The Sirius Mystery

The Sirius Mystery

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Robert K.G. Temple

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Summaries follow each chapter in Part Two. The sheer amount of the material
dealt with makes it advisable for the reader to put it into a smooth perspective
by reading over these summaries which have been prepared so that the reader
may refresh his memory if he wishes. The author can offer no apology for the
complexity of the material, but he can present these slight aids for its comprehension.

Every effort has been made to trace the ownership of all illustrative material
reproduced in this book. Should any error or omission in acknowledgement have
been made the author offers his apologies and will make the necessary correction
in future editions.

What is the Mystery?
The question which this book poses is: Has Earth in the past been visited by
intelligent beings from the region of the star Sirius ?
When I began writing this book in earnest in 1967, the entire question was
framed in terms of an African tribe named the Dogon, who live in Mali in the
former French Sudan. The Dogon were in possession of information concerning
the system of the star Sirius which was so incredible that I felt impelled to
research the material. The results, in 1974, seven years later, are that I have
been able to show that the information which the Dogon possess is really more
than five thousand years old and was possessed by the ancient Egyptians in
the pre-dynastic times before 3200 B.C., from which people I show that the
Dogon are partially descended culturally, and probably physically as well.

What I have done, therefore, is to push back by over five thousand years the
terms of reference of the original question, so that it now becomes more
tantalizing than ever. But now that I have done that, it becomes less easy to
answer. The Dogon preserve a tradition of what seems to have been an extraterrestrial
contact. It is more satisfactory not to have to presume the preposterous
notion that intelligent beings from outer space landed in Africa, imparted
specific information to a West African tribe, then returned to space and left
the rest of the world alone. Such a theory never really struck me as possible.
But in the beginning it did have to serve as a working hypothesis. After all, I
had no idea that the Dogon could have preserved ancient Egyptian religious
mysteries in their culture. I also had no idea that the ancient Egyptians knew
anything about Sirius. I was in that state of ignorance so common among
people who know nothing more about ancient Egypt than that the Egyptians
built pyramids, left mummies, had a Pharaoh named Tutankhamen, and
wrote in hieroglyphs. My own academic background concerned oriental
studies, but I never touched on Egypt except regarding the Islamic period
after a.d. 600. I knew almost nothing whatsoever about ancient Egypt. 
If I had, perhaps I might have saved myself a lot of time.

It took many, many months for two or three small clues to work themselves
around in my head long enough to force me to study ancient Egypt and a
whole range of subjects which I had never previously tackled. I doubt if, even
then, I could have been persuaded to spend considerable sums of money such
as the necessary fifty pounds for the essential and out-of-print Wallis Budge
Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, which consists of 1,356 pages and cannot even
be lifted off the table by a ten-year-old child. But as fate would have it, I was
actually given one of these huge dictionaries, along with many other essential
books on the subjects with which I needed to become concerned. This helped
overcome my natural disinclination to erect a camp bed in some scholarly
library and move in for a couple of years. I must therefore note my debt to
my dear friend the late Miss Mary Brenda Hotham-Francklyn for giving me
in the ninety-fourth year of her life what amounted to a sizeable library of
books, which were so interesting that I found it impossible to neglect them,
and the result is now before us.

This entire matter of the Sirius mystery first came to my attention around
1965. I was working on some philosophical and scientific problems with
Arthur M. Young of Philadelphia, the inventor of the Bell helicopter and more
recently (1972) co-editor of and contributor to the book Consciousness and Reality.
Arthur single-handedly taught me more science concurrently with my official
university studies from 1961-7 than an entire university faculty might have
done. For while I was ploughing my way through the Sanskrit language and
other onerous subjects at the official university level, I imbibed a considerable
scientific education from Arthur in company with a few friends from the
university, with whom I participated for years in a series of extremely stimulating
seminars and research projects supervised by Arthur Young and occasionally
linked to a philanthropic foundation which he had established, entitled the
Foundation for the Study of Consciousness.

Arthur Young had a particular passion for reading about mythologies
from all over the world, including those of obscure tribes. One day he showed
me a book entitled African Worlds, which contained several chapters, each
dealing with a different tribe, with its views of life and its customs and mythology.
There was a chapter about the Dogon translated into English from the
French of Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, the eminent anthropologists.1
Arthur pointed out to me a passage he had just read in this chapter, in
which these anthropologists were describing the cosmological theories of the
Dogon. I shall quote the paragraph which I read then, which first brought to
my attention this whole extraordinary question, so that the reader will begin
this subject just as I did, with this brief reference:

'The starting-point of creation is the star which revolves round Sirius and
is actually named the "Digitaria star"; it is regarded by the Dogon as the
smallest and heaviest of all the stars; it contains the germs of all things. Its
movement on its own axis and around Sirius upholds all creation in space. We
shall see that its orbit determines the calendar.'

That was all. There was no mention by the anthropologists of the actual
existence of such a star which revolves around Sirius. Now Arthur Young and I
both knew of the existence of the white dwarf star Sirius B which actually does
orbit around Sirius. We knew that it was 'the smallest and heaviest' type of
star then known. (Neutron stars and 'black holes' were not much discussed
and pulsars had not yet even been discovered.) We both naturally agreed that
this was a most curious allusion from a supposedly primitive tribe. How could
it be explained? I had to let the matter drop, due to other activities and
concerns at that time.

Approximately two years later in London, I suddenly was struck by the
irresistible urge to investigate this question. I was prompted to do so by reading

Table of Contents
page xi

The Sirius Question is posed
1 The Knowledge of the Dogon ii
A Sudanese Sirius System by M. Griaule and G. Dieterlen 35

The Sirius Question is rephrased
2 A Fairytale 55
3 The Sacred Fifty 82
4 The Hounds of Hell 101
5 The Oracle Centres l2l
6 Origins of the Dogon 153
7 The Rising of 'Serpent's Tooth' 175
8 A Fable

Beyond the Mystery

I The Moons of the Planets, the Planets around Stars, and Revolutions
and Rotations of Bodies in Space - Described by the Neoplatonic
Philosopher Proclus 223
II The Surviving Fragments of Berossus, in English Translation 24.8
III Why Sixty Years? 258
IV The Meaning of the E at Delphi 265
V Why the Hittites were at Hebron in Palestine 268
VI The Dogon Stages of Initiation 273

Index 283


The book which now follows poses a question. It does not present, but
merely suggests, an answer. In Part One the question is posed in its original
form, and in Part Two it is rephrased. But nowhere is it answered with any
certainty. The best questions are the ones which often remain unanswered for
a long time and lead us down new avenues of thought and experience. Who
knows where the Sirius mystery will lead us in the end? But let us follow it
for a while. At the very least it will be an adventure. . . .

1. African Worlds, ed. by Daryll Forde, Oxford University Press, 1954, pp. 83-110. I wish to
point out to the reader that in the article in African Worlds, the French word arche is mistranslated
'arch' and should instead be rendered 'ark'.
2. The translation was, it turned out, extremely inept. The article has been entirely retranslated
by a professional translator for inclusion in this book. It has also been vetted by Mme Germaine
Dieterlen herself, who has kindly given permission for the publication in English of the entire
article written by herself and Marcel Griaule. It is to be found just after Chapter One.
3. Photographs of these four tribal priests are reproduced in Plate 2. I thought it particularly
important that these original native informants be seen by the reader. Apart from the fact
that their faces are extremely interesting, we owe these four people a great deal. Without them
the public at large might never have known anything about the Sirius mystery, and the
entire tradition might, after its thousands of years on earth, actually have sunk without trace.