Saturday, July 11, 2015

Singleton said spirits were more apt to wander during Dog Days of summer

George Buster Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “It is time for the return of Sirius, the Dog Star” was originally published in the July 27, 2000 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

According to the 2000 Grier’s Almanac, as one looks across the heavens on Fri., July 28, the reign of Sirius, the Dog Star, will begin for a total of 40 days.

Many events may happen that society is giving little or no thought to. In our world of fairyland and make believe, we have forgotten almost all of the old folk tales that were handed down through the past generations while they sat wide-eyed around the evening fires, listening to the tales and legends passed down to them by the older members of the families.

On this certain day in July, the Dog Star will take its place between our earth and the sun for a period of 40 days. Many events that we take for granted will change or disappear from the skies above us. Many happenings in our every day lives will change or make a turn around during this period of time.

With our lives and entertainment centered around the boob tube, we might travel through this period and not be aware anything has changed or taken place. The Dog Star does not appear on the same day in July each year.

It can appear as early as the 20th of July and as late as the 28th of the month. The few who think they know something of this event think that Sirius appears always on the 28th of July. This is not true. The position of the planets above relate the date of Sirius’ appearance in the heavens.

For example, should it rain on the first day of Dog Days, the legends state that it will rain for the remaining 40 days. If it should be dry on that first day, then the countryside will suffer a 40-day drought.

Another legend is that all snakes go blind during this period. Being unable to see and search for food, this causes them to become short-tempered and hungry. They will strike blindly at the slightest sound or movement, causing the risk of getting snakebit much greater to those who wander in the thick underbrush or tall weeds.

Another story is that milk cows give less milk during this time period. Hogs and cattle, dogs and various other animals born during Dogs Days are less likely to survive than those born at other times during the year.

It is said that dogs are more likely to go mad or grow vicious during the reign of Sirius. Among humans, our tempers tend to grow shorter and less patience is shown to those who cross us. Cuts and bruises are slower to heal. Our bodies seem to lose much of the resistance, and we become weaker during the passing of this evil star across the heavens.

Infection and fever blisters are said to be more common during this time as the devil star makes its journey across its path in the sky. An early Indian legend has it that the cool fresh drinking water found in the fresh water springs along the hillsides is less pure during the time when Sirius is on the prowl.

The early Indians paid a lot of attention to the coming of the Dog Star. If at all possible, most of the crops were harvested and brought out of the fields before the arrival of Sirius.

If during this 40 days, the weather was wet and rainy, legend has it that the thunder was more severe and the lightning that flashed across the darkened skies was more likely to strike the earth and cause damage to the villages along the rivers and streams.

The medicine men or the wind walkers of the tribes watched the heavens closely during this time so they could warn their people of the dangers to come. They also believed that the spirits of the departed were more apt to wander on the winds of the evening during the reign of the devil star.

As the members of the tribes gathered around the evening fires, prayers were raised to the Great Spirit to ward off the curse of the devil star. This 40-day period was truly a time of mystery for the early Indians who roamed the hills and flatland of our area.

Much of their lives were based around this period of the year and the signs that they looked for as the Dog Star made its way across the heavens and into the unknown.

Much of their religion was focused around this star that roamed at will between the earth and the sun. They watched the heavens and they watched the rivers, knowing that the mystery star would have great effect on their search for food in the deep waters of the great rivers.

Living off the land as they did, all signs of the heavens were very important to their everyday living.

Today, in our modern lifestyles, we hear very little about the mystery signs and goings on within our universe. We pay little or not attention if it rains for 40 days or if it stays dry for this same period of time that starts in July and ends in September.

We pay little or not attention to the heavens on a clear night during the month of August when the full moon hangs high in the heavens.

If it does not appear on our television sets, most times we know nothing of the happenings above us. Once in a great while one might find a calendar that shows the start of the period of Dog Days.

There was a time when much of the life of the local country folks was based on the signs of the heavens and what the almanac had to say about the planting and growing of crops.

Much was also done in regard to the signs of the moon. No farmer in his right mind would begin to plant his crops if the signs were not right. From planting corn to killing hogs bordered on the signs of the moon. Even though the coming of the Dog Star was much surrounded by mystery, many of the older citizens of the farm communities kept an eye toward the heavens, hoping to know in advance what was about to happen next.

I don’t profess to be smart, but as I wander around the countryside and talk to the younger generation of our society about certain happenings and signs in the skies above to look for, I see total disinterest.

Very few care whether it rains for 40 days unless it interferes with a trip to the beach or some local event of entertainment. None of our youth know how to search for food that they can eat in the deep forests of our area or along the banks of our rivers.

I am not a fatalist by any means, but it frightens me to know that our youth know totally nothing about how to survive if worst comes to worst.

In writing this article, I do not intend to preach my readers a sermon. I do believe that we, as creatures of this universe, should strive to learn all we can about this world that we live in and the heavens above it.

If we disregard the signs that have been placed here for us to see and abide by, we are doomed to roam forever in a world that has no meaning.

If we try to understand that which is around us, our lives will be richer, and many facts will come to life and even be helpful in our journey through time and distance.

As the 28th of July approaches, take time to look and learn all you can about that devil star and the effect its journey across the heavens has on man and his surroundings.

Don’t be afraid to seek out a high hill on a night of the full moon and watch the heavens. It will surprise you what you might witness. Let us not journey through this life without learning all we can about this universe we call home.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

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