Sirius is one of the most perplexing aspects of the occult I have yet encountered. It is by all accounts hugely significant yet rarely mentioned by many of the occult and mythological authors I have read. 33rd degree Freemason Manly P. Hall gives it only a single sentence mention in his invaluable The Secret Teachings of All Ages, simply stating:
"The Dog Star, Sirius, or Sothis, was sacred to the Egyptians because it presaged the annual inundations of the Nile."Hall doesn't even go that far in either The Secret Destiny of America or America's Assignment with Destiny. Eliphas Levi can't be bothered with it in his pompous The History of Magic. Scottish Rite 'founder' and 33rd degree Mason Albert Pike drops several vague hints concerning the mammoth importance of Sirius to the ancient Mysteries in his copious Morals and Dogmas, linking it to the five-pointed star so prominent in Masonry. He states:
"To find in the BLAZING STAR of five points an allusion to the Divine Providence, is also fanciful; and to make it commemorative of the Star that is said to have guided the Magi, is to give it a meaning comparatively modern. Originally it represented SIRIUS, or the Dog-star, the forerunner of the inundation of the Nile; the God ANUBIS, companion of Isis in her search for the body of OSIRIS, her brother and husband. Then it became the image of HORUS, the son of OSIRIS, himself symbolized also by the Sun, the author of the Seasons, and the God of Time; Son of Isis, who was the universal nature, himself the primitive matter, inexhaustible source of Life, spark of uncreated fire, universal seed of all beings. It was HERMES also, the Master of Learning, whose name in Greek is that of the God Mercury. It became the sacred and potent sign or character of the Magi, the PENTALPHA, and the significant emblem of Liberty and Freedom, blazing with a steady radiance amid the weltering elements of good and evil of Revolutions, and promising serene skies and fertile seasons to the nations, after the storms of change and tumult."
Keep this in mind dear readers, as we shall address several prominent instances of five-pointed stars a bit further down.
Anyway, back to the references, or lack therefore of, to Sirius that I've encountered. The mammoth Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt seemingly has no mention of Sirius at all, be it a solo entry, or under such related topics as dog, Isis, star (despite covering the five-pointed star' and the 'blazing star' of Freemasonry under said entry) or Anubis (who is strangely MIA). Edith Hamilton kindly mentions Sirius in the index of her Mythology book, stating it is 'the Dog Star who follows Orion', but not giving Sirius its own section in the actual text. Frazer goes about as far Hall in The Golden Bough, noting:
"And to Isis in her later character of patroness of mariners the Virgin Mary perhaps owes her beautiful epithet of Stella Maris, 'Star of the Sea', which she is adored by temptest-tossed sailors. The attributes of a marine deity my have been bestowed on Isis by the sea-faring Greeks of Alexandria. They are quite foreign to her original character and to the habits of the Egyptians, who had no love of the sea. On this hypothesis Sirius, the bright star of Isis, which on July mornings rises from the glassy waves of the eastern Mediterranean, a harbinger of halcyon weather to mariners, was the true Stella Maris, 'the Star of the Sea'."
As many of you may have surmised, I am opting to write on Sirius now as the Dog Days of Summer, which the star has always been linked with, began at some point in this past month of July. Royal Astronomical Society fellow Robert Temple writes of the 'Dog Days':
"Throughout Latin literature there are many references to 'the Dog Days' which followed the heliacal rising of Sirius in the summer. These hot, parched days were thought by that time to derive some of their ferocity and dryness from the 'searing' of Sirius. Traditions arose of Sirius being 'red' because it was in fact red at its heliacal rising, just as any other body at the horizon is red. When making rhetorical allusions to the Dog Days, the Latins would often speak of Sirius being red at the time, which it was."
