Anubis was the jackel-headed Egyptian god of the underworld, and the most important of all the gods related to death. The jackal association came from the Egyptian cemeteries, where it was common to see jackals unearthing and devouring the dead – that’s a bit eww really! Unlike a real jackel, his skin was black to represent the fertile Nile soil and the process of rebirth.

Although he was the original god of the dead, this role eventually passed to Osiris and Anubis’s role changed to protecting the deceased souls and leading them to the afterlife. He was also the keeper of the scales of justice. Is this a promotion or a demotion? I’m not really sure…

A deceased soul would enter the Hall of Two Truths where the scales were kept and his conscience (depicted as a heart) would be weighed against the feather of Ma’at, goddess of truth. If the heart was lighter than the feather, and therefore pure, the deceased soul was permitted to travel onwards towards Osiris and rebirth. The decision would be recorded by the god Thoth. 

And boy did you want to hope your heart was pure, because if it wasn’t and your heart were heavier than the feather, then Ammit got to eat your soul! Ammit was a female demon with a body that was part lion, part hippo and part crocodile – because more is, you know, more. The soul would then ‘die a second time’. The Devourer of Souls was not worshipped, as she embodied all that the Egyptians feared – no, really? Because she’s a lion and a hippo and a crocodile… it’s safe to say she was scary.

Like many Egyptian gods, Anubis filled a number roles. One of the odder roles was that of leading public processions! 

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