In the history of alchemy, practitioners often believed in two suns. One is hidden, made of pure “philosophical gold” – the source of the alchemist’s “artistic” fire, which raised them above ordinary chemists. The other is material, made of a dark and consuming fire. It is this second sun that has been select being become known as the Dark or Black Sun.
To alchemists, The Magnum Opus, or Great Work, had but one purpose – to turn base materials into either pure gold, or into the philosopher’s Stone, which would then be used to develop pure gold. The later Hermetic tradition used this as a metaphor for spiritual transformation. There were three stages to the Magnum opus:
- Nigredo – blackening, purification, individuation, and burning off of impurities.
- Albedo – whitening, spiritual awakening, enlightenment;
- Rubedo – reddening, symbolizing the unification of God and man or the limited and the unlimited.
The first step resulted in the Black Sun. By completing all thee steps, gold could be produced.
To the Plains Indians, the Black Sun had stylized feathers extending both in and out of the circle. It combined two powerful images, the eagle and the sun, into a powerful symbol that depicted the universe, the sun, power and majesty.
During an eclipse, the moon may get between the Sun and the Earth. In these cases, people may report seeing a black sun with a bright halo of fire surrounding it. The galaxies continue to turn, and eclipses rarely last for more than a few minutes.
The Black Sun is also used by astronomers studying galaxies. Some see the Black Sun as a black hole; others erroneously refer to black dwarfs by the same name. Still others consider the Black Sun to be a wormhole. Given the number of references to the Black Sun in fantasy and science fiction books, it is no surprise that this phrase has gained a number of esoteric meanings.
The Black Sun also refers to an esoteric symbol found in neo-Nazi mysticism. The design is based on a floor mosaic at the castle of Wewelsburg. During World War II, the Nazis planned to use the castle as the heart of the SS. Today, scholars are unsure whether the Nazis edited this symbol, or whether it was part of the floor from earlier days.