Just like Goddesses, Gods are the deifications of archetypal energies within the human psyche. The mythology of any religious tradition is, therefore, an attempt of that particular culture, to explain human behaviour and thought structures in a narrative, a storyline that is as entertaining as it holds deeper meaning on a physical, a mental/emotional and a spiritual level. If you'd like to find out more about other Gods, click here: Gods.
Protector, Guide & Guardian
Anubis is one of my guides and most definitely by far the most dominant one in terms of presence in my life, in visions and other forms of popping into my consciousness. Usually with a humorous-but-underlying-seriousness kind of attitude that makes me giggle and grin and feel inspired to acknowledge some truths that are sometimes also uncomfortable to face, too. He’s got a great way of presenting this to me in a loving, fun way that, for all its humour, doesn’t lack the profundity of deep truth and authority.
Anubis is my protector, my guardian and my teacher. He is the one who brings things up to the surface that lay hidden and holds me safe while I explore my deepest darkest twists and turns. And yes, there is quite some deep and dark in my psyche, too. Not all of it is bad. As my youngest daughter Tarini said, “I don’t know why people always say light is good and dark is bad. There is also bad light and good dark. You can’t divide it like that.”
And right she is. Anubis is the black, velvet, liquid light that cradles me in its essence. He is the darkness that holds you safe, the unconditional primal love, the dark beauty of the Divine Masculine and the sanctity of what we call death. Anubis used to be the God of Death until Osiris took over that role. He is one of the oldest Gods in Ancient Egypt and scholars suspect that he has developed from the still much older Jackal God Wepwawet, another Jackal God who is usually depicted with grey or white fur, with whom he is often confused.
Anubis is a God who is either depicted as a Jackal or as a man with the head of a jackal. His mythology is as mysterious and beautiful as it can also be dark and frightening. But that depends entirely on your own triggers. I’ve read about Wiccan priests working with Anubis who experienced the God in visions as fierce and frightening with teeth bared, snarling, eyes blazing red in feral anger. I personally have had a very different experience with him always. He has been the one to love and hold me, to protect me and reassure me that I am never alone. He is loving, smiles and in all of his charismatic, glorious, masculine authority, he gives me the feeling that I am always protected and cherished, no matter what. You can tell, I love this God so deeply.
Reconciliation of Opposites
During the First Dynasty which started about 5,000 years ago, Anubis was already worshipped. He was the God of the Underworld and embalmer, a role that would later be taken over by Osiris during the Middle Kingdom. Anubis was the God who ushered the souls of the dead into the Afterlife, which makes him one of the earliest psychopomps in recorded human history.
The Egyptians believed that a deceased person had to first go through a ceremony called The Weighing of the Heart which was conducted in the presence of several deities in the Hall of Ma’at or Halls of Two Truths. Anubis’ task in this is to attend the scales. On one side, the human heart, on the other, the Feather of Ma’at. If the heart was heavier than the feather, it meant, the person was bad and would not be allowed to continue into the Afterlife, but the heart would be devoured by the Demon-Goddess Ammit, whose name means Devourer of Dead or Eater of Hearts, and in consequence, the person would cease to exist entirely, even in spirit form. A light heart would be deemed worthy to enter the realm of the dead and Anubis would then conduct the spirit into the Afterlife.
The reason Anubis was depicted in black is symbolic and doesn’t have an abstract significance in relation to the brown fur of the real Egyptian jackals. First, the soil of the Nile is black and thus, stands for life, fertility and regeneration. Corpses after embalming are also coloured black, thus linking Anubis with death and embalming.
This seems to be diametrically opposed when looking at it with our modern perspective of opposites that rule each other out. (If you are this, you can’t be that.) However, the Egyptians had a very different worldview. To them, seeming opposites did not contradict themselves. Think of it as an all-inclusive perspective. Small is relative and so is big. An elephant is big compared to a human, but small when you put it next to a dinosaur or modern skyscraper. Or the sun.
Death & Regeneration
In order to bring life and regeneration, you have to go through death to renew life and make room for new. The cycle of death and rebirth is a common theme in many nature Goddess archetypes as well, so it will be of benefit to refer to some of those that I have written about as well. Regeneration is a theme that no one holds a monopoly on, neither the Divine Feminine, nor the Divine Masculine. Instead, it can be viewed from different aspects and perspectives and thus, greater insight can be gained.
