Answering Anubis

Life has been rocky for awhile. I’m in graduate school and living at home, struggling with recurring depression and anxiety issues that like to get in the way of… everything, really. After a long, steady decline, my paternal grandmother passed away December 31, 2013; her funeral was just a few days ago. Funerals of course bring all sorts of family drama to the surface, especially things that have been clinging to the shadows for far too long. I don’t use this blog as my therapy session (that’s what my actual therapist is for!) so I’ll sidle past most of the details of aforementioned drama. To make a long story short: confrontation isn’t something my family has equipped me to deal with on an even remotely competent basis. Problems in our family don’t get addressed; victims get blamed; and keeping the peace is valued beyond actually having peace.

Anubis has been on my mind recently, ever since surprising me at a local antique mall with a hefty stone statue I was assured came directly from Egypt. (I also found a lovely framed painting of an ankh at this same store; it must have been a good shopping day for Kemetics!) This was the day before my grandmother died and I don’t feel it’s coincidence I was prepared with an image of the god of the dead. I’ll admit that when it comes to learning Kemetic mythology, I’m still very much a newbie. I know basic associations for a handful of deities and can recognize the names of many more. I can tell the Ennead from the Ogdoad and can list no fewer than five Eyes of Ra. At the very least I can tell my jackals from my falcons from my lionesses. But as I said in my last post, approaching ma’at — what I feel will be the core of my Kemetic practice — will take a different worldview than exists in white, middle-class America. Approaching and understanding the deities who work with/in/for ma’at will take a similar shift in thinking. There’s a context I need to create for myself to really grok Kemetic myth and I think this will only come with time, experience, and study.

I’ve started cobbling together information about Anubis from library books, including Erik Hornung’s Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt. When I first checked out this small stack of books on ancient Egypt, I was more than a little daunted. Exploring any new field is overwhelming until you get your bearings and begin to recognize important authors, arguments, and concepts. Turning this into a research project helped me make sense of all this new information. I wasn’t reading all of Hornung, I was just taking notes on what he had to say about Anubis. After two days and five books I had the beginnings of my very own article on just Who was this Anubis fellow, anyway. Much of the information I already knew — god of mummification and cemeteries, psychopomp of the dead, judger of souls — but the act of research and note-taking made it more personal. It also became an act of devotion, one that appeals greatly to my very logical and skeptical mind. I may not have an end “product” after prayer or ritual, but after research I’ve got footnotes and an article outline and some new knowledge floating around in my head that isn’t dependent on whether I was emotionally/spiritually engaged enough.

(I feel like this post is scattered and rambling, but maybe that’s what I need tonight. Moving along.)

I don’t know much about Anubis Himself, but I feel like He can help me through this time of transition and nasty interpersonal drama coming to light. I seem to remember at least one of his epithets reference him knowing/keeping secrets, at any rate. It also seems that if there’s any deity to understand struggles with faith and a skeptical nature, it’s Anubis. Anubis feels patient; He’d have to be, as a god of the dead. I feel like as a psychopomp, any period of transition could fall under His purview as well, or at the very least He’d be willing to help.

There’s still a lot I need to think about and I’ve lost a lot of spoons over the past two weeks or so. But I think that’s okay with Anubis too. People struggling with death and other painful transitions aren’t people at their best; they need a guide and psychopomp of their own, too.

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