The Star of the Eastern Horizon  


Sothis Rising

by Ann K. Schwader

Not dog, but goddess-star, she calls the flood

Down through the old year's drained & dying lands,
Spilling inundation from her hands
Until our fields lie deep in Kemet's blood.

Bright & brightest mother of the dawn,
Fairest of all the thirty-six who claim
A sacred segment of the night sky's fame,

She rises fertile as her image drawn

Between these lesser lights: celestial cow
Whose milk divides the black land from the red
Accursed desert. Make the days ahead

Boisterous with celebration! We know how

Rome dreads the Great Dog's scorching -- let us show
Their dog star loved us first & best, & still
Sustains us by the bounty of her will
Made manifest in our life-river's flow.

"Ala Hezb Wedad," played by Abdel Halem

To the ancient Egyptians, Sothis was the Goddess personifying the dog-star Sirius. Its bright appearance in the July dawn sky announced the annual flooding of the Nile after the summer Solstice.

The Egyptian name of the goddess was "Sopdet", from which came the Greek Sothis, normally used in Ancient Egyptian studies. She is portrayed as a lady with a star on her head.

As early as the First Dynasty, Sothis was called bringer of the New Year and the Nile Flood. The agricultural calendar started with the rise of the Nile. Gradually Sothis became linked with the constellation Orion, because of the prosperity which resulted from the fertile silt left by the receding waters of the river.

In the Pyramid texts, there is clear evidence that the king unites with his sister Sothis who gives birth to the morning star. She is also the king’s guide to the heavenly Field of Rushes.

Utterance 442, Pyramid texts: The king becomes a star

Truly, this Great One has fallen on his side; He who is in Nedyt was cast down. Your hand is grasped by Re, Your head is raised by the Two Enneads. Lo, he has come as Orion, Lo; Osiris has come as Orion, Lord of wine at the wag-feast. "Good one," said his mother, "Heir," said his father. Conceived of sky, born of dusk. Sky conceived you and Orion, Dusk, gave birth to you and Orion. Who lives, lives by the gods' command, You shall live! You shall rise with Orion in the eastern sky, You shall set with Orion in the western sky, Your third is Sothis, pure of thrones, She is your guide on sky's good paths, In the Field of Rushes.

Utterance 573, The king prays for admittance to the sky

Awake in peace, O Pure One, in peace! Awake in peace, Horus of-the-East, in peace! Awake in peace, Soul-of-the-East, in peace! Awake in peace, Horus-of-Lightland, in peace! You lie down in the Night-bark, You awake in the Day-bark, For you are he who gazes on the gods, There is no god who gazes on you! O father of Pepi, take Pepi with you Living, to your mother Nut! …Command the Living One, the son of Sothis, To speak for this Pepi, To speak for this Pepi, To make flourish his jar-stands on earth, For Pepi is one with these four gods: Imsety, Hapy, Duamutef, Kebhsenuf, Who live by Maat, Who lean on their staffs, Who watch over Upper Egypt.


In the Lamentations of Isis and Nepthys (a fourth century BC papyrus), Isis states that she is Sothis, who will without fail follow Osiris in his manifestation as Orion in heaven. In the Late Period, the cult of Isis-Sothis resulted in less individuality for Sothis, and Greek versions of this double deity caused Sothis to be even further separated from her Pharaonic origins.

Both Sothis and Orion are astral symbols for abundant crops.

Her Main center of worship was in Per-sopdu/ Soped/ Saft el-Hinna, 20th Nome, Lower Egypt

Her main festival was approximately July 25 (7th Thuthi), the annual flooding of the Nile River.

With the appearance of Sirius at dawn in July (the 'heliacal rising') the annual inundation of the Nile began, a phenomenon ascribed to Sopdet. She is depicted in human form wearing the tall conical white crown of Upper Egypt surmounted by a star. Her Greek name is Sothis.

The god Sah and his consort, Sopdet (Spdt, Sepedet), who is probably better known by her Greek name, Sothis, personified the constellation of Orion (which he is sometimes referred to) and the bright, first magnitude star Sirius (the "dog star") respectively. Orion was, to the ancient Egyptians, the most distinctive of all the constellations in the night sky, and it rose directly before the adjacent star Sirius, thus explaining the connection between these two ancient gods from a very early date. Orion was imagined as being swallowed at dawn by the Underworld but had the power to emerge again into the night sky. Their son was Soped (Sopdu, Horus Spd), who was another astral deity. They came to be viewed as manifestations of Osiris and Isis. Later, during Greek times, Sothis was identified with Demeter as well.


