The Sirius Question is Rephrased


We shall turn now to the star Sirius in history. What was its importance, if any, in ancient religions ? Is there evidence from the ancient cultures that the mysterious details of the Sirius system were known to others than the Dogon tribe? And can we discover where the Dogon got their information?

I must warn the reader that Part Two is difficult, by the nature of its subject matter. I have tried to make it readable, but beg the reader's indulgence if have not succeeded. It is exciting material and the reader should stick with it I am certain he will come out at the end of the tunnel with a great deal of amazement.


For the ancient cultures are far more bizarre than the ordinary person is generally led to expect.

A Fairytale

Once there was a beautiful bright star named Sothis, as fine as any goddess. She had long held a dominant position in the sky and been admired by all for her beauty. But of late she had felt unwell; indeed, it distinctly seemed to her that she felt her life ebbing away. Night by night she fell further from her high, proud place in the sky - closer to the skyline and what must surely be her certain death.


Failing, failing, she clung to any companion star she could find, only to discover that they too felt this deathly weakness, and were sinking into a kind of sweet sleep. What was she to do ? She felt her strength going nightly; she could hardly shine the way she wished. Once she had been as glamorous, as scintillating a queen of the night sky as ever had been seen.


And now she felt she was as worthless as any old woman, her position at the centre of things gone, and her beauty fading steadily. . . . Towards the end she wept bitterly and her eyes reddened with the shame of her coming eclipse. She was so ill, her discomfort so acute. She was almost glad to welcome her fate, and that terrible line of earth and hills which she had dreaded, at last devoured her brilliant presence entirely. The night came and she was no more. Beneath the earth she rested in the balm of death.

But because this queen of the sky had been good during her ascendancy and had not been too haughty or vulgar, there were many admirers of her beauty to mourn her passing. Down on the lowly earth moved less brilliant mortals. Many nights they had stood in awe of the beautiful Sothis when she was in her prime.


Some, indeed, had watched her birth when, red as a baby from the womb or as the Sun when he rises daily, this bright and beautiful immortal (or so she had seemed) had first flashed the most piercing and glittering rays of her incomparable presence sideways across the earth seeming almost to scorch the very ground with her flaming beauty. This first appearance had been brief, for immediately behind her had come the all-engrossing grandeur of the great Sun himself. Heedless of Sothis, he soon washed the sky white with his splendor.


All the stars dissolved like tiny drops of milk, lost when their bowl is suddenly filled to overflowing. So great was the Sun, so irresistible his presence - he whom some compared to a great wild bull bellowing and lording it over the heavens and the earth alike. But every night the Sun retired to his resting place, and night by night the flaming goddess Sothis entranced and bewitched mortal men, as she rose steadily higher and grew to great perfection. And further and further ahead of the Sun she rose each night.

But with her absence, how barren, how bleak, the sky now seemed. The disappearance of this renowned beauty from the vault of the heavens seemed such an unbearable deprivation. How the goddess was missed! Many mortal men shed bitter tears not to see the beauty who had infatuated them with her glancing eyes, her winsome smile, her slim waist and delicate feet. Were they never again to see her light tread in the celestial round dance of the stars ?

Day followed night, and the sorrow of many became soothed by time's healing wings, which slowly fold themselves around the sufferer in invisible layers of sleep, forgetfulness, and the new interests which life must bring. The beautiful Sothis, though mourned, was lost only to the sight. For all remembered her, and that image of her burned into memory was so glorious, that to expect her actual presence came to seem almost too much to ask of many-hued, shifting, and various Fate.

Seventy days had elapsed. Hope had long since been abandoned to acceptance; sorrow had become numb. A shepherd had gone out before sunrise to his lambs now fully six months old. The Sun would not long be delayed, it was approaching the time of daybreak. The shepherd looked towards the skyline in the east. And as he looked, he saw the horizon burn with a refulgent fire, and the shimmering red birth of the goddess. It was she, it must be she! No other star had that aura, such a penetrating persona.


The shepherd stood transfixed; his eyes were seared by this fresh star, dripping it seemed, with the waters of life, and aflame also with the fiery resurgence of its renewed existence. As the quick Sun behind her moved up to erase Sothis's tantalizingly brief appearance, the shepherd turned and ran to the nearest settlement. 'Awake! Awake! The goddess has returned! She is reborn, immortal, come back from death!' And all the devotees assembled with excitement and renewed hope. They heard the tale, saw for themselves the next morning, and they instituted a yearly celebration.


This celebration exists to this day, and many are the temples, many are the priests, who gather in the month of July throughout all our land of Egypt to witness the much-heralded yearly rebirth of the great Sothis, Mother Isis, bestower of concord and blessings to her people. And in honor of her seventy days spent in the underworld, we have instituted the seventy-day embalming and mummification rites for our own dead, as it is pious and indeed right that we should do.

I wrote this fairytale, from the point of view of an ancient Egyptian priest, in order to convey to the reader not only certain facts but also certain equally important and, unfortunately, extinct emotions. For the attitudes and feelings of ancient peoples are just as important as the dry description of what facts they believed.

Sothis was the ancient Egyptian name for Sirius as it was spelt by the Greeks. The Egyptians had a Sothic calendar and the first appearance of Sirius on the eastern horizon just before the sun - after 70 days in the Duat (Underworld) was what is called the heliacal rising (or 'with-the-sun' rising) of Sirius.


This event occurred once a year and gave rise to the Sothic Calendar, whose details we need not go into.

The heliacal rising of Sirius was so important to the ancient Egyptians (as Indeed it is to the Dogon as well1) 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 channeled 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 would be otherwise in total darkness within. In a huge, utterly dark 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 within its temple.


One such temple to the star Sirius was the temple of Isis at Denderah. An ancient hieroglyphic inscription from that temple informs us:2

She shines into her temple on New Year's Day, and she mingles her light with that of her father Ra on the horizon.

(Ra is an ancient Egyptian name for the sun.)

The heliacal rising of Sirius was also important to other ancient peoples. Here is a dramatic description by the ancient Greek poet Aratus of Soli of the rising of Sirius3 (often known as the Dog Star as it is in the constellation Canis, or 'Dog'):

The tip of his [the Dog's] terrible jaw is marked by a star that keenest of all blazes with a searing flame and him men call Sirius. When he rises with the Sun [his heliacal rising], no longer do the trees deceive him by the feeble freshness of their leaves. For easily with his keen glance he pierces their ranks, and to some he gives strength but of others he blights the bark utterly.

We see that this dramatic description of the rising of the star indicates an event which was certainly noticed by ancient peoples. 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 allusion to the Dog Days, the Latins would often speak of Sirius being red at that time, which it was.

We tend to be unaware that stars rise and set at all. This is not entirely due to our living in cities ablaze with electric lights which reflect back at us from our fumes, smoke, and artificial haze. When I discussed the stars with a well-known naturalist, I was surprised to learn that even a man such as he, who has spent his entire lifetime observing wildlife and nature, was totally unaware of the movements of the stars.


And he is no prisoner of smog-bound cities. He had no inkling, for instance, that the Little Bear could serve as a reliable night clock as it revolves in tight circles around the Pole Star (and acts as a celestial hour-hand at half speed - that is, it takes 24 hours rather than 12 for a single revolution).

I wondered what could be wrong. Our modern civilization does not ignore the stars only because most of us can no longer see them. There are definitely deeper reasons. For even if we leave the sulphurous vapors of our Gomorrahs to venture into a natural landscape, the stars do not enter into any of our back-to-nature schemes.


They simply have no place in our outlook any more. We look at them, our heads flung back in awe and wonder that they can exist in such profusion. But that is as far as it goes, except for the poets. This is simply a 'gee whiz' reaction. The rise in interest in astrology today does not result in much actual star-gazing. And as for the space program's impact on our view of the sky, many people will attentively follow the motions of a visible satellite against a backdrop of stars whose positions are absolutely meaningless to them.


