Sirius pp 3-14 | Cite as

The Goddess of the Eastern Horizon

Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


In the early morning darkness an Egyptian priest is hurrying to the place he comes every morning at this time of year. Memphis, the capital of the first dynasties of ancient Egypt, sits on the west bank of the Nile River, occupying a flat plain covered by palms and tall papyrus reeds, near the point where the river begins spreading into its broad delta. The priest’s destination is a location that has been carefully chosen to provide a clear, unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. He and other priests come to this place, in the pre-dawn hours, during this particular season each year, to watch the sky and wait. By the time the priest arrives, Re, the sun, is still well below the horizon. Although the eastern sky is beginning to brighten, the priest can easily see the stars of Osiris hanging above the horizon. His attention, however, is focused on a distant point, just above where the sky meets the low hills of the eastern desert, far beyond the quietly flowing Nile. He has been watching carefully for perhaps fifteen minutes before he imagines he sees it. At first the star Sopdet is a small, almost imperceptible, point of light very low in the sky. Initially it is a faint reddish-gray color but it quickly brightens, turning a pale yellow, as it rises. Sometimes Sopdet appears as a point of light, but frequently it appears to disintegrate into a cascade of color and almost disappears before reassembling itself. The entire event lasts only a short time before the approach of Re brightens the sky making it hard to see Sopdet, even when the priest knows exactly where to look.


Eastern Desert Calendar Date Ancient Egyptian Roman Emperor Lunar Calendar 
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Chapter 1

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© Praxis Publishing Ltd, Chichester, UK 2007

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