Today’s God of Death and the Underworld will be from the Ancient Egyptian religion. The next God in our mini marathon is the wonderful Anubis, one of the most ancient Gods in the Egyptian Pantheon who ruled over the Duat (underworld).
Anubis was a male God, with a human body and a jackal’s head. His head was black because that is the color of an embalmed corpse, and the color of rebirth. He has been shown as full human, very rarely though, and once as a full jackal. Jackal’s where the creatures that hunted at the edge of the desert, known as the location of the entrance to the underworld, and the creatures that destroyed grave sites. His familial relations is unknown. His mother has been said to be either Nephthys Goddess of Death/Lament/Night or Bastet Goddess of Love, and his father could be Ra God of the Sun, Set God of Chaos, or (in later times) Osiris. His child is Kebechet the snake Goddess of Embalming. As the soul waits for his/her body to be embalmed, she gives them water.
He had many roles, and those roles evolved considerably through out history, even being replaced at one point by another god. Anubis served initially as the God of the Underworld. By the end of Egyptian Reign Anubis lost his role as the God of the Underworld to Osiris, but he kept all his other roles by then. One of his roles was the protector of graves and cemeteries.
Another one of his roles was that of embalmer. Embalming is the performance of preserving human remains from decomposing. In Ancient Egypt, the Egyptians believed that the dead had to travel to the after life, so the body was preserved so that the soul could return to it and make the journey. He is the God of Embalming and was thought to be present when it occurs. Anubis became connect to embalming since he was associated with death. When Osiris was killed by Set, God of Chaos and sibling to Osiris, Anubis was given his organs as a gift, and he in turn helped Isis, wife of Osiris, to embalm him so that he may live again. Thus, Anubis was credited with the creation of embalming.
Anubis is also the psychopomp of the Egyptian Pantheon. A psychopomp is the spirit or deity whose responsibility is to lead the dead souls to the afterlife. It makes sense that after watching that the proceedings of the embalming went well, he would guide the dead to the underworld. Once he lost his place as the God of the Underworld, Anubis kept his role as the psychopomp. Then he presented the dead souls to Osiris.
Whether he presented the Souls to Osiris or was the Ultimate rule in Duat himself, Anubis always attended the weighing of the heart. Once a person died, their souls would be brought to the underworld, and their hearts would be measured against Ma’at, Goddess of truth, which looked like an ostrich feather. If the heart was light then the feather, the person would pass and would be allowed to go to the afterlife. But if the heart is heavier, then the Anubis would know that the person had been corrupt in life, and he would feed their heart and soul to Ammit (a female demon that was part crocodile, lion, and hippo). This is considered the ultimate death since they would lose their chance to live forever in the afterlife. Anubis was the Guardian of the Scales, and the one who would determine the purity of the person’s heart.
Check out more of Anubis here: http://www.landofpyramids.org/anubis.htm
Find MelUran here: http://meluran.deviantart.com