The ancient mythological figures sketched in the sky were taught us as children to be quaint 'shepherds' fantasies' unworthy of the attention of adult minds. We are interested in the satellite because we made it, but the stars are alien and untouched by human hands - therefore vapid. To such a level has our technological mania, like a bacterial solution in which we have been stewed from birth, reduced us.

It is only the integral part of the landscape which can relate to the stars. Man has ceased to be that. He inhabits a world which is more and more his own fantasy. Farmers relate to the skies, as well as sailors, camel caravans, and aerial navigators. For theirs are all integral functions involving the fundamental principle - now all but forgotten - of orientation.


But in an almost totally secular and artificial world, orientation is thought to be unnecessary. And the numbers of people in insane asylums or living at home doped on tranquilizers testifies to our aimless, drifting metaphysic. And to our having forgotten orientation either to seasons (except to turn on the air- conditioning if we sweat or the heating system if we shiver) or to direction (our one token acceptance of cosmic direction being the wearing of sun-glasses because the sun is 'over there').

We have debased what was once the integral nature of life channeled by cosmic orientations - a wholeness - to the enervated tepidity of skin sensations and retinal discomfort. Our interior body clocks, known as circadian rhythms, continue to operate inside us, but find no contact with the outside world. They therefore become ingrown and frustrated cycles which never interlock with our environment.


We are causing ourselves to become meaningless body machines programmed to what looks, in its isolation, to be an arbitrary set of cycles. But by tearing ourselves from our context, like the still-beating heart ripped out of the body of an Aztec victim, we inevitably do violence to our psyches. I would call the new disease, with its side effect of 'alienation of the young', dementia temporalis.

When I tried to remedy my own total ignorance of this subject originally, I found it an extremely difficult process. I discovered that I was reading coherent explanatory matter which I 'understood' but did not comprehend. For comprehension consists of understanding from the inside as well as understanding from the outside.


Things that do not really matter to us, or into which we do not imaginatively project our own consciousness, remain strange to us; we understand them outside (like a man feeling the skin of an orange) but we have no inherent relation with the thing, and hence are ultimately divorced from its reality.


This increasing isolation and alienation, a cultural blight of which there is almost universal complaint in the 'civilized' world, is yet another consequence of dementia temporalis. For how can you get inside anything in the end if you have ceased to be inside your own local universe with its cycles and natural events? To be outside nature is to be an outsider in all things.

With these observations in mind and a child's fairytale to help guide us into the anteroom of the Egyptian psyche, let us prepare to take a plunge over a waterfall in the certainty that there is no chance of drowning. I have been ever this particular waterfall before, and I assure you that the thrill is absolutely delicious if you just let yourself go. But there is no question about the fact that will have to swim pretty hard.


We're off. . . and immediately we are in the frothing rapids where names and basic guidelines must be established quickly.


Professors Parker and Neugebauer, who are experts in such matters as these, tell us:4

The Egyptian calendar-year on which the diagonal star clocks (hitherto called 'diagonal calendars') were constructed is the well-known civil or 'wandering' year which consisted of twelve months of three 10-day weeks, divided into three seasons of four months each, followed by five epagomenal days, called by the Egyptians 'the days upon the year'.


The total of 365 days did not vary and as a consequence the Egyptian year moved slowly forward in the natural year by, on the average, one day in four years. As we shall see later . . . this was a continuously vexing complication in keeping the star clocks adjusted.


The basis of these clocks was the risings of the stars (conventionally referred to as 'decans') at twelve 'hour' intervals through the night and in 10-day weeks through the year.

The main star or decan was Sirius. The four decans immediately before it in order comprise the constellation Orion. The last portion of Orion rises above the horizon one 'hour' before Sirius. It was for this reason that Orion took on significance in the Egyptian mythology and religion. The Egyptians were so concerned with Sirius, the star whose rising formed the basis of their entire calendar, that the decan immediately preceding it came to be looked on as Sirius's 'advance man'. Sirius itself was known to the Egyptians as Spd or Spdt (a 't' ending is feminine).


This is sometimes spelt Sept and pronounced thus. Orion was known to the Egyptians as Ssh which is transliterated as Sah or Sah, and pronounced thus.

Now that we have established a few names and facts, we have to consider the next fundamental point. We must establish, on the professors' word for it, that the star Sirius was actually identified with the famous goddess Isis, the head of the Egyptian pantheon. This will be a major breakthrough in our search for understanding. We must be careful not to be just saying things without evidence.


The most common and most offensive characteristic of previous books about 'visiting spacemen' has often been the impossibility of checking any of their statements about ancient cultures (aside from the many obvious errors). Sometimes there are even references to newspaper articles which never existed, or to mysterious professors behind the Iron Curtain who have gone into hiding, taking their unpublished manuscripts with them.


There are some such writers who claim that mysterious hierarchies of 'initiates' exist some of them residing in secret caves deep in the centers of mountains - and some of these 'initiates' are directly in touch with and take their orders from 'flying saucers'!

Now on to the Egyptians: The heliacal rising of Sirius is called in Egyptian prt Spdt.


Neugebauer and Parker say:5

'We offer the suggestion that Spdt was in origin a nisbe of spd referring to Isis as "the one of Spd". That spd and spdt Sothis are both identified with Sirius is one of the rare certainties in Egyptian astronomy.'

Sothis is a goddess firmly identified with Spdt and residing there. Sothis is also identified with the goddess known to us as Isis but whose Egyptian name is ast which is transliterated as Ast.

Professor Wallis Budge makes this interesting observation :8

'The throne or counterpart of Osiris, and it is very probable that originally the same conception underlay both names.'

Osiris as the husband of Isis was identified with the constellation Orion.

Wallis Budge also said, after giving the following hieroglyphic forms of Osiris:7

From the hieroglyphic texts of all periods of the dynastic history of Egypt we learn that the god of the dead, par excellence, was the god, whom the Egyptians called by a name which may be tentatively transcribed As-Ar, or Us-Ar, who is commonly known to us as 'Osiris'. The oldest and simplest form of the name is that is to say, it is written by means of two hieroglyphics the first of which represents a 'throne' and the other an 'eye', but the exact meaning attached to the combination of the two pictures by those who first used them to express the name of the god, and the signification of the name in the minds of those who invented it cannot be said.

There is a great elaboration of what As-Ar does not mean, referring to the use of puns which particularly delighted Egyptian priests, etc. Two pages later he winds up by saying:

'The truth of the matter seems to be that the ancient Egyptians knew just as little about the original meaning of the name As-Ar as we do, and that they had no better means of obtaining information about it than we have.'

The Bozo tribe in Mali, cousins to the Dogon, describe Sirius B as 'the eye star', and here we see the Egyptians designating Osiris by an eye for reasons which are not clear. And Osiris is the 'companion' of the star Sirius. A coincidence? The Bozo also describe Sirius A as 'seated' - and a seat is the sign for Isis.

A little later Budge adds:

'... in some passages (As-Ar or "Osiris") is referred to simply as "god", without the addition of any name. No other god of the Egyptians was ever mentioned or alluded to in this manner, and no other god at any time in Egypt ever occupied exactly the same exalted position in their minds, or was thought to possess his peculiar attributes.'

He adds:8

'The plaque of Hemaka proves that a centre of the Osiris cult existed at Abydos under the 1st Dynasty, but we are not justified in assuming that the god was first worshipped there, and ... it is difficult not to think that even under the 1st Dynasty shrines had been built in honour of Osiris at several places in Egypt.' *

* Emery estimates the First Dynasty as commencing around 3200 B.C.

Thus we see the immense antiquity of the recognition of Ast and Asar (Isis and Osiris), going back well before the dynastic period in Egypt.

