Secret Arcana.com – May 2011
Since ancient times and across multiple civilizations, Sirius, the dog star, has been surrounded with a mysterious lore. Esoteric teachings of all ages have invariably attributed to Sirius a special status and the star’s importance in occult symbolism is an attestation of that fact. What makes Sirius so special? Is it simply due to the fact that it is the brightest star in the sky? Or is it also because humanity has an ancient, mysterious connection with it? This article looks at the importance of Sirius throughout History and secret societies and will describe the symbolism surrounding it.
Sirius is located in the constellation Canis Major – also known as the Big Dog – and is therefore known as the “dog star”. It is over twenty times brighter than our sun and is twice as massive. At night time, Sirius is the brightest star in the sky and its blue-white glare never failed to amaze star gazers since the dawn of time. No wonder Sirius has been revered by practically all civilizations. But is there more to Sirius than meets the eye?
Artifacts of ancient civilizations have revealed that Sirius was of a great importance in astronomy, mythology and occultism. Mystery schools consider it to be “sun behind the sun” and, therefore, the true source of our sun’s potency. If our sun’s warmth keeps the physical world alive, Sirius is considered to keep the spiritual world alive. It is the “real light” shining in the East, the spiritual light, where as the sun illuminates the physical world, which is considered to be a grand illusion.
Associating Sirius with the divine and even considering it as the home of humanity’s “great teachers” is not embedded in the mythology of a few primitive civilizations: It is a widespread belief that has survived (and even intensified) to this day. We will look at the importance of Sirius in ancient times, analyze its prominence in secret societies and we will examine these esoteric concepts as they are translated in popular culture.
In Ancient Civilisations
In Ancient Egypt, Sirius was regarded as the most important star in the sky. In fact, it was astronomically the foundation of their entire religious system. It was revered as Sothis and was associated with Isis, the mother goddess of Egyptian mythology. Isis is also the female aspect of the trinity formed by herself, Osiris and their son Horus. Ancient Egyptians held Sirius in such a high regard that most of their deities were associated, in some way or another, with the star. Anubis, the dog-headed god of death, had an obvious connection with the dog star and Toth-Hermes, the great teacher of humanity, is also esoterically connected with the star.
The Egyptian calendar system was based on the heliacal rising of Sirius that occurred just before the annual flooding of the Nile during summer. The star’s celestial movement was also observed and revered by ancient Greeks, Sumerians, Babylonians and countless other civilizations. The star was therefore considered sacred and its apparition in the sky was accompanied with feasts and celebrations. The dog star heralded the coming of the hot and dry days of July and August, hence the popular term “the dog days of summer”.
Several occult researchers have claimed that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built in perfect alignment with the stars, especially Sirius. The light from these stars were said to be used in ceremonies of Egyptian Mysteries.
“This ancient people (Egyptians) knew that once every year the Parent Sun is in line with the Dog Star. Therefore, the Great Pyramid was so constructed that, at this sacred moment, the light of the Dog Star fell upon the square “Stone of God” at the upper end of the Great Gallery, descending upon the head of the high priest, who received the Super Solar Force and sought through his own perfected Solar Body to transmit to other Initiates this added stimulation for the evolution of their Godhood. This then was the purpose of the “`Stone of God,’ whereon in the Ritual, Osiris sits to bestow upon him (the illuminate) the Atf crown or celestial light.” “North and South of that crown is love,” proclaims an Egyptian hymn. “And thus throughout the teaching of Egypt the visible light was but the shadow of the invisible Light; and in the wisdom of the ancient country the measures of Truth were the years of the Most High. 1
Recent scientific discoveries relating to the Great Pyramid and its mysterious “air shafts” have lead researchers to further confirm the importance of Sirius within the pyramid.
Star alignment with the Great Pyramid of Giza. Orion (associated with the god Osiris) is aligned with the King’s Chamber while Sirius (associated with the goddess Isis) is aligned with the Queen’s Chamber.
