One of the things about Norse Paganism that is hard to really internalize is the concept of a feminine Sun and masculine Moon. Oh, that's one of the things you can easily read about, but if you were raised in a standard modern Western culture, with its underlying dependence on Greco-Roman mythology, plus a little Celtic folklore on top, it's very hard to not think of the Moon as a "she."
But it's pretty clear that in most of the Germanic cultures, the Sun (Sól) was the "she" and the Moon (Máni) was a "he." This is born out by the languages--even modern German has the masculine case for "der Mond" and the feminine for "die Sonne." Then there's the good old Man in the Moon with his dog and bush (even Shakespeare talks about him). But there's all that acculturation saying otherwise--poems about the moon almost always present it as feminine, most of the myths and stories we were taught as chikldren do the same thing, and modern Paganism and New Age studies have carried that forth into popular culture. So how do you reset your thinking to a mindset where the "Man in the Moon" is not, after all, a lady, but a guy?
I paid lip service to this idea for years, but in my heart, I still kind of saw the moon and sun the way I had grown up seeing them. Part of the problem was I had no alternative images to replace them with. Then one year someone gave me this really lovely desk calendar with various images of the sun illustrating each week--everything from ancient images to photographs from space. And one picture had this image of a partly-naked woman sitting amid various plants and animals, gazing at a small moon-orb which she held in her hand. She was beautiful but obviously beneficent. In her other hand she held a fish in a bowl, and it seemed clear that the picture was meant to show that the sun gave life and light to all the plants and creatures on the earth (as well as lighting up the moon). This, suddenly, gave me a picture of a sun-goddess that I could grasp.
And it makes sense, really, that people that lived in the northern climes, where winter was so long and so brutal and the nights so long and dangerous, would regard the sun as a nurturing, life-giving figure. Going out at night to dance by the light of the moon is much less appealing in a climate where you might get frostbite doing so (or perhaps be eaten by a wolf). The night was the dangerous time, when wild animals and dangerous creatures and spirits were out and about. If you were going to hold a festival, you wanted to do it in the daytime, amidst the trees and flowers and wonderful, warm sunlight.
There are some folk sayings from Scandinavian countries that picture the sun as a beautiful young woman whose jewelry gave out light, possibly something similar to the solje jewelry worn as part of the traditional dress, or bunad, in Norway. This jewelry, made of silver, features many little cup-like disks that hang from the main piece and reflect the sunlight. It was thought to protect against the huldrefolk, a type of seductive forest creature, and therefore was particularly worn at threshhold rituals like naming ceremonies and marriages, when people were thought to be particularly vulnerable to attack. I really like the image of a young queen glittering in all her jewelry for Sól.
Both Sól and her brother drive across the sky in wagons, pulling their respective orb (a common image in a lot of European mythology). In their case, they are driving rather swiftly because behind them are two wolves, Skoll and Hati, who run after them, hoping to swallow them up. This side of Sól is rather more aggressive and tough, and I like seeing her this way, too.
In Sól's wagon, according to some legends, there is another figure named Svalinn, whose job is to hold a shield between the sun and the earth, to keep its hot rays from scorching everything. I am kind of thinking Svalinn must be on holiday this summer, with the heat index up the way it's been. In fact, there have been some days when I've almost been rooting for the wolf...