Sah, while perhaps not as familiar to us as Sopdet, is mentioned very frequently in the Pyramid Texts, where he is called "father of the gods." The deceased king is said to enter the sky "In the name of the Dweller in Orion, with a season in the sky and a season on earth". The association between Sah and Sopdet is also clear in these early texts where the king is told, "You shall reach the sky as Orion, your soul shall be as effective as Sothis." During the New Kingdom, Funerary texts explains that Orion is said to row towards the stars in a boat and Sah was sometimes depicted in this manner in scenes found in temples and tombs, where he is surrounded by stars as he sails across the sky in a papyrus skiff.

The reason that Sopdet, or Sothis, is better known to us is that Sirius was, for the ancient Egyptians, a very important star that signaled the coming annual inundation of the Nile River which marked the beginning of the agricultural year after having been hidden from view for seventy days, in its appearance on the eastern horizon at dawn during July. Hence, the Goddess was called the "bringer of the New Year and the Nile flood." Pyramid Text 965 describes Sopdet as the daughter of Osiris.  Therefore, Sopdet became associated with the prosperity resulting from the fertile silt left by the receding waters. In the Pyramid Text, Sopdet is described as having united with the king/Osiris to give birth to the morning star, Venus, and through her association with that netherworld god, she was naturally identified with Isis, who she was eventually synchronized with as Isis-Sothis.

In the Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys, from a fourth century BC papyrus, Isis asserts that she is Sothis, who will unswervingly follow Osiris in his manifestation as Orion in heaven. Though at first an important deity of the inundation and as an afterlife guide to the deceased king through the Field of Rushes, by the Middle Kingdom she was identified as a "mother" and "nurse."

The earliest known depictions of Sothis, known from a 1st Dynasty ivory tablet unearthed at Abydos,White Crown of Upper Egypt but with tall, upswept horns at the sides and surmounted by a star with five points. In this iconography, she had few variations, and is usually represented as simply standing with arms at her sides or with one arm folded across her lower breast. However, occasionally the goddess could also be depicted as a large dog. In her role as Isis-Sothis, she is also shown riding side-saddle on this symbolic animal on some of the coins minted at Alexandria during Roman times. represent the goddess as a reclining cow with a plant-like emblem (perhaps representing the "year") between her horns. She is almost always shown as a woman wearing a tall crown.


The star Sirius may have been worshipped as a cow-goddess in the Predynastic Period before its eventual identification with Isis and Sopdet. Sopdet was clearly an important god in her own right at first, but her growing identification with Isis eventually meant that her individual identity was decreased during later times. By the Graeco- Roman Period, her assimilation with Isis was almost complete.  Though we know nothing of any specific cult that worshipped specifically Sopdet, during the excavation for the Cairo Metro (subway), a temple was unearthed that was apparently dedicated to Isis-Sothis.

   The Mystery of Sirius

Belt of Orion and the Great Pyramid

Sirius is the brightest star in the nighttime sky, with a visual apparent magnitude of -1.46. It is located in the constellation Canis Major. Its name comes from the Latin sirius, from Greek(seirios, "glowing"). It is situated in the eye of the greater dog Canis Major, therefore it is known as the 'Dog Star'.

Sirius can be seen from every inhabited region of the Earth's surface and, in the Northern Hemisphere, is known as a vertex of the 'Winter Triangle.'

At a distance of 2.6 pc or 8.57 light years, Sirius is also one of the nearest stars to Earth. The best time of year to view it is around January 1, when it reaches the meridian at midnight.

To locate Sirius ... When looking at the constellation Orion, locate Orion's belt which are the three bright stars in a row. Follow an imaginary line through these stars to Sirius which is just above the horizon.

Sirius was the pole star when the Pyramids were built Seamen of that era called it “The Dragon’s Tail.”


Sothis’ animal is the snake and reptiles. Her metal is gold.

