One of the things I love to study is folklore and mythology. Much of our daily living, our “rules” that we live by, and our modern rituals, all have roots going back to ancient times. And as the northern hemisphere is now experiencing the “dog days of summer,” I thought I’d share a bit of history for your reading pleasure!
In the northern hemisphere, between early July and mid-August, the Dog Star, Sirius, arrives in our sky. For the newcomers to astronomy, Sirius is the primary star in the Canis Major, which is connected to the Orion constellation. It is generally the brightest star in the sky. (Sometimes, you can observe it in the daylight!)
Sirius comes into view soon after the summer solstice. For a period of about 40 days, we begin that hot, humid, sultry part of our summer season that beckons us to slow down and seek cooler shelter.
In times of old, it was thought that our sweltering weather was due to the “combined heat” of Sirius and the Sun. (Of course, today, we know that it is the planet’s tilt and exposure to the sun’s rays that bring us the hotter, sultry temperatures, not the pull of both stars appearing together .)
When Sirius appeared in the sky, Egyptians used it as a warning sign of the coming flooding cycle for the Nile (the rise of water coincided with the appearance of this star on the eastern horizon). Sirius became their “watchdog.” That’s how we got the term, “dog days of summer.” The Egyptians welcomed the floods because this brought them rich soil for their crops.
However, the Greeks and Romans did not welcome the appearance of Sirius. Interestingly, the Greek translation of the word, Sirius, means “scorching.” And the Romans knew that this time of year yielded much disease, plague and death.
In Chinese mythology, this is the Season of Fire, and with it comes the tendency to over indulge in everything. The result? Many of us will feel off-balance, with symptoms like heartburn, insomnia and exhaustion.
How do you characterize this time of year?
In our modern times, “dog days of summer” are often marked with activities that include cooling waters, shady trees and, yes, even indoor air conditioning!
Whether you are scrambling to pack in as much activity as possible during these longer daylight hours, or choosing to pull back a bit and re-energize, my wish for you today is to simply enjoy it. Relish the moment and savor the beauty that surrounds you. And if you don’t see any beauty around you – then create it for yourself!
Make it a Golden Day!