Wallis Budge says :9

'The symbol of Isis in the heavens was the star Sept, which was greatly beloved because its appearance marked not only the beginning of a new year, but also announced the advance of the Inundation of the Nile, which betokened renewed wealth and prosperity of the country. As such Isis was regarded as the companion of Osiris, whose soul dwelt in the star Sah, i.e. Orion ...'

Wallis Budge also says:10

Notwithstanding the fact that As, or Ast, i.e. Isis, is one of the goddesses most frequently mentioned in the hieroglyphic texts, nothing is known with certainty about the attributes which were ascribed to her in the earliest times. . . . The name Ast has, like Asar, up to the present defied all explanation, and it is clear from the punning derivations to which the Egyptians themselves had recourse, that they knew no more about the meaning of her name than we do....

The symbol of the name of Isis in Egyptian is a seat, or throne, , but we have no means of connecting it with the attributes of the goddess in such a way as to give a rational explanation of her name, and all the derivations hitherto proposed must be regarded as mere guesses. . . .


An examination of the texts of all periods proves that Isis always held in the minds of the Egyptians a position which was entirely different from that of every other goddess, and although it is certain that their views concerning her varied from time to time, and that certain aspects or phases of the goddess were worshipped more generally at one period than at another, it is correct to say that from the earliest to the latest dynasties Isis was the greatest goddess of Egypt.

Long before the copies of the Pyramid Texts which we possess* were written the attributes of Isis were well defined, and even when the priests of Heliopolis assigned her the position which she held in the cycle of their gods between b.c. 4000 and b.c. 3000 the duties which she was thought to perform in connection with the dead were clearly defined, and were identical with those which belonged to her in the Graeco-Roman period.


* Wallis Budge believes those of the Vth and Vlth Dynasties to be copies of earlier writings including those of the 1st Dynasty; see p. 117 of his book.

I had begun to suspect that the sister-goddess of Isis, who is called Nephthys, represented a possible description of Sirius B, the dark companion star that described a circle around Sirius. (For we have just seen that Isis was identified with Sirius quite precisely by the Egyptians, a fact which no Egyptologist would ever dream of disputing, as it is quite undeniably established as we have seen.)


But I must confess that I was not prepared to discover this following passage :11

On the subject of Anubis Plutarch reports (44;61) some interesting beliefs. After referring to the view that Anubis was born of Nephthys, although Isis was his reputed mother, he goes on to say, 'By Anubis they understand the horizontal circle, which divides the invisible part of the world, which they call Nephthys, from the visible, to which they give the name of 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 - and from this circumstance arose that resemblance, which they imagine between Anubis and the Dog, it being observed of this animal, that he is equally watchful as well by day as night.

This description could be taken to be one of the Sirius system. It clearly describes Isis (whom we know to have been identified with Sirius) as 'the confines of light' and 'the visible', and her sister Nephthys is described as being 'the confines of darkness' and 'the invisible', and common to both is the horizontal circle which divides them - the horizontal circle described, perhaps, by the orbit of the dark companion about the bright star?


And here, too, is an explanation of the symbolism of the dog which has always been associated with Sirius, which has borne throughout the ages the name of the 'Dog Star'.

Anubis is variously represented as jackal-headed and dog-headed in Egyptian art.


Wallis Budge adds:12

'Thus much, however, is certain, that in ancient times the Egyptians paid the greatest reverence and honor to the Dog. ..."

Anubis was also variously represented as the son of Nephthys by Osiris and as being really identical with Osiris himself. A famous tale has him embalm the corpse of Osiris. Osiris was known as Anubis, though, at Oxyrhynchus and Cynopolis.13

A name similar to Anubis (which is really Anpu in Egyptian) and which is also associated with Isis-Sothis (Sirius), is Anukis, a fellow-goddess of Sothis who, along with the goddess Satis, sails in the same celestial boat with Sothis in the Egyptian paintings. There are thus the three goddesses together, possibly a description of Sirius A, Sirius B, and Sirius C, and emphasizing that the Sirius system is really thought to be a three-star system.


Just to underline the point, Neugebauer specifically states:14

'The goddess Satis, who like her companion Anukis is hardly to be taken as a separate constellation but rather as an associate of Sothis.'

The goddess Anukis holds two jars from which she pours water, possibly indicating two watery planets around her star ? All the references to the Sothic heavens are to a watery, reed-growing paradise. Many archaeologists have surmised that this refers to some specifically Egyptian locale. But no one is sure. What is known is that heaven is almost invariably associated with the Sirius system and is described as being prolific of vegetation and watery.

In Plutarch's famous and lengthy treatise (from his immense work the Moralia, which is even longer than his Lives), 'Isis and Osiris' (356) we read:

'. . . Isis was born in the regions that are ever moist.'

In the Loeb Library edition of this, the translator F. C. Babbitt adds a footnote at this point saying:

'The meaning is doubtful. ..."

In other words, no one is really sure what is meant by all these references to Isis-Sothis and the 'moist regions', which are supposed by most scholars quite sensibly to be projections of local Egyptian conditions around the Nile into an ideal celestial region. But most scholars admit that this is mere conjecture. The 'moist regions' could just as well be an attempt to describe some watery planets.

It is worth pointing out that in the event of planets in the Sirius system being watery, we must seriously consider the possibility of intelligent beings from there being amphibious. This ties in with the legend of Oannes which I mentioned in Part One. He was the amphibious being mentioned by the astronomer Carl Sagan from the Sumerian tradition, and was the bringer of civilization to man. In other words, beings of this type would be a bit like mermaids and mermen - and might in some way resemble our intelligent friends the dolphins. I discuss this subject further in Part Three of this book.

Perhaps 'the sirens' are, figuratively, a chorus of mermaids recalled from earlier times. By coincidence, in zoology a siren is 'one of a genus (Siren) of eel-shaped amphibians having small forelimbs, but destitute of hind legs and pelvis, and having permanent external gills as well as lungs'. It would be interesting to see how far back in time these creatures were called by their name.


As for the singing sirens who lure sailors to the rocks, they are called in Greek Seiren (singular), Seirenes (plural) and are first mentioned in Homer's Odyssey. Homer knew of two sirens, but later there was a third, and some added a fourth. (Plato decided there were eight because of that number matching the number of musical notes in the octave.) It is interesting that in Greek Sirius is Seirios. Liddell and Scott in their definitive Greek lexicon give a meaning of the previous Seiren as 'a constellation, like Seirios, Eust. 1709. 54'.

Another similar word Seistron became in Latin sistrum and Liddell and Scott define it as 'A rattle used in the worship of Isis, . . .'

Let us now turn our attention to a remarkable book, Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinckley Allen. In this book, under a discussion of the constellation Canis Major (The Dog), which contains Sirius,15 on p. 130, in a description of the star of the constellation represented by the Greek letter 8 (delta):

It is the modern Wezen, from (the Arabic) Al Wazn, Weight, "as the star seems to rise with difficulty from the horizon," but Ideler calls this an astonishing star-name.'

Yes, concerning what we know, it is astonishing!

Before leaving the star, it is worth noting that Allen says the Chinese knew it is well as some stars in Argo as 'Hoo She, the Bow and Arrow', and that the bow and arrow is a variation motif associated with the Sirius system by the Egyptians. In Neugebauer we read :16

'The goddess Satis, who like her companion Anukis is hardly to be taken as a separate constellation but rather as an associate of Sothis. In Dendera B, the goddess holds a drawn bow and arrow.'

More information regarding Al Wazn, 'Weight', is found in Dr Christian Ludwig Ideler's Untersuchungen ueber den Ursprung und die Bedeutung der Sternnamen, Berlin, 1809, which Allen describes as,

'the main critical compendium of Information on stellar names - Arabic, Greek, and Latin especially. It is to him that we owe the translation of the original Arabic text of Kazwini's Inscription of the Constellations, written in the 13th century, which forms the basis of the Sternnamen, with Ideler's additions and annotations from classical and other sources. From this much information in my book is derived.'