A fascinating aspect of Sirius is the consistency of the symbolism and meanings attached to it. Several great civilizations have indeed associated Sirius with a dog-like figure and viewed the star as either the source or the destination of a mysterious force. In Chinese and Japanese astronomy, Sirius is known as the star of the “celestial wolf”. Several aboriginal tribes of North America referred to the star in canine terms: the Seri and Tohono O’odham tribes of the southwest describe the star as a “dog that follows mountain sheep”, while the Blackfoot call it “Dog-face”. The Cherokee paired Sirius with Antares as a dog-star guardian of the “Path of Souls”. The Wolf (Skidi) tribe of Nebraska knew it as the “Wolf Star”, while other branches of knew it as the “Coyote Star”. Further north, the Alaskan Inuit of the Bering Strait called it “Moon Dog”. 2
The Dogon Tribe and Atlantis
In 1971, the American author Robert Temple published a controversial book entitled The Sirius Mystery where he claimed that the Dogons (an ancient African tribe from Mali) knew details about Sirius that would be impossible to be know without the use of telescopes. According to him, the Dogon understood the binary nature of Sirius even though they did not have the technology to make such a discovery. Sirius is indeed composed of two stars, Sirius A and Sirius B. This lead Temple to believe that the Dogons had “direct” connections with beings from Sirius. While some might say “you can’t be Sirius” (sorry), a great number of secret societies (who have historically held within their ranks some of the world’s most influential people) and belief systems teach about a mystic connection between Sirius and humanity.
In Dogon mythology, humanity is said to be born from the Nommo, a race of amphibians who were inhabitants of a planet circling Sirius. They are said to have “descended from the sky in a vessel accompanied by fire and thunder” and imparted to humans profound knowledge. This lead Robert Temple to theorize that the Nommos were extraterrestrial inhabitants of Sirius who travelled to earth at some point in the distant past to teach ancient civilizations (such as the Egyptians and Dogons) about the Sirius star system as well as our own solar system. These civilizations would then record these teachings in their religions and make them a central focus of their Mysteries.
The Dogon’s mythology system is strikingly similar to the ones of other civilizations such as the Sumerians, Egyptians, Israelites and Babylonians as it is based on the archetypal myth of a “great teacher from above”. Depending on the civilization, this great teacher is known as Enoch, Thoth or Hermes Trismegistus and is said to be a divine teacher of humanity. Throughout History, occultists believed that Thoth-Hermes had taught the people of Atlantis, which, according to legend, became the world’s most advanced civilization before the entire continent of Atlantis was submerged by the Great Deluge (accounts of a flood can be found in the mythologies of countless civilizations). Survivors from Atlantis traveled by boat to several countries, including Egypt, where they imparted their advanced knowledge. Occultists believe that the inexplicable resemblances between distant civilizations (such as the Mayas and the Egyptians) can be explained by their common contact with Atlanteans.
“Was the religious, philosophic, and scientific knowledge possessed by the priestcrafts of antiquity secured from Atlantis, whose submergence obliterated every vestige of its part in the drama of world progress? Atlantean sun worship has been perpetuated in the ritualism and ceremonialism of both Christianity and pagandom. Both the cross and the serpent were Atlantean emblems of divine wisdom. The divine (Atlantean) progenitors of the Mayas and Quichés of Central America coexisted within the green and azure radiance of Gucumatz, the “plumed” serpent. The six sky-born sages came into manifestation as centers of light bound together or synthesized by the seventh – and chief – of their order, the “feathered” snake. The title of “winged” or “plumed” snake was applied to Quetzalcoatl, or Kukulcan, the Central American initiate. The center of the Atlantean Wisdom-Religion was presumably a great pyramidal temple standing on the brow of a plateau rising in the midst of the City of the Golden Gates. From here the Initiate-Priests of the Sacred Feather went forth, carrying the keys of Universal Wisdom to the uttermost parts of the earth.
From the Atlanteans the world has received not only the heritage of arts and crafts, philosophies and sciences, ethics and religions, but also the heritage of hate, strife, and perversion. The Atlanteans instigated the first war; and it has been said that all subsequent wars were fought in a fruitless effort to justify the first one and right the wrong which it caused. Before Atlantis sank, its spiritually illumined Initiates, who realized that their land was doomed because it had departed from the Path of Light, withdrew from the ill-fated continent. Carrying with them the sacred and secret doctrine, these Atlanteans established themselves in Egypt, where they became its first “divine” rulers. Nearly all the great cosmologic myths forming the foundation of the various sacred books of the world are based upon the Atlantean Mystery rituals.” 3
Is Thoth-Hermes-Trismegistus the equivalent of the Dogon’s Nommos, who is believed to originate from Sirius? Ancient texts concerning Hermes describe him as a teacher of mysteries who “came from the stars”. Furthermore, Thoth-Hermes was directly connected with Sirius in Egyptian mythology.
