Sirius Mysteries

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”—Groucho Marx


Canis MajorYou might not know it, but today is the first day of the Dog Days of summer. While just about everyone has heard the expression, most people just assume that this is all it is and that it refers to the hottest time of the year. However, July 23 is actually the first day of the ancient Egyptian calendar and the day on which they began a series of rites and celebrations dedicated to the star Sirius, which they called Sothis, and is the brightest star in the constellation of the dog. Therefore, another name for Sirius is the Dog Star, hence the Dog Days of summer.

Pretty much all of this is agreed upon and accepted by scholars of various disciplines. Other than some small differences concerning a few minor details here and there, nothing that I’ve said so far is at all controversial. That won’t last. Starting…NOW!

On July 22, 1973, the occultist and philosopher Robert Anton Wilson performed the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel, a ritual devised by Aleister Crowley to put you in touch with your higher self. He wasn’t terribly impressed with the results that he got that night, but he woke up the next morning, July 23, with the thought “Sirius is very important” stuck in his head. This being way back in primitive times, there was no internet, so he had to find out what was so important about Sirius from books at his local library. So he hopped on his dinosaur and headed down there.

Imagine his surprise when he found out that Sirius was the focal point of the Egyptian Dog Days celebrations and that they had started on that very date of July 23 and lasted until September 8. This was the time that the Egyptians believed that their connection to Sirius, which they associated with both Osiris and Isis, was the strongest. Wilson continued his occult experiments during this time and began to receive telepathic messages from an intelligence that he sometimes thought might be an extraterrestrial from Sirius. Other times he thought it might be his Holy Guardian Angel. Sometimes he thought that it was his own unconscious mind. Most of the time, he wasn’t sure where this was coming from.

He soon learned that he wasn’t the only one with a connection to Sirius. The afore mentioned Aleister Crowley had formed an occult order called the Argentum Astrum, or Silver Star, in 1907. In his book Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, Kenneth Grant identifies this silver star as the Eye of Set, the sun behind the sun, Sothis, or Sirius. This was no colossal surprise to Wilson since he had originally “contacted” Sirius through one of Crowley’s rituals, though that wasn’t its intended purpose.

What did surprise him was when J.G. Bennett, a student of the famous Russian occultist Georges Gurdjieff, wrote that while Gurdjieff was composing his book Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, he would have key passages read back to him aloud to determine if their meaning was too obvious. If they were, he would rewrite them to “bury the dog deeper.” When people pointed out that what he meant to say was “bury the bone deeper,” he would reply that he was not burying bones but a dog. The dog was Sirius, and the subject of the book was extraterrestrial intelligence repeatedly intervening in human affairs to speed up our evolution, a concept unheard of at the time but one that is seriously considered by some UFO researchers today.

After publishing an article about all of this, Wilson received a letter from a man in Detroit stating that in a lecture he had attended, a Dr. Douglas Baker of the Theosophical Society (founded by Helena Blavatsky) claimed that Sirius is the Ajna (third eye) chakra of a galactic being and that our sun is the Heart chakra. Our evolution, Dr. Baker said, depends on our raising the energy level of the Heart center to the Ajna. This connected Blavatsky as well as Gurdjieff and Crowley to Sirius, and they are the undeniable Big Three of 20th century occultism. Even if you think occultism is all lizard droppings, you have to admit that this is quite a coincidence.

But it gets better. In 1976, an astronomer named Robert Temple, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, had a book published entitled The Sirius Mystery. It deals in part with the similarities between the civilizations and languages of ancient northern African and Mesopotamian peoples and the possibility that they may share a common origin. Its main focus, however, is the Dogon, a primitive tribe that lives on the plains of Mali in northwestern Africa.


That little dot on the lower left side is Sirius B

Temple starts off by reprinting an anthropological study of the Dogon by French anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen published in 1950. He seemingly stumbled upon this report which details the Dogon’s extensive knowledge of Sirius – knowledge that he realized no primitive tribe should possess but which was nevertheless accurate. The Dogon not only knew that Sirius was actually a double star system, even though this can only be seen with powerful telescopes, but also that the second star, the dwarf star Sirius B, is one of the smallest and densest in the galaxy. They also knew that the orbital period of Sirius B is 50 years.

