Robert K. G. Temple

Sirius was the most important star in the sky to the ancient Egyptians. The ancient Egyptian calendar was based on the rising of Sirius. It is established for certain that Sirius was sometimes identified by the ancient Egyptians with their chief goddess Isis.

The companion of Isis was Osiris, the chief Egyptian god. The 'companion' of the constellation of the Great Dog (which includes Sirius) was the constellation of Orion. Since Isis is equated with Sirius, the companion of Isis must be equated, equally, with the companion of Sirius. Osiris is thus equated on occasion with the constellation Orion.

We know that the 'companion of Sirius' is in reality Sirius B. It is conceivable that Osiris-as-Orion, 'the companion of Sirius,' is a stand-in for the invisible true companion Sirius B.

'The oldest and simplest form of the name' of Osiris, we are told, is a hieroglyph of a throne and an eye. The 'eye' aspect of Osiris is thus fundamental. The Bozo tribe of Mali, related to the Dogon, call Sirius B 'the eye star'. Since Osiris is represented by an eye and is sometimes considered 'the companion of Sirius', this is equivalent to saying that Osiris is 'the eye star', provided only that one grants the premise that the existence of Sirius B really was known to the ancient Egyptians and that 'the companion of Sirius' therefore could ultimately refer to it.

The meanings of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and names for Isis and Osiris were unknown to the earliest dynastic Egyptians themselves, and the names and signs appear to have a pre-dynastic origin -- which means around or before 3200 B.C., in other words 5,000 years ago at least. There has been no living traditional explanation for the meanings of the names and signs for Isis and Osiris since at least 2800 B.C. at the very latest.

'The Dog Star' is a common designation of Sirius throughout known history. The ancient god Anubis was a 'dog god', that is, he had a man's body and a dog's head.

In discussing Egyptian beliefs, Plutarch says that Anubis was really the son of Nephthys, sister to Isis, although he was said to be the son of Isis. Nephthys was 'invisible', Isis was 'visible'. (In other words, the visible mother was the stand-in for the invisible mother, who was the true mother, for the simple reason that the invisible mother could not be perceived.)

Plutarch said that Anubis was a

'horizontal circle, which divides the invisible part ... which they call Nephthys, from the visible, to which they give the name Isis; and as this circle equally touches upon the confines of both light and darkness, it may be looked upon as common to them both.'

This is as clear an ancient description as one could expect of a circular orbit (called 'Anubis') of a dark and invisible star (called 'Nephthys') around its 'sister', a light and visible star (called 'Isis) -- and we know Isis to have been equated with Sirius.


What is missing here are the following specific points which must be at this stage still our assumptions:

(a) The circle is actually an orbit

(b) The divine characters are actually stars, specifically in this context

Actually, Anubis and Osiris were sometimes identified with one another. Osiris, the companion of Isis who is sometimes 'the companion of Sirius' is also sometimes identified with the orbit of the companion of Sirius, and this is reasonable and to be expected.

Isis-as-Sirius was customarily portrayed by the ancient Egyptians in their paintings as traveling with two companions in the same celestial boat. And as we know, Sirius does, according to some astronomers, have two companions, Sirius B and Sirius C.

To the Arabs, a companion-star to Sirius (in the same constellation of the Great Dog) was named 'Weight' and was supposed to be extremely heavy -- almost too heavy to rise over the horizon. 'Ideler calls this an astonishing star-name', we are told, not surprisingly.

The true companion-star of Sirius, Sirius B, is made of super-dense matter which is heavier than any normal matter in the universe and the weight of this tiny star is the same as that of a gigantic normal star.

The Dogon also, as we know, say that Sirius B is 'heavy' and they speak of its 'weight'.

The Arabs also applied the name 'Weight' to the star Canopus in the constellation Argo. The Argo was a ship in mythology which carried Danaos and his fifty daughters to Rhodes. The Argo had fifty oarsmen under Jason, called Argonauts. There were fifty oars to the Argo, each with its oarsman-Argonaut. The divine oarsman was an ancient Mediterranean motif with sacred meanings.

The orbit of Sirius B around Sirius A takes fifty years, which may be related to the use of the number fifty to describe aspects of the Argo.

There are many divine names and other points in common between ancient Egypt and
ancient Sumer (Babylonia). The Sumerians seem to have called Egypt by the name of 'Magan' and to have been in contact with it.

The chief god of Sumer, named Anu, was pictured as a jackal, which is a variation of the dog motif and was used also in Egypt for Anubis, the dog and the jackal apparently being interchangeable as symbols. The Egyptian form of the name Anubis is 'Anpu' and is similar to the Sumerian 'Anu', and both are jackal-gods.

The famous Egyptologist Wallis Budge was convinced that Sumer and Egypt both derived their own cultures from a common source which was 'exceedingly ancient'.