Actually, Sirius is two stars. In 1862, a faint companion star was detected, and named Sirius B. In 1915, astronomers deduced that Sirius B was a white dwarf star, and must have originally been the more massive of the two.

Sirius B is invisible to the naked eye but packs almost the entire mass of our sun into a globe only 4 times as large as the Earth. Sirius B's surface is 300 times harder than diamonds, while its interior has a density 3,000 times that of diamonds. Spinning on its axis about 23 times a minute, it generates huge magnetic fields around it.

The two stars, Sirius A and Sirius B move around each other, constantly exchanging particles. Because of its greater density and magnetic field, Sirius B takes the lion's share, taking gases and materials off of its larger host body.

Every 49.9 years, Sirius A and B come as close together as their orbits allow, creating huge magnetic storms between them. As they approach each other, the stars both begin to spin faster as tidal forces become stronger, finally flip-flopping over, actually trading places with each other. This energy is eventually released to flow on magnetic field lines to the Sun, which transmits it like a lens to all the planets

Sothis Ritual for Prosperity

If possible, visit a nearby river and obtain a jar of its water. Before beginning the ritual, bathe in water to which you have added the river water and lily or lotus scented oil, saying “Mother Sothis, bathe me in your waters.”

Set the altar:

White candle symbolizing the Eastern Star, Sothis; blue candle, symbolizing the Nile (water), green candle symbolizing fertile fields (earth), gray or white candle symbolizing Air, and red candle symbolizing Fire.

Purify with salt water. Cast the circle deosil, and call the quarters:

Watchtower of the East, Powers of Air, be welcomed into this circle, lend your powerful breath to my work.

Watchtower of the South, Powers of Fire, be welcomed into this circle, lend your warmth to my work.

Watchtower of the West, Powers of Water, be welcomed into this circle, lend your nurturing flow to my work.

Watchtower of the North, Powers of Earth, be welcomed into this circle, lend your fruitfulness to my work.

Invite the Goddess Sothis into the circle: “Sothis, Star of the Eastern Horizon, She who is also Isis, beloved of Sah, Sister of Kings and bringer of prosperity with the annual flood, be welcomed into this circle.”

Light the four colored candles, and then light the Goddess candle.

Pray: “Goddess Sothis, she who brings increase, spread your living waters over me, make my seeds sprout, my fortunes multiply, and my work prosper.

Meditate on the annual flooding of the Nile River, bringing life-giving silt to the farms on the river banks, nourishing the farms with its waters. Know that we too can benefit from the blessings of the Earth and Water, Air and Fire, and be fruitful. Know too that we must aid those who have lost their homes in the flood, and that our prosperity can benefit and restore them.

Raise power: start with a whispered “Om,” feel the waters rise, become part of the flow. The power is a great flood, release it with a shout to nourish the land and restore the Earth.

Ground; release the Circle. Thank the Watchtowers, saying “Stay if you can, leave if you must;” lastly, spend a few quiet moments with Sothis, feeling her eternal femininity and nurturance. Thank the Goddess, saying, “I will remember your example, merciful Star of the East. Stay if you can, leave if you must.”

Ground again. Leave spring water and bread for Sothis outdoors as thanks.


Star of the Eastern Sky
Original Piece by Dame Niamh

I awoke, my eyes opening to the greater and lesser lights

Around me. I saw a mighty constellation, the Hunter,

Broad of sinew, strong, mighty, wearing a belt of stars.

He rode towards me upon a wing of blackness,

He held out his hand. “Come, rule with me;

We shall hide behind the nebulae for seventy days

We shall not be seen for seventy days;

Then you shall come forth, Queen of the Eastern sky,

And bring the Floods to men. I shall be waiting here

For you to join me. Together, our glowing light shall be a sign

That you, closest star to this world, have come again

And brought the Spring, and planting time.”

I looked up, up, and saw the Winged Queen upon her throne.

“In Your service, Queen, I will bring the floods.”

I heard her voice, distantly, as from great heights,

“We will be one, my daughter. When men have forgotten Me

They will look upon you, and remember. ”



Schwader, Ann K. “Sothis Rising” (Jefferson Monet)
365 Goddess, Patrician Telesco, Harper, 1998, August 7th

Ala Hezb Wedad, played by Abdul Halem, Aldokkan Music Co.

 Copyright 2005
Dame Niamh