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Anubis, Companion to Osiris (Cont)

By Lee McGiffen

Immortal and Mortal Stars

Let us be more specific about the distinction between these two types of stars. The Pyramid Texts distinguish between the circumpolar stars which are considered immortal or imperishable, because they do not descend below the horizon, and the non-polar stars which are considered mortal, because they set and enter the Underworld, the Land of the Dead.

The cycle of the mortal stars is a metaphor of the reincarnation of the soul. But as in Buddhism, the ultimate aim is to escape the cycle of incarnation and to become immortal like the never-setting stars.

The relationship between the immortal and the mortal stars is reflected in the relationship between Anubis and Osiris. Anubis is immortal because he represents Ursa Minor. Osiris is mortal because he represents Orion's Belt. Orion's Belt may have taken on even more significance in this context. Knowing of the precession of the pole, the priests would have known that Orion's Belt takes up a position on the celestial equator, precisely at that era when Polaris in the constellation of Anubis took up its position at the celestial pole.

The doctrine of the mortal and immortal twins is widespread. For example, it occurs in the Zoroastrian tradition as the pair Yima and Mithras. In Greek mythology, it is Castor and Pollux, who are constellated in the sky as the two brightest stars in Gemini. The myth of Castor and Pollux does not belong to Gemini. The myth of the mortal and immortal twins is about circumpolar and non-polar stars. The myth of Castor and Pollux shows how an ancient Egyptian myth of duality in the sky can be constellated into a single constellation in a seemingly unrelated part of the sky.

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