(The Sirius Mystery, pg.86)
My good friend and VISUP partner in our Fortean investigations, Stopha (whose dream logs can be viewed here), would begin having bizarre dreams of himself as a fish, or some other kind of amphibious being, around this time as well (the significance of this for those that haven't read The Sirius Mystery will be addressed further down). Last week an old friend of mine committed suicide (RIP Tim) while Manos' private life has remained interesting, to say the least. Meanwhile global instability continues to spiral on, whether it be the debt 'crisis' in Europe or America, unrest in the Middle East and Africa, or simply sweltering heat in the the American South. In Antiquity, the Dog Days of Summer were believed to be a time of evil, marked by burning temperatures and tempers, and general chaos. So far they are certainly living up to their reputation from Recluse's point of view.
A perplexing aspect of Sirius and the Dog Days is that, by all accounts being a major holiday in many of the great cultures of Antiquity (Egypt, Greece, Roman), there is so much debate as to when the Dog Days actually began. Researcher David Ovason believed that Sirius and the mythology surrounding it were instrumental in the founding of the United States. As many of you are aware, more than a few of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons, who incorporated much of the ancient mythology surrounding Sirius into their own rituals. Thus, Ovason argues for a July 3rd start to the Dog Days, which would closely link it with our Independence Day, to further this connection.
"The Mason who first signed the Declaration of Independence would have been aware of the particular significance of July 4, as a cosmic event. The day was the second in the so-called dog days, which, according to some American almanacs, began on July 3. Their traditional knowledge is no longer recalled with the same intensity as in the 19th century, but the majority of almanacs and planetary tables used then in both England and America all marked July 3 as the beginning of this important period.
"The term 'dog days' is usually traced back to the Greek-derived canicular days, relating to the helical rising of the fixed star Sirius. However, historians are usually more inclined to trace the word back to the ancient Egyptian calendrical system, where its rising with the Sun was held to be of profound spiritual importance... This connection with the dog star Sirius is so important that we must assume that whichever Mason elected this date for laying the foundation stone which was to form the spiritual hub of the city knew exactly what he was doing."Robert Anton Wilson would strongly disagree with this dating. Wilson is primarily responsible for bringing the 23 enigma to public attention. Wilson in turn partly became obsessed with the number 23 after supposedly receiving telepathic messages from an alien race based upon Sirius after performing a Crowley-inspired ritual on July 22, 1973. The next morning he found a peculiar message in his 'magickal diary' stating "Sirius is very important." This led Wilson to doing some research.
(The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital, pg. 139)
"The Skeptic went to town and browsed in the public library. Imagine my state of mind when I discovered that this very day, July 23, when I had received the message 'Sirius is very important,' is the day when, according to Egyptian tradition, the occult link (through hyperspace?) is most powerful between Earth and Sirius.
"Celebrations of the Dog Star, Sirius, beginning on July 23, are the origin of the expression 'dog days,' meaning the days from July 23 to September 8, when the last rituals to Sirius were performed."
(The Cosmic Trigger Volume I, pg. 87)
I'm inclined to believe Wilson, but then Wikipedia offers yet more dates:
"In Ancient Rome, the Dog Days extended from July 24 through August 24 (or, alternatively July 23-August 23). In many European cultures (German, French, Italian) this period is still said to be the time of the Dog Days.
"The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year when rainfall is at its lowest levels.
"According to The Book of Common Prayer (1552), the "Dog Daies" begin on July 6 and end on August 17. But this edition of the Book of Common Prayer (The 2nd book of Edward VI) was never extensively used and never adopted by the Convocation of the Church of England.
"In the lectionary of the 1611 edition of the Authorized Version of the Bible, commonly called the King James Bible, the Dog Days begin on July 6 and end on September 5. Note how this roughly corresponds to the July 4 to Labor day (in the United States) span of secular holidays.
"In the lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer 1559 shows "Naonae. Dog days begin" with the readings for the 7th day of July. The end of the dog days is noted as the 18th of August. But this is noted as a misprint and the readings for the 5th day of September have "Naonae. Dog days end". This corresponds with the lectionary in the Bible. The 1559 edition of the Book of Common Prayer would have provided the official liturgical calendar for Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607 and years following. So the dogs days were at least officially noted in the new world. A recent edition of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer makes no mention of the dog days in the corresponding place."So dear reader, the Dog Days could begin anywhere from July 3rd to July 24th. I am again inclined to go with the July 23rd date, however, as it seems the most common dating. Sirius has another striking connection to the number 23 as well:
"Sirius is 23 times as luminous as our own Sun, and even though its distance from the Earth of eight and a half light-years dims this luminosity, it is still the brightest star in the sky."
