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From the Files of the RJ's Surrealist Research Bureau

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From the Files of the RJ's Surrealist Research Bureau

The Sirius mystery revisited

 An extremely bright star in the eastern night skies recently over Clark Fork led to a discussion of which planet it could be. I tended towards the Dog Star Sirius myself since these were the “dog days” of summer and Sirius tends to rise in the east. The object turned out to be the planet Uranus, then at its closest approach to earth in the past century but in the conversation that followed I brought up Robert Temple’s book “The Sirius Mystery” (1977, St. Martins Press, NY) and once again my fancies led me soaring through the heavens.

Temple’s book drew on the work of a French anthropologist, Germaine Dieterlen, who had lived among the West African Dogon tribe for most of her life. The Dogon are a tribe believed to hail from Egypt originally for much of their astronomical lore and rituals can be traced to pre-dynastic Egypt before 3200 B.C. In the late 1940s four Dogon priests told French anthropologists of a secret oral tradition concerning the star Sirius; that Sirius has an invisible companion twin star and that further, this invisible twin takes a 50-year elliptical orbit around Sirius, is small, incredibly heavy, and rotates on its own axis.

What’s strange is that all these “secret oral traditions” turned out to be true, though that fact wasn’t appreciated until many years later. Sirius’s white-dwarf companion, now called Sirius B, was not photographed until the 1970s. Skeptics and critics assailed Temple’s book, claiming that modern-day astronomers must have visited the area and fed the Dogon their “traditions” by accident. Anthropologist Dieterlen, whose papers had spurred Temple’s book, and who’d lived among the Dogon for years, called this claim “absurd” on BBC television and held up a 400-year-old Dogon tribal urn depicting the rotation of Sirius B around its twin.

The Dogon claim their ancestors got their information from strange beings they called the “Nommo” who came from the sky many thousands of years ago in “fire and thunder,” and made their home in the sea, coming on shore every night in suits of iron to teach the Dogon the secrets of planting crops, of the mysteries of writing and numbers, and of course, the tales of the Nommo’s home world, a small planet in the Sirius star system. The Nommo are apparently the same half-fish creatures the Babylonian’s worshipped as Oannes, the Sumerians as Enki, and the Egyptians as the mermaid Isis, all of whose homes were also the star Sirius.

Temple’s book deserved far better than it received. His critics simply ignored all evidence that the Dogon beliefs had persisted far longer than was possible under their scenario of lost and wandering modern astronomers haphazardly regaling a Dogon shaman over a campfire with revelations about the latest findings from Palomar.

Other Dogon astronomical lore, by the way, included the rotations and orbits of planets of our solar system, the major moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn.

As I mentioned, Temple’s book deserved far better than it got. More valid critics would have pointed out the unlikelihood of intelligent life being developed in a multi-star system (for a number of reasons space forbids, it’s highly unlikely and the Sirius system would be far down the list of any exobiologist’s probable list of possible extraterrestrial civilizations).

Anyway, I read on the Internet while researching this article that Temple has updated “The Sirius Mystery.” with a new edition incorporating the latest scientific findings and answering his critics in some detail. I look forward to reading it.

Coming up next month is the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Ore. and I hope to have some news to report from it. For more info you can check out www.hplfilmfestival.com on the Internet.

Man lives on a tiny island of ignorance surrounded by a vast, dark and terrible sea of knowledge. It was not meant for us to travel far from shore.” H.P. Lovecraft

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

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