The Dark Beside the Light: On the Fixed Star Sirius
Even if you have just begun your stargazing practice, you would be hard-pressed to miss Sirius. As the brightest star in the sky, the Egyptians dubbed it “The Shining One,” in addition to using its heliacal rise to mark the beginning of their calendar year. As a part of the Canis Major constellation, it has often been called “The Dog Star,” and still holds deep ties to this animal.
Since the beginning of its worship around 3285 BC, the core meaning of this star has stayed consistent over its human witnessing. Both Robson and Ebertin point out its ability to impart fame and honor upon a the native and Brady also calls it a “marker of great deeds”. More specifically, she sees the star as turning the mundane sacred, or able to turn one small action into transcendent symbol or publicly significant act. By engaging with Sirius, we are able to go beyond our mortal limits and have power greater than our our single soul.
But the actual symbol for Sirius, the dog, brings in a deeper nuance than pure, shining fame. Since its domestication, “The Book of Symbols,” tells us, “our constant companion the dog has come to be associated with our other constant companion, death”. William Churchill called depression the “black dog” and countless underworld deities have the dog as their symbol or companion. As both a herald of the lightest light and the darkest dark, Sirius embodies a crucial pivot point in humanity’s collective psyche, one that touches Sirius natives deeply and unmistakably.
How do these conflicting meanings coalesce into one star, one body, one mind?