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Serious Sirius mystery, Dagon and the Dogon: Sirius’ place in Dogon astrology

The Sirius Mystery, Dogon, Robert K. G. Temple, aliens, UFO
Fair use, to illustrate article's context.

Herein we continue, from part 1, part 2 and part 3, considering the serious mystery behind “The Sirius Mystery” but it is not that which one may generally think. “The Sirius Mystery” is a book first published by Robert K. G. Temple in 1976 AD. Its premise is ancient astronaut or, as the terms has been updated, ancient aliens or actually, in this case, ancient extraterrestrial amphibians.

“The Dogon are also supposed to know that Sirius B orbits every 50 years. But what do they actually say? Griaule and Dieterlen put it as follows: ‘The period of the orbit is counted double, that is, one hundred years, because the Siguis are convened in pairs of ‘twins,’ so as to insist on the basic principle of twinness.’ The Sigui ceremony referred to is a ceremony of the renovation of the world that is celebrated every 60 years (not 50). And the ‘twinness’ referred to here is an important Dogon concept which explains why they believe Sirius must have two companions.

Also, note that “observations reported in 1973 by Irving W. Lindenblad of the U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C., showed no evidence of a close companion to either Sirius A or Sirius B”:

“But what can we make of the Dogon statement that Sirius B is the smallest and heaviest star, consisting of a heavy metal known as sagala?...hundreds of white dwarfs are known, not to mention neutron stars, which are far smaller and denser. Any visiting spaceman would certainly have known about these, as well as black holes.”

Note the following:

“Nowhere in his 290-page book does Temple offer one specific statement from the Dogon to substantiate his ancient astronauts claim. The best he does is on page 217, where he reports that the Dogon say: ‘Po tolo [Sirius B] and Sirius were once where the Sun now is.’ Of this ambiguous statement, Temple comments: ‘That seems as good a way as any to describe coming to our solar system from the Sirius system, and leaving those stars for our star, the Sun.’”

Thus, the Dogon state that Po tolo and Sirius used to be within our solar system but moved away from it and Temple (mis)understands this to mean that this means “coming to our solar system from the Sirius system”?! Again, the Dogon state that the movement was from our solar system to outside of it and Temple states that this means the movement to our solar system from outside of it. This is not delving into the minutia of astrophysics; this is just understanding words in the right order.

But Dogon astronomy goes beyond supposed speculations about Sirius (by the way, “the sketches used to illustrate the Sirius secrets are also used in puberty ceremonies”):

“The Dogons hold that Jupiter has four moons when in fact it has at least 12, plus a ring, as any true extraterrestrial would have known. Saturn is not, as the Dogons insist, the farthest planet in the solar system. At least three are farther and at least one of them has rings too.”

“[Marcel] Griaule…took star maps along with him on his field trips as a way of prompting his informants to divulge their knowledge of the stars…The Dogon were well aware of the brightest star in the sky but, as Van Beek learned, they do not call it sigu tolo, as Griaule claimed, but dana tolo…To quote James and Thorpe: ‘As for Sirius B, only Griaule’s informants had ever heard of it.’”

The following quote references the research of the Belgian anthropologist Walter van Beek wrote “Dogon Restudies. A Field Evaluation of the Work of Marcel Griaule, Current Anthropology 12: 139-167 (1991 AD) who spent 11 years among the Dogon:

‘Is Sirius a double star? The ethnographic facts are quite straightforward. The Dogon of course, know Sirius as a star [it is after all the brightest star in the sky]...Knowledge of the stars is not important either in daily life or in ritual. The position of the sun and the phases of the moon are more pertinent for Dogon reckoning.

No Dogon outside of the circle of Griaule's informants had ever heard of sigu tolo or po tolo...Most important, no one, even within the circle of Griaule informants, had ever heard or understood that Sirius was a double star [or according to Renard Pále, even a triple one, with B and C orbiting A]. Consequently, the purported knowledge of the mass of Sirius B or the orbiting time was absent’ (van Beek 1991).

Van Beek points out that Griaule's data was developed in long intense sessions with one primary informant, Ambara. In this process, Griaule probably reinterpreted statements from his informant in the light of his own knowledge about Sirius and its heavy companion, which had been much in the news at the time he began his field work. In turn, the Dogon, because Griaule was extremely respected and liked and because the Dogon culture places enormous importance on consensus and in avoiding contradictions, would have accepted his analysis as if it were theirs (van Beek 1991: 152-155).

