God of Burial and Embalming
God of Cemeteries and Mummification
Keeper of the Ways of Death
Guide of the Underworld
Opener of the Way
Friend of the dead
Anubis was a deity that could be seen throughout all of ancient Egypt. The name of this god is traditionally spelled (Inpu). The name here is read left to right, with an abbreviated image of Anubis finishing. Often, as with many of Egypt’s deities, the spelling of the name changes but one characteristic stays the same: the jackal at the end. In some cases the jackal is raised up on a pedestal to show its holy importance.
Anubis is commonly seen as a Jackal. It’s believed that the jackal was chosen as the iconic figure for this deity due to the necropolis where the wild dogs of ancient times would often prowl to hunt for food. Some say that Anubis took the form of a jackal to help Isis and Nephthys search for the pieces of Osiris’s body. According to legend, and the story does vary, the brother of Osiris, Seth, lured Osiris into an elaborate coffin and had it sealed shut then threw the box into the Nile where it washed up on the Phoenician coast. Isis then retrieved her husband’s body. When Seth learned of this he had Osiris’s body cut up into pieces and scattered throughout Egypt. It was then that Isis and her sister Nephthys in the form of Kite birds, and with Anubis in his jackal form, found all the parts of his body except the phallus. With the help of Thoth, the body was restored and Anubis wrapped it in linen; giving him the name “He Who is in the Place of Embalming.
As the mother of Anubis, Nephthys can be seen depicted with him in the Book of the Dead most often. She is usually seen as the Goddess of Nighttime and of Darkness; this darkness could be the reason for the color of his skin. Being Goddess of Darkness she is the opposite to her sister Isis, but maintains a friendly nature with her and Osiris. Nephthys and Isis worked together to find Osiris and bring him back from the dead and they stand behind him in the Hall of Truth to give eternal life to the deceased.
Contrary to what many people think, he was actually a benevolent God rather than an evil one. Of course, as God of Death he still maintains quite a frightening role, but it is not an evil one.
As Isis’s 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. 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.
As guide of the Underworld, Anubis takes the soul of the deceased before the gods to give the negative confession. When the journey through the Underworld was nearly complete, the deceased was taken to the Hall of Ma’at to be judged. Anubis watched over the beam of the scale to see that it was in the proper position while Thoth recorded the result. Anubis also took care that the dreaded Ammut – a beast made up of the head of a crocodile, front of a lioness, and the hind-quarters of a hippopotamus - could not devour the heart, causing the soul to be restless for all eternity. After weighing the heart, if the deceased is found to be true of voice through its trials and negative confessions, Anubis brings them before Osiris to join him in immortality. These show obvious evidence of Anubis’s connection to the god of the Underworld.
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.