Art: Leo by Johfra Bosschart, the Zodiac Series
In 2020, amid the Covid quarantine, I dove deep into the Lion’s Gate. I was researching the Dog Star Sirius, its relationship with ancient Egypt and the evolution of some summer festivals, while at the same time working with the lion goddess Sekhmet in her role as protector against plague. Some of my earliest magickal training involved the Egyptian gods, primarily Isis, Osiris, and Anubis, but at that time, I was introduced to the major figures of the pantheon, and kept in touch, over the years, even though my practice took me in different directions. When I got involved in the ascension world of teachings, Egypt rose in prominence once again and has always been like a low level background program running in my psyche and a vital current in my magickal work, despite not identifying with it completely in practice. You can definitely consider me an occult Egyptophile, and not a Khemetic. There is something powerful in the icons, imagery, concepts and magick of Egypt that sings to my heart, but I recognize I don’t live in ancient Egypt, and too much outside of it encroaches into my worldview. During the Covid quarantine, we worked in community with the powers of Sekhmet for protection from the force of plague, and the cow goddess Hathor and her seven medicines for healing and solace. While the intention was to protect our entire Temple of Witchcraft community, something nearly impossible with the various levels of risk associated with differing roles and places, I do know many who participated and continued these rituals to great effect in their lives and homes.
It was around that time the Lion’s Gate came up. While I had heard of it before, I hadn’t previously paid attention to it, but the Sekhmet work had me curious about lions.
When I first heard about it, I had erroneously assumed it involved the Lion’s Gate of Mycenae in Southern Greece, a place I had visited with my father not that long ago. Or perhaps the Lion’s Gate was associated with the Ishtar Gate, and the Lions of Babylon, the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. Neither is specifically associated with the “holiday” of the Lion’s Gate Portal. In modern New Age traditions, the Lion’s Gate refers to a spiritual “portal” occurring on July 26, peaking upon August 8, and continuing until August 12, to the Earthly realm from the star of Siris. It is associated with lions due to the Sun being in the tropical astrological sign of Leo.
The peak day of August 8 is based on the modern numerological associations of 8/8, or a double infinity loop. The repeated number phenomenon, often called “angel numbers” today was popularized by the channel and author Solara for 11/11, a popular digital phenomenon attributed to angels, aliens, and our own evolutionary awakenings. Double numbers are considered “master” numbers in numerology, particularly numbers such as 11, 22, and 33. As a proponent of ancient traditions in the modern world, these explanations left me a bit cold. The infinity loop can be seen over the lady of the Strength tarot card, holding the lion.
Discussions online, looking into the origin of this concept, and people’s experiences with it varied, but most fell on the two extremes of the spectrum, like so much else in our world today. On one side were those who expressed the immense power of the Lion’s Gate, an event not to be missed for your evolution and healing. On the other side were those who felt nothing at all, and thought the whole idea ridiculous nonsense that had nothing to do with true spiritual initiation.
Conversations with the wonderful and wise group of Michael Butler Smith, Margie McArthur, and Ivo Dominguez Jr.. put me on the path of exploring The Lion Path: The Big Picture – The Short Path to Regeneration in our Times by Musaios (Charles Muses) as a potential source of these teachings, among other ideas and teachings with Egypt proper. While inspired and interesting, no specific mention of the date in Musaios’ work, yet a detailed modern system of regeneration that is quite complex. While perhaps not something I would do as written, it was inspiring.
The magickal roots, if any, are most likely found in the heliacal rising of Sirius, meaning its rise just before sunrise, now occurring in the tropical zodiac sign of Leo. This was a classic sign, in the time of ancient Egypt, of the flooding of the Nile, bringing the blessings of the fertile silt to the fields of Egypt for planting. Life depending upon the flooding of the Nile. A poor flood would either fail to bring the necessary silt or overflow and damage the lands. Due to damns upon the river, the Nile no longer floods, and due to the Procession of the Equinoxes, Siris rises later in the year. In 2022, it occurs on August 12. The visible star marks the closing of the spiritual portal. This August 12 date coincides with other goddess festivals of the Feasts of Diana, the Nemoralia, and the Feast of the Assumption of Mary and we can see the associations in the Marian feast with both Artemis/Diana and the Egyptian Isis. The Egyptians associated Sirius, under the Greek name of Sothis and Egyptian name of Sopdet as a manifestation of the goddess Aset, her Egyptian name.
