One of my favorite tarot images, Isis as The Star in the Ancient Egyptian Tarot by Clive Barrett
One of my favorite tarot images: Isis as The Star in the Ancient Egyptian Tarot by Clive Barrett

Hello, all! This post has been updated to include a calculator for converting the Local Solar Time result from the Sirius heliacal rising calculator to your local time. But see below…once you know the date, you just need to be watching the horizon about an hour before your local sunrise to see Her.

It is now full summer.

Some of us are burning. Having experienced it, it is terrifying. But this year, my home is blessed (so far) with much more moderate weather. And I am grateful.

It is at this time, in deep summer, that She is absent from the skies above me. And I long for Her, long for Her. As you may know, the reason that the star and ba-soul of Isis, Sirius, is gone from the skies is because—in the yearly rotation of the earth in the heavens—Sirius now appears close to the sun. As the sun rises, its greater light blocks the light of Sirius. So She is invisible to us now. But our Wandering Goddess will return.

But soon, She will rise before the sun and will be invisible no more. Here in Portland, Oregon in 2022, Sirius rises at about 5:30 in the morning of August 23rd. Further south, She rises earlier. It all depends on your latitude. You can calculate Her rising in your area here with this online calculator. This calculator results in Local Solar Time. Then you can convert from that to your local time with this calculator. But basically, you want to be on the lookout for Sirius about an hour before local sunrise to get a peek at Her as She rises.

If you’d like to celebrate Isis’ birthday, then it would be two days before the rising of Sirius, in this case, August 21. So at least in my latitude, Isis is a Leo. And well, She is Isis-Sakhmet, and I believe at one time, She was among our wandering Lioness Goddesses, too.

The Star of Isis is at its highest point in the night sky right now
The Star of Isis, coming soon to a dawn near me

Likely, you already know why Sirius was important to the ancient Egyptians, so I won’t repeat that here. But I would like to add a few interesting bits about Sirius in relation to the orientation of some Egyptian temples and shrines at the time of their construction. Some were oriented towards Sirius.

For instance, the small Isis temple at Denderah and Isis’ great temple at Philae seem to have been oriented toward the rising of Sirius. Philae may even have a double stellar orientation: one axis to the rising of Sirius, one to the setting of Canopus.

Overall, Egyptian temples have a variety of orientations. A survey in 2004 to 2008 actually went to all the temples in Egypt and measured the orientation. Genius, no? they showed that most temples were oriented so that the main doorway faced the Nile. But not only that. It seems that the temples were also oriented toward other astronomical events, most especially the winter solstice sunrise, which makes very good sense as a symbol of rebirth.

Iset-Sopdet following Sah-Osiris in Their celestial boats
Iset-Sopdet following Sah-Osiris in Their celestial boats

Orientation to Sirius is rarer and harder to be certain of since the earth’s position in relation to the stars has shifted over the millennia.

A Horus temple, called the “Nest of Horus” on the summit of the highest peak of the Hills of Thebes, seems to have been oriented to the heliacal rising of Sirius around 3000-2000 BCE. Nearby, an inscription carved in rock during the 17th dynasty (1580-1550 BCE) records the observation of just such a rising of Sirius. This high place would have been ideal for Horus in His nest to await the coming of His mother Isis. On the other hand, the archaeoastronomers who did the survey I mentioned believe that it may also be oriented to the winter solstice sunrise, an event closely associated with Horus.

Another temple that may have a Sirius orientation is the archaic temple of the Goddess Satet on the island of Elephantine. The original temple was built amidst the great boulders on the island and really is quite simply the coolest temple ever. It seems that when it was built (around 3200 BCE) the rising of Sirius and the rising of the winter solstice sun were at the same place—so it could have been built to accommodate both important astronomical events.

The original temple of Satet on Elephantine; made of mudbrick nestled among the natural boulders

After the initial study, the same team followed up with a survey (in 2008) of some temples in the Fayum that they hadn’t been able to study before as well as temples in Kush. They found generally the same results except for the Nile orientation as many of these temples were built far away from the river.

They also made note of a son of a Priest of Isis, Wayekiye, son of Hornakhtyotef, who was “hont-priest of Sopdet and wab-priest of the ”five living stars” (the planets) and “chief magician of the King of Kush;” this according to an inscription on Isis’ temple at Philae dating to about 227 CE. (Many Kushites made pilgrimage to Philae and left devotional grafitti.) This inscription emphasizes the importance and sacrality of the study of celestial objects and events to the kingdom and it is quite interesting that this was the work of the Chief Magician. This 2008 study revealed that the largest number of Kushite temples and pyramids were oriented to either the winter solstice sunrise or the rise of Sirius.

Sopdet rising
The star Sopdet over the head of the Goddess

Another interesting thing the study found was that by the time of the New Kingdom, in the 34 temples that were unmistakably dedicated to a Goddess—usually Isis or a Goddess identified with Her—the most important celestial orientation point was the rising of Sirius. But, in addition to Sirius, the star Canopus was also a key orientation point. According to their data, Goddess temples in general were more frequently aligned with these very bright stars, Sirius and Canopus, while God temples were more often oriented to key solar-cycle events.

On the horizon, She rises, with Orion/Osiris above

If you are, like I am, feeling the anticipation of Her rising later this summer, you might like to do some ritual. The Opening of the Ways is always good. Use it as an invitation to Her. Or try a simple meditation, allowing yourself to yearn for Her coming. Waiting for Her and wanting Her is sometimes a very good exercise. You might set out a vessel of water (a shiny silver one is nice) on the night of Her rising, let it be charged with that rising energy in the dawn, then use it as part of your holy water for purification. I have just such star water that I use waiting in my shrine right now.