“The dog-star: the star worshipped in Egypt and reverenced by the Occultists; by the former because its heliacal rising with the Sun was a sign of the beneficient inundation of the Nile, and by the latter because it is mysteriously associated with Toth-Hermes, god of wisdom, and Mercury, in another form. Thus Sothis-Sirius had, and still has, a mystic and direct influence over the whole living heaven, and is connected with almost every god and goddess. It was “Isis in the heaven” and called Isis-Sothis, for Isis was “in the constellation of the dog”, as is declared on her monuments. Being connected with the Pyramid, Sirius was, therefore, connected with the initiations which took place in it.” 4
“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.” 5
Interpreting the mythology of ancient cultures is not an exact science and connections are inherently difficult to prove. However, the symbolic link between Sirius and occult knowledge has constantly appeared throughout History and has seamlessly traveled the through the ages. In fact, it is as revered today as it was millenniums ago. Modern secret societies such as the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians and the Golden Dawn (which are considered to be Hermetic Orders due to the fact their teachings are based on those of Hermes Trismegistus) all attribute to Sirius the utmost importance. An educated look at their symbolism provides a glimpse at the profound connection between Sirius and occult philosophy.
Sirius in Occult Symbolism and Secret Societies
To claim that Sirius is “important” to Hermetic Orders would be a gross understatement. The Dog Star is nothing less than the central focus of the teachings and symbolism of secret societies. The ultimate proof of this fact: many secret societies are actually named after the star.
In the Tarot
The seventeenth numbered major trump is called Les Etoiles, the Star, and portrays a young girl kneeling with one foot in water and the other on and, her body somewhat suggesting the swastika. She has two urns, the contents of which she pours upon the land and sea. Above the girl’s head are eight stars, one of which is exceptionally large and bright. Count de Gébelin considers the great star to be Sothis or Sirius; the other seven are the sacred planets of the ancients. He believes the female figure to be Isis in the act of causing the inundations of the Nile which accompanied the rising of the Dog Star. The unclothed figure of Isis may well signify that Nature does not receive her garment of verdure until the rising of the Nile waters releases the germinal life of plants and flowers. 6
In Masonic lodges, Sirius is known as the “Blazing Star” and a simple look at the prominence of it in Masonic symbolism reveals its utmost importance. The Masonic author William Hutchinson wrote about Sirius: “It is the first and most exalted object that demands our attention in the Lodge.” The same way the light of Sirius made its way into the Great Pyramid during initiations, it is symbolically present in Masonic lodges.
“The Ancient Astronomers saw all the great Symbols of Masonry in the Stars. Sirius glitters in our lodges as the Blazing Star.” 7.
Sirius, the Blazing Star, at the center of the Masonic mosaic pavement.
“(The Blazing Star) originally represented SIRIUS, or the Dog-star, the forerunner of the inundation of the Nile; the God ANUBIS, companion of ISIS in her search for the body of OSIRIS, her brother and husband. Then it became the image of HORUS, the son of OSIRIS, himself symbolized also by the Sun, the author of the Seasons, and the God of Time; Son of ISIS, who was the universal nature, himself the primitive matter, inexhaustible source of Life, spark of uncreated fire, universal seed of all beings. It was HERMES, also, the Master of Learning, whose name in Greek is that of the God Mercury.” 8
In Freemasonry, it is taught that the Blazing Star is a symbol of deity, of omnipresence (the Creator is present everywhere) and of omniscience (the Creator sees and knows all). Sirius is therefore the “sacred place” all Masons must ascend to: It is the source of divine power and the destination of divine individuals. This concept is often represented in Masonic art.
To achieve perfection, the initiate must successfully understand and internalize the dual nature of the world (good and evil; masculine and feminine; black and white, etc.) through alchemical metamorphosis. This concept is symbolically represented by the union of Osiris and Isis (the male and female principles) to give birth to Horus, the star-child, the Christ-like figure, the perfected man of Freemasonry – who is equated with the Blazing Star.