Ideler might well comment that Al Wazn is 'an astonishing star-name'. To call a star in the same constellation as Sirius 'too heavy to rise over the horizon with ease' looks suspiciously like an attempt to describe a 'heavy star' such as Sirius B.

Could this reference to a 'heavy star' be a reference to Sirius B by people who have inherited a slightly garbled version of the tradition of its being a super-dense star invisible to the unaided eye - resulting in their seizing on one of Sirius's apparent companions (as seen from the Earth) and giving it a description properly applying to its actual companion?


The Arabs do not mention '480 ass loads' to describe its weight in the quaint fashion of the Dogon, but the substance of the idea seems to be present. It is well known that ancient Arabic astronomical lore derives from Egypt and is found in Arabic traditions in a degenerate form. Obviously the search must now be on for this concept of a super-heavy star in Egyptian traditions! I had always suspected that this most secret tradition of the Dogon reached them from Egypt, just as the lore of stars reached the Arabs from Egypt.


It will not be easy for us to discover, as it must have been an extremely esoteric and secret teaching of the Egyptians, just as it was the most secret teaching of the Dogon.

A further use of the name Wazn is its loose application to the star Canopus in the constellation Argo.17 Allen, in describing the Argo, quotes the ancient Greek poet Aratos, in a passage showing us something of the relation Argo bears to Canis Major, the Great Dog:

Sternforward Argo by the Great Dog's tail Is drawn . . .

Argo is the constellation representing both Jason's ship with its fifty Argonauts and Noah's ark.

Jason's Argo 'carried Danaos with his fifty daughters from Egypt to Rhodes', as Allen puts it. He adds: 'The Egyptian story said that it was the ark that bore Isis and Osiris over the deluge; while the Hindus thought that it performed the same office for their equivalent Isi and Iswara.'

Allen's old-fashioned spelling 'Iswara' is a reference to the word 'Ishvara'. There are some interesting facts to be gleaned from perusing the meanings of the Sanskrit word ishu, which basically means 'an arrow'. Recall the connection of the bow and arrow with Sirius among both the Egyptians and the Chinese. (Further examples are given in the book Hamlet's Mill, along with interesting illustrations.)


Now note from Monier-Williams's definitive Sanskrit dictionary that ishu means not only 'arrow' but 'ray of light'. Ishvasa means 'a bow' or 'an archer'. Remember the three goddesses and note this: that Ishustrikanda, which literally means 'the threefold arrow', is specifically meant to be the name of a constellation! Monier-Williams says it is 'perhaps the girdle of Orion' (which has three prominent stars). The interested reader must refer to Hamlet's Mill by Santillana and von Dechend for a great deal of discussion of Sirius the Bow Star.

But to return to the celestial Argo-boat (or ark); we have previously encountered this Egyptian idea of the celestial boats in which their gods sailed through the waters of the heavens. The three Sirius-goddesses: Sothis, Anukis, and Satis, were all in the same boat. So it is interesting to see that Argo was a boat connected with Isis and Osiris, for a concept which seems to be peculiarly stubborn in attaching itself to Argo is the number fifty. It is my suspicion that this is a remnant of the concept of Sirius B taking fifty years to complete an orbit around Sirius A.


This suggestion is not as far-fetched as it may seem at first sight. Indeed, the reader will discover as he proceeds that the suggestion will become more and more obvious. We must realize that in Egyptian terms the orbit of Sirius B around Sirius A could have been expressed in terms of a celestial boat. Now since Argo is the boat of Isis and Osiris, what better way to express the fifty-year orbit than by giving the boat fifty oarsmen?


And that is what Argo has - in the tradition there are fifty rowers, or Argonauts.

In order to fortify my argument I shall quote Allen's precise way of describing this:18

'Mythology insisted that it was built by Glaucus, or by Argos, for Jason, leader of the fifty Argonauts, whose number equalled that of the oars of the ship ..."

In other words, it is not the men but the number of oars laid out in line round the ship that is important. A ship (an orbit) with fifty oars (fifty 'markers' or yearly stages)!


And just so that we don't miss the importance of the figure fifty, we are told there were fifty daughters of Danaus transported from Egypt on the Argo! (Readers who wonder what other connection there may be between the Argo of the Greeks and ancient Egypt must be patient.) Argo is therefore totally involved in the picture, as we now see. There are many further ramifications of this, not only of Argo, but of the number fifty.

But before moving on to what that entails, it is worth giving an illustration of the concept of 'the rower' in the celestial barque from an ancient Egyptian coffin text 'The Field of Paradise'.19


It is quite likely that from concepts such as these the idea of a rower and his oar developed and became incorporated in the Argo myth and came to be symbolic:

'. . . in the place where Re (the Sun) sails with rowing. I am the keeper of the halyard in the boat of the god; I am the oarsman who does not weary in the barque of Re.' (Re is another form of the more familiar Ra.)

The first person in this text refers to the deceased Pharaoh. This is one of the examples of the common Egyptian conception that when a Pharaoh died he became a celestial rower. It should be obvious, then, how the concept of 'fifty rowers' by fifty positions, or oars, came to be important as symbols. It harks back to this Egyptian motif.

Now we must turn to the Sumerian civilization (which later developed into the Babylonian civilization). We shall be back in Egypt soon enough, with more Argo material. But we must go east. Sumer-Akkad was roughly contemporaneous with ancient Egypt, and the lands are known to have been in contact.


In a major source we read20 of the Sumerian word Magan:

'The land Magan is usually identified either with Arabia or with Egypt.'

But whatever contact the two civilizations may have had, we must first investigate the Sumerian religion and mythology. For this we rely primarily on the excellent work of Samuel Noah Kramer of the University of Pennsylvania. The Sumerian heaven-god is called Anu. (In Sanskrit anupa means 'a watery county'.)


I had a considerable shock when I discovered that Alexander Heidel says in The Babylonian Genesis:

'. . . just as the departed spirits of Enlil and Anu were pictured as the wild ass and the jackal, respectively'.21

Anu is represented by the jackal. Well, of course, the jackal is the symbol (interchangeable with the dog) of the Egyptian Anpu (Anubis)!

I shall explain later why I consider Anu to be related to the Sirius question, apart from this obvious parallel. At the moment I shall deal with further related parallels which I consider amazing. Anu is the king of some attendant deities called the Anunnaki. We shall shortly see why they are so involved in the Sirius question.


But note the recurrence in Sumer of 'Anu' in both Anu and the Anunnaki, and in Egypt with both Anpu (Anubis) and Anukis. In all these cases Sirius is involved. Even the jackal or dog is common as a symbol to the 'Anu' in both countries. There are other parallels, but we shall come to them in due course.

In Sumerian the word an means 'heaven' and Anu is the god of heaven.

Wallis Budge says22 that the Egyptian god Nu was often identified with Nut, which is 'heaven'.

Significantly, he expressly states:23

It is surprising therefore to find so much similarity existing between the primeval gods of Sumer and those of Egypt, especially as the resemblance cannot be the result of borrowing. It is out of the question to assume that Ashur-banipal's editors borrowed the system from Egypt, or that the literary men of the time of Seti I borrowed their ideas from the literati of Babylonia or Assyria, and we are therefore driven to the conclusion that both the Sumerians and the early Egyptians derived their primeval gods from some common but exceedingly ancient source. The similarity between the two companies of gods seems to be too close to be accidental ... it is certain that the company of primeval gods . . . was quite different from . . . those which formed in Babylonia and Assyria when these countries were inhabited by Semitic populations.

