Egyptian God Anubis – The Jackal
For the ancient Egyptians, the Egyptian God Anubis was of extreme importance – they had put much of their faith in mummification and burial rituals in order to reach the afterlife, and he was the god of embalming and mummification, as well as a central figure in the journey through the underworld.
He is one of the oldest of Egyptian Gods, and his main role was that he was the “Lord of Mummy Wrapping”. His name in ancient Egyptian is Anpu or Inpu.
His figure is one of my favorites, and he is quite popular with tourists too. You won’t find a souvenir shop that doesn’t sell Anubis statues.
He is usually depicted as a jackal, either fully or just the head of a jackal with the body of a man.
This may have come about when the ancient Egyptians observed dogs and other canines around their graveyards that were near the desert, where jackals were found either digging for bones and corpses, or just eating the offerings left there for the dead.
As with most gods, his origins differ according to which myth you read.
In the more prominent myth, he is the son of the Goddess Nephthys, who was the God Set’s wife. And although Set should have been his father, he was not.
He was actually the son of Osiris when Nephthys had an affair with him.
And although Nephthys was his “biological” mother, she had deserted him because she was afraid of her husband Set’s wrath.
To make things even more dramatic, Osiris’s lawful wife Isis is the one who rescued and raised him as her own…
…like an ancient Egyptian soap opera!
As her adopted son, Anubis was a protector (like a watch-dog) to Isis. He also assisted in putting together the body of Osiris for a resurrection.
In other myths he was the son of Ra or Set, with the same mother Nephthys.
His wife or consort is the goddess Anput, which (because of the suffix “t”) is the feminine version of his ancient Egyptian name Anpu.
He has a daughter named Kebechet, the goddess of the embalming fluid.
Unlike many other Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, Anubis was not a shape-shifter.
He kept his usual form and roles pretty much the same throughout the span of ancient Egyptian mythology.
Egyptian God Anubis – God of Death
His main function is caring for the bodies of the recently deceased. He greeted the dead into the underworld, and helped in the embalming and mummification process. This is the reason why the priests that embalmed the dead wore jackal masks. They were his representatives.
He was one of the judges of the Weighing of the Heart Ceremony, where he would check the scales for the outcome – if the heart of the deceased was found to be heavier than Maat’s feather of truth, the heart would be devoured by the demon Ammit and the deceased would not enter into the afterlife.
A priest wearing an Anubis mask supported a mummy to keep it upright during the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony, which was performed to help the deceased regain the ability to breathe, eat, speak, see, drink, and hear in the afterlife.
Anubis was worshiped throughout ancient Egypt, painted on tomb and temple walls, and carved into so many beautiful statues. His cult center was Lycopolis (“City of the Wolf” in Greek) and Cynopolis (City of the Dog in Greek).
One of the most beautiful representations you can see for him is his statue in the Cairo Museum, part of King Tutankhamun’s collection.
He is also very present in the Book of the Dead and many other papyri.
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