A is for Anubis, the Egyptian God of Embalming and The Dead.
I am unfamiliar with the Egyptian Pantheon, being a dedicated follower of the exploits of Olympus. So, I have learnt a lot while researching Anubis. I soon discovered I needed to broaden my knowledge of the whole concept of Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. It makes for some interesting reading, but also seems to be multi-layered and quite complicated.
The origins of Anubis illustrate the complicated affairs of the Egyptian Gods. It took me awhile to decide on his parentage alone. By all accounts his mother is Nephthys, wife of Set and sister of Isis.
The paternity of Anubis is not as simple.
One account goes that Nephthys was unhappy with her husband, Set.
There is suggestion that Set was possibly impotent, or even homosexual. He was also described as being extremely ugly.
Whatever the case, Nephyths needed more. So, she hatched a plan, disguising herself as her sister, Isis, and seducing her sibling’s husband, Osiris.
The unsuspecting Osiris, slept with his sister-in-law.
The result of this union was Anubis.
Anubis is depicted as a man with the head of a jackal. His head is black, a representation of death. In the tomb of Tutankhamen, is a statue of Anubis in his full jackal form. But more often, he is both man and beast.
The Ancient Egyptians had noticed that packs of jackals gathered around the cemeteries, and this is why their tombs became ever more elaborate, to prevent the desecration of their dead by the hungry packs.
Here also, is the origin of the worship of Anubis, in the hopes he would protect their dead from the destruction of the jackals.
There was also the hope that, as a God of mummification, he would also prevent the effects of decay upon the corpses.
Anubis is also connected to Ma’at. He presides over the weighing of the souls against the feather, and ensures the process is fair and just. Once the process is complete, he leads the soul on to its final destination.
Here, Anubis is a friend to the dead, ensuring the just treatment of every soul that passes into the afterlife.
Like Hecate, Anubis is guide to the dead, and has strong links with the Underworld. He is known as a psychopomp, the epithet for those deities who guide departed souls into the afterlife.
As such, Anubis is worshipped in the modern-day as keeper of the mysteries of life, death and the hereafter. The keeper of all mysteries and knowledge of the occult.
Anubis is also a Deity of protection. At night he guards his followers in his guise of jackal, by day, he is the protection of the dog. Dark and light, protector and guide.
I will never shake the image of Anubis, as depicted by Stephen King in Kingdom Hospital. He is loving to those of good hearts, but a fierce enemy to those of dishonorable intention.
He appears here as a beautiful anteater, known as Antubis, the misunderstanding of a ghostly child.
Antubis is a protector to his young ghostly friend, Mary, yet bears his razor-sharp teeth to those who would harm her. Mary sums her protector up, when she says “He is lovely, but he is horrible. That depends on you.” Here too, Anubis is in judgement of the dead and dying.
His links with Hecate are quite pronounced. They are both of the Underworld, both fierce protectors and loyal guides.
Both preside over departed souls, leading them on into the afterlife.
Both hold the keys to the Underworld and are strongly connected to dogs, both wild and tame.
Both Anubis and Hecate, remind us that we never walk alone, that come what may, they will always walk beside us.
Always a friend and guide, when we need it most.
Not just in death, but also throughout the trials and hardships of life.