As an example of the process, van Beek points out a Dogon tale which explains the differences between white people and the Dogon, but which, in fact, is taken from the Bible.

‘Thus the story of the drunken Noah [Genesis 9: 21-27] has found its way into the stories of the se Dogon [sic], who emphatically denied that this was a ‘white’ story.’…In many other instances the process was discernible: foreign elements were adopted and in a single generation became ‘traditional.’

It might be argued that the knowledge given to Griaule was very secret and known only to a few, including Ambara. Van Beek points out that ‘neither the myths nor the song texts—though they are sacred—are secret. In fact, the tem [collective knowledge] is public knowledge…if the secrets revealed to Griaule are part of Dogon culture, one should be able to retrace them to some extent.’

Another anthropologist named Jacky Boujou spent a decade with the Dogon and agrees with van Beek’s assessment (“Comment,” Current Anthropology, 12: 159, 1991 AD):

“I am struck by the degree to which van Beek's analyses coincide with those I have gradually arrived at...I would underline the obvious desire of the Dogon for collective harmony and consensus that is striking to the participant observer.”

Yet another anthropologist named Paul Lane agrees (“Comment,” Current Anthropology 12: 162, 1991 AD):

“Many of van Beek's substantive claims come to me as no surprise…I found little evidence for the complex but nonetheless allegedly unified symbolic ordering of daily life described by Griaule.”


Resources for this series of articles include the following:

Astrophysical Journal: R. S. Harrington, 82: 753, 1977 AD, I. W. Lindenblad, 78: 205, 1973 AD and H. L. Shipman, 206: L67, 1976 AD

Bad Archaeology site, The Sirius Mystery

Bernard R. Ortiz de Montellano, The Dogon Revisited

Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain

François-Marie Arouet aka Voltaire, Micromegas

Genevieve Calame-Griaule, “On the Dogon Restudied,” Current Anthropology, 32 (5): 575–577, 1991 AD

George Michanowsky, The once and future star: The Mysterious Vela X Supernova and the Origin of Civilizations

Griaule and Dieterlen, God of water: conversations with Ogotemmêli

I. Van Sertima, ed. Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern, pp. 27-46

Ian Ridpath, “Investigating the Sirius ‘Mystery’,” Skeptical Inquirer, Fall 1978 AD

Ian Ridpath, Messages from the Stars – Communication and Contact with Extraterrestrial Life (New York: Harper & Row, 1978 AD)

Isaac Asimov, Quasar, Quasar Burning Bright

Jacky Boujou, “Comment,” Current Anthropology 12: 159 (1991 AD)

James Oberg, UFOs and Outer Space Mysteries – A Sympathetic Skeptic’s Report (Donning Press, 1982 AD)

Jason Colavito, Golden Fleeced

Jay B. Holberg, Sirius: Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky

Jonathan Swift, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver aka Gulliver's Travels

Luc De Heusch, “On Griaule on Trial,” Current Anthropology 32 (4), 1991 AD

Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, The Stargate Conspiracy

Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, The Pale Fox

Marvin Luckermann "More Sirius Difficulties"

Nigel Appleby, Hall of the Gods: The Quest to Discover the Knowledge of the Ancients

Noah Brosch, Sirius Matters

P. and R. Pesch, The Observatory, 97: 26, 1977 AD

Paul Lane, “Comment,” Current Anthropology 12: 162 (1991 AD)

Philip Coppens, Dogon shame

Peter James and Nick Thorpe, Ancient Mysteries: Discover the Latest Intriguing, Scientifically Sound Explanations to Age-Old Puzzles

Pop-occulture: Gene Roddenberry & the psychic (Deep Space) Nine

Ralph Ellis, Thoth Architect of the Universe.

Ron Oriti "On Not Taking it Seriously"

Tom Sever "The Obsession with the Star Sirius"

Walter van Beek, “Dogon Restudies. A Field Evaluation of the Work of Marcel Griaule, Current Anthropology 12: 139-167 (1991 AD)

Wikipedia, The Sirius Mystery


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