(The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital, David Ovason, pg. 5)
This is most interesting, especially considering the occult belief in Sirius as a kind of hidden sun. This brings us back to the five-pointed, blazing star of Freemasonry Pike described above. According to David Ovason the five-pointed star of Masonry was adopted from a Egyptian symbol called sba. Of this symbol, he writes:
"The sba hieroglyphic was a five-pointed star, within the center of which was an encircled dot, somewhat like the modern sigil for the Sun. So far as the ancient Egyptians were concerned, this was a symbol of a higher spirituality..."Ovason goes on to assert that the Masonic five-pointed star, adopted from the Egyptian sba and symbolizing Sirius, was used as the model for the five-pointed star of the American flag:
(ibid, pg. 242)
"...in 1818, the American Congress had determined that the symbol of a five-pointed star should be adopted to represent every state joining the Union. They decreed that, as each new state joined, a new star should be added to the 13 state stars already on the flag. Thus the stars would increase in number, as symbol of this growing fellowship, while 13 red and white stripes, which had represented the original 13 states, would remain as symbol of the original union of states. The proposal was made by the Mason senator Benjamin Latrobe and was merely extending the heraldic use of stars of the Seal of the United States, as had been determined by a committee directed by Benjamin Franklin, in 1782. According to Franklin's committee, there was to be a surrounding of '13 stars, forming constellation, argent, on an azure field.' Latrobe's suggestion was adopted, and stars began to appear upon the flag in ever-increasing numbers...
"We have already looked at the significance of Sirius in the astrological tradition, and observed that it still carries some of its early Egyptian associations. These associations are even more deeply expressed in the Masonic view of the star..."
(ibid, pgs. 243-245)
Self-described 'revisionist historian' Michael A. Hoffman II writes of the five-pointed star and Sirius:
"The symbol (or, alchemically, sigil) of the armed enforcers of the Code of Hammurabi, which was the law of the empire of Babylon, the successor to Sumer, was the five-pointed star, or pentagram. The distinguishing characteristic of the Babylonian law code was that 'the laws were not the same for the rich and the poor.'
"This star also happens to be the symbol of the armed enforcers of modern America's laws, and it was also the symbol of the enforcers of the Communist regime in Russia. Is it an accident that both the army of the Soviet Union and the policemen of America wear the secret symbol of Sirius?"
(Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare, pg. 30)
So the stars upon our flag and the badges of our friendly neighborhood policeman are symbolic of the star Sirius... Maybe even the Declaration of Independence itself was signed on the beginning of the Dog Days. All of this is most striking, but there is an even more bizarre connection I have found concerning the geographic locations of certain structures. This, like many traditions associated with Sirius, dates back to ancient Egypt.
"The helical rising of Sirius was so important to the ancient Egyptians... that gigantic temples were constructed with their main aisles oriented precisely towards the spot on the horizon where Sirius would appear on the expected morning. The light of Sirius would be channelled along the corridor (due to the precise orientation) to flood the altar in the inner sanctum as if a pin-pointed spotlight had been switched on. This blast of light focused from a single star was possible because of the orientation being so incredibly precise and because the temple, the light of one star focused solely on the altar must have made quite an impact on those present. In this way was the presence of the star made manifest with its temple. One such temple to the star Sirius was the temple of Isis at Denderah in Egypt."
(The Sirius Mystery, Robert Temple, pg. 85)
|Ruins at Denderah|
Sirius seemingly played a similar role in the astrological charts of several buildings within our nation's capital, especially the Washington Monument, of which the cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848.
"The extraordinary truth is that the very existence of the Washington Monument is intimately linked with the Egyptian star Sirius, the Sihor that the ancients represented in their sacred hieroglyphics as an obelisk-like form as well as a star...
