Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Sothis was the goddess personifying the dog-star Sirius, the bright appearance of which in the July dawn sky announced the annual flooding of the Nile.

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.

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.

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

Festivals: (exact dates not historically verified)
25th July – 7th Thuthi - Annual flooding of the Nile.

From: here
Sopdet ("skilled woman", also known as Sothis) represented Sirius, the Dog-Star. Sirius was the most important star to ancient Egyptian astronomers because it signalled the approach of the inundation and the beginning of a new year. New year was celebrated with a festival known as "The Coming of Sopdet".

In fact, the "Sothic Rising" only coincided with the solar year once every 1460 years. The Roman emperor Antoninus Pius had a commemorative coin made to mark their coincidence in AD 139. The Sothic Cycle (the periods between the rising of the star) have been used by archaeologists trying to construct a chronology of Ancient Egypt.

Sopdet was the wife of Sahu ("the hidden one"), the constellation Orion, and the mother of Sopdu ("skilled man"), a falcon god who represented the planet Venus. This triad echoed the trio of Osiris, Isis and Horus, but the connections were not always simple. Sopdet became increasingly associated with Isis, who asserts that she is Sopdet (in "the lamentations of Isis and Nephthys" c 400 B.C) and will follow Osiris, the manifestation of Sahu. However, as well as being considered to be the spouse of Orion (Osiris), she is described by the pyramid texts as the daughter of Osiris.

Although Sopdet started out as an agricultural deity, closely associated with the Nile, by the Middle Kingdom she was also considered to be a mother goddess. This probably related to her growing connection with the goddess Isis. This connection was further strengthened by Sopdet´s role in assisting the Pharaoh find his way to the imperishable stars. It may be no coincidence that Sirius disappeared for seventy days every year, and mummification took seventy days.

In the first Dynasty ivory tablets Sopdet was depicted as a reclining cow with a unidentified plant-like emblem (possibly signifying representing the new year) between her horns. However, she was most often depicted as a woman wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt topped by a star or a headdress with two plumes. Less often, she is portrayed as a large dog, and by the Roman period the hybrid goddess Isis-Sopdet was depicted as a woman riding side-saddle on a large dog.

Sopdet was occasionally shown as a male deity. During the Middle Kingdom the male Sopdet was in associated with Horus as one of the gods who held up the four corners of the earth and held Nut (the sky) in place. During the Greek period she was linked to Anubis as Sopdet-Anubis, possibly because of her canine associations.

From: here
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.

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 after having been hidden from view for seventy days, in its appearance on the eastern horizon at dawn during July (Heliacal rising), the coming annual inundation of the Nile River which marked the beginning of the agricultural year. Hence, the goddess was called the "bringer of the New Year and the Nile flood". It was for this reason that she was associated with Sah, and thus Osiris, who symbolized this annual resurgence of the Nile. In fact, 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".

From: here
(Sothis, Sopdu, Sept)

Symbols: star
Cult Center: Qesem

Sirius (the Dog-Star) was the most important star to ancient Egyptian astronomers because it reappeared in Egypt each year just as the annual Nile flooding began. Sopdet was the goddess of this star. The Greeks called her "Sothis." The "Sothis Rising" coincided with the actual solar year only once every 1460 years. This astronomical event occured during the reign of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius in AD 139. He commemorated it with a special coin. The time period between Sothic risings is called the Sothic Cycle and it is one of the tools Egyptologists use to create a chronology of Egyptian history.

As early as the 1st dynasty, Sopdet was called "the bringer of the New Year and the Nile flood." She was depicted as a human woman with a star on her head. She also guides the king to the afterworld, the Field of Rushes. In a 4th century BC papyrus, The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys, Isis calls herself Sopdet and states that she will always follow Osiris in heaven.

Sopdet was the consort of Sah (the constellation Orion) and her son was Soped. This triad parallel Osiris, Isis and Horus. Therefore, in the Pyramid Texts, the king (in his Osiris form) copulates with his sister Sopdet, who gives birth to the planet Venus.

Sopdet was occasionally shown as a male, and was associated with Horus. In this form, Sopdet was one of the gods of the four corners of the earth and of the eastern frontier. As part of this duty, Sopdet would hold one of Nut's legs steady as her body arched over the earth.

From: here
Other sites:
Sopdet, Goddess of Sirius, New Year and Inundation...
Short summary summary

Mythology & Info about the star Sirius:

Canis Major
Sirius for Seekers
Canis Major
Canis Major
Canis Major and Sirius

No comments:

Post a Comment