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Dog Days of Summer
Let’s Get Sirius 

Hola! Mi nombre es José y soy el perro fiel del Dr. Z! And as Dr Z's faithful canine companion, he has sent me here to tell you all about the "dog days of summer."

(Es verdad! Yes, it's true... we Chihuahua's do tend to have a rather machismo and noble attitude, but this is because our ancestors were temple dogs considered to be sacred and holy to the ancient Aztecs of Chihuahua, Mexico. But enough about me...)

Tired of the sweltering heat sometimes called the “dog days of summer?”

Qué lástima! Blame it on the dog star, Sirius. Although the “dog days” have been thought to traditionally run from July 3 to August 11 – certain common traditions say they're longer and extend on into the month of September.

Original Source of the Term "Dog Days"

Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is the original source of the term “dog days of summer.” Although there appears to be a wee bit of disagreement and/or confusion on the matter… the “Dog Star" Sirius apparently originated from the ancient Egyptians that named the bright star Sihor after their powerful dog-headed divinity Anubis. Later internal traditions, it would seem, associated the Dog Star with the Egyptian god, Osiris.

In ancient Egypt, the dog star Sihor rose along side the Sun when summer was at its very hottest. Oddly enough, the ancient Egyptians celebrated the return of the “dog days,” because the rising of the Sun - combined with the Dog Star - announced a very good and significant thing.

The River Nile - New Life To A Parched Land

It was during the Sihor "Dog Days" each and every year that the River Nile would flood Egypt, reviving and bringing new life to all of the surrounding parched land. The “Dog Days” were said to last from 20 days prior to the conjunction to 20 days after.

Thus, the start of the Egyptian sacred year was marked each year by the reappearance of the Dog Star rising with the Sun.

The Dog Star Sihor, was to be later named Sirius by the Greeks, after the Greek word for “serious” or “ardent.”

The Hebrew's Old Testament text of Job refers to Sirius as the star Mazzaroth:

"Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?" Job 38:31-33a, KJV

Summer Heat - Sirius a 2nd Sun

Both the ancient Egyptian and Roman traditions, looked at the Dog Star as being a 2nd Sun, and agreed that the Dog Star was responsible for the intense summer heat by adding its own heat to the heat of the Sun.

Oddly enough, according to the National Geographic News (James Owen, July 16, 2004), it was in ancient Rome that the “dog days” – dies caniculares in Latin – came to have more negative associations, such as “intolerable heat, lethargy, disease, and mad dogs.”

According to Owens: “Pliny (A.D. 23-79), in his Natural History, refers to the increased risk of attack by rabid dogs in July and August.”

Beneficent Sirius Throughout The Centuries  

Nevertheless, throughout the centuries, the dog star, Sirius, has most often been thought of as having a beneficial influence. In traditional astrology, Sirius is thought to combine the energies of Jupiter and Mars. It is thought to be a matter of good fortune to be born with Sirius either conjunct one’s birth chart Ascendant or Midheaven.

Birth of the USA Connection?

There are even some interesting speculations that the dog star, Sirius – as part of the astrological sky – played a significant role in the timing of the birth of the United States of America, as well as in the laying of the Washington Monument cornerstone in Washington D.C.

These events were purposefully, with intent, scheduled for precise moments when the, dog star, Sirius was located in various astrologically auspicious positions in the sky. (The Secret Architecture of our Nations's Capitol; David Ovason)

The Precession and Such

Today, the dog star, Sirius, actually appears in the dawn skies with the Sun several weeks later than it did in ancient times. This is because of precession of the equinoxes – i.e. the stars and constellations gradually having shifted their position in relation to the Sun.

Still today, the “dog days” are generally thought to traditionally run from July 3 to August 11 – however with certain common traditions saying they are longer and extend on into the month of September.

According to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998:
sty>The astronomer Roger Long states that in an ancient calendar in Bede (died 735) the beginning of dog days is placed on the 14th of July; that in a calendar prefixed to the Common Prayer, printed in the time of Queen Elizabeth, they were said to begin on the 6th of July and end on the 5th of September; that, from the Restoration (1660) to the beginning of New Style (1752), British almanacs placed the beginning on the 19th of July and the end on the 28th of August; and that after 1752 the beginning was put on the 30th of July, the end on the 7th of September. Some English calendars now put the beginning on July 3rd, and the ending on August 11th. A popular American almanac of the present time (1890) places the beginning on the 25th of July and the end on the 5th of September.”
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