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(Information provided by Janine Donnellan)
ANUBIS - Other Names: Anpu, Inpu, Ienpw, Imeut (Lord-of-the-Place-of-Embalming)
In ancient Egypt, dogs and jackals were often seen scavenging around the edges of the desert, near the cemeteries where the dead were buried, and it is thought that the first tombs were constructed to protect the dead from them. The God Anubis looked after the dead, and was in charge of the important task of mummification and is well known for his role as a psychopomp (one who ushered the souls of the dying from this world into the next). It is believed that due to his association with the process of embalming, he inherited the attributes of the jackal but it may equally have been that of a wild dog. Anubis was often depicted as either a black canine with long sharp ears, or as a man with a canine head. The black colour of Anubis is not natural to jackals or to the wild dogs of Egypt; there is a possibility that it may refer to the discoloration of a body after death and during mummification.
Anubis was originally the lord of the underworld, however following the rise of the cult of Osiris he was designate to the role of gatekeeper. This role was primarily that of either holding or watching the scales with which the souls of the dead were weighted against the feather of Ma'at. If the soul was as light as the feather, Anubis led the soul to Osiris; otherwise, it was fed to Ammit (a terrifying female demon who was know as "the eater of the dead". In this role, he is sometimes identified with a god known as Wep-wawet ("opener of the ways").
Anubis was also the patron of embalming. He was also the keeper of poisons and medicines. He provided unguents and rare herbs to help Isis and Nephthys with the embalming of Osiris. Anubis then performed the funeral of Osiris, which would be the model for all funerals to come. As he received the mummy into the tomb, he performed the 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony. This ceremony was performed at the funeral to restore the senses of the deceased so that they could function with all faculties in the afterlife. The ceremony was done by touching an adze (a tool for opening orifices) to the mouth of a mummy or statue of the deceased; it was believed to restore the senses in preparation for the afterlife.