I had come to all these conclusions myself before seeing this passage by Wallis Budge.

But to return to Anu. Osiris is sometimes known as An.24


In a hymn to Osiris25 he is called the 'god An of millions of years . . .' and also 'An in An-tes, Great One, Heru-khuti, thou stridest over heaven with long strides'. Therefore this designation as An is specifically connected with heaven and the long strides mean heavenly motion.

In considering An and Anu we must look again at Anubis. But as we do so we shall take a glance at the Sanskrit. Recall that Anubis in Plutarch's account seemed to refer specifically to the orbit of Sirius B. In Sanskrit the word anda means 'ellipse', and the word anu means 'minute, atomic, "the subtle one", an atom of matter' and animan means 'minuteness, atomic nature, the smallest particle, the superhuman power of becoming as small as an atom'.


The first word could describe an orbit. Since Kepler, we have known that our planets move in elliptical orbits rather than circular ones, and the orbit of Sirius B is that of an ellipse. As for the next two forms anu and animan, they seem to have meanings perilously peripheral to an account of that level of matter (the atomic) where the nature of Sirius B is manifested.


We shall see much later in the book that other similarities exist between certain Sanskrit terms relevant to the Sirius question and like terms in Egypt and the Near East. But we shall leave those philological matters until later, when they will be shown to have considerable importance.

Back to Anubis.


Wallis Budge says of him:28

'His worship is very ancient, and there is no doubt that even in the earliest times his cult was general in Egypt; it is probable that it is older than that of Osiris.'

Also he points out here, as elsewhere, that the face of the deceased human becomes identified with Anubis, and it is just the head of Anubis which is symbolically represented by the jackal or dog. I have already pointed out that he is described as the circle or orbit separating the dark Nephthys from the light Isis or Sirius. In other words, I take Anubis to represent the orbit of Sirius B around Sirius A.


We also find him described as 'time',27 a particularly intelligent way of looking at an orbit as progressive and sequential in time. 'Time the devourer', a motif common to us all, is no stranger to the Egyptians. It should not surprise us that Anubis is also represented as a devourer! More specifically, he is accused of devouring the Apis bull.


The Apis bull is the animal into which the dead Osiris was sewn and transported, according to a late legend which is widely known. But more basically, the 'Apis Bull' (the deity known under the Ptolemies us Serapis) is Asar-Hapi. It is Osiris himself! In The Gods of the Egyptians, we read 'Apis is called "the life of Osiris, the lord of heaven" ' and 'Apis was, in fact, believed to be animated by the soul of Osiris, and to be Osiris incarnate'.28


So, consequently, when Anubis (devoured Apis, he was eating the husband of Isis! It is very colorfully represented in these dramatic mythological terms, but the meaning is clear.


We read later:29

'Others again are of the opinion that by Anubis is meant Time, and that his denomination of Kuon [the Greek word for 'dog'] does not so much allude to any likeness which he has to the dog, though this be the general rendering of the word, as to that other significance of the term taken from breeding; because Time begets all things out of itself, bearing them within itself, as it were in a womb. But this is one of those secret doctrines which are more fully made known to those who are initiated into the worship of Anubis.'

Exactly. A secret doctrine! What one would give for a fuller account!


This is the trouble with most of our sources; they give away little except by inference. Secret doctrines are not scribbled down too frequently and left for posterity. The most secret doctrine of the Dogon was only revealed with great reluctance after many, many years, and following upon a conference by the Initiates. The Egyptians were no fools, and we can hardly expect them to have left papyri or texts specifically revealing in so many words what they were not supposed to reveal. We can only try to piece together clues. But we will see our clues eventually turn into a veritable avalanche.

The last passage from Wallis Budge was a quotation by him from Plutarch's 'Isis and Osiris'. Many Egyptologists have remarked on the irony that we have nowhere in Egyptian sources a full, coherent account of Isis and Osiris not even in all the sources put together! And we are forced to rely on Plutarch, who did preserve a long account which he wrote in his native Greek. Plutarch in thought to have been a priest himself, and was certainly a Delphic initiate.

He had a talent for befriending priests and priestesses. One of his best friends was the priestess Clea of the oracle at Delphi. His treatise 'Isis and Osiris' is dedicated to Clea and addressed to her.


It begins with these words:

'All good things, my dear Clea, sensible men must ask from the gods; and especially do we pray that from those mighty gods we may, in our quest, gain a knowledge of themselves, so far as such a thing is attainable by men.'

This gives some indication of what Plutarch was like as a man.

The Introduction to the Loeb edition of Isis and Osiris by F. C. Babbitt says:

'[Plutarch] once visited Egypt, but how long he stayed and how much he learned we have no means of knowing. It is most likely that his treatise represents the knowledge current in his day, derived, no doubt, from two sources: books and priests.'

It is certain that Plutarch's friend Clea, who was so important at Delphi, would have seen to it that Plutarch had ample introductions to leading priests of Egypt.


This sort of thing was standard practice as with the study of Egyptian religion and astronomy undertaken centuries earlier by the Greek scholar Eudoxus (colleague of Plato and Aristotle), who was given a letter of introduction to the last of the native Pharaohs, Nectanebo, by the Spartan general Agesilaus, and who in turn sent him off to associate with his priests. The fact that Plutarch's treatise is addressed to Clea may indicate a debt to her for its preparation as well as common religious enthusiasms.


So, no doubt Plutarch did with the Egyptian priests what Griaule and Dieterlen did with the Dogon - drew some secret traditions out of them. It is thus not surprising that Plutarch's essay is more respected by Egyptologists than by classicists.

Plutarch says:

'Some are of the opinion that Anubis is Cronos.'30

Chronos, of course, was the Greek 'time the devourer', spelt with an h. Cronos in Latin is Saturn. There is a considerable debate among scholars whether Cronos (Saturn), the former chief god prior to Zeus (Jupiter), has any definite relation to the word chronos spelt with the h and sometimes used as a proper name for Time.


From this latter word we derive chronology, chronicle, etc. The Sumerian god Anu is quite similar to the Greek Cronos because both Cronos and Anu were 'old' gods who were displaced by younger blood - by Zeus and Enlil respectively. Thus another possible link between Anu and Anubis, if one be willing to grant that Cronos and Chronos are not entirely separate words and concepts in ancient pre-classical Greece.

Wallis Budge continues with reference to Plutarch:

Referring to Osiris as the 'common Reason which pervades both the superior and inferior regions of the universe', he [Plutarch] says that it is, moreover, called 'Anubis, and sometimes likewise Hermanubis (i.e. Heru-em-Anpu); the first of these names expressing the relation it has to the superior, as the latter, to the inferior world. And for this reason it is, they sacrifice to him two Cocks, the one white, as a proper emblem of the purity and brightness of things above, the other of a saffron color, expressive of that mixture and variety which is to found on those lower regions.'

Here is what I take to be a possible reference to the white Sirius A and the 'darker' Sirius B. But also, the 'lower regions' are the horizons, where white heavenly bodies at their 'births' and 'deaths' become saffron-colored.

There is a clearer translation by Babbitt in the precise description of Anubis as 'the combined relation of the things'31 rather than as 'the common Reason which pervades' the light world and the dark world.


A circular orbit is just that - 'a combined relation' between the star revolving and the star revolved around. In order to make this more firmly established less as fancy than as fact, I shall cite Plutarch's words from his next paragraph (Babbitt's translation):

'Moreover, they (the Egyptians) record that in the so-called books of Hermes (the Trismegistic literature?) it is written in regard to the sacred names that they call the power which is assigned to direct the revolution of the Sun Horus . . .'

This is important because we see here that they specifically call the orbit of the sun by a god's name. If they can call the revolution of the sun by a god's name, they can call the revolution of Sirius B (assuming they really knew about it) by a god's name. We are dealing with a precedent.


