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Anubis, Companion to Osiris

By Lee McGiffen

In ancient Egypt many tomb paintings have survived of a mysterious funerary ceremony known as "the Opening of the Mouth". In these paintings the officiating priest is depicted as the jackal-headed god Anubis, inserting an adze or other implement into the mouth of the mummified body of the deceased - who in this form was identified with the god Osiris. The ritual was based on a myth, having several meanings. The jackal is a scavenging animal, feeding on the dead, and provides an apt symbol for the opening of tombs.

Anubis not only opens the mouth of Osiris as the mummy. He also opens the mouth of Osiris as the underworld. Osiris's mouth symbolizes the "jaws of death", the entrance to the underworld. In this sense Anubis is the Conductor of Souls, like the Ferryman Charon of Greek myth. Indeed, in his manifestation as Upuaut, "the Opener of the Ways", he is the ferryman of the solar barque.

Anubis is the Faithful Dog that guards the tomb of Osiris. As guardian of this entrance, he prevents the curious adventurer from stumbling across the treasure within. He protects against theft by obscuring the location of the entrance, but at the same time his nature hides an astronomical code that can be cracked to reveal a location on the ground.

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