"... At the founding of the Washington Monument in 1848, the Sun was in 12.45 Cancer -and thus only 46 minutes from exact conjunction. Now, we must not forget that in the course of a day the Sun moves one degree in the zodiak. This means that, in the course of that day, when the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid, the Sun would have passed over Sirius."
(The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital, David Ovason, pgs. 137-138)
Of course, there may be a much older monument in North America dedicated to the observing of Sirius.
"According to the astronomer John A. Eddy, the rock circle located near Lovell, Wyoming, known as the Big Horn Medicine Wheel is aligned with the rising of Sirius."Fortean researcher William Grimstad elaborates:
(Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare, Michael A. Hoffman, pg. 29)
"Astronomer John A. Eddy of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, has theorized that the Medicine Wheel could have been used as an observatory to pinpoint the summer solstice. Eddy has found that the center cairn and one of those on the outer rim line up perfectly with the rising sun, while another rim cairn aligns with the setting sun on Midsummer day. Other cairns on the rim, he finds, line up with the stars Aldebaran, Sirius, and Rigel around solstice."
(Weird America, pg. 247)
Observing the start of the Dog Days is only scratching the surface of what some religious centers in Antiquity were designed for. More curious were the oracle centers, of chief importance to the religious life of the inhabitants of the Middle East and Mediterranean.
"These centres in the Middle East seem at a casual glance to be dotted around apparently at random. However, there is actually a pattern in their distibution which we will find bears some relation to our subject, and which indicates a highly advanced science of geography and related disciplines in the ancient world. Examination of the oracle centres will be seen to have a connection with the ship Argo and will help us to fill in some of the missing background to the entire system of the ancient religious mysteries. The oracle centres were the main places where religion was practiced in the ancient world."
(The Sirius Mystery, Robert Temple, pg. 161)
|Ruins of the Oracle at Delphi|
Temple goes on to elaborate on this 'pattern of distibutation,' stating:
"I believe that the Egyptians laid out a 'geodetic octave' commencing at 1º north of Behdet (to emphasize its separateness from Egypt) and culminating at Dodona. For Dodona is precisely 8º north of Behdet in latitude, and the related oracle centre of Delphi is exactly 7º in latitude north of Behdet...
"I have arrived at this sequence for a geodetic oracle octaves:
7. Delphi (with its famous omphalos, a stone navel)
6. Delos, the famous shrine of Apollo, once an oracle centre (also with an omphalos
5. Kythera (Cythera), a site on the north-east coast; or Thera (Santorini)
4. Omphalos (Thenae) near Knossos on Crete (on the Plan of Omphaleion)
3. Undiscovered site on Southern or South-western coast of Cyprus? (Paphos?) (Cape Gata?)
2. Lake Triton (or Tritonis) in Libya
1. El Marj (Barce or Barca)
The ones which I have identified are spaced apart by one degree of latitude from each other in sequence and are integral degrees of latitude from Behdet, which we shall see was the geodetic centre of the ancient world... and was also a pre-dynastic capital of Egypt."
(ibid, pg. 171)
The bands of latitude which Temple's 'oracle octaves' run through stretch from 31º30' N to 39º30' N. Several ancient stone complexes in North America also fall upon these 'oracle octaves.' Consider the stone structures scattered around southern Colorado at Apisha River Canyon:
Another stone structure which Grimstad notes is located in West Virginia and known as the Mount Carbon Stone Walls:"These Apishapa sites lie at about 37º30', and hence would be in line with the Greek cult sites of Delos and Miletus, which were sacred to the moon and the goddess Artemis..."(Weird America, William Grimstad, pg. 48)
"Most local experts who have studied the site admit the possibility of ritualistic or ceremonial significance to the builders. Since this area is located at about 38 degrees, 10 minutes north latitude, I have wondered about possible links to Old World cult centers on the same parallels."
(ibid, pg. 240)
|Ruins of Mt. Carbon's stone walls|
I've written a bit more on Mt. Carbon in the first entry of my 'New World' series, for those curious.
It is here I shall sign off for the time being. Next week we shall consider just exactly why the star Sirius has been the focus of so many cults and fringe religious sects over the years.