The Sothic cycle (also called Sothic period or Canicular period) spanned a period of 1460 Julian years in ancient Egypt. This is how long it takes for the heliacal rising of Sirius, i.e. its first appearance after about 70 days of invisibility in the eastern morning sky immediately before sunrise, to pass once through an entire year of the Egyptian calendar. This date shifts over time because the Egyptian calendar counted 365 days, but the actual length of the tropical year is about 365 1/4 days (365 x 4 = 1460). The heliacal rising of Sirius was considered to herald the imminent flooding of the Nile and was celebrated with the Sothis festival, the Egyptian New Year. In fact, around 2000 BC, the two events roughly coincided. Coincidentally, the spring equinox, which is constantly shifting due to the precession of the Earth's axis, also passes through the 365-day calendar in 1460 years.
The Egyptian mysteries, founded by Thot-Hermes (Trismegistus), the legendary inaugurator and teacher of Egyptian culture, are said to go back to that time which was three Sothic cycles before the year 1322 BC, which marks the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, i.e. to the 6th millennium BC.
„Hermes carried the star script down into mathematics and geometry, taught the Egyptians to find something in the stars that was happening on earth. We know that the whole of Egyptian life was connected with the floods of the Nile, with what the Nile brought down from the mountainous regions that lay south of Egypt. But we can also judge from this how necessary it was to know in a certain way in advance when these floods of the Nile could occur, when the transformation of the natural conditions could properly occur in the course of a year. The Egyptians also took their time calculation from the stars in the sky. When Sirius, the Dog Star, became visible in the sign of Cancer, they knew that the sun would soon come into that sign, from which its rays would, as it were, conjure up what the Nile and its floods would bring to the earth's surface. So they knew: Sirius is the watchful one, he announces what we have to expect. That was part of their star-world clock. In order to cultivate and rule the land in the right way, which was necessary for the outer life, they gratefully looked up to the Dog Star. And they looked up from where, in ancient times, they had been taught that the movement of the stars was the expression of the world clock.
For such and similar circumstances, the Egyptians sought advice in the star writing. In Thoth or Hermes they saw that spirit who, according to the old traditions, made the most ancient records of worldly wisdom, and who, according to what he received as inspiration from the star-script, formed the physical letters, who taught men agriculture, geometry, the art of measuring fields - in short, taught everything that men need for physical life. But all physical life is nothing other than the body of a spiritual life. But the spiritual life is connected with the whole universe, and out of this Hermes was inspired. Thus the whole culture soon appeared connected with Hermes. Yes, the Egyptians felt even more intimately connected with him. Let us assume, for example, that an Egyptian looked up at the sky in 1322 B.C. and saw a very special constellation of stars. For the ancient Egyptians had a time calculation that was initially convenient for human conditions - especially for human mathematical thinking: twelve months of thirty days, which - with five additional days - gives 365 days for the year. This is how they had calculated through the centuries, because it was, so to speak, mathematically, arithmetically convenient: a year was over when 365 days were over. As we know from modern astronomy, a quarter of a day was always left out of account; that is to say, when the Egyptian year was counted to its end, it was a quarter of a day too early. If you work it out, you will find that the year began earlier each time: the year moved in month by month and then moved back to the beginning. That was the case after four times 365 years. After 1460 years, therefore, the fact had occurred each time that the celestial conditions had again balanced themselves with the earthly calculation, in that the entire year had receded through 1460 years. If you count back three times, beginning with the year 1322 B.C.E., you come up to the period to which the Egyptians attributed their ancient sacred wisdom, so that they said: "In ancient times there was still the brightest clairvoyance. With each such great solar year, which brought about a balancing of the earthly calendar, the ancient clairvoyant power had diminished by one stage. We are now living into the fourth stage. Our culture is already entering that stage where we can only have traditions of an ancient doctrine. But we look up through three world-years to a great prehistoric age in which our greatest sage taught his pupils and followers what we have today - often transformed - in writing, in mathematics, geometry, the art of field measurement, in all the other common ways of handling our lives, even in astronomy. The ancient Egyptian said to himself: "Our human calculation, which adheres to the convenient numbers of twelve times thirty plus five supplementary days, shows us how the divine-spiritual world must correct us. For through what we have in our minds, we ourselves have become strangers to Osiris and Isis. We cannot calculate the year exactly. But we look up into a hidden world, there the powers which guide the stars correct us.“ (Lit.:GA 60, p. 368ff)
- Rudolf Steiner: Antworten der Geisteswissenschaft auf die großen Fragen des Daseins, GA 60 (1983), ISBN 3-7274-0600-3 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
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