Now we resume this quotation because it is interesting for other reasons:

'. . .but the Greeks call it Apollo; and the power assigned to the wind some call Osiris and others Serapis; and Sothis in Egyptian signifies "pregnancy" (cyesis) or "to be pregnant" (cyein): therefore in Greek, with a change of accent, the star is called the Dog-star (Cyon), which they regard as the special star of Isis.'

A further piece of information from Plutarch about Anubis is:32

'And when the child (Anubis, child of Nephthys by Osiris) had been found, after great toil and trouble, with the help of dogs which led Isis to it, it was brought up and became her guardian and attendant, receiving the name Anubis, and it is said to protect the gods just as dogs protect men.'

If Anubis is conceived of as an orbit around Sirius, then he would indeed he attendant upon Isis! He would go round and round her like a guard dog.

Plutarch has an interesting tale:

'Moreover, Eudoxus says that the Egyptians have a mythical tradition in regard to Zeus that, because his legs were grown together, he was not able to walk . . .'33

This sounds very like the amphibious Oannes of the Sumerians who had a tail for swimming instead of legs for walking.

Plutarch provides us with an important and crucial clue linking Isis with the Argo and the Argonauts and demonstrating a probable derivation of an idea that has puzzled classicists enormously (and later on we shall see the links between Isis and the Argo considerably elaborated):

'Like these also are the Egyptian beliefs; for they oftentimes call Isis by the name of Athena, expressive of some such idea as this, "I came of myself," which is indicative of self- impelled motion.'34

It must be remembered that the Greek goddess Athena, the goddess of the mind and of wisdom, was reputed to have sprung full-fledged from the brow of Zeus. She was not born. She came of herself.


However, the quotation must be continued to make the point:

Typhon, as has been said, is named Seth and Bebon and Smu, and these names would indicate some forcible and preventive check or opposition or reversal.

Moreover, they call the lodestone the bone of Horus, and iron the bone of Typhon, as Manetho records. For, as the iron oftentimes acts as if it were being attracted and drawn toward the stone, and oftentimes is rejected and repelled in the opposite direction, in the same way the salutary and good and rational movement of the world at one time, by persuasion, attracts and draws towards itself and renders more gentle that harsh and Typhonian movement, and then again it gathers itself together and reverses it and plunges it into difficulties.

The identification of Isis with Athena here in connection with lodestones and 'self-impelled motion' brings to mind the placing by Athena of a cybernetic * oak timber from the holy sanctuary of Dodona (supposedly founded by Deukalion, the Greek Noah, after his ark landed) in the keel of the Argo.

* Norbert Wiener in Cybernetics, the pioneer textbook of computer theory, said: 'We have decided to call the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the machine or in the animal, by the name Cybernetics . . . (from the Greek for) steersman.'

H. W. Parke in his books Greek Oracles and The Oracles of Zeus refers to this:

'Athena when the Argo was built took a timber from the oak tree of Dodona (the oracular centre of Zeus) and fitted it into the keel. This had the result that the Argo itself could speak and guide or warn the Argonauts at critical moments, as it actually is represented as doing in our extant epics on the subject.


The original epic is lost, but there is no reason to doubt that this miraculous feature went back to it, and, if so, was at least as old as the Odyssey in which the Argo and its story are mentioned.'

Parke then emphasizes most strongly that it is the timber itself that acts as guide. It is self-sufficient and not merely an oracular medium.


Thus we see that the Argo had a unique capacity for 'self impelled motion' which was built into it by Athena (whom Plutarch identifies with Isis).88

Now is a suitable stage to return to the Sumerians, as in their culture we shall find many significant references to 'fifty heroes', 'fifty great gods', etc. But first we shall leave the fifty Argonauts and their magical ship to turn our attention to what appears to be a rather precise Egyptian description of the Sirius system preserved in an unusual source.


The source is G. R. S. Mead (who was a friend of the poet Yeats and is mentioned by his nickname 'Old Crore' in Ezra Pound's Cantos), whose three volume Thrice Greatest Hermes36 contains a translation of, with extensive prolegomena and notes to, the obscure and generally ignored ancient 'Trismegistic literature' of the Hermetic tradition. These writings are largely scorned by classical scholars who consider them Neoplatonic forgeries.


Of course, ever since the wild Neoplatonic boom in the Italian Renaissance period when Marsilio Ficino translated and thereby preserved for posterity (one must grant the Medicis the credit for finding and purchasing the manuscripts!) such Neoplatonists as Iamblichus, as well as these Trismegistic writings, the Neoplatonists have been in the doghouse. The Loeb Classical Library still has not published all of Plotinus even now.

But most readers will not be familiar either with the term 'trismegistic' or with the Neoplatonists. So I had better explain. The Neoplatonists are Greek philosophers who lived long enough after Plato to have lost the name of Platonists as far as modern scholars are concerned (though they were intellectual disciples of Plato and considered themselves Platonists).


Modern scholars have added the prefix 'Neo-' to 'Platonist' for their own convenience, in order to distinguish them from their earlier predecessors, those Platonists who lived within 150 years of Plato himself. The Platonic Academy existed for over nine centuries at Athens. In actuality, scholars talk about 'Middle Platonists', 'Syrian Platonists', 'Christian Platonists', 'Alexandrian Platonists', and so on. I suggest the reader look at my Appendix I, which will tell him a lot about the Neoplatonists and their connection with the Sirius mystery, and which deals primarily with Proclus.

G. R. S. Mead, at the beginning of his work Thrice Greatest Hermes, explains fully what 'the Trismegistic Literature' is. He calls it 'Trismegistic' instead of by its earlier designation 'Hermetic' (from the name of the Greek god Hermes) in order to distinguish it from other less interesting writings such as the Egyptian Hermes prayers and also the 'Hermetic Alchemical Literature'.


The Trismegistic writings are now fragmentary and consist of a large amount of exceedingly strange sermons, dialogues, excerpts by Stobaeus and the Fathers of the Church from lost writings, etc. I hesitate to give a brief summary of them and suggest that the interested reader actually look into this subject himself. There are some matters which defy summary, and I consider this to be one of them.


The writings contain some 'mystical' elements and certainly some sublime elements. Old Cosimo de Medici was told by Ficino that he could translate for him either the Hermetic Literature or the dialogues of Plato, but not both at once.


Cosimo knew he was dying. He said something like:

'If only I could read the Hooks of Hermes, I would die happy. Plato would be nice but not as important. Do the Hermes, Ficino.'

And Ficino did.

As I explain fully in Appendix I, the Neoplatonists are so thoroughly despised through the bias of the moment, however one cares to define that bias, that the Trismegistic literature suffers with Neoplatonism under the onus of being considered too far removed from reality and logic and being inclined inwards the mystical.


This does not fit well with the hard rationalism of an age still bound by the (albeit decaying) fetters of nineteenth-century scientific deterministic prejudice. The sublime irony is, of course, that proven and authentic Egyptian texts are obviously mystical, but that is considered all right. However, as long as there is a belief that the Trismegistic literature is Neoplatonic it will be despised because it is mystical.

The Trismegistic literature may be Neoplatonic. But that does not make what it has to say about Egyptian religion any less valid per se than the 'Isis and Osiris' by the Greek Plutarch, who was only slightly earlier in time than the Neoplatonist Greeks. It is time for scholars to pay some attention to this sadly neglected material. Much of the Trismegistic literature probably goes back to genuine sources or compilations such as Manetho's lost Sothis.


Or the literature may be quite ancient, in which case some of it cannot, in its present form, be earlier than the Ptolemaic period when the Zodiac as we know it was Introduced into Egypt by the Greeks who in turn had it from Babylon. (I cannot here discuss the matter of earlier forms of zodiac, such as at Denderah.)