“The sun and moon … represent the two grand principles … the male and the female … both shed their light upon their offspring, the blazing star, or Horus.” 9
The Egyptian hieroglyph representing Sirius has been esoterically interpreted to be a representation of this cosmic trinity.
The hieroglyph representing Sirius contains three elements: a “phallic” obelisk (representing Osiris), a “womb-like” (representing Isis) dome and a star (representing Horus).
This concept is so crucial for Freemasons, that it was embedded in some of the most important structures in the world.
The Washington Monument, an Egyptian obelisk representing the male principle, is directly connected with the dome of the Capitol, representing the female principle. Together they produce Horus an unseen energy represented by Sirius. (For more information, read the article Mystical Sites – The U.S. Capitol on The Vigilant Citizen).
As stated by Albert Pike above, there is a strong connection between the Egyptian god Horus and the star Sirius. In Masonic symbolism, the eye of Horus (or the All-Seeing Eye) is often depicted surrounded by the glittering of light of Sirius.
A Masonic tracing board depicting the sun above the left pillar (representing the masculine), the moon above the right pillar (representing feminine) and Sirius above the middle pillar, representing the “perfected man” or Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris. Notice the “Eye of Horus” on Sirius.
The light behind the All-Seeing Eye on the American dollar bill is not from the sun, but from Sirius. The Great Pyramid of Giza was built in alignment with Sirius and is therefore shown shining right above the Pyramid. A radiant tribute to Sirius is therefore in the pockets of millions of citizens.
Order of the Eastern Star
Considered to be the “female version” of Freemasonry (although men can join), the Order of the Eastern Star (OES) is directly named after Sirius, the “Star rising from the East”. A “general public” explanation of the origins of the name is that the Order was named after the “Star of the East” that lead the Three Magis to Jesus Christ. A look into the occult meaning of the Order’s symbolism however make it clear that the OES is a reference to Sirius, the most important star of Freemasonry, its parent organization.
Madame Blavatsky, Alice Bailey and Theosophy
Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey, the two main figures associated with Theosophy, have both considered Sirius to be a source esoteric power. Blavatsky stated that the star Sirius exerts a mystic and direct influence over the entire living heaven and is linked with every great religion of antiquity.
Alice Bailey describes the Dog Star as the true “Great White Lodge” and is the home of the “Spiritual Hierarchy”. For this reason she considers Sirius as the “star of initiation”.
“This is the great star of initiation because our Hierarchy (an expression of the second aspect of divinity) is under the supervision or spiritual magnetic control of the Hierarchy of Sirius. These are the major controlling influences whereby the cosmic Christ works upon the Christ principle in the solar system, in the planet, in man and in the lower forms of life expression. It is esoterically called the “brilliant star of sensitivity.” 10
Not unlike most many esoteric writers, Bailey considers Sirius to have a great impact on human life.
“All that can be done here in dealing with this profound subject is to enumerate briefly some of the cosmic influences which definitely affect our earth, and produce results in the consciousness of men everywhere, and which, during the process of initiation, bring about certain specific phenomena.
First and foremost is the energy or force emanating from the sun Sirius. If it might be so expressed, the energy of thought, or mind force, in its totality, reaches the solar system from a distant cosmic centre via Sirius. Sirius acts as the transmitter, or the focalising centre, whence emanate those influences which produce self-consciousness in man.” 11
Aleister Crowley, the A.A. and Kenneth Grant
In 1907, Crowley started his own occult order called the A.A. – short for Argentium Astrum, which can be translated to ‘The Order of the Silver Star’. The ‘Silver Star’ was, of course, a reference to Sirius. Even if Crowley almost always referred to the dog star in veiled terms, the whole of his magickal philosophy, from his development as a young Freemason through to his final years as the Head of the O.T.O, is wholly in accordance with the Sirian influence, which was identified and expressed by other writers of his era. His alleged contact with his Holy Guardian Angel that later led to the channeling of ‘Liber AL: The Book of the Law’ is believed to have originated from Sirius.