This “invisible” dwarf star was the hidden god alluded to in the title of Grant’s book about Crowley. He associated it with Osiris, while Sirius A was connected to Isis. If Crowley was right and this was why the Egyptians linked Sirius to both of these gods, it would seem to indicate that the Egyptians were also aware that Sirius was a double star system.

So how did the Dogon know all of this? They say that they know all of this because visitors from Sirius that they called the Nommo came here thousands of years ago and told them so. Temple estimates that this occurred around 4500 BCE, a date that he arrived at primarily by looking at the times when the first civilizations formed in this area. (Why the Egyptians and Sumerians got a kick-start on establishing their civilizations from the Nommo while the Dogon remained primitive for more than 6000 years following their alleged contact isn’t specified.) The Dogon describe the Nommo as being fish-people, and the ancient Assyrian god Oannes is also depicted as being half man, half fish. Coincidence? Maybe.

Temple himself does not insist that this connection to Sirius had to involve actual beings coming here in spaceships, although he definitely leans that way. He also points out that information about Sirius and the sudden birth of civilization in the area could have come from an unknown, more advanced group of people (Atlantis?). He only broadly hints that contact may have been established in some more subtle way, i.e. Wilson’s “tuning in” on the Sirius connection via an occult ritual at just the right time of year.

Needless to say, criticism of Temple from the academic community was swift in coming. Some accused him of outright fraud, but most were a little kinder in their condemnation. Most simply claimed that the Dogon learned about Sirius from the two French anthropologists, which makes sense. We all know that there’s nothing anthropologists like to talk about more than astronomy. That’s why they became anthropologists: so that they could teach astronomy to primitive people. But seriously, none of the critics ever make a statement like “It stands to reason that Griaule and Dieterlen would have told the Dogon about Sirius because…” Because there is no reason that they would have discussed such things with primitive people, other than for them to commit fraud, which some claim is exactly what they did. Why they would do this is left to our imaginations. Their paper was only published in an anthropological journal, not the London Times or Newsweek. If they were perpetrating a hoax in the hope of becoming famous, they had a rotten plan and it failed miserably. It took an astronomer discovering their work by accident 26 years later for anyone to even notice them. We don’t even know if these two knew anything about Sirius. Did you before now? Neither did I until I read Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger. It’s not exactly common knowledge.

Many of their arguments are based on the same sort of speculation that they accuse Temple of, although most of theirs is worse. They’ve come up with lots of mundane ways in which the Dogon could have learned about Sirius, but none of them have a shred of proof to back up their assertions. At least some of them are honest enough to admit as much.

The one argument that some have used to explain how this knowledge got into the hands of the Dogon is that there was a total solar eclipse that was visible in Mali in 1893. The area would have been full of amateur and professional astronomers there to observe it. No doubt some of these astronomy enthusiasts told the local population all about the latest news on Sirius. The problems with this idea make the mind reel.

NommoFirst, much of what the Dogon allegedly knew about Sirius wasn’t known to anyone at that time, or was only suspected. Next, there is the assumption that people who were there to witness a celestial event were eager to discuss a completely unrelated astronomical subject with the stone age locals. Finally, the one that borders on idiocy (and I’m being kind here), is the assumption that these two groups of people even could have discussed anything. Does anyone seriously believe that any of the Dogon people would speak the language of any of their foreign visitors? Does anyone seriously believe that any of these visiting astronomers spoke Dogon? Sure, I suppose that somebody could have found an interpreter if they looked hard enough, but why bother? Eclipses only last a few minutes. Most people were probably only there for a day. If anyone had wanted to talk, it probably would have been the Dogon, and probably the only question on their minds would be to find out why the sun had gone away in the middle of the afternoon.

For the record, I don’t really think that Sirians have visited Earth, although I could be wrong. Wilson himself points out that Sirius is the brightest star in the sky. If occultists and tribesmen are going to formulate complex mythologies around one of them, Sirius would be the most likely candidate. It’s also not the only star, or group of stars, or constellation to have these types of stories attached to it. (Orion and the Pleiades spring to mind.) So how do I explain all of this? I don’t. It’s a mystery. I’ve learned to live with them.

Anyway, happy Dog Days. Try to stay cool. And if you get any telepathic messages from Sirius, or anywhere else for that matter, please feel free to let me know…unless it involves celebrities. Then keep it to yourself.


and all the devils are here



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