Anubis feminine form is Anput. In Ancient Egyptian mythology, there is always a male and female form of a deified archetype, symbolising the harmony between the two and showcasing that none can be more dominant or inferior, or chaos reigns and the Law of Ma’at, the universal law of truth and harmony, is disturbed. A version of Anubis’ Egyptian name is Anpu or Anupu, which shows that there was only the female denominator -t added to denote the female form of Anput. Anubis’ daughter is the serpent Goddess Kebechet whose name means Cooling Water, which refers to the embalming liquid. In the Pyramid Texts, she is said to refresh and purify Pharaoh.
As Anubis is the Greek rendering of the Egyptian Anpu, Anupu or Inpu, we must look in the origin of the name in the Egyptian tradition. The meaning is Royal Child and the root inp means to decay. Anubis had many titles, such as Foremost of the Westerners, Lord of the Sacred Land, a reference to the burial sites in the desert, He Who is Upon his Sacred Mountain, which describes the cliffs around such a burial area where wild dogs and jackals gathered, Ruler of the Nine Bows, an association with a phrase that described the enemies of the country, depicted as nine captives that bowed before Pharaoh, The Dog who Swallows Millions, which is a reference to Anubis’ association with death, Master of Secrets, as he was the guide to the mysteries of death and rebirth, He Who is in the Place of Embalming, which refers to his association with embalming, and Foremost of the Divine Booth, which refers to the God’s presence in the embalming booth and also the burial chamber.
Due to his role as embalmer, Anubis was given credit for a high level of anatomical knowledge and his priests were often skilled herbalists, which was ascribed to the fact that Anubis would sniff the corpses of the dead to determine whether they were pure or not, which was the reason, corpses were stuffed with sweet-smelling herbs. Admittedly, even without Divine references, a decaying corpse doesn’t smell nice, so the herbal remedy for that makes a lot of sense, especially in a hot climate like the Egyptian one, where dead bodies, human and animal alike, will rot quickly.
In my book of spiritual poetry My Spirit Song, I describe my first and most intense vision of meeting Anubis in 2012 to explain the poetry I channelled on him that are included in the part on deities in the book. Here is an excerpt of standing with him in a burial chamber above the mummy of an older royal woman:
Anubis had laid a hand on the small of my back and I looked up into his face. He smiled.
“You have had so many lives. It is an infinite circle. You were born, lived and died, like this woman here whose body lays before you now. There have been so many other bodies, but they do not matter now. None really does.”
He then led me out of the royal burial chamber that held no gifts as would have been usual for the chambers of persons of such high standing, but at the same time, I knew, it had been like this always. No one had ever disturbed the peace of this tomb. … Anubis walked by my side through the pitch black tunnel. I could see nothing at all now in this complete darkness, but I was neither afraid, nor without orientation.
He was so loving and kind in a really affectionate manner. He took me into his arms and held me tight, told me that I was loved always and I hugged him back. His body was completely black, his hair in the style of ancient ritual wigs with stripes of gold going down from his head the length of the hair which looked more like a helmet and was somehow hard as well, as if carved, rather than made from hair. But his body was black light. I cannot describe it any other way. It was a tangible energy. I felt it as he grew large into the darkness, becoming one with it and losing his human/jackal-headed form.
For the full description, please refer to My Spirit Song, which you can order on Amazon.
Black Is Light
I lost myself floating in this black, liquid light that is Anubis and I have re-visited this experience many times ever since. It is one of my most loved places to rest, to recharge and recuperate. It is a place where mundane reality is suspended and where I can let myself fall, float and reinvent myself all over again until a new me emerges. It is the silence and peace of death and regeneration that allows you to be completely still in divine unconditional love before going forth again renewed and restored.
Anubis is a safe haven, a divine bodyguard, a protector and guardian. He is stillness and silence, but also renewal and fertility, the bringing forth of new life. He will guide you through the darkness of the mysteries of your own psyche so that you will never get lost or be without orientation or companionship. Anubis taught me that I was never alone, even though it is human to forget it at times and feel lonely, deep inside, I know it is not so. And when I call upon his energy, it is purest, darkest bliss.