Monday, September 21, 2009

About Anubis

  • Learn about Anubis and discover some ways this ancient deity can remain relevant in modern life through symbol and analogy. Ancient Egyptian text states that Anubis silently walked through the shadows of life and death, lurking in the dark places. It was he who deemed the deceased worthy, or not, to cross into rebirth; resurrection, enter a heavenly place. Anubis was the guardian of the dead, who greeted the souls in the Underworld, protecting them on their journey. He was watchful by day as well as by night.

Anubis is the Greek name for the jackal-headed God of the Dead. In ancient Egyptian mythology his hieroglyphic name is more accurately spelled Anpu (also Anupu, Anbu, Wip, Ienpw, Inepu, Yinepu, Inpu, or Inpw). He's nearly always depicted as a man with the black or very dark blue head of a jackal. Sometimes Anubis is depicted in the full form of the jackal animal, especially in hieroglyphic writing; However, at the Temple of Ramses II in Abydos he is shown in the rare form of total human, devoid of any animal characteristics. The color of Anubis' head likely served to visually link him with mummification because an embalmed body would turn black in color. Interestingly, black also represented fertility to the Egyptians, so the color choice probably serves to express Anubis' connection to rebirth in the afterlife. During the later Ptolemaic period, because their function as messenger of the gods were similar, Anubis came to be identified as the Greek god Hermes, becoming Hermanubis. Anubis was also sometimes associated with Sirius the Dog in heaven, and Cerberus in hell because even the Egyptians often thought of him as a dog, rather than specifically a jackal. Prayers to Anubis have been found carved on even the most ancient of tombs in Egypt, as He is one of the oldest deities of that great land.

No public procession in Egypt would be conducted without a figure of Anubis to march at the head, as the "go-between" of gods and men. The ancient Egyptians swore "by the Dog" when making oaths they would not break. When pet dogs died they were mummified and buried in temples dedicated to Anubis. The reason for Anubis' canine form likely stems from behavior the ancient Egyptians themselves observed; dogs and jackals often haunted the edges of the desert, especially near the cemeteries where the dead were buried. One of the reasons such care was taken to preserve the dead with sweet smelling herbs was the belief that Anubis would check each person with his keen canine nose, and only if they smelled pure would he allow them to enter the Kingdom of the Dead.

It was thought that Anubis invented the process of making mummies, so he became the overseer of embalming and mummification, as well as escorting the deceased through the procedures for entering the underworld as the 'Opener of the Ways'. Modern day persons working in paranormal or parapsychology fields may be able to seek the assistance of this ancient deity to help guide a ghost or unwanted spirit "into the Light". Awakening the dead was also one of his functions, as he was said to appear near a mummy to rouse the soul. It may also hold true that a bold modern necromancer or Medium might be able to gain assistance from Anubis in awakening the dead, allowing them to speak for a time. Anubis was the one who purified the body of Osiris through mummification after Osiris was murdered, so it is likely at this time that Anubis gave over the title of THE "God of the Dead" as an honor to Osiris. Anubis tests the knowledge and faith of the every day mans soul by placing the heart on the scales of justice for judgment. If the heart weighs heavier than the feather of Maat (or Ma'at, the goddess of truth) Anubis feeds the soul to the demon Ammit, who destroys it utterly. This is important symbolism because, though we may have done deeds in our lives that cause a "heavy-heartedness", we can make atonement before death to literally lighten up! If an individual soul carries too much remorse or regret it cannot cross into a heavenly realm; this is doctrine found in many religions active today.

Anubis was also a warrior god, opening the way to victory for pharaoh. Modern Pagans and witches may find it helpful to call upon this aspect of the God when seeking to win legal battles, clear a path through difficult situations, or even to overcome personal difficulties. In His many forms, and indeed through many types of media, the energy of Anubis remains an active part of modern life in many countries today.

Anubis Resources...

Painted stone art work images, unless otherwise credited, copyright Tree Pruitt. Totem animal text information may not be used for profit.
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