The Egyptian God of the Dead: Anubis the Black Jackal
Anubis God of the Dead
Anubis, also known to the Egyptians as Anpu, was the original Egyptian God of the Underworld prior to the Middle Kingdom, when he was usurped by Osiris.
He is also my patron God. I have done quite a bit of research on the Egyptian pantheon, specifically my patrons. After ten years of working with him, I have found there is much more to Anubis than meets the eye.
The Form of a Jackal
Anubis took the form of a black jackal, or rarely in an anthropomorphic form of a man with the head of a jackal.
Jackals were seen frequently around cemeteries threatening to exhume the dead, thus they were linked to Anubis.
The color black to the Egyptians was associated with rebirth and fertility due to the color of the soil in the Nile River. Black was also the color of protection.
Anubis is depicted on the walls of several tombs of the pharaohs to protect their souls in the afterlife and guard their tombs.
Anubis as Psychopomp
Anubis was a psychopomp figure meaning he assisted the souls on their journey to the afterlife if they were found deserving.
In Jungian psychology, a psychopomp is one who plays intermediary between the conscious and unconscious domains. They, generally, manifest as a wise man or woman, or sometimes a helpful animal.
Psychopomps have been associated with assisting in the birthing process, helping the soul into its new world, sometimes called “midwife to the dying.”
Anubis was the original embalmer; he conceived the process of mummification when Osiris was killed by his brother Seth.
Anubis took the body of Osiris and after embalming it, dressed it in linens that had been made by Isis, the wife of Osiris, and Nephthys her twin sister.
This ensured that the body would not rot or decay before Isis, Goddess of magick, would bring him back to life.
Embalming involved “violating” the deceased. The body was opened and the internal organs removed. The Egyptians believed this process could only be completed by Anubis himself.
The “Overseer of the Mysteries,” a priest who acted on Anubis’ behalf, wore a mask of the God during the ceremonial embalming and mummification process. The Egyptians believed these priests would become Anubis, making the practice legitimate in the eyes of the Gods.
After the embalming, the ceremony of the “opening of the mouths” was performed. The priest who became Anubis would chant incantations and purify the body with incense making it a suitable host for the soul in the afterlife.
Anubis determined which souls would journey to the Underworld by weighing their heart (the seat of the soul, or ba) against the feather of Maat (the Goddess of the principles, or neter, of truth, justice and moral integrity).
If the heart was found to weigh the same as the feather, Anubis escorted the soul to the Underworld and left them in the hands of Osiris.
The Weighing of the Hearts
There is more to Anubis than just his funerary duties. If we look into the characteristics of the jackal, we find several attributes.
The jackal has good vision in low light for not only scavenging, but hunting as well. Perfect for a guide to the Underworld.
Jackals are also very loyal; they usually mate for life and travel in pairs, unlike wolves who travel in packs. Anubis was a very loyal guardian, and as a Patron God, even more so in my opinion.
Anubis as a Patron God
In pagan/spiritual terms, if you plan on working with Anubis, you must be ready to face his challenges.
His standard of moral integrity is higher than the majority of humanity could fathom, but he’s not above teaching that integrity to those who wish to learn. Be ready to face your fears as well. Part of his challenge is facing fear and showing courage.
He won’t sugar coat anything, so don’t expect him to be soft spoken. Anubis came to me in a dream when I first started on the pagan path. He appeared as a black dragon with torn wings. I was not afraid of him, but he was intimidating.
Fighting my urge to back away has rewarded me with many, many lessons in truth and integrity. I do feel Anubis has protected my family from harm as well, but I had to work hard to earn his respect. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, however.
© 2012 Melissa Flagg OSC