Dog Days Are Over

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

I bet most of you don't know the real origin of the term "dog days." I'll give you a clue: it's got nothing to do with the weather not being "fit for dogs" or it "driving the dogs mad." The term actually comes from an astronomical phenomenon...

The days between July 3 and August 11 represent the interval in which a particular star behaves in a bizarre way: it rises with the sun and stays hidden at night (formal term: heliacal rising). You must know this star by any of these three names: Sirius, The Dog Star or Alpha Canis Majoris. It belongs to the constellation Canis Majoris, which follows Orion The Hunter through the sky. Knowing this, it is fairly simple to recognize in the sky once you locate Orion's belt, since it is aligned with it, just appearing farther away.

Being the brightest star in the sky that can be appreciated by the naked eye, it did not escape the eye of ancient Greek astronomers, nor did its annual disappearance from the night sky during the hottest summer days. Initially, it was thought to be responsible for the increase of heat, seeing as it rose with the Sun and probably added to its heat during daylight. This theory, however, was later rebuked by astronomer Geminus.

The name Sirius comes from the ancient greek "seirios", meaning "scorcher" or "glowing." What is interesting is that different ancient cultures with no apparent communication related this star with a dog or wolf. In many of them, the heliacal rising of this star meant bad news: it coincided with the flooding of the Nile in Egypt and... you guessed it: the hottest days for the Ancient Greeks. However, as it might've carried a negative connotation years and years ago, this star represented and still represents a symbol of great knowledge and power to some tribes.

Very much like them, we can use Sirius's luminance in our own lives as means of guidance and protection, much like it protects Orion The Hunter during his hunting in the sky. Dogs represent loyalty, leadership, faithfulness and due to their connection with this same star, prognostication and instinct.

In previous times, dog days matched the summer solstice. Due to precession, now they come later. This Sunday (August 11) and Monday (August 12) represent approximately the end of this year's dog days. Dance them off with Florence + The Machine´s "Dog Days Are Over" while channeling this star's powerful energy.

Well, I'm off to do the same. Best wishes,


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