The Egyptian God Anubis

Egyptian God Anubis Guide of the Underworld

In this Blog:

Origins of Anubis

Honoring Anubis

Legacy and Influence

Anubis in the book of the dead

Origins of Anubis

Anubis, often depicted with the head of a jackal and the body of a human, played a crucial role in the Egyptian afterlife beliefs. The origins of Anubis can be traced back to the early dynastic period of ancient Egypt, around 3100 BCE. Initially, he was associated with the city of Heliopolis, where he was considered as the son of Ra, the sun god, and the goddess Nephthys.

As the religion and beliefs of ancient Egypt evolved, Anubis assumed a more prominent role as the god of embalming and the guardian of the dead. He became associated with mummification, the complex process of preserving the bodies of the deceased, and guiding souls through the perilous journey of the afterlife.

Honoring Anubis

Anubis’ significance in ancient Egyptian society extended beyond mortuary rituals. He was widely worshiped throughout Egypt, and his cult had dedicated temples and shrines in various cities, most notably in Cynopolis, which means “city of dogs” and refers to Anubis’ association with jackals.

The primary duty of Anubis was to oversee the process of mummification, ensuring that the deceased received proper care. His role involved conducting the “Opening of the Mouth” ceremony, a ritual where he symbolically opened the mouth of the deceased, allowing them to eat, drink, and breathe in the afterlife. Anubis was believed to protect the body and soul during the journey through the underworld, guiding them to the Hall of Ma’at, where the weighing of the heart against the feather of truth took place.

Anubis’ depictions in ancient Egyptian art often showcased his role as the guardian of the dead. He was shown as a jackal, reflecting the animal’s association with death and its ability to sniff out decaying bodies. Egyptians believed that jackals roamed the outskirts of cemeteries, guarding the tombs and guiding the deceased safely.

Anubis’ worship extended to various aspects of Egyptian society. Not only priests and embalmers revered him, but ordinary individuals also sought his protection and assistance. Devotees would make offerings to Anubis in the form of food, drink, and incense. They would also pray to him for guidance, protection, and a successful journey to the afterlife.

Legacy and Influence

Anubis remained a significant figure in Egyptian religious beliefs for over three millennia. However, with the rise of the cult of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom, Anubis’ prominence began to wane. Osiris, the god of the dead and the afterlife, gradually assimilated some of Anubis’ roles, taking on the responsibilities of mummification and guiding souls to the afterlife.

Nevertheless, Anubis remained an important deity in the pantheon of Egyptian gods until the decline of ancient Egyptian civilization. His imagery and symbolism continued to inspire artists, and his legacy left an indelible mark on Egyptian religious and funerary practices.

Anubis in the book of the dead

While the specific spells and incantations associated with Anubis in the Book of the Dead can vary, here are a few examples of passages and invocations that mention or involve Anubis:

Spell 17:

“Oh Anubis, who presides over the divine booth, who leads the spirits of Heliopolis, who counts the hearts of the Justified in the divine scales, who presides over the trial, open the way for the deceased…”

Spell 39B:

“Hail to you, Anubis, foremost of the Divine Booth, who opens the way and who guides the spirits in the Necropolis. You, who preside over the place of divine judgment, whose scales are true, who judges the hearts of the dead…”

Spell 64:

“Anubis comes to you, O great god, and places your heart in the balance of the Great Scales. Your heart does not tip, it does not exceed the standard…”

Anubis, the jackal-headed god of ancient Egypt, captivates the imagination with his intriguing role in the afterlife and his enduring cultural significance. From his origins in Heliopolis to his widespread worship throughout Egypt, Anubis symbolized the gateway between life and death, ensuring the safe passage of souls.