Mead quotes an Egyptian magic papyrus, this being an uncontested Egyptian document which he compares to a passage in the Trismegistic literature:

'I invoke thee, Lady Isis, with whom the Good Daimon doth unite, He who is Lord in the perfect black.'"

We know that Isis is identified with Sirius A, and here we may have a description of her star-companion 'who is Lord in the perfect black', namely the invisible companion with whom she is united, Sirius B.

Mead, of course, had no inkling of the Sirius question. But he cited this magic papyrus in order to shed comparative light on some extraordinary passages in a Trismegistic treatise he translated which has the title 'The Virgin of the World'. In his comments on the magic papyrus Mead says:

'It is natural to make the Agathodaimon ("the Good Daimon") of the Papyrus refer to Osiris; for indeed it is one of his most frequent designations. Moreover, it is precisely Osiris who is pre-eminently connected with the so-called "underworld", the unseen world, the "mysterious dark". He is lord there . . . and indeed one of the ancient mystery-sayings was precisely, "Osiris is a dark God."

'The Virgin of the World' is an extraordinary Trismegistic treatise in the form of a dialogue between the hierophant (high priest) as spokesman for Isis and the neophyte who represents Horus. Thus the priest instructing the initiate is portrayed as Isis instructing her son Horus.

The treatise begins by claiming it is 'her holiest discourse' which 'so speaking Isis doth pour forth'. There is, throughout, a strong emphasis on the hierarchical principle of lower and higher beings in the universe - that earthly mortals are presided over at intervals by other, higher, beings who interfere in Earth's affairs when things here become hopeless, etc. Isis says in the treatise:

'It needs must, therefore, be the less should give place to the greater mysteries.'

What she is to disclose to Horus is a great mystery. Mead describes it as the mystery practiced by the arch-hierophant. It was the degree (here 'degree' is in the sense of 'degree' in the Masonic 'mysteries', which are hopelessly garbled and watered-down versions of genuine mysteries of earlier times),

'called the "Dark Mystery" or "Black Rite". It was a rite performed only for those who were judged worthy of it after long probation in lower degrees, something of a far more sacred character, apparently, than the instruction in the mysteries enacted in the light.'

Mead adds:

'I would suggest, therefore, that we have here a reference to the most esoteric institution of the Isiac tradition . . .', Isiac meaning of course 'Isis-tradition', and not to be confused with the Book of Isaiah in the Bible (so that perhaps it is best for us not to use the word-form 'Isiac').

It is in attempting to explain the mysterious 'Black Rite' of Isis at the highest degree of the Egyptian mysteries that Mead cited the magic papyrus which I have already quoted. He explains the 'Black Rite' as being connected with Osiris being a 'dark god' who is 'Lord of the perfect black' which is 'the unseen world, the mysterious black'.

This treatise 'The Virgin of the World' describes a personage called Hermes who seems to represent a race of beings who taught earthly mankind the arts of civilization after which:

'And thus, with charge unto his kinsmen of the Gods to keep sure watch, he mounted to the Stars'.

According to this treatise mankind have been a troublesome lot requiring scrutiny and, at rare intervals of crisis, intervention.

After Hermes left Earth to return to the stars there was or were in Egypt someone or some people designated as 'Tat' (Thoth) who were initiates into the celestial mysteries. I take this to refer to the Egyptian priests. However, one of the most significant passages in the treatise follows immediately upon this statement, and indicates to me that this treatise must have some genuine Egyptian source, for no late Greek should have been capable of incorporating this.


But in order to recognize this one must know about the extraordinary Imhotep, a brilliant genius, philosopher, doctor, and Prime Minister (to use our terms) during the Third Dynasty in Egypt circa 2600 B.C. under King Zoser, whose tomb and temple he constructed and designed himself. (This is the famous step-pyramid at Sakkara, the first pyramid ever built and the world's earliest stone building according to some.)


Imhotep was over the centuries gradually transformed into a god and 'a son of Ptah'. One reason why the process of his deification may have been retarded for some thousands of years is that writings by him survived, rather like the survival of the Gathas by Zarathustra (Zoroaster), making it impossible to claim that a man who left writings could in fact have been a god. Just like Mohammed and Zoroaster, Imhotep remained a sort of 'prophet' through his surviving writings.

For the significant passage, now, here is the entire paragraph:

'To him (Hermes) succeeded Tat, who was at once his son and heir unto these knowledges [this almost certainly implies a priesthood]; and not long afterwards Asclepius-Imuth, according to the will of Ptah who is Hephaestus, and all the rest who were to make enquiry of the faithful certitude of heavenly contemplation, as Foreknowledge (or Providence) willed, Foreknowledge queen of all.'

Now this is a really striking passage. We have the mysterious 'Hermes' succeeded by an Egyptian priesthood of Thoth. Then 'not long afterwards' we have someone called Asclepius-Imuth 'according to the will of Ptah'. This is I mhotep! Ptah, known to the Greeks as Hephaestus, was considered the father of Imhotep in late Egyptian times. In fact, it is interesting that this text avoids the late form 'son of Ptah' to describe Imhotep.


Imhotep was known to the Greeks and provided the basis for their god Asclepius (the Greek god of medicine, corresponding to Imhotep's late form as Egyptian god of medicine). Imhotep is also spelled Imouthes, Imothes, Imutep, etc. Hence the form in this treatise 'Asclepius-Imuth'.

There is absolutely no question that Imhotep is being referred to here. And in the light of that, certain other statements in this passage become quite interesting.

It has already been mentioned that in a treatise like 'The Virgin of the World', where gods' names are thrown round like birdseed, the authors were exceedingly restrained to have avoided labeling Asclepius-Imhotep as 'a son of Ptah-Hephaestus'. This may, indeed, point to a genuine early source from the time before that when the Egyptians ceased to regard Imhotep as a mortal.

Hurry says:38

For many years Egyptologists have been puzzled to explain why Imhotep, who lived in the days of King Zoser, ca. 2900 B.C., was not ranked among the full gods of Egypt until the Persian period, dating from 525 b.c. The apotheosis of a man, however distinguished, so many centuries after his lift on earth seems mysterious.


The explanation appears to be that first suggested by Erman, viz. that Imhotep, at any rate during a large part of the interval was regarded as a sort of hero or demigod and received semidlvlne worship. Erman suggested that this rank of demigod was bestowed on him at the time of the New Kingdom, i.e. about 1580 B.C., but more recent evidence seems to indicate that this demigod stage was reached at a much earlier period.

Here a bit of chronology helps.


'The Virgin of the World' correctly described Imhotep as 'not long afterwards', following upon the creation of the Egyptian priesthood, presumably in the First Dynasty after Menes, in the form in which it would be known after the unification of Egypt. Imhotep lived in the Third Dynasty, at the beginning of the Old Kingdom. I. E. S. Edwards39 estimates this as commencing about 2686 B.C. He puts the start of the First Dynasty about 3100 B.C. Imhotep is thus literally 'not long afterwards'. Whoever wrote 'The Virgin of the World' knew his Egyptian chronology and also did not call Imhotep 'son of Ptah'.

There is another point. Looking at this statement from 'The Virgin of the World': '. . . and all the rest (i.e. after Imhotep) who were to make enquiry of the faithful certitude of heavenly contemplation . . .', we find that we have a reference to successors of Imhotep who 'enquired' into the riddles of the universe and also a description of Imhotep's own activities as an 'enquirer'.


This also is accurate and reflects considerable knowledge of the subject.


For Imhotep is often described as the first genuine philosopher known by name. And on p. 30 of his book, Hurry refers to apparent successors mentioned in an Oxyrhyncus papyrus (in Greek, edited by Grenfell and Hunt) which relates that 'Imhotep was worshipped as early as the IVth Dynasty, and his temple was resorted to by sick and afflicted persons'.


