September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
Sirius, the Dog-star, is the brightest star in our night sky. In ancient Egypt the star was known as Sopdet (Greek: Sothis). Sothis was identified with the goddess Isis, who formed a trinity with her husband Osiris and their son Horus. The ancient Egyptians based their calendar on the heliacal rising of Sirius, which matches the length of our solar year.
The most commonly used proper name of this star comes from the the latin name Sīrius (derived from the Ancient Greek Σείριος, “seirios”, meaning “glowing” or “scorcher”). In Ancient Greece they observed that the rising of the Dog-star is during the hottest part of summer. Because of its brightness during the hot summer, the star was thought to cause malignant influences during this period, people were said to be “star-struck” (αστροβολητος, “astroboletos”), described as “burning” or “flaming” in literature. Pliny says that “The most powerful effects are felt on the earth from this star.” When it rises, the seas are troubled, the wines ferment, and still waters are set in motion (Book 2, Ch 40). The whole sea is sensible to the rising of the star, in some places sea-weeds and fish can be seen floating on the surface because they have been thrown up from the bottom. Among the river-fish, the silurus is said to be particularly affected by the rising of the Dog-star (and at other times set to sleep by thunder) (Book 18, Ch 58). Sirius’ effects on trees has been mentioned before here, regarding favorable times for the felling of trees, and that it causes grafts and young trees to pine away and die (see: The diseases of trees).
Pliny also says that dogs are particularly prone to become rabid during this period. He claims that canine madness is fatal to man during the heat of Sirius and that this is proven by the fact that those bitten have a deadly horror of water. (Book 8, Ch 63). The 30-day period following the star’s appearance came to be known as the Dog days. There are accounts of sacrifices of puppies offered to Sirius, to lessen the malignant emanations of the stars.
In Chinese astrology Sirius is known as the star of the “celestial wolf”.
March 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Winter aconite is toxic. In Greek mythology it was said that aconites grew from the saliva of the three-headed beast Cerberus. When Hercules fought Cerberus, the hound’s poisonous saliva fell on the ground and hardened into stones in the soil, from which Winter aconite grew. Medea tried to murder Theseus, by poisoning his wine with the deadly plants.
November 14, 2010 § 2 Comments
Tonight I had a new dream in which more foxes appeared. These foxes weren’t red, their fur was darker. Their backs were dark brown, almost black. I watched two of them, as they swam from the mainland to a small isle. When they reached the rocky isle, they quickly disappeared into small cave-like openings between the rocks and cliffs. I had made a drawing depicting this event, and the drawing itself was very life-like! But then I noticed that I had drawn the foxes as they already had partly disappeared into the rocks; one could only see their long tails and their hind legs. I made new drawings, to show also the faces of the foxes and their front paws, but the faces looked like cartoons and the paws would only look bulbous and deformed.
In a dream I had two years ago: There’s an elderly man living on an island. He keeps two dogs; two large black hounds, probably Doberman Pinschers. There is a story about this old man, that he used to collect women, and then lock them up in a room where the dogs would tear their bodies into pieces. I’m on this island, along with another girl: Heidi. We are in a house located right in the middle of the island (it’s not the old man’s house – he lives on the coast). It’s a large old villa, with high roof, and a wood staircase in the middle of the house leading up to the second floor. There are windows in the ceiling. I have keys leading to the rooms of this house. Heidi is hurt, she is limping but she is pretending like there’s nothing wrong with her. Somehow this alarms me. I’m panicking. I can hear the dogs downstairs, letting themselves in, rummaging and rumbling; looking for us. I frantically try to find the right key so I can unlock one room and then lock ourselves into another room, so that the dogs can’t reach us. When Heidi talks of the dogs, she doesn’t use the word ‘dogs’, she refers to them as ‘library foxes’. It is understood that library foxes is a particularly wicked kind of animal.
November 6, 2010 § 2 Comments
“We were still attentive to the trunk, believing that it might wish to say more to us, when we were surprised by an uproar, as one who perceives the wild boar and the chase coming toward his stand and hears the Feasts and the branches crashing. And behold two on the left hand, naked and scratched, flying so violently that they broke all the limbs of the wood. The one in front was shouting, “Now, help, help, Death!” and the other, who seemed to himself too slow, “Lano, thy legs were not so nimble at the jousts of the Toppo:” and when perhaps his breath was failing, of himself and of a bush he made a group. Behind them the wood was full of black bitches, ravenous and running like greyhounds that have been unleashed. On him that had squatted they set their teeth and tore him to pieces, bit by bit, then carried off his woeful limbs.”
Canto XIII, Inferno
November 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
Vogel’s escape (Le Cercle Rouge, Jean-Pierre Melville 1970)