Anu is also called An (a variation) by the Sumerians. In Egypt Osiris is called An also.

Remembering that Plutarch said that Anubis (Anpu in Egyptian) was a circle, it is interesting to note that in Sanskrit the word Anda means 'ellipse'. This may be a coincidence.

Wallis Budge says that Anubis represents time. The combined meanings of 'time' and 'circle' for Anubis hint strongly at 'circular motion'.

The worship of Anubis was a secret mystery religion restricted to initiates (and we thus do not know its content). Plutarch who writes of Anubis, was an initiate of several mystery religions, and there is reason to believe his information was from well-informed sources. (Plutarch himself was a Greek living under the Roman Empire.) A variant translation of Plutarch's description of Anubis is that Anubis was 'a combined relation' between Isis and Nephthys. This has overtones which help in thinking of 'the circle' as an orbit - a 'combined relation' between the star orbiting and the star orbited.

The Egyptians used the name Horus to describe 'the power which is assigned to direct the revolution of the sun', according to Plutarch. Thus the Egyptians conceived of and named such specific dynamics -- an essential point.

Plutarch says Anubis guarded like a dog and attended on Isis. This fact, plus Anubis being 'time' and 'a circle', suggests even more an orbital concept -- the ideal form of attendance of the prowling guard dog.

Aristotle's friend Eudoxus (who visited Egypt) said that the Egyptians had a tradition that Zeus (chief god of the Greeks whose name is used by Eudoxus to refer to his Egyptian equivalent, which leaves us wondering which Egyptian god is meant - presumably Osiris) could not walk because 'his legs were grown together'. This sounds like an amphibious creature with a tail for swimming instead of legs for walking. It is like the semi-divine creature Oannes, reputed to have brought civilization to the Sumerians, who was amphibious, had a tail instead of legs, and retired to the sea at night.

Plutarch relates Isis to the Greek goddess Athena (daughter of Zeus) and says of them they were both described as 'coming from themselves', and as 'self-impelled motion'. Athena supervised the Argo and placed in its prow the guiding oak timber from Dodona (which is where the Greek ark landed, with the Greek version of the Biblical Noah, Deukalion, and his wife Pyrrha). The Argo thus obtained a distinctive 'self-impelled motion' from Athena, whom Plutarch specifically relates to Isis in this capacity.

The earliest versions of the Argo epic which were written before the time of Homer are unfortunately lost. The surviving version of the epic is good reading but relatively recent (third century B.C.).

The Sumerians had 'fifty heroes', 'fifty great gods', etc., just as the later Greeks with their Argo had 'fifty heroes' and the Argo carried 'fifty daughters of Donaos'.

An Egyptian papyrus says the companion of Isis is 'Lord in the perfect black'. This sounds like the invisible Sirius B. Isis's companion Osiris 'is a dark god'.

The Trismegistic treatise 'The Virgin of the World' from Egypt refers to 'the Black Rite', connected with the 'black' Osiris, as the highest degree of secret initiation possible in the ancient Egyptian religion -- it is the ultimate secret of the mysteries of Isis.

This treatise says Hermes came to earth to teach men civilization and then again 'mounted to the stars', going back to his home and leaving behind the mystery religion of Egypt with its celestial secrets which were some day to be decoded.

There is evidence that 'the Black Rite' did deal with astronomical matters. Hence the Black Rite concerned astronomical matters, the black Osiris, and Isis. The evidence mounts that it may thus have concerned the existence of Sirius B.

A prophecy in the treatise 'The Virgin of the World' maintains that only when men concern themselves with the heavenly bodies and 'chase after them into the height' can men hope to understand the subject-matter of the Black Rite. The understanding of astronomy of today's space age now qualifies us to comprehend the true subject of the Black Rite, if that subject is what we suspect it may be. This was impossible earlier in the history of our planet.


It must be remembered that without our present knowledge of white dwarf stars which are invisible except with modern telescopes, our knowledge of super-dense matter from atomic physics with all its complicated technology, etc., none of our discussion of the Sirius system would be possible; it would not be possible to propose such an explanation of the Black Rite at all -- we could not propound the Sirius question.

Much material about the Sumerians and Babylonians has only been circulated since the late 1950s and during the 1960s, and our knowledge of pulsars is even more recent than that. It is doubtful that this book could have been written much earlier than the present. The author began work in earnest in 1967 and finished the book in 1974.


Even so, he feels the lack of much needed information:

  • sites remain unexcavated

  • texts untranslated from various ancient languages

  • astronomical investigations are perpetually incomplete

The author has also found it difficult to master material from so many different fields and wishes he were much better qualified.


The Sirius question could not realistically have been posed much earlier, and future discoveries in many fields will be essential to its full consideration.