began as a dark and gloomy place. The Norse
mythology that the gods created the Sun and Moon to relieve the darkness
provided man reasoning for why the two planets existed. The creation of day and
night allowed man to work, farm, fish and hunt by day; and sleep and recover by
night, therefore explaining the reason for the existence of both day and night ,and
not just one or the other.

 

Lastly, the Japanese culture describes the coexistence
of day and night with a myth that explained the cause of the separation between
the Sun and the Moon. In Japanese Shinto mythology, there existed a god of the
sun and heavens named Amatarasu, and a god of the moon and night named
Tsukiyomi. Amatarasu and Tsukyomi initially shared the sky and ruled the
heavens together at the same time (Afshar, 2017, The Three Kami). One day,
Amaterasu sent Tsukiyomi to visit the goddess of food named Uke-Mochi. The
goddess of food produced food in a bizarre way which consisted of “vomiting and
defecating a variety of foods onto the Earth” (Afshar, 2017, “Murder of Uke-Mochi”).
Appalled and disgusted by Uke-Mochi’s power, Tsukiyomi killed the goddess of
food out of anger, and returned back to the heavens to report the incident to
Amatarasu (Matsumura, 2013, p. 33). Amatarasu was enraged by Tsukiyomi’s actions and exclaimed
“you are a wicked deity, I must not see you face to face” declaring to never
see the moon god ever again. As a result, the god of the sun forever separates
from the god of the moon by splitting the sky in half creating day and night.
To the Japanese, the myth is logical because the sun and moon are never in the
sky at the same time; thus, day and night never happens at the same time. When
the sun rises the moon sets, symbolically representing Tsukiyomi running from
or avoiding Amatarasu because of his banishment.

 

In conclusion, myths exist in all societies and
cultures to communicate religious symbolic comparisons. Natural phenomena before
the advancement of science was explained with myths that were mostly tales of supernatural
worlds and entities. The Journey of the Sun by the Egyptians; the appointing of
day and night, as well as the sun and the moon by the Norse; and the death of a
goddess that caused the split between day and night for eternity by the
Japanese, are all myths that once provided reasoning for people in the past.
The views and beliefs of these myths represent not just religion, but as cultural
traits for peoples imaginative desire for things beyond reality.