Spring Equinox Sacrificial Hunt

Our Sun as
a Red GiantBy Oona Räisänen (User:Mysid), User:Mrsanitazier. - Vectorized in Inkscape by Mysid on a JPEG by Mrsanitazier (en:Image:Sun Red Giant2.jpg)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org

The Dogon sacrificial hunt tala took place at the spring equinox before the celebration of the nay banu "red sun," which meant "pregnant sun". The Mistress of Speech, who represented the red sun, was mythically sacrificed at that time. Her body was believed to regenerate space, creating the stars as we see them today.Dorey, The Rose p. 265

We know from astrophysicists that large red giant stars do explode as supernovas to create life in the universe. When our sun is about 9.6 billion years old, it will begin to expand dramatically to become a red giant star as is shown in the graphic above.

Based on what astrophysicists have seen in other solar systems, Venus and Mercury will be swallowed up by the sun. All life on the planet Earth will be destroyed, and the Earth likely swallowed up by the red sun as well.Dorey, The Rose p. 6

This swallowing plays an important role in the Dogon religion and is associated with death and rebirth. This is probably why this hunt event was held in the spring time when life was seen to be reborn.

The supernova explosion was perceived by the Dogon as a regurgitation. During a supernova explosion, the gas and dust is blown away from the red star to form nebulae or stellar nurseries. These nebulae then go on to create new suns and planets. This is when the pregnant sun or red giant star was perceived as giving birth to a new world.Dorey, The Rose p. 6

In the Dogon religion, the Mistress of Speech, who was identified with the red giant star, was associated with the planet Jupiter and the spring equinox hunt. During the hunt, she was symbolized by an ostrich, which is the largest bird in existence at "2.74 m (9.0 ft) in height and up to 154 kilograms (340 lb) in weight." Ostrich's also lay the largest egg of any living bird, which could be why the Dogon associated an ostrich egg with the "Egg of the World".Dorey, The Rose p. 265

I believe that the ostrich's association with the Mistress of Speech and the ritual hunt extended to other areas of Africa, which may be why the North African Ostrich, also known as Red-necked Ostrich, had almost been hunted to extinction in several countries.

At the time that Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen recorded the Dogon religion in the 1930s and 1940s, the scarcity of game in the region had caused the ritual hunt to become almost nonexistent.Dorey, The Rose p. 330

Roman Mosaic 2nd cDorey, The Rose p. 266

"Ostriches have inspired cultures and civilizations for 5,000 years in Mesopotamia and Egypt." This scene from the Zliten mosaic from c. AD 200 shows a man killing ostriches. The Zliten mosaic is a Roman floor mosaic found in the town of Zliten in Libya. It was discovered by the Italian archaeologist Salvatore Aurigemma in 1913 and is now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Tripoli.Dorey, The Rose p. 266

In Roman times, there was a demand for ostriches to be used in the venatio games. I believe the games were associated with the ritual hunt, as it was known to the Dogon people.

After the venatio games those convicted of crimes were crucified, burned or thrown to the animals, suggesting that it was part of the hunt ritual, which in the Dogon religion was about death and regeneration.Dorey, The Rose p. 265

March EquinoxImage by Przemyslaw "Blueshade"
Idzkiewicz.CC BY-SA 2.0,

During the equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator and there are nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. It is the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

To the Dogon, this balance would have symbolically represented the restoration of order in the Solar System, the return of our second sun, and the return of androgyny and immortality in humanity. For more information on the Dogon religion, refer to my books, which can be purchased at right.