If Crowley used code words to describe Sirius, his protégé Kenneth Grant has explicitly and extensively written about the dog star. Throughout his numerous books, he often described Sirius as being a powerful center of magickal magnetic power. His belief that the star holds the central key to unlocking the mysteries of the Egyptian and Typhonian traditions has strengthened over time and became a central focus of his research. One of Grant’s most important and controversial thesis was his discovery of the “Sirius/Set current”, which is an extra-terrestrial dimension connecting Sirius, the Earth and Set, the Eyptian god of Chaos – who was later associated with Satan.
“Set is the initiator, the Opener of mans’ consciousness to the rays of the Undying God typified by Sirius – the Sun in the South.” 12
“Sirius, or Set, was the original “headless one” – the light of the lower region (the south) who was known (in Egypt) as An (the dog), hence Set-An (Satan), Lord of the infernal regions, the place of heat, later interpreted in a moral sense as “hell”.” 13
Although each occult philosophy describes Sirius in a slightly different matter, it is still consistently regarded as the “sun behind the sun”, the true source of occult power. It is perceived as the cradle of human knowledge and the belief of the existence of a strong connection between the star and planet Earth never goes away. Is there a true link between Sirius and Earth? Is the dog star an esoteric symbol representing something happening in the spiritual realm? It is both? One thing is for sure, the cult of Sirius is not a “thing of the past” and is very alive today. An educated look at our popular culture, which is heavily influenced by occult symbolism, reveals numerous references to Sirius.
Sirius in Popular Culture
Direct references to Sirius in popular culture are too many to enumerate (e.g. see the name and the logo of the most important satellite radio in the world). A more interesting aspect of popular culture to analyze are the coded references to Sirius. Important movies have indeed made veiled yet profound references to the dog star (apparently intended to those “in the know”), where it plays the role it that was always attributed to it by Mystery schools: an initiator and a divine teacher. Here are some examples.
In Disney’s Pinocchio, which is based on a story written by Freemason Carlo Bertolli, Gepetto prays to the brightest star in the sky to have a “real boy”. The Blue Fairy (her color is a reference to Sirius’ light-blue glow) then descends from the heavens to give life to Pinocchio. Throughout the marionette’s quest to become a boy (an allegory for esoteric initiation), the Blue Fairy guides Pinocchio towards the “right path”. Sirius is therefore represented as a source of life, a guide and a teacher. (For more information see the article entitled The Esoteric Interpretation of Pinocchio on The Vigilant Citizen).
The theme song of the movie Pinocchio is also an ode to Sirius.
When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you
If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do
(Fate is kind, she brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing)
Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you thru
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true
In Harry Potter, the character named Sirius Black is most likely a reference to Sirius B. (the “darker” star of Sirius’ binary system). He is Harry Potter’s godfather, which makes Sirius, once again, a teacher and a guide. The wizard can turn into a big black dog, another link with the “dog star”.
In the Truman Show, a spotlight falls from the sky – used to imitate the light of a star in Truman’s fake world – and nearly hits him. The label on the spotlight identifies it as Sirius. Truman’s encounter with Sirius gives him a glimpse of “true knowledge” and prompts his quest for truth. Sirius is therefore the “star of initiation”. It caused Truman to realize the limitations of the his studio world (our material world) and lead him to freedom (spiritual emancipation).
From the dawn of civilization to modern times, from remote tribes of Africa to the great capitals of the modern world, Sirius was – and still is – held in the highest regard. Despite the disparity between cultures and epochs, the same mysterious attributes are associated with the dog star across the globe. Sirius is invariably associated with divinity and is regarded as a mysterious source of knowledge and power. These connections are particularly evident when one examines the teachings and the symbolism of Mystery schools of History, who always claimed a spiritual connection with the celestial body. Is there a secret link between human evolution and Sirius? Unlocking this secret would mean unlocking one of humanity’s greatest mysteries.
- Marshall Adams, The Book of the Master ↩
- J.B. Holberg, Sirius: Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky ↩
- Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages ↩
- Helena Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary ↩
- Robert Temple, The Sirius Mystery ↩
- Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages ↩
- Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma ↩
- Ibid ↩
- Pike, op. cit. ↩
- Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology ↩
- Alice Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar ↩
- Kenneth Grant, The Magical Revival ↩
- Ibid. ↩