The Lion’s Gate “portal” is the symbolic completion of a 70-day period of death and rebirth for Sirius, as it moves into alignment with the Sun, disappears, becomes conjunct and then slowly visible in the dawn once again. The window of the conjunction of July 3rd to July 7th is sometimes called the Sirius Gateway or Sirius Portal. Technically at the August 8th date, Sirius is still occulted and behind the Sun. In the Behenian Fixed Star lore, Sirius is aligned with 14°13’ tropical Cancer.
The “dog days” refer to approximately the twenty days before and after this alignment or roughly July 3rd to August 11th, depending on when the conjunction occurs as Siris is the dog star, being a part of the constellation of Canis Major. The dog days are considered to be the hottest days, so hot they are not fit for a dog or would drive a dog mad, though they have slightly shifted over the centuries with the shifting of the stars due to the wobble of the Earth’s axis in the Procession of the Equinoxes.
In occult lore, Siris is called the Sun behind or beyond our Sun, the secret or invisible Sun. Some see the Isis goddess complex that can include Mary in her relationship to the prophetic Christian role of Babylon or the Woman of the Apocalypse. In the book of Revelation, she is described as the Woman Clothed in the Sun, and at this vantage point, Sirius as a star goddess is putting on the Sun between herself and the Earth. While creating sinister connotations, the image has been interpreted as the astrological expression of the Cosmic Soul and specifically an expression of Mother Mary. The nineteenth-century Hermetic Qabalist and Theosophist Anna Kingsford, an inspiration to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the magickal feminism of modern Neopaganism and Wicca, wrote a channeled visionary text of her illuminations called Clothed with the Sun: Being the Book of the Illuminations of Anna Kingsford. Published posthumously, the book depicts a Gnostic Christian Polytheist vision of Sophia as the central goddess, one who shares attributes with our illuminated visions of Mary, Isis, Diana, and the Chaldean Hecate, among many others, and summed up in the teaching: “For the woman is the crown of man, and the final manifestation of humanity.”
So seeking the truth for myself, I simply experimented with it over the last few years. I am not sure I believe the power of 8/8 is the reason, or the rising of Sirius in its cycle, but when seeking out the power of Siris on the day of the Lion’s Gate Portal, I had some profound experiences with the most cosmic forms of Goddess.
In the Behenian system of star magick, Sirius has the nature of Venus planetarily, and corresponds with beryl and juniper. Below is the symbol of the star.
A talisman of Sirius “grants the favor of the spirits of the air and the peoples of the earth, and brings peace and concord between kings and other potentates, and between husbands and wives.”
The Lion’s Gate is associated with the Lion of Leo, the Sun, Sirius, and the Strength card of the Tarot, being the eighth card of the Major Arcana in the famous Rider-Waite-Smith (though often the eleventh card in other systems). The teaching in the new lore is that the Lion’s Gate Portal brings forth the most blessed and beneficial energies, encouraging strength, health, wealth and happiness. Take this time to visualize what you wish to create in the world and do your affirmations to change you reality. Yet, that wasn’t necessarily my experience with it. There was no clear call for wish fulfillment. I tended to focus upon the concept of the Sun behind the Sun, the invisible Sun that guides the blessings of spirit, not simply material well being. Yet my experiences were profound, which is why I want to share the possibility of using this day in your own practice.
Were my experiences profound because I made sincere effort and connection as a part of my practice?
Or were my experiences profound because the Lion’s Gate was open, and those energies are real, and facilitated my experience?
I’m not sure I know, but I do know that helpful traditions and practices can grow through the doing. Perhaps skeptics are right, and there is nothing truly cosmic to the Lion’s Gate other than being in “Sirius Season,” and feast days of August 12, or our Temple of Witchcraft’s celebration of the Feast of Hecate, always on August 13, are just as powerful, if not more so.
Yet with time, calendrical days and traditions can grow in power, with a momentum of the past efforts of all who used them before. Could we be building a new holy day? Perhaps we are. All I can say is that I found it beneficial, so for the foreseeable future, I’ll be experimenting and exploring with the Lion’s Gate Portal. Any reason to celebrate a new holiday is good with me, and if its primary practice is deep meditation, it can be the nudge I need to make a special time for solitary mystical pursuits, more so than I already do.
Below is a link to a guided meditation based on some of my experiences and insights finding a cosmic form of the Goddess, if you wish to try it. While it suggests the beryl, frankincense and juniper, they are not required to have success with this journey.