Hurry further says:

'The other persons are Horus son of Hermes, and Kaleoibis son of Apollo (Imhotep being a son of Ptah); it is not known who these were.'

Could they have been successors of Imhotep at 'enquiring' ?


It seems likely that we shall be learning more of these people as excavations in Egypt proceed. In 1971-2 there came to light at Sakkara a remarkable group of texts written by a man named Hor (from Horus), describing his life at an Egyptian temple in the Ptolemaic period, recounting his dreams and his political encounters. These texts should have been published by 1976 by the Egypt Exploration Society.

Hurry refers to the Trismegistic (Hermetic) literature as follows:

'If the references to Imhotep in Hermetic literature can be trusted, he was also interested in astronomy and astrology, although no special observations are associated with his name. Sethe gives various references to that literature, showing that Imhotep was reputed to have been associated with the god Thoth (Hermes) in astronomical observations.'40

Obviously Imhotep, as chief priest under King Zoser (for he held that office as well), was associated with Thoth (Tat) in the form of the priesthood previously mentioned who had the 'Dark Rite' as their highest mystery. Here is actual confirmation, then, that it was astronomical matters with which they dealt. In other words, my astronomical interpretation receives some confirmation from this source as well. It is nice when loose ends tie up.

Inscriptions in a temple at Edfu built by Ptolemy III Euergetes I (237 B.C.) describe Imhotep as 'the great priest Imhotep the son of Ptah, who speaks or lectures'. Hurry says 'Imhotep enjoyed the reputation of being "one of the greatest of Egyptian sages";41 his fame for wisdom made so deep an impression

on his countrymen that it endured as a national tradition for many centuries.

'As regards his literary activities, he is said to have produced works on medicine and architecture, as well as on more general subjects, and some of his works were extant at the dawn of the Christian era. ... his eminence as a man of letters led him to be recognized as the "patron of scribes." '

In other words, he was the first great philosopher. And he obviously 'spoke and lectured' in his lifetime.


Perhaps he was the first classical Greek in prototype. We also have something to look forward to - his tomb has yet to be discovered. It is thought to be at Sakkara, and the late Professor Emery more than once thought he had come close to discovering it in his excavations there, which are now being carried on by Professor Smith, who is a man with a strange enough aura about him to convince anyone that he is capable of making a discovery which would be the most important in archaeological history and beside which the minor and later tomb of a boy Pharaoh named Tutankhamen would entirely pale by comparison.


But perhaps the most interesting thing about the possible forthcoming discovery of Imhotep's tomb is that it will almost certainly be full of books. Would a man like Imhotep be buried without them ?

Bearing these books in mind (and I am sure they are there waiting underground like a time bomb for us), it is interesting to read this passage in 'The Virgin of the World' following shortly upon that previously quoted:

The sacred symbols of the cosmic elements were hid away hard by the secrets of Osiris. Hermes, ere he returned to Heaven, invoked a spell on them, and spake these words: . . . 'O holy books, who have been made by my immortal hands, by incorruption's magic spells ... (at this point there is a lacuna as the text is hopeless) . . . free from decay throughout eternity remain and incorrupt from time! Become unseeable, unfindable, for every one whose foot shall tread the plains of this land, until old Heaven doth bring forth meet instruments for you, whom the Creator shall call souls.'

Thus spake he; and, laying spells on them by means of his own works, he shut them safe away in their own zones. And long enough the time has been since they were hid away.

In the treatise the highest objective of ignorant men searching for the truth is described as:

'(Men) will seek out . . . the inner nature of the holy spaces which no foot may tread, and will chase after them into the height, desiring to observe the nature of the motion of the Heaven.

'These are as yet moderate things. For nothing more remains than Earth's remotest realms; nay, in their daring they will track out Night, the farthest Night of all.'


We 'will chase out into the height' of space to 'observe the nature of the motions of the Heavens', says this old (indeterminately old) treatise.

How correct it was. We have now landed on the moon, which is 'chasing out into the height' with a vengeance. And we are indeed 'observing the nature of the notion of the Heavens'.


And the treatise is also right in saying that 'these are yet moderate things'.


For, as everyone knows, the people in the space program feel as if they have only just begun. Man will only pause properly again when he has made the entire solar system his familiar and his own. Then we shall be faced with the limitations of our solar system and the barrier that separates it from the stars. What then ? Yes, what we have done to date certainly deserves the description of 'yet moderate things'. Vasco da Gama may have congratulated himself on his brilliant navigational accomplishments, but as we can clearly see in his case, a beginning is only a beginning. It is 'yet moderate things'.

According to the treatise, after these moderate things we shall 'in our daring' even learn the greatest secret ... we shall discover 'Night'. And the meaning of the 'Dark Rite' will become clear.


And as this rite and this mystery concern Isis and the star Sirius and by the context of this prophecy clearly concerns the heavens,

  • Can we be accused of sensationalism in making the suggestion that nothing would shake up the human race more than having the discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe proven for the first time ?

  • And what if the dark companion of Sirius really does hold the answer to this mystery?

  • What if the nearest centre of civilization really is based at the Sirius system and keeps a watchful eye on us from time to time ?

  • What if this is proven by our detecting on our radio telescopes actual traces of local radio communications echoing down those nine light years of space in the vast spreading ripple of disintegrating signals that any culture remotely near to us in development would be bound to dribble forth into the surrounding universe ?

  • What if this happens?

  • It will be like the sky falling in, won't it?



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 premises 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', his 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 G.

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 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 semidivine 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 Danaos.'

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.


Back to Contents





  1. Le Renard Pale, p. 325. Figure 109 in that book shows it, drawn as 'the meeting of Sirius with the Sun'.

  2. Mariette, Denderah, Vol. I, p. 206.

  3. Aratus, Phaenomena 331-6. English translation in Loeb Library series, in volume with Callimachus and Lycophron. See bibliography.

  4. Vol. I, p. 1, of Egyptian Astronomical Texts, Otto Neugebauer and Richard Parker, Brown University Press, 1960-7.

  5. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 25.

  6. The Gods of the Egyptians, London, 1904, Vol. II, p. 114.

  7. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 113.

  8. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 117.

  9. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 215.

  10. Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 202-3.

  11. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 264.

  12. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 265.

  13. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 139.

  14. Neugebauer and Parker, op. cit.

  15. Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, R. H. Allen, Dover Publications, New York, 1963, p. 130.

  16. Neugebauer and Parker, op. cit.

  17. Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, p. 68.

  18. Ibid., p. 65.

  19. Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament, ed. by James B. Pritchard, Princeton University Press, 1955, p. 33.

  20. Ibid., p. 41.

  21. Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, University of Chicago Press, 1965, p. 86.

  22. Wallis Budge, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 284.

  23. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 290.

  24. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 154, and Vol. I, p. 446.

  25. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 154.

  26. Ibid., Vol. II, p. 261.

  27. Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 264-5.

  28. Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 195-200.

  29. Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 264-5.

  30. 'Isis and Osiris', Loeb edition, p. 107,

  31. Ibid., p. 145.

  32. Ibid., p. 39.

  33. Ibid., p. 149.

  34. Ibid., p. 147.

  35. The Oracles of Zeus, H. W. Parke, p. 13.

  36. Thrice Greatest Hermes, G. R. S. Mead, John Watkins, London, 1964.

  37. Ibid, Vol. Ill, p. 95. He quotes from Wessley, Denkschr d. k. Akad. (1893), P.37, 1 500.

  38. See Imhotep, the Vizier and Physician of King Zoser and afterwards the Egyptian God of Medicine, by Jamieson B. Hurry, Oxford University Press, 1926.

  39. I. E. S. Edwards, The Pyramids of Egypt, Penguin, 1970.

  40. Hurry, op. cit., p. 